We love Leigh Alexander's proposal that Feb 1st should be "Objectify a Man in Tech Day," meaning "whenever you tweet an article, quote, comment or video from a man, add a comment about their appearance or attractiveness."
The concept stems from the well-known gaming and social media culture journalist's frustration at constantly being judged on her appearance, whether in a positive or negative light:
I speak in public often, but I'm loath to share and promote any video of my appearances – in part due to normal self-consciousness, and in part due to an aversion to response. A woman who shows her face in a male-dominated space generally can't win. If her audience does not find her attractive, she will have to hear a lot of specific criticisms of her features (searching for me on Google Images yields a picture of my face alongside Jay Leno's, a referendum on my chin).
It's worse on her if her audience does like her looks: In that case they'll say she obviously used her beauty to boost her career and is seeking attention and praise for displaying even a biographical headshot. Or she'll be the recipient of vulgar comments and image manipulations.
Difficult stuff, yes – but also problematic, and much more widespread, is an insidious breed of sycophantism. This makes it more likely for a woman in geek culture to have to hear about how gorgeous and radiant she is whenever she wants to join important discussions, make statements on issues or use her expertise.
Basically, techie women can't win. (And it's not just women who write about and work in tech; just this week, a commenter called me a "fairly attractive and slightly vapid girl writer" based on an article that didn't even have my photo or my first-person perspective in it.) It's tiring, and endless, and something needs to be done. Or, as Alexander argues, "Everyone knows that discrimination is wrong. It's just that sometimes people need a little help to recognise when discrimination is happening."
Betabeat already has some excellent examples, including some that poke fun at our friends at Gawker and Gizmodo. Examples:
Eric Eldon: We know Alexia does all the work and you were just hired as window dressing.
Ben Popper: Why are you being MEAN to STARTUPS?
Josh Topolsky: Why don't you go back to makeup reviews?
Steve Kovach: Your obsession with Snapchat proves you're a sexting slut.
The purpose "isn't to 'get revenge' or to make anyone uncomfortable: simply to help highlight by example what a gendered compliment looks like, and to get people talking in a funny and lighthearted way about how these kinds of comments distract from meaningful dialogues and make writers online feel like their point of view is only as relevant as how attractive they are."
(Image of the super adorable Sam Biddle is from Gizmodo.)