Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Beauty and the Geek FAIL

Noting the dood-centricity of the programming and engineering fields, commenter Sarah sent me this article, in which Yahoo is apparently "sorry" for offering lap dances at a developers event in Taiwan. Oh, note: the lap dancers were female, the lap dancees were male.

Yahoo pulled this stunt last year also. It was only after photos surfaced on the world wide webs from this year's event did the company apologize. (Leading me to wonder what Yahoo is more sorry for- offering the lap dances, or getting caught?). It's not clear what exactly scantily-clad women giving doods in highwaters lap dances has to do with technology, but someone somewhere at Yahoo apparently thought it was a neat-o idea.

Judging by the comments, many folks (and by folks I mean "men," mostly) do not understand why this is such a big deal. It is, as they say, further evidence of Political Correctness Gone Awry.

So, if I may speak in Geek for a moment, let's all imagine that we live in an alternate reality in which men comprise about 20-30% of those in the computer science fields. At work, these men are surrounded by women mostly, who silently or not-so-silently doubt that the men are "hard-wired" for such an endeavor and ponder whether each man in the office is some sort of incompetent affirmative-action case. When these men log in to technology forums under male handles, women deluge them with date requests, dick jokes, and harassment that is in no way germane to talking about technology.

In short, whenever a man is present, his sex is always noted. If he is bad at computer stuff, it is a statement on the competence of all men, whereas if a woman is bad at computer stuff, it's only a reflection of her own self. If he is good at computer stuff, it is his individual achievement alone. Whereas women are seen as Normal Default Tech Geek, men are cast as outsiders to this Girls Club. At conferences, the ladies in charge sometimes cater directly to the desires of Normal Default Tech Geek by bringing in scantily-clad male strippers to give highwater-wearing ladies lap dances. While sensitive prudish types might interpret this as sending some sort of message that men are to be valued for their bodies, most people recognize that it is all great fun.

But then, someone takes pictures, circulates them on the internets, and the politically correct bullshit male advocate crowd cries sexism and whines about how male strippers make them feel "uncomfortable" and as though they do not belong to this Girls Club of a profession.

Many ladies, upon hearing about these shenanigans think "Wow, cool!" Many ladies, entitled as they are to the male body, tell the whining men to just get over it because there are More Important Things to worry about like engineering, coding, and when the next Buffy convention will be. And obviously, any women opposed to a conference having male strippers is a boring, ugly lesbian.

Whew! That was interesting to be on the other side of things for a change.

In related news, check out the Geek Feminism Blog.

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