Grrrl != Girl

In the interest of full disclosure, I admit this post may kill your groove. However, I ask you to read it with an open mind and try to understand what I say as if you recognized me as a thoughtful person. You’ll still be free to disagree with me.

I mentioned in an earlier post that it’s hard enough being a technologist (male or female) because of the inherent demands of the profession without having the extra pressure of having to do it in a virtual wet t-shirt, too.

My Sisters…oh, I’m ferklempt. You listened! Not. On the other same hand, there’s the Women of IT calendar.

Right now you might be dismissing this as:

1. The product of a jealous, fat, old woman.

2. The opinion of a prude.

My reasons are either sound, or not, regardless of my weight, state of mind, and age. So, for the sake of argument, I’ll grant you all of that.

My points are as follow:

1. Heterosexual men already know that women are sexy. They are also capable of recognizing it when they see it.

2. The calendar and hottie campaign do nothing to improve the public perception of female geeks. At least, not as competent professionals.

3. The campaigns undermine the laudable goal to change the common cultural perception that ugly, fat, and shy women have less value than conventionally pretty women.

Argument for point 1: This should be axiomatic. Men notice women. All the time. There is no danger that a man will fail to evaluate any woman as a potential sexual partner. Whether they admit it in public or not at all, it’s biology. Therefore, the efforts are, at least, trivial.

Conclusion for point 1: Mindless entertainment is great but counterproductive in a professional milieu. So, why expend one’s energy on it?

Argument for point 2: The public doesn’t know about female technologists. Full stop. Therefore, it is not in danger of stereotyping us as all-brain-and-no-body.

Conclusion for point 2: Indeed, the calendar campaign, et. al. do nothing to advertise women as human beings much less geeks. Only as sensual, sexual creatures. Yes, women (including moi) are sexual, every person is; however, I’m not sexual or sensual in a conference room. (Hey, see? The guys are lost in fantasy land!) I’m happy when my clients can focus on their software. Requirements gathering doesn’t benefit by distractions from the business domain.

Argument for point 3: There is no dearth of body beautiful imagery for girls. There IS a dearth of imagery representing women of all sorts being something other than whores or saints. In contrast, there is very little imagery of obvious male sexuality and men are generally very shy about public nudity or sexuality (of their own). That’s why the men’s ValleyWag compaign has a completely different impact from the women’s.

Conclusion for point 3: If one wants to change the public’s image of geek women then feel free to provide more images of them being geeks. And, hey, male geeks will like it because they really do think it’s sexy when a woman counts in hex.

It’s ironic, or maybe instructive, that the two finalists in the ValleyWag poll are in marketing, AFAICT. Not a C++ code monkey in sight. That’s not a judgment of value. There is enough challenge to be a marketing professional and it’s a valuable profession. (Really, I do think that.) That said, this sort of marketing, I don’t need. I’ll handle my sexual identity the way I see fit, thankyouverymuch. You think my posting on this subject is tedious? Well, trust me, I think the fact we’re still having to fight other women for the right to control our own sexual identity is tiresome. And, discouraging.

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3 thoughts on “Grrrl != Girl

  1. Your sexual identity is your business. I just think of you as a damn fine coder. To me, showing women in IT in revealing poses just demeans the skills. I have friends who I can’t deal woith professionally but I also have professional links that I can’t deal with personally….my point is that the two needn’t be intertwined.

    So says the old, fat, male John.

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