I had been wondering why women have felt the need to start up their own gadget blogs. After reading Engadget this morning, I know exactly why. First there were the weak jokes about wanting sexy “nurse bots” instead of functional transportation devices. But what really got my adrenalin racing was the report on the new portable PlayStations, where the tits of the women carrying the devices got more comments than the gadget itself. The reader comments were even worse. I furiously wrote a comment.

What the hell? This is such a pathetic example of sexism I’m astounded you guys can do this and not blush.

I’ve gotta assume the only reason is you think you’re in the boys’ showers at high school and there are no girls in sight.

Well wise up: if you want as wide an audience as possible for your website, you’d better bloody well not treat it as the boys’ showers.

I think PlayStation’s pathetic for using pretty women to promote their gadgets. What a stupid way of telling 50% of the population that they’re not interested in selling to them.

I think Engadget’s perpetrating sexism by focussing on the tits rather than the gadget.

And I’m appalled by the readers’ comments here. I’m guessing the women who STARTED reading this thread stopped pretty quick.

Engadget: are you REALLY trying to scare away your women readers?

Engadget had better bloody answer [Update: They did, and nicely, too.]. And I will be reading the womens’ gadget blogs from here on: Popgadget: Personal Tech for Women and Shiny Shiny: A Girl’s Guide to Gadgets.

14 thoughts on “do they think they have no women readers?

  1. Ella

    Well done. WELL DONE!

  2. Jason

    Maybe the comments were erased/censored but I can’t see anything there now (Sunday 9am EST) about girls’ tits and nothing offensive.

    Otherwise I can’t imagine you’d object just because there are pictures of the Sony video games conference girls- this is common in trade shows in Asia. Why should this ‘scare away’ female readers?

  3. Jill

    Jason, sorry, I’m not going there. Think.

  4. Jorunn

    Yay! What Ella said. And I think I’m starting to get the point with women’s gadget blogs, too. Popgadget and Shiny shiny have been sitting unused in my del.icio.us collection somewhere; I think it’s time to track down their RSS feeds.

  5. Jesper

    Not to quite agree with Jason, but there is a problem with this shoot-from-the-hip cry of “sexism!” We can discuss what sexism means, but I think it’s usually something with discrimination and gender stereotyping, n’est pas?
    Engadget is not really my thing, but there is a difference between bad taste / any expression of male sexuality / not catering for a female audience / and sexism. And saying sexism all the time is not really useful.
    Also, I think I’ve spent more time in boy’s showers than Jill has – they weren’t these evil sexist places that the blog post implies. I wouldn’t call the post sexist, but perhaps “negative stereotyping” is a correct term to apply here?

  6. Eirik

    I’ve spent my fair share of time in the men’s shower stalls as well, and while the tone is not evil it certainly can be sexist (but then I guess this depends on what kind of gym/shower one frequents ;-). I’ve been a part of the geek/nerd/science environment since my teens, and cannot see the point of denying that this area of society is male-dominated and frequently sexist. In fact, the sooner we accept it the sooner we can deal with it.

  7. Jill

    Engadget’s editor did reply, sympathetically, saying that he had meant to show how silly Playstation’s use of women was rather than reinforce it, and if one doesn’t read the comments to his post, I can see that. He also wrote that he’d deleted the most offensive comments, but prefers not to censor comments.

    Jesper, I found the comments offensive, and it was certainly not inclusive to women. The boys’ showers are presumably no more evil than the womens’ showers, but they are certainly not the kind of place a women feels like hanging out.

    It would be nice to feel welcome when discussing gadgets. And PlayStations.

  8. Elin

    Just a side comment, Jill – it is interesting to see that in writing this post, it seems like you change the tone of your language to a little more “street” jargon than what you typically use in your other postings… can you see it?

  9. Jill

    Yeah – mum wrote and complained.

    I guess I really *did* feel like I was entering the showers – or the street or somewhere.

  10. Jesper

    I am just saying that if you use the word sexism all the time, the word will cease to have any meaning – it just becomes an insult.
    And then – I just hope you are sure that when you are fighting sexism as in the above, that you would never dream of resulting to, say, stereotyping.

  11. J

    two quick thoughts:
    1. My impression was that a. Engadget was reporting on AVWatch’s reporting on the Gameshow, and in doing so pointed out what Sony had done, and how AVWatch had bought into it, and stated that it was “most disturbing”…my impression was that Engadget was pointing out the sexist marketing, not endorsing it (Of course, I agree with your response to the idiotic comments–they deserved attack–but they are not Engadget.)
    2. When your post seeks a response from Engadget, and when that site does respond, I think you should have added a note to the original post with that prompt reply. It informs the whole situation, and your readers shouldn’t have to ‘happen to find’ notice of the reply several links down on the comments chain…
    Keep up the good work, and thanks for the two new links to techno sites

  12. Jill

    Well, I don’t know, guys, the original post is ambivalent at best, although they do call it “disturbing”, they chose the photo of the woman as the main image for the post, and included this sentence, which hardly assumes that “geeks” might be women:

    Sony kept all their PlayStation Portable demonstatration consoles strapped to these trade show girls, forcing geeks to make friendly with the fairer sex if they actually wanted to play with one (a PSP, that is).

    The last words in the brackets seem rather a direct invitation to the awful comments from the readers. Of which the worst have now been deleted.

    Jesper, I don’t agree that women cry “sexism” over-often. And your argument can be turned precisely on its head: so many men’s hip-firing reaction to the accusation of sexism is to reply that women cry sexism to everything.

    J, whoever you are, I’ve edited the initial post and added the update. I agree, Engadget’s response should have gone straight in there, but I was just too busy when I first posted my comment, and then I forgot.

  13. Jesper

    I didn’t say “women”. In fact, I didn’t generalize. The post did not have any negative intent.

  14. Jill

    Thanks Jesper, that’s good to know 🙂

Leave A Comment

Recommended Posts

Triple book talk: Watch James Dobson, Jussi Parikka and me discuss our 2023 books

Thanks to everyone who came to the triple book talk of three recent books on machine vision by James Dobson, Jussi Parikka and me, and thanks for excellent questions. Several people have emailed to asked if we recorded it, and yes we did! Here you go! James and Jussi’s books […]

Image on a black background of a human hand holding a graphic showing the word AI with a blue circuit board pattern inside surrounded by blurred blue and yellow dots and a concentric circular blue design.
AI and algorithmic culture Machine Vision

Four visual registers for imaginaries of machine vision

I’m thrilled to announce another publication from our European Research Council (ERC)-funded research project on Machine Vision: Gabriele de Setaand Anya Shchetvina‘s paper analysing how Chinese AI companies visually present machine vision technologies. They find that the Chinese machine vision imaginary is global, blue and competitive.  De Seta, Gabriele, and Anya Shchetvina. “Imagining Machine […]

Do people flock to talks about ChatGPT because they are scared?

Whenever I give talks about ChatGPT and LLMs, whether to ninth graders, businesses or journalists, I meet people who are hungry for information, who really want to understand this new technology. I’ve interpreted this as interest and a need to understand – but yesterday, Eirik Solheim said that every time […]