FUJIFILM: SEXISM FROM INNOVATION

 

Today was a Throwback Friday! Sounds exciting, doesn’t it?  This week, we’re going back to the 1970s, so get your tank tops and platform heels ready!  Fujifilm, somewhat unbelievably, ran a press conference with a product demo that included a semi-naked female body as a prop for “testing the camera’s performance on skin tone”.  Yeah right, pull the other one.  It was a thinly-veiled excuse to cover up that they brought out a topless model to titillate the all-male audience.

Fortunately, one of them spoke out.  Everyone listened to him because, well, he’s a man.  Women have been complaining about this sort of thing for decades, but are routinely mocked and silenced.

 https://twitter.com/dannynorthphoto

The Metro’s article on this is surprisingly good (usually The Metro’s only any good if the train toilet’s run out of bog roll on the morning commute) – you can read it by clicking here.

My thoughts on this aren’t as stereotypically righteous as you might imagine.  While I do find it offensive that this was deemed an appropriate marketing technique in 2017, I’m actually really embarrassed for Fujifilm.  Like, seriously, did no-one tell them it’s 2017?

When I first started working in engineering; design offices and site cabins had nude calendars everywhere, hardcore pornography was sent round the office by email, and corporate jollies involving strip clubs were commonplace (this was in the early 2000s).  There was very much an atmosphere of it being a “men’s space”.  I did not dare question this set-up, as those in charge were the same ones who were responsible for my progression and pay-packet.  Worse than that, I was frequently underestimated and was the brunt of every “dumb woman” or “feminazi” joke going.  If Bernard Manning had walked in one day, I wouldn’t have been surprised.

As more and more women enter professions that are traditionally male-dominated, there is a transition period where nasty behaviours get exposed and weeded out.  The first women through the doors have to bear the brunt of the sexism and complaints that they’re ruining everything, and it’s Political Correctness Gone Mad or Feminism Going Too Far.  There’s an element of this still in motoring and gaming (please, please, please, no-one mention GamerGate).

While I find it really childish that groups of grown men left to their own devices are only comfortable working in a playground environment, I also find it fascinating.  Why does this happen almost universally in male-dominated circles?  Given that I know a ton of men who aren’t rampant sexists, but who also wouldn’t complain about it either, here’s what I think is going on:

A few macho types at the top of the food chain proudly display their masculinity by creating an atmosphere in which overt manliness is the norm.  No-one is going to question it, as to be seen doing so would make one “less manly” (oh nooooooooooooooooo!).  And in not questioning it, all of the men get to enjoy the benefits: loads of pictures of boobs, and none of those pesky women hanging around telling them they can’t make poo jokes all day.  Outside of this environment, these men (including the ringleaders, most of the time) behave like civilised human beings – they wouldn’t want anyone behaving around their mothers or wives like that, right?  Trouble is, it perpetuates the problem, and makes it hard for women to succeed in these fields.  As well as being made to feel uncomfortable, it’s a lot easier to dismiss and ignore those that you openly hold in contempt.

Apparently photography is a male-dominated field (quelle surprise!).  I wonder how many other instances of this there are that we don’t hear about.  I doubt any of those Good Men Who Say Nothing will be opening their mouths about it any time soon.  Maybe it’s because they are embarrassed too.

 

MODIFIED AND EMPLOYED

 

I recently joined a Facebook group that is an anechoic chamber, so that I could have more fiery and meaningful discussions than the samey agreement and self-congratulatory nature of my regular feed.

And it just so happened that one of the first posts I saw was on my expert subject of body modification.  And it had the type of responses you might see in the feed of someone more straight-laced than I… it reminded me of a conversation I had with my bestie the other week.  We were out for a stroll to the tattoo studio (by some amazing coincidence), and after discussing the more mainstream mods, we moved in to the realm of The Jobstopper.  We’re both heavily into body modification, and we both have respectable office jobs.  Some employers are really twitchy about anything out-of-the-ordinary appearance wise, but we have been lucky in finding workplaces that are a little more accepting.  Their appreciation of diversity allows us to be ourselves, and to be devoted to our careers (I feel more loyal to my employer because they accept me as I am).  And, our conversation went something like this:

BESTIE: I’m thinking about sub-dermal implants; the piercer had some amazing ones!

