Sunday, July 31, 2005

Blogs and women as decor

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Blogs and
Women as Decor

Lady bloggers: are they typically different from gentlemen bloggers?

Let's consider one angle of this topic, a topic that is of increasing interest to the blogosphere.

Not "are males and females inherently different", but in what ways do women differ from men when it comes to blogs and blogging?

Not "what is feminine blogging?", nor "what makes a blog masculine?" -- as though there were blogging qualities and aspects that are necessarily tied naturally to one gender or the other.

This is a discussion going on over at Vaspers the Grate.

Sexualized Barrier
to Female Blogging?

One thing that inhibits the acceptance of female blogs is:

men and women are not comfortable
with women as authority figures.

This may be an unconscious attitude,
not an articulated bias.

Western social values still place
prettiness or beauty, overt
sexuality, and seductiveness as
highly regarded attributes...

...for women.

Intelligence, competence, teamwork
are *often* (not always)

on a lower value level in
American business offices...

...for female workers.

I imagine its a slightly
different story in
factories and construction.

In hard physical labor,
prettiness might be nice,
but it could interfere,
be dangerously distracting.

But I could be wrong.

This childish, foolish,
superficial attitude of
American businessmen
could have its exact
equivalent in labor jobs.

Does it apply to blogs?

While a photo of the blog author is a nice, personalizing, humanizing enhancement of any blog...

...could a photo of a beautiful blogger be playing into the archaic, and generally counter-productive, patriarchal system of optical pleasure?

Would a female blog gain in credibility and authoritativeness, if no photo of the blogger is displayed?

Would a photo of the lady blogger be more, or less, effective in generating traffic and loyal readership, if the photo is a "glamour" shot? With overt sexuality? Even enticing?

A Female Socio-linguist Speaks

Let's look at these brief excerpts from Talking From 9 to 5 by Deborah Tannen, Ph.D. (William & Morrow, NY, 1994)


A very different. and more troublesome, kind of tension was described to me by a woman who observed that some men like to have what she called "decorative women" around them. Such men tend to hire women they find attractive, regardless of their abilities.

According to her, the presence of women whose abilities are not up to those of the others, and who are extremely attractive, can throw an office into disarray. (p. 270)


Another physician told me that when she placed an advertisement that said "physician seeking office assistant," one after another young woman appeared wearing low-cut blouses and minute skirts.

When they discovered that the physician interviewing them was female, they became uncomfortable, and during the interviews tugged at the necks of their blouses and hems of their skirts, trying to cover themselves up.

She learned to avoid this embarrassing situation by advertising "Woman physician seeks office assistant." (p. 271)


The value of "decorative women" in a work environment is institutionalized in some countries.

For example, Japanese businessmen often hire pretty young women simply to stand around while they do business. (p. 271)


Women office workers are commonly called "flowers of the workplace." (p. 272)


[signed] Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate



carrie said...

for sure.

when i was working in banking, i would have customers actually say to me, "aw, your job's easy... you just stand around and look pretty" which i felt was a little bit insulting since i actually did work very hard!

i didn't think they really "meant anything by it" but still.

and once, i had a male teacher of mine try to resolve a dispute between myself and another female student by saying to me, "don't worry about it. you're prettier than she is, anyway." i was very insulted.

i've dealt with many of the things mentioned here in this post throughout my life.

steven edward streight said...

Tell me about it.

Being an excruciatingly handsome man isn't all it's cracked up to be either. I get so tired of female clients flirting with me and trying to reveal cleavage and such.

It's so hard being this goodlooking, and also, on top of it all, adding insult to injury...

...being smart, funny, well-read, cultured, refined, popular, spiritual, literary, artistic, sensitive, understanding, forgiving, generous, kind, full head of healthy original hair, trim, outdoorsy, muscular, athletic, stylishly dressed, and...

...just kidding.


Seriously, smart people have a hard road to hoe.

Or at least that's what they tell me.

carrie said...

tsk-- now you're being flippant.

you're either too serious or too flippant!!!!!

and besides... i am average in appearance and i'm beginning to feel average in intelligence as well.

Dan-E said...

average in appearance is a self-perception. however, to the guys who spend more time on the computer than hanging out with the three-dimensional people, you might come of as unattainably hot.

but it's all relative ;)

steven edward streight said...

Hear that tinny bell?

It's zinger time!


I'm quite sure the Average Crowd will welcome you with open arms and cold hearts.


Yes, compared to a pebble, I'm really smart.

With no photo of me in existence on the internet, I remain an imaginable but not discernible character.

So compared to other bloggers whose photos are non-existent, I look pretty good. In fact, relative to them, in side-by-sides, I shine, I stand out, I wither in my own fierce sunshine.

Are women doing more than personalizing and humanizing their blogs when they display photos of themselves?

Since men and women seem, in USA culture, to differ re: optical eros, what is the male equivalent of a glamour or teasing photo?

Details of wealth, status, power accumulated, so-called, by the gentlemen?

Or aggressivity in posts and replies to comments?

Or...a photo of male in expensive suit with $1,000 bills (notice male "bills" not "betties") spilling out of the pockets?

I wonder.

steven edward streight said...

As a deconstructivist male feminist, I call for the re-naming of dollar "bills".

Now all people shall always call cash money, USD, dollar "betties", or better: dollar "beatrices" (to absolve them of any necessary connection to gambling or gamboling).

carrie said...

i think the men have to show pics of hot chicks in order to get attention and prove they are cool

like tony pierce on his busblog.

steven edward streight said...

I recall now some web sites that were using scantily or partially clad living human females in the site design.

One was a web designer or computer programmer, I forget which.

I had a photo I found of a mail order battery business, from car batteries to flashlight batteries, using a skimpy, insufficient nightgowned prostitute-looking human female, in a ad, she's holding a car battery and poisedly posing with it, a smile also.

Hamburgers and sex? a la Hardy's/Carls Juniors tv commiracles?

or as in George Castanza accidentally blending eros with heroes (as in sandwiches)?

Britney Lovelace Spheres?

A colloquial squeal appeal?