Heather spotted this remarkably sad ad from Swiffer, aping Westinghouse Electric's classic wartime poster, We Can Do It! Adds Jason: "I love the clear tribute to an important historical image done in such a way as to piss on its legacy."
Gone are the wild tight curls, relaxed now into auburn waves. Her waist is cinched, her bust inflated: skinnier and sexier is the new Merida, star of Brave. And gone, in some of the new art, is that troublesome weapon: no fit thing for a Disney princess, after all. Fans and websites lamenting the changes, chief among them A Mighty Girl, have spearheaded a change.org petition seeking to convince Disney to change its mind.
The redesign of Merida in advance of her official induction to the Disney Princess collection does a tremendous disservice to the millions of children for whom Merida is an empowering role model ... In an interview with Pixar Portal, "Brave" writer and co-director Brenda Chapman stated, "Because of marketing, little girls gravitate toward princess products, so my goal was to offer up a different kind of princess — a stronger princess that both mothers and daughters could relate to, so mothers wouldn't be pulling their hair out when their little girls were trying to dress or act like this princess. Instead they'd be like, ‘Yeah, you go girl!’”
There seems a deliciously vile bait-and-switch element to it all: design a character that will attract parents resistant to the traditional messaging, then recast it in same old mold once they've sold it to their daughters for you.
But you can see the problem in that Chapman quote, which is never really about the character. When "marketing" is the first principle of your art, even something opposing its dictates is doomed to gravitate around it in fast-decaying orbit.
UPDATE: Having made such a positive splash already, organizer Leigh Alexander decided to nix the day itself lest it get out of hand:
#Objectify has gotten much bigger than I expected. At first I was excited, but now I see the scale of the discussion and coverage is creating a number of valid risks -- and as a result, I'd like to call off the event. ...
The dialogue's been great, but the end result -- a day of circulating a hashtag on Twitter -- runs the risk of catching fire with people who miss the point. #Objectify is not about celebrating objectification or about making people feel uncomfortable, but I'm increasingly worried that point will be lost and that harm can be done.
The first annual Objectify a Male Tech Writer Day brings attention to the ways, subtle and otherwise, in which female journalists are objectified and trivialized. Here's organizer (and BB contributor) Leigh Alexander, writing in The New Statesman:
The purpose of the exercise isn’t to “get revenge” or to make anyone uncomfortable: simply to help highlight by example what a gendered compliment looks like, and to get people talking in a funny and lighthearted way about how these kinds of comments distract from meaningful dialogues and make writers online feel like their point of view is only as relevant as how attractive they are.
Roll Up For The First Annual Objectify A Man in Tech Day [newstatesman.com]
Rebecca Onion is the curator at a new Slate blog that showcases nifty finds from America's historical archives. So far, she's got a photo of the be-loinclothed winner of a eugenics-inspired Better Baby Contest; a breakup letter written by Abraham Lincoln; and this specimen of 1950s-style STEM recruitment toys for girls.
What's interesting about this chemistry set is that you can't really say it's more or less sexist than the types of science kits you see marketed heavily to girls today. Sure, it's in a pink box and heavily insinuates that the best job a woman can hope for in science is as somebody's assistant. But, on the other hand, it's apparently the exact same chemistry set sold to boys, just with different packaging. Whereas today, pink-colored science kits trend heavily toward "girl" things, like teaching you how to make your own scented soaps — but at least you're in charge of the soap-making lab.
The set, which is preserved in the Chemical Heritage Foundation’s collection of chemistry sets, is a product of post-WWII anxiety over the nation’s lack of what was called “scientific manpower.” Having seen what a difference science made in the war (the bomb, radar, penicillin), and realizing that the amount of work to be done in labs and industrial R&D was limitless, Americans worried that insufficient numbers of young people wanted to be scientists. Some called for young women to be included in recruitment efforts. Women had been largely shut out of scientific careers up until that point. But they had a major point in their favor: They were undraftable. If girls got the right training, future wartime labs could be staffed by women, who were naturally bound to the homefront.
But all science jobs are not alike, and women didn’t get the plum ones. Historian John Rudolph, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has written about postwar efforts to upgrade the science curriculum. He found that girls were recruited to science careers after the war, but only for jobs that were to the side of the main show: lab technician, science teacher.
