So, This summer there was some what of an controversy about the sponsorship of Bay Area Girl Geek Dinner by Zivity (a porn + social networking site where the men pay and get points to divvy up to women who’s “pin-up” photos are posted – and they can also “friend them”). I noticed this sponsorship when the organizer tweeted about it. I went to the site only to find out that on top of sponsoring they would be sending Photographers to the event to “shoot” us. I saw Zivity taking photos at the Crunchie Awards – (you can see the photos posted on Flickr with the Zivity tag.) This type of party photography just seemed totally inappropriate for a professional networking event.
I tweeted back “I find it ODD that you have a porn site sponsoring your next event and ‘shooting’ the women at the event. why sexualize us?”
Let me state the issue arising about BAGGD and Zivity sponsoring it:
The issue is about a porn company sponsoring a women in technology professional networking event AND having the porn company sponsor the photographers – who would be at the event taking pictures.
Those of us who were upset by the sponsorship and photographing objected to actually having this happen to us – to have our images be taken and tagged by a porn company and therefore implicitly endorsing them.
I had a lot going on this summer and didn’t have the energy to dive into the conversation on the blogs at the time. I did try to reach out to Angie Chang the organizer to meet with her face to face and talk before the dinner. She was unable to meet. Mary Hodder did a great job summarizing our attempted engagement with the organizers about the issue.
Recently Susan Mernitt attempted to write about the difference between, different generations of women and how the uproar about this event was an sample of the divide and a need for a bridge. Both Mary Hodder (comment 1,9) and I (comment 5,10) responded with a long comments about the nature of the issues that the BAGGD, Zivity sponsorship and her article raised for women in technology.
This is not about is porn good or bad? The issue is about where is its presence appropriate and where is it completely not appropriate. We have generally accepted social norms and now have legal regulation that it is not ok to have pornographic pictures posted in the workplace. I just don’t get how the BAGGD organizers thought it was appropriate to have a porn company sponsor and take photos at an event for women who work in technology. (They get that the Spock snafoo at Web 2.0 expo 2 years ago was not ok.) I don’t care if one of the 5 people who founded the company is a woman. It is porn and I don’t want to have to deal with the company taking my photo in the context of my professional work life and making women feel that they have to “be ultra-beautiful” to attend a networking event for women related to their day jobs in tech.
Several women spoke with Mary Hodder (who blogged about the issue before the event) directly saying that they “didn’t feel/look good enough to go.”
So some argue that the Zivity site is not actually porn (including the company – the have a motto “It’s not Porn it’s Pinups”). So this question is it or is it not porn is another layer of the debate. So yesterday when Jonathan Eunice tweeted this –
So, Zivity? Attractive girls taking their clothes off? How’s that gonna wo… Oh… Wait… I see. Getting it now.
I just had to ask him what he “got” about it – because of this ongoing is or is it not porn question.
@jonathaneunice what are you getting about Zivity? that it is actually porn even thought it says that it isn’t?
The conversation continued with side comments from Kevin Marks and Sillicon Calley……
BTW for those of you wondering about “why twitter” this is one of the reasons I like it — interesting conversations happen. For those of you not familiar with norms of twitter conversation @person’sName is a way in the medium to indicate who you are talking to. This whole conversation is public on twitter – you could go search for it and stich it all together – I also asked Jonathan if I could blog it before posting this.
JonathanEunice: @IdentityWoman Zivity is clearly porn–tho’ of soft, “artfully photographed” variety. Of course, so are many photos in mainstream mags.
JonathanEunice: Porn = images intended to stimulate desire. So Zivity, yes, but also much of Travel & Leisure, Maxim, Vogue, Architectural Digest, etc.
IdentityWoman: @jonathaneunice – that frame “Porn = images intended to stimulate desire.” is a good one to consider. What about “beauty without context”
JonathanEunice: Food porn, furniture porn, travel porn, fashion porn–we are awash in it. It all screams: Buy this! Be that! Want that!
JonathanEunice: @IdentityWoman Is SuicideGirls or Zivity different from W, Vogue, or GQ? More nudity yes, but worse self-esteem? I’d wager better. YMMV.
SiliconCalley: @identitywoman i hate the word porn, its too subjective. some people think that paintings of nude women are porn, some think its art
SiliconCalley: @identitywoman i don’t think zivity is porn, if it was the business model wouldn’t work. who wants to pay to connect to a model in porn?
IdentityWoman: @siliconCalley – I would ask it the other way – who DOESN’T want to pay to connect to a model in porn? seems like an obvious evolution
kevinmarks: @IdentityWoman isn’t porn in the eye of the beholder, not the intent of publisher? Some people get excited by pictures of feet on Flickr
SiliconCalley: @kevinmarks re: zivity touché! you are so wise.
SiliconCalley: @identitywoman porn for most people is a very private thing, and i don’t think that people usually want to be “social” with porn.
SiliconCalley: speaking of zivity…would anyone like an invite?
JonathanEunice: @jonathaneunice so what is the issue? @siliconcalley thinks that Zivity isn’t porn cause it is “social” and porn is private.
JonathanEunice: Just with client in my “CTO on demand” capacity. So back to the porn discussion…
JonathanEunice: @IdentityWoman I don’t think beauty needs any further context. But beauty (or Beauty, if you’re a Platonist) isn’t the issue here.
JonathanEunice: @IdentityWoman The issue here: 1. images and 2. asymmetry.
IdentityWoman: @jonathaneunice issues being 1) the images are about sexual desire 2)the guys linking to women are not also posing with their cloths off?
JonathanEunice: Images add distance, objectify. Thus beauty without interaction. Leading to asymmetry.
JonathanEunice: She is publically naked, I am not. She is identifiable, I am anonymous. That imbalance, I think, gets to heart of porn-iness.
JonathanEunice: In the spirit of oversharing: I prefer au naturel beaches. But much more symmetric. I am equally naked, exposed. Also, present, not distant.
IdentityWoman: @jonathaneunice – thanks for that (over)sharing. It makes the point about presence and embodiment rather then distance and
JonathanEunice: There’s a vast difference between looking at pictures of selected, carefully made up, airbrushed women (= porn) and…
JonathanEunice: …being with genuine, come-as-you-are nude women when you’re also nude. Isn’t that the diff btwn ‘nude’ and ‘naked’ (or ