Tuesday, December 6, 2005

Liberating the (fish) net: Part 1

I can't help but think how proud Mary Wollstonecraft would be of the society that she helped shape today. I think she'd be especially pleased with the new generation of women with brains and beauty who are so generously sharing so much of both with us all.I was struck with this thought again recently via a post at Slashdot which pointed to two new 2006 pinup calendars.

The first, Geek Gorgeous 2006 Calendar, is raising money for a college fund for women to enter science careers by - er - putting other women in scanty clothing and parading them like lumps of ham. But hey, it's fundraising ham, so it's kosher OK?
"Sick of hearing complaints from male co-workers about the lack of attractive women in the computer industry, Lilac set out to show the world that there are plenty of beautiful, intelligent, and interesting women in the fields of computers and engineering".
Nice one, Lavender. That's like me complaining about the lack of attractive black people in my suburb. Or bemoaning the lack of poodles being walked past my house. If Stephen ever gets his Logical Fallacies site renovated I may even be able to find the name of the manipulative technique you’re using to justify your motivation, you wily wench.

In any case I wonder whether male geeks even would complain about the lack of attractive women in the industry. From all accounts, most of them are happy to have female coworkers at all. More importantly, as a rule “geeks” aren’t dumb-arse males anyway. Furthermore, here is the highest ranking result for “geek porn” on Google. And this pornographer isn’t going to have any trouble getting laid at all if you ask me. (Warning: contains language that may offend).
"All the models in the Geek Gorgeous 2006 Wall Calendar are women in the fields of computers and engineering. Although they have the technical skills to hold their own in a male-dominated industry, these women are far from being your typical computer nerds."
True. Though typical male computer geeks seem to be able to make their way in the world of tech careers without having to make backhanded apologies for their capability ("although they have the technical skills...") or dress in rollerskating waitress uniforms in order to feel validated. And, from what I'm told, they can also hold their own. So to speak, of course.

We also learn that:
"Her goal is not to objectify the girls in the calendar, but to dissolve the 'computer nerd' stereotype and allow these intelligent women to flaunt their fun, sexy sides and unique personalities, in addition to their technical skills."
Which is a bit mystifying if it's also true that women are still struggling to win credibility as genuine "computer nerds" in the first place. That the girls then include “thoughts and stories on working in the male-dominated high-tech industry” on their profiles while submitting to the camera in their underwear makes this blogger guffaw loud enough to wake the bloody neighbours.

Responding to people who may find the calendar offensive, Duff comes up with this exquisite piece of doublespeak:
"When women choose by their own accord to show off their bodies not to attract men and not to advance their careers, but simply to show they are proud of who they are both inside and outside, they are taking the power away from men to view women as one-dimensional sex objects."
And this:
"What is so wrong about intelligent women showing the world that they can be just as sexy and comfortable with their bodies as the bimbos, but hold careers where they are valued for nothing more than their brain power?"
Yeah, baby! But how can we tell if the men who are being attracted and are in a position to advance grrrl’s geeky careers realise this when they're tempted to slobber over the pictures? I mean, some of them are sexist too, y'know. Maybe the calendar should come with a user manual or online helpdesk just to be on the safe side. I wouldn't want to have you mistaken for "bimbos" or anything.

My favourite bit however is the bit at the top of her "protesteth too much" piece when she says: "The sad, but honest truth is that very few people would pay attention to, much less purchase, a calendar that features women looking ordinary." Because just being ordinary, like everyone else, just doesn’t cut it. So yeah, show us your tits by all means. Or, more correctly, show us your underwear. Because it seems you gorgeous geek girls are still a bit too vanilla to go all the way. And the result is laughable - a bunch of preppy women playing bourgeouise vamp. Give me a pastie-totin', loud mouth stripper anyday. At least I'll know what to call it.

Before I move on to the next calendar, I'd like to share these “comments” from fans (which sound suspiciously like the sorts of things you’d get your friends to write if you’re copping shit for all the right reasons):
"I like your calendar. I am a Director of Technical Operations and I am buying copies for myself, my brothers, and all of the guys who work for me."
Way to go, dude! I hope you remembered to take it out of the staff development budget, bein' a fancy "Director of Technical Operations" 'n'all. Though I am concerned that you failed to allow for any lesbians in your family or workplace. Tch tch. Ain't you ever heard of Equal Opportunity legislation?
"The women whose bios I read are quite impressive in what they do and have accomplished, and I agree with the premise of the project that it is about time that the world sees that female geeks are like the rest of the population"
Or, in other words, the 2006 guilty equivalent of “I read it for the articles”.

And finally,
"My production group is fascinated by your calendar's innovation and revolutionary concept."
which just has to be irony, surely???

By this stage I did start thinking, “OK. I am a bit of a terrier, I do love to take the mickey out of people just for the fun of it and I am sometimes too hard on people. What if I’m absolutely wrong about this?”

Fortunately (or otherwise) this pornographic image settled the question once and for all. (Warning: Not Safe For Work!).

And buggar it, I’ve run out of ink. I’ll post the next bit tomorrow.

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