Monday, August 6, 2012

The booth babe problem

As happens all too frequently, the internet is afire with accusations of objectification, slut-shaming, feminazism, and all the wonderful fun epithets that get flung around when people with poor social skills start talking about subjects which hit gender politics. This time, the catalyst was someone complaining that there are too many attractive women at conventions.

Leaving aside the absurdity of such a statement, the real complaint is that some of the aforementioned attractive women may not be as "dedicated" to geek lifestyle as the complainer. Considering that many of his targets spend large amounts of time and significant money making excruciatingly detailed costumes for themselves, I doubt that one holds water either.

But there really is a problem with women at conventions. The problem is that commercial entities at such events have a depressing tendency to hire representatives based solely on physical appearance, with no thought to having them able to speak knowledgeably about what they're promoting. The term is "booth babe", which I dislike; it diminishes the women involved in this as people.

I've no objection to hiring attractive spokesmodels. I don't even object to having them dress up as characters from whatever you're promoting (although I'd prefer if you let them dress however they wished, and if need be display your expensively-made costume on a carefully painted mannequin). What I object to is having their value to your promotional effort be solely as eye candy. If you're trying to sell to geeks, well, yes, I'll freely admit that the pretty face will grab our attention, but we would much prefer to find out that she knows about this thing, that she cares about it, that she's going to tell us why she thinks it's great. And our social skills aren't so poor as to be unable to tell marketing guff from genuine enthusiasm.

My first assumption when I meet someone at a convention is that they're there because they think the subject matter is interesting. I'd like that to hold true for as many people as possible, regardless of gender, physical appearance, or other unimportant matters.

1 comment:

  1. That article about girls at conventions "not being real geeks" really pisses me off. They're acting like being a geek is some sort of honor or privilege when it isn't. It's just another group of people who happen to like certain things.

    I think we should just be inclusive.


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