Thus Spake Zuska
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Friday, July 28, 2006

Feedback From the IT Screen Goddess Gals

Sharon of the Screen Goddess IT Calendar has written to me to say

I'm glad to see all the research yo haev done - here's my 20 cents worth- Defying steroetypes in only part of the work. best wishes Sharon ( AKA Dr NO - It Goddess Calendar Grandmother)

Sharon, I must sorrowfully disagree; this is not 20 cents worth.  You have misspelled "you", "have", stereotype", and "is" in only two sentences.  Also, I believe "IT" is capitalized.  I might be willing to assign the value of one penny to your comment.

At My IT Goddess Rant, Sharon quotes Hedy Lamarr thus:  "Any woman can look glamorous - all she needs to do is stand still and look stupid."   I leave it to the reader to further evaluate Sharon's thoughtful participation in the Screen Goddess IT Calendar project and her insightful blog. 

I will only mention this about using Hedy Lamarr as your "inspiration" for participating in this sorry project.  Yes, Hedy Lamarr was a beauty of the silver screen who invented "frequency hopping", the idea underlying spread-spectrum communications technology.  And what did the nice lads at the National Inventors Council say when she wanted to keep working there, after she'd turned over her patent to the government?  No, Hedy, this is boys' work; you'll do much more good for the war effort if you flash your tits to sell war bonds.  It is true, she helped sell a great deal of war bonds by trading on her celebrity status, which was based in large part on her scandalous nude scenes in the film Ecstasy.  How many people do you suppose remember Hedy Lamarr today for her invention of frequency hopping?  How much good did she do to advance the cause of women in science?  Admittedly that wasn't her expressed goal - she just wanted to keep mucking around at the inventor's council because she liked doing that sort of stuff.  Which, her being a screen goddess, didn't make sense to anyone.     

In a separate comment, Sonja, she of the "American Beauty" pose, is distressed to find the fundamentals of science have not been followed in my post.  I am not conducting a science experiment here, I am writing a blog about engineering, science, and gender.  Nevertheless, that is no reason to do away with facts, logic, and reasoning, as Sonja points out.  So, here we go.

The comments here I am sad to say ARE misinformed.

Sonja has not identified which, if any, of my comments are misinformed.  I said calendars like these are not aimed at young girls, but rather at adolescent boys and pervy men who want to drool over the stereotypical objects of male fantasies.  I said that the folks who made the IT screen goddesses calendar think dressing up women like fancy whores will attract young girls to IT careers.  I said they thought that the inappropriate objects of male lust in the movies were good role models for young girls. 

Sonja says,

The facts are that to be a commercial success the calendar has to be visible, attractive, and popular - or it will raise neither awareness nor the money to invest in projects to encourage women into technology...Movies and media are constantly focussing [sic] on actresses and models who are attractive and scantily dressed, and magazines for teenage girls devote pages to makeup and attracting boys...[they] are seen as...people to admire...if that is what people want, [isn't] it better that the role models they see are limited to actresses and models...[rather than] a frumpy geek who can't get a boyfriend...We chose the screen goddesses theme...we believe...we ought to be admired hence the analagy [sic]...  

I don't see any obvious contradiction between what Sonja says and what I said.  The major difference is that Sonja thinks this is A-OK and I think it is a hideous mockery of women's aspirations and achievements.

Sonja thinks she is saying to the world, "Look, I'm smart AND sexy!"

I think she is saying to the world, "Look!  No matter how smart I ever am, you can count on me not to threaten the stereotypical understanding of the female role in society, which is to be constantly available sexually to any male who wants me, to be constantly concerned with my appearance and whether or not I am attractive to males, in the way that society defines as attractive, according to current standards of beauty on display by anorexic models and Hollywood actresses whose airbrushed images are plastered all over the media.  You may now jerk off while gazing at my hot body.  Feel free to disregard my intellectual accomplishments, except insofar as it makes you feel superior and powerful to imagine yourself sexually dominating someone like me and seeing me reduced to what I really am, a cunt, no matter what I say about my fancy IT career.  This should help you in treating other women the same way, no matter who they are or what they've accomplished as well. Proceeds from the cost of this calendar go to encouraging young girls to consider careers in IT.  Happy jerk-off!"

Why is Sonja so confused?  She thinks there are only two choices:  Nerdonna or Whore.  As I make completely clear in my essay " 'Suzy the Computer' vs. 'Dr. Sexy':  What's a Geek Girl to Do When She Wants to Get Laid?" forthcoming later this year in "She's Such a Geek!" (Seal Press), this is a completely false dichotomy.  If you want to get a good idea of what a Dr. Sexy calendar might look like, go look at Sexy Science Version 1.0.  There's no reason a calendar like that couldn't be published.  Also no reason that money to encourage young girls to go into IT couldn't be raised in some other way that does not trade on the flesh of women.

Or why not dress up like famous women scientists?  There are plenty of great portraits of nifty women scientists and engineers.  I know, I know - nobody wants to jerk off to women scientists.  And it's not as much of a turn-on for you, is it Sonja?  Because face it, you don't really find yourself, as an IT practitioner, to be very sexy, now do you?  Just Sonja the IT goddess - not sexy enough. If you want to pose like a Playboy pinup, fine, go ahead.  Just don't pretend you are doing it for a sanctified cause.  Because it makes me want to puke on your fancy whore shoes.          

4:35:40 PM    comment [] trackback []

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