ME: Yeah, it’s something I’ve thought about too, but I’m not sure what I’d get, so maybe one for the future.

BESTIE: How about some horns? [Aside: if you’re wondering what this is about, false horns can be created by sliding a silicone “horn” into a pocket made under the skin.  It’s then stitched up and bandaged, and in a few weeks you have some nicely healed horns.]

ME: Honestly, I think that’s going a bit far.  I mean my employer has put up with a lot from me, appearance-wise.  I can just imagine the conversation now: “Look, Science Lady, when we took you on, we were aware of the visible tattoos, and the facial piercings, which seem to have grown in number.  And the blue hair, well, we were a bit taken aback by that; but we thought, hey, it’s just one of those quirky things.  But this – horns for f@ck’s sake!  Horns!  Did you even think about how this is going to look to clients?  Seriously, it’s your body and all, but if you don’t come in tomorrow with a tail implant to match then we’re going to have to make this a disciplinary matter.”

This guy is a lawyer. Seriously.
This is what I use for my signature blue hair, after application of copious amounts of bleach.

 

DANGER! DANGER!

 

I’ve got some new stuff in my Science Lady store on Cafepress. In a similar theme to the Periodic Table merch, I’ve created a line of products based on hazard symbols. So far I’ve focused on the UN Economic Commission for Europe’s standard Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS), but I will be adding more over time.

Don’t be a mug; buy one of mine!

Please let me know in the comments if you have any ideas for future products that you’d like to see!

 

NOTES FROM A SMALLER ISLAND

 

A while back, I posted about UK immigration policy (this was pre-Brexit, before Brexit was a twinkle in Boris Johnson’s eye, even) and I mooted the idea that our government might be steering the UK towards a lower, and hopefully sustainable, population with a correspondingly smaller economy.  Well, recent events suggest that this could be a possibility.

I attended an event held by GMSS, on “Misrepresenting Reality” – a critique of the information provided by the Leave campaign (most of which turned out to be lies and/or appeals to nostalgia).  Well, I say attended, what I mean is that I missed the whole talk but snuck in during the extended Q&A (hey, I have a demanding job).

One of the questions asked of the speaker (who is a Professor in European Law, so they know their stuff) was whether they had heard any good arguments in support of Brexit.  They said no, but there was one possibility that no-one has mentioned – that Brexit would result in the UK’s population and economy reducing in size and resulting in a smaller, sustainable nation with comfortable living standards but no aspirations to be anything greater.

Personally, I don’t think that would be a good thing, but it would be an argument that actually held some water, in comparison to jingoistic ranting and slogans painted on buses.  It seems that there are decisions happening as to where our country is headed.  I see it as being in one of two broad directions:

  1. Economic growth, high population, high output – We aim to keep producing, innovating, and competing as a first-world player.  We take an active role on the world stage, with diplomatic and military influence and an international outlook.  In order for this to happen, our infrastructure and population need to consistently grow, and we have to be able to maintain this growth against competitor nations who may have an advantage in terms of efficiency in terms of production and labour costs (I’m looking at you, China and India).  High immigration is necessary to bolster the population, due to the below-replacement birth rate of indigenous Brits.
  2. Declining economy, low population, low output – we accept that other countries will overtake us, and we make the decision to go quietly.  We reduce our population by curbing immigration, and continuing with policies designed to discourage people from having large families.  We maintain a decent quality of life by relying more on our own industries, with some overseas trade in specialised products and services.  We maintain a foothold in international politics, but our role is far less significant.  The capacity of our armed services is whittled down even further and take a more ceremonial and/or peacekeeping role.

You may decide that you prefer one or other of those options, or neither, or you might not have any strong feelings on it.  But one thing we do know is that this was not the Brexit Britain we were promised.  We’re not going to bring The Empire back – and I’m sure there will be many disappointed Leavers who feel they got sold a pup.