Saturday, May 22, 2010

The question

I'm currently embroiled in a discussion over in the 20sb forums with a gentleman who was looking for advice on how to get publicity for a pin-up contest the green technology company he works for is planning on running to raise awareness and "make renewable energy sexy, literally."

Whenever something like this comes up on the forums I struggle a bit with whether or not to get involved.

There are times when it just seems futile to respond or to attempt to get a thoughtful dialogue happening, especially when the thread title is something as ludicrously offensive as "Which brown race is the most attractive?"

(Sadly, that was indeed a real topic. The expanded version also referred to Canadians as a race. So.)

The pin-up topic had a couple of positive responses from women who thought this contest sounded like a great idea, none of them posing the question that immediately came to my mind:

Why does attention for green technology have to come at the expense of women?

Another commenter asked how it could possibly be at the expense of women when the women featured will be volunteering and wondered if having a male competition as well would make things more fair.

While I suppose on some level that would make things more balanced, the solution to the problem of objectifying women, is not to objectify men too.

I have no doubt that there will be plenty of willing participants.

There is, unfortunately, no shortage of women seemingly eager to be judged on their ability to cram themselves into a pre-fab mold of physical attractiveness, reduced to their waist - hip ratios and tacked up in back offices to be ogled by strangers.

Brains, personality and achievements be damned, they want recognition for their looks, and they'll get it. They'll get it far easier than they might gain recognition for just about anything else.

The pressure on women to fit that mold is so monstrously great, and competitions based on looks are just what that monster loves to feed on the most.

The thing with sexism and objectification is that we're so used to them that most of us don't even recognize it or question when these issues come up.

There's a prevailing attitude of "Oh well, sex sells, might as well use that to our advantage rather than challenge it or come up with something more innovative and interesting."

It's shameful and it's lazy and it's boring.

Sometimes though, all a shift in attitudes needs to get started is for someone to ask the question.

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