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.
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.