Every now and then, I am reminded of how lucky I am. I'm lucky that none of my readers has ever responded to a comment I made, which they didn't like, by calling me ugly. I'm lucky that they've never called me a cunt or a whore. I'm lucky that they've never threatened to rape me and then called me a humorless bitch when I pointed out how messed up that was. In general, the worst comments I've ever had directed to me, here, were from people accusing me of being a paid shill for Big Conspiracy, which is just funny.
But that shouldn't be luck, guys. My experience should not represent a minority experience among the female science bloggers I know. (And it is.) I shouldn't have to feel like thanking you, the BoingBoing readers, for being kind enough to not treat me like shit just because I'm a lady person.
Treating people with respect should not be a controversial position. It should not be a mindblowingly crazy idea to point out the fact that women are quite often treated as objects and, thus, have to deal with a lot more potentially threatening situations than men do. It shouldn't be offensive to say, hey, because of that fact, it's generally not a good idea to follow a woman you've never spoken to into an elevator late at night and ask her to come to your hotel room. Chances are good that you will make her feel threatened, rather than complimented.
And, even if you disagree, it's still totally not okay to threaten to rape people you disagree with. Seriously. Other than the specific bit about rape, we should have all learned this in preschool. And the fact that so many of the people engaging in this behavior claim to be rational thinkers and members of a community I strongly identify with ... well, that just makes me want to vomit. I honestly don't know what else to say.
Read Rebecca Watson's full article, Sexism in the Skeptic Community
What a steaming turd of an opening line in David Streitfeld's otherwise serviceable New York Times piece about the Ellen Pao/Kleiner Perkins sexual harassment lawsuit, and gender discrimination in Silicon Valley.
Here's the opening graf (bold-ing, mine):
MEN invented the Internet. And not just any men. Men with pocket protectors. Men who idolized Mr. Spock and cried when Steve Jobs died. Nerds. Geeks. Give them their due. Without men, we would never know what our friends were doing five minutes ago.
You guys, ladies suck at technology and the New York Times is ON IT.
Radia "Mother of the Internet" Perlman and the ghosts of RADM Grace Hopper, Ada Lovelace and every woman who worked in technology for the past 150 years frown upon you, sir. Women may have been invisible, but the work we did laid the groundwork for more visible advancements now credited to more famous men.
"Men are credited with inventing the internet." There. Fixed it for you.
UPDATE: Dell has issued an apology.
Christiane Vejlø writes about attending a Dell corporate event in Denmark which was hosted by Mads Christensen, a "lifestyle speaker" who sounds like Copenhagen's answer to Rush Limbaugh: a troll known for doing routines about how women don't belong in the workplace (and worse).
From Vejlø's account of the evening:
“The IT business is one of the last frontiers that manages to keep women out. The quota of women to men in your business is sound and healthy” he says.
“What are you actually doing here?” he adds to the few women who are actually present in the room.
Dell’s moderator continues talking about his two Rolex watches and he then presents the next speaker from Intel. After the break Mads Christensen shares with us his whole “show” about the bitchy women who want to steal the power in politics, boards and the home.
“Science” he calls it and mentions that all the great inventions come from men. “We can thank women for the rolling pin,” he adds.
And then the moderator of the day finishes of by asking all (men) in the room to promise him that they will go home and say, “shut up bitch!”.
Here's his website. I do understand that some argue that schtick is self-parody in the vein of Stephen Colbert, but hey, this guy is no Stephen Colbert. And showcasing that sort of comedy material at a corporate event is a strange choice for Dell to make—unless they're in the business of alienating customers.
Dell has since apologized:
A related analysis is here.
I've been doing periodic appearances on Sex is Fun, a sex-positive podcast aimed at providing fun, informative sex ed. for grown-ups. Last time I was on the show, we talked about some funny animal sex studies and what they can and can't teach you about human sexual behavior. This time around, we talked about a couple of recent studies focusing on sociology and sex.
In particular, we focused on a study from last fall that surveyed students at the University of Kansas to find out how men's and women's internalized sexism affect their relationships with each other. If you've ever watched one of those shows about so-called "pick up artists" and wondered, "Who the hell are the women falling for this crap!?", then this is the show to listen to.
Tech writer Glenn Fleishman doesn't mind attractive people trying to get him to pay attention to their products. But "companies that rely on models whose various assets are stress-testing spandex or exposed to air are trying so hard that they fail, he writes in an opinion piece at TidBITS today.
"Not all attention is good, since it highlights to women attending the show that these products are not for them, as well as driving off men who find being so blatantly manipulated distasteful.
Photo: Models pose with Nikon digital cameras during the 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. (REUTERS)