Today is the last day of Oktoberfest in Munich; this has meant a lot of slide shows of people drinking from giant beers steins on the wiesn. I noticed that the slide show at Boston.com included a disproportionate number of images of young women in (often boob-poppin’) Dirndls. Men were about as likely to be young as they were to be older, exhibiting interesting character, and more likely to be shown in functional roles. Women, then, were included primarily as eye candy for a (presumably heterosexual and) male gaze.
Five photos of young girls in Dirndls, two photos of young men in Lederhosen, two photos of older men in Lederhosen, one mixed-sex picture of middle- and older-life characters (the only one that includes a picture of a woman who might be over 25), three photos of men at work, and two photos of women at work (including the only photo of a woman who is not dressed up to be conventionally attractive).
For a slide show without the objectification, see Time.
UPDATE! Alan Taylor, the editor of the slide show at Boston.com, wrote in with some perspective:
Lisa Wade, PhD is an Associate Professor at Tulane University. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture; a textbook about gender; and a forthcoming introductory text: Terrible Magnificent Sociology. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram.
Hi there, just a note from the editor of the blog post in question. First, I’m happy to see the discussion here, believe it or not subjects like this are often in mind when compiling my photo stories.
This seems like fair criticism, and I’m not being defensive. What I will offer is last year’s entry for comparison and contrast: http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2009/09/oktoberfest_2009.html – not nearly as many “boob-poppin’” dirndls there.
As an editor I am limited by the photos available to me, and their quality. In this case, for example, there may have been a decent photograph of an older woman in a strong functional role, but maybe it was poorly lit or repetitive just not up to par, and was left out. I compile entries three times a week on varied subjects that endup being 30 to 40 photos total, starting with anywhere from 100 to 300 to begin with. The selection process is long, subjective, and can certainly be viewed as flawed from many points of view.
If you think the blog is intentionally objectifying, I invite you to look through my archives: http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2010/09/ and judge for yourself. I can also be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for the discussion,