Friday, December 11, 2009

Quote of the Day

I'm one of ten girls in a room with 700 guys, and I'm not prepared for that. It doesn't feel comfortable for me to sit there and watch that.
- Natali Del Conte, summing up in under 30 words the problem with using female nudity to generate excitement at a tech event.

(From Buzz Out Loud, CNet's podcast of indeterminate length, episode 1121).

Seriously, though, Del Conte is discussing an event for the Boxee where the Suicide Girls (just linking the Wiki article for that one) performed. Her description of the actual offending event is about 3 or so minutes into the BOL podcast, but the gist is that there was full frontal nudity and a couple of girls making out with each other.

What this does is set a clear line of delineation about who the tech product (in this case, Boxee, but this is hardly the first time some geekery has gone awry in its gender presentations) is designed for, and who they don't particularly care about building as their demographic. Because even if some of the other 10 girls in the audience were gay or bi and would enjoy a Suicide Girls show, that doesn't change the underlying assumption - and that underlying assumption should, actually, make the gay or bi girls just as uncomfortable.

The underlying assumption isn't "This is for people who enjoy women making out with each other". The underlying assumption is "at a tech event, this is what women are good for". It turns women into objects, and - as Del Conte flat out says - makes the event an uncomfortable space for those women who dare to venture in. Because even if a girl in question is attracted to women, she's still sitting near a couple of dozen guys who are not aware of her inner life or thoughts, and for whom the Suicide Girls show has been performed for.

I'm not all that interested in tech. I buy what Apple tells me to buy, and I go on my merry way. I don't have an e-Reader, and I'm not exactly entirely sure what makes a good or bad interface. But if I were interested in tech, if I wanted to get a job writing about tech for a tech site and talking about tech on tech podcasts, the last thing I would want is to have my minority status demonstrated so blatantly at any event, but especially an event I was supposed to be covering for my work. The last thing I would want is to see that at the very least the product I was about to be covering, if not the rest of the men in the room, didn't recognize me as a journalist or as a potential consumer. I would not be prepared for that, either.

1 comment:

Natali Del Conte said...

Thank you for the support on this. It is more appreciated than you know.