Quickies

Skepchick Quickies, 2.9

Jen

Jen is a writer and web designer/developer in Columbus, Ohio. She spends too much time on Twitter at @antiheroine.

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28 Comments

  1. I’ve already have one set of pink pearls, which is plenty thank you very much. They are beautiful, but why would I need more than one set?

    In my family, girls are traditionally given pearls on their 16th birthday. Because my family- like many families- doesn’t communicate properly, I ended up with TWO sets of white pearls! And later on my good friend brought me a pink set back from India. So I’ve actually got three sets of pearls… NO MORE PEARLS!

    I would much prefer TECHNOLOGY for Valentine’s Day. Although since my fiance is currently on a ship somewhere off the coast of South Africa, I’ll be lucky if he remembers to send me a message via the satellite phone.

  2. The study on women being treated as sexual objects and math performance is intriguing.

    I went to an all-girls high school with a strong math and science program. In my coed Middle School I was not very confident in math, but once I was in math class at my all-girls high school I really thrived. All the girls did well, pretty and plain alike. Personally, I loved learning math and science in an all-girl environment.

    In the math classes I’ve taken at MIT I’ve performed about average– a C and a B so far. But that is because the classes were ridiculously hard, not because of any negative objectifying. Well, not from the professors…. the ones I had are too old and scatterbrained and live in their own strange universes. My ubergeeky Linear Algebra TA had a big crush on me, but that worked in my favor. I basically stalked him in order to pass the class, and he seemed happy to help me with my homework for hours.

    My mom always does say to me, though, “You want to be pretty but not *too* pretty.”

  3. My quick glance over the link on the objectification study leaves me with a quandry: the researchers seem to have assumed that being attractive necessarily means more objectifying gaze, but it’s not like women who are not conventionally attractive are allowed to escape the scrutinization of this gaze in a pervasively patriarchal culture.

    These discussions are always so fraught. On the one hand, off-handedly dismissing a woman’s accomplishments as being a result of her (good) looks is patently misogynist, but on the other hand lookism is a very very real thing and we have to be aware that people who fit into certain paradigms of attractiveness are privileged in a number of ways over people who are ugly and/or have “lower valued” bodies.

    tl;dr fuck being judged at all by appearance. Thanks patriarchy! :)

  4. @Drenched:

    Um, men are also judged on appearance, and by men and women. So, how is that patriarchal?

    Under certain circumstances, judging someone’s “worth”, or whatever, may be sexist and/or patriarchal, but surely it is more often than not just an instance of common human behaviour?

    I would posit that the effect or results of being more-than-average attractive would tend to be somewhat similar for men and women — easier access to resources (whether, in contemporary society that be employment, social status, whatever), higher social acceptance, higher ranking in the socio-political Alpha; Beta; etc. model, easier access to potential mates, and so on.

  5. @John Greg: The interesting thing about scientific studies, though, is, if well done, they may show us that our assumptions are wrong, and that we made our assumptions based on unquestioned ideological premises.
    I’m not surprised by this study, though, because it does mesh with my assumptions.
    A lot of people resent beautiful women, and think they receive so many benefits from being beautiful that it’s about time they were taken down a peg or two. While they’ll probably receive an enormous amount of sexual attention, they probably also are not perceived as important, useful human beings.
    Good looking men, now? Perhaps envied, but more likely admired (both as sex objects AND as powerful, effective human beings who deserve their good looks).
    We live in a sexist and misogynist culture. It’s not surprising we have a hard time realizing it, and rejecting our own sexist and misogynist assumptions. But we keep trying,of course.

  6. As a long-time NewEgg customer, I just sent them a feedback email, telling them I’d be looking for a new source for my IT gear. One that acknowledges my existence, rather than advertising that all the good geeky items are things “HE will love,” that are “the way to HIS heart,” while suggesting I be given a shiny bauble.

    So, who’s got some suggestions for other sites with prices as good as NewEgg?

  7. That NewEgg ad is so frustrating! I consistently buy all of my computer gear there. I mean it — I build and repair computers. I’m a woman, and I resent being “othered” like this: like all I like are frilly baubles, while computers are for “him.”

    Oh, I forgot to mention heteronormative. Gay people don’t celebrate Valentine’s day at all.

