Today I’ve got another of my occasional posts of various items related to gender and technology. All of these examples either reflect the male gaze in tech-related media or reinforce the idea that the primary creators and users of science and technology are males.
Morgan A. pointed out a recent cover of Wired, which she read about on Cindy’s Take on Tech:
In her post, Cindy points out that Wired often sexualizes or trivializes women when it puts them on the cover, or uses women to illustrate stories about other topics rather than focusing on their accomplishments. A few examples:
So the first one mentions being naked, the second has a woman displayed synthetic diamonds, the third uses a woman to illustrate a story about being famous even if you’re a “nobody,” and Uma Thurman appeared because she played a character in a movie based on a novel by Philip K. Dick.
I looked at all Wired covers from 2005 through 2010. Of those, 46 had people on them, in either human or cartoon form (including body parts, such as the boob cover), whose sex could be fairly well inferred. And 12 of those, or 26%, had a woman (or female character, as with the manga cover) either alone or pictured with men. Those 12 included several of the covers pictured above, as well as one showing the lower half of a woman’s face as she puts a pill in her mouth. The accompanying text is for an article titled “The Thin Pill.” When I went to the article, I found this set of photos:
So we have part of a naked woman’s body to represent the idea of thinness itself, one image of a male scientist quoted in the story, and another image of a clothed man who isn’t identified.
In a similar example, Julie Alsop sent us a link to a post at twatterr about covers of magazines about digital photography and Photoshop. A few examples:
The twatterr post has a link to archives to see covers of back issues of a number of digital photography magazines, and as she points out, they tend to use lots of sexualizes images of (very thin) women. Passive, sexualized female robots/cyborgs are another common theme.
Merve G. sent in this video, titled “The Power to Create,” made by the University of Copenhagen. In the video, women are sexualized, and we see the male = active, female = passive dichotomy: men have the “power to create,” while women are the things being created by them:
Barbara B. N., a Research Fellow at the Technical University of Lisbon, sent in this Nokia video in which the woman describing the features of a Nokia product first makes sure to describe herself — she’s hot — and at the end of the video tosses her head seductively and invites you to choose another video to “see more of” her:
And finally, an anonymous reader let us know about the “Geek and Gamer Girls” video, a parody of Katy Perry’s “California Girls” created by four actresses who called themselves Team Unicorn:
As the sender-inner says, she feels conflicted about the video. On the one hand, the song does celebrate girls being geeky and into science and technology and other elements of geek culture often associated mostly with guys. But on the other hand, “the difference between the message I got from the song lyrics and the message I got from the video left me rather uncomfortable. I guess it’s only cool to be a geek girl if you’re really really pretty.”