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Feb 4, 2013 by KATHY GILL, Technology Policy Analyst
To say that many TV commercials use sex as a key ingredient is stating the obvious. But the latest entry in GoDaddy’s seven year parade of offensive SuperBowl ads hit a new low.
[View the story "GoDaddy: Poster Child For Silicon Valley Sexism" on Storify]
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Silicon Valley has a bigger elitism problem than they do a sexism problem. A problem that may one day be very hurtful to the tech economy.
Ok, kill me, I enjoy the ads and freely admit to being a dirty old man.
Of the above, I most enjoyed the wax job one. Least favorite, the kissing one.
It wasn’t the kissing so much as the smacking noises that I found…disturbing. I certainly did not feel the urge to register a domain.
Was the Calvin Klein underwear ad sexist? Men can use sex and physical appeal to sell and not be undermining their gender’s credibility and women can’t? Maybe I’m not getting the nuance.
The kiss was a train wreck I couldn’t look away from, no matter how much I wanted to.
Both the Calvin Klein ad and the GoDaddy kiss ad were off-putting to me. My wife’s eaction, FWIW, to the two ads were “Oh yuck” and “What is that?” You can decide which comment applied to which.
Oddly, I found the Jack-In-The-Box “How I Met Your Mother” ad to be kind of cute/funny, though I can understand why some would find it sexist and offensive as well. I’m willing to be educated on this if education is needed.
It seems that sex is a part of advertsing, and the question is where lines are drawn from time to time…”gyrating crotches” and such to quote Ordinary Sparrow from another thread. Just my view.
“Men can use sex and physical appeal to sell and not be undermining their gender’s credibility and women can’t? Maybe I’m not getting the nuance.”
No, it sounds like you understand the nuance pretty darn well, zusai. You are correct — men can use sex and physical appeal to sell and not be undermining their gender’s credibility, and women can’t. Ways we know this is the case: nobody saw that CK commercial and decided it meant that men are in general only good for one thing, probably shouldn’t be in positions of leadership, and are generally stupid. The GoDaddy commercial absolutely does say that about women, and it fits very well with the cultural narrative that is born out by the pay gap, the lack of women in positions of power across the board, etc. As a young bubbly blond woman who makes her living as an engineer in Silicon Valley, I can tell you from personal experience that it is a pretty damaging stereotype.
Sorry, but that’s how it works. If it gives you a case of the sad-face that women “get” to be the victims of sexism in ways that men don’t, I really don’t know what to say. Trade ya?
It didnt seem to me that the GoDaddy SB ad [one in a series of really weird sort of 10year old vomit obcession ads] is about sex, not even close. Look at the subtext and tell us what you see there. That’s the meaning of the ad, I think. Just my .02
I watched the CK ad and said, ‘what the hell? does anyone really look like that? and who finds it attractive?”
I watched most of the ads last night on YouTube and found them overwhelmingly objective – what I think of as (1) juvenile male humor or (2) objectifying women or (3) testosterone-beating-of-the-chest humor or (4) all of the above.
There were exceptions. I liked the second Doritos ad, where the guys are in drag playing dress up with the daughter better than the goat, but both were good (and UGC, not an agency). I liked the Mercedes ad where the devil doesn’t win. I kinda liked the Budweiser WarHorse knock-off (I was annoyed at the lack of creativity – couldn’t they have found a different way to show the bond between man and horse other than copying WarHorse?).
To all of you who don’t get why women are pissed off about ads like this — please read this. It’s by a guy:
Women have a right to be pissed off off at the ads, and I have a right to enjoy them (except for the SB one).
I read the tweet exchange. What I would like to understand better is what she meant by “I feel like sexist backlash against women in tech has gotten worse in the past 6 months.” “That’s just the economy getting better.” Is she referring to what she considers to be sexist advertisements or how women are being treated in the workforce.?
I think Ms. Kane did a disservice to women by perpetuating the “angry feminist” stereotype. She handled that in a totally unprofessional way. If the goal is to promote more women in the workplace, I don’t think this in the way to go about it. I think most men in the workplace are fair and open minded. They need to be approached that way.
I definitely think being demure and ladylike about blatant sexism has proven effective in the past. If Ms Kane had asked pretty please don’t be mean to us delicate ladycreatures, I’m sure that everything would have been resolved toot-sweet. *bats eyes*
I think calm and professional would have been better to start, then escalate if need be.
Do you think ads like the go daddy one harm women in the industry because it causes men in the industry to view/treat them differently, or because of the role model effect on young women/girls or something else?
Zusai — Primarily the former, but yes, also the latter. Of course, there’s certainly a chicken and egg thing going on with the two. We as a culture tend to teach women from the time they are girls that their value lies in their ability to please men. Acquiescent and sexy, and but certainly not “geeky” and smart, and definitely not outspoken and driven. Then when we grow up, since focusing on being sweety and accomodating and sexy don’t lead to awesomeness in math and science, there are very few of us who end up in tech. Guys in tech see this, and it’s understood that that is because girls can’t do math. The few of us who do end up in tech get the crap end of that stick. Those tech women among us who are unattractive long ago got used to being fully ignored by guys — even those whose butts we were kicking in engineering school. Those of us who are “lucky” enough to fit the socially-accepted definition of “hot” get to be the objects of a different sort of attention from the geek guys than that which we would usually prefer. Of course that is a quick-n-dirty version of that story, but that’s the basic jist. Pretty much all of that (with the exception of traditionally unattractive geek girls, who are fully disappeared here) plays perfectly into the GoDaddy commercial.
If you’d like, some background for your earlier question, which has a lot to do with tech culture, and perhaps even SF-specific tech culture, regarding the tweet conversation. Because of the above narrative, and the fact that despite all efforts to the contrary, women are indeed dribbling little by little into geek culture (either through their professions or through fandom or general interest in all things nerdy) women are fighting desperately to carve out their spot in the tech world, to claim what is ours. The Bay Area is at the forefront of this, as we have more tech here than almost anywhere, and the tech here is driven specifically by young people. My generation grew up with feminism, and so the numbers of women in the industry and/or culture are greater than they ever have been, even if they are still pretty paltry. Part of this “geek girl” culture is an insistence on being judged by our merits and not on our hotness, and in tech that necessarily comes with being outspoken advocates for ourselves and our work and our validity. In a world where we still have to be better than men to get less, it’s a given that our accomplishments will be overlooked and recognition given to others if we do not advertise our awesomeness on a regular basis. We are regularly subject to accusations of interloping where men know best, relegated to “booth babe” status if we are attractive, and fully ignored if we are not. Therefore, having a naked chick dance around in her underwear to advertise women in geek culture rightfully pisses off a lot women who work their rears off to buck that stereotype. Furthermore (sorry, I know this is getting long), SF tech culture is notorious for treating the young guys who come up with the next big trend in tech like the kings of the world. It’s not particularly uncommon during a tech upturn to see 26-year-old nerdy guys in Ferraris with models on their arms going into high-end clubs and “making it rain” so to speak. Tech guys *own* this town during an upturn. So, the tweet about pushback against geek girl culture and the economy — which is, by the way, palpable and obvious to anyone in the thick of it — just reflects that young dudes suddenly ruling the world tends to mean a lot backlash against women. It’s a snark I understood immediately, as did the Geeklist guy, but I can see how it’s not necessarily obvious outside of this little bubble.
Thank you for your thoughtful post. When I wrote “Men can use sex and physical appeal to sell and not be undermining their gender’s credibility and women can’t?”, I meant why can’t women make the same choices as men without repercussions. I guess we’re not there yet.
You’re quite welcome. And no, we’re definitely not there yet, unfortunately.
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