  8. Well, yeah, I am a lesbian, and that angle certainly bugged me as well. What makes the ad extra pathetic (and I told them so in my email) is that it would have been TOTALLY EASY to write gender-neutral copy. Such as: “Here’s some things your geeky valentine will love!” Sheesh. I will definitely be looking at Tiger Direct instead, thanks for the suggestion!

  9. @catgirl:

    Do you truly, genuinely, deep down, for realz believe that men and women are judged equally on their appearance in our culture?

    Um, well, no … but that is not only not what I said, but such a statement, i.e., “men and women are (not) judged equally on their appearance” tends to create a, I think it is, false dichotomy in that while they are not judged equally in appearance in the sense of this aspect or that aspect of appearance, I think the general specifics of the results of whether or not someone is judged on appearance tend to be close to the same….

    Look, I know I am not expressing this well at all. What I am trying to say is thus:

    1. Men and women make value judgements about other men and women based upon their appearance.
    2. The criteria for those judgements, both in terms of what aspect of appearance is judged, and what the value (result?) of that judgement is vary both in terms of the sex of the judger and the judged.
    4. What those determinations result in, in terms of after-the-fact value judgements leading to jobs, dates, trust, etc. and so on, vary almost infinitely.
    3. I do not believe that an equivalence resulting in something we could call “equality” is possible because of the range of values, aspects being judged, who’s doing the judging, and the environmental/situational/social circumstances of the judging.

    Argh. I’m having trouble spelling this out. Sorry.

    I guess that’s all just an overly verbose way of saying that “men and women are not judged equally on their appearance” is ultimately meaningless and unprovable because it involves an almost infinite set of values and variables and determinations and results and so on. Not to mention that every culture, every sub-culture, is going to have a widely different set of definitions or values as to what appearances are considered attractive or not, or whatever, and what the results of those determinations might be.

    Generally speaking I suspect, but can neither prove nor disprove, that men who are judged by their culture and peers as highly attractive, and women who are judged by their culture and peers as highly attractive will both receive an unfair (in comparison to the rest of us) bounty of favours (so to speak), but that those favours will be different for each sex, and the determination of the value of that bounty of favours is too various to judge.

    @Kalloikagathoi:

    The interesting thing about scientific studies, though, is, if well done, they may show us that our assumptions are wrong, and that we made our assumptions based on unquestioned ideological premises.

    I agree with that.

  10. @John Greg: Weather also “involves an almost infinite set of values and variables and determinations and results and so on“. That doesn’t make meteorology “ultimately meaningless and unprovable“. Admittedly it can be said that it’s easier to pick out a subset of values and variables in meteorology than in analysing human interaction, but your arguments are not a valid critisisms of the study in question.

  11. Are good looks problematic for women? Yes. Does it affect their math performance? Unfortunately the said study was confined to presumably the USA. Can the results of the study be generalized to other cultures? Do women in Iran who are veiled and therefore presumably immune to the “objectifying gaze” do better in math? Is it impossible to respect a physically attractive woman’s intellect? Are the homely men and women all math geniuses? If you’re pretty does the prefrontal cortex shut down and tranform you into a Paris Hilton airhead?

    Men and women will always, always, always like to look at physically attractive men and women. Even the self-righteous authors of the article must have had those horny thoughts about that cute guy or girl in math class. If you contend that you never engage in the “objectifying gaze” then either you’re lying or you’re physically blind.

    I truly think that if a gaze interferes with another’s personal space or violates his/her civil liberties, then the author’s of the article have a valid point. However, their definition of “objectifying gaze” as simply the visual inspection of another’s body is an act that every human being does. And if “objectifying gaze” leads to the criminal act of dwelling on a private thought of someone whom you find physically attractive, then maybe we should all wear burkas.

  12. WTF Newegg? I visited their feedback page and left them this note:

    I’m disappointed in you, Newegg, because of this: http://promotions.newegg.com/nepro/11-0292/index.html My geek is a female. She doesn’t want a damned watch, she wants a gigabit switch for our house so she can write code on the deck. And yet, your copy – and indeed everything about the linked promo – insists that geeks are only men, and that the significant other in their life only wants decorative trinkets rather than real tech. Shame on you.

    I strongly suggest other folks with geeky women in their life (or who are geeky women themselves) do something similar. They won’t change if they aren’t called on their repellent behavior.

  13. It looks like Newegg heard the complaints. When I checked out that link just now, the copy assumes that the “Cutie” who wants jewelry and so on is male and the “Geek” who wants mostly tech stuff is female. Skepchick readers win again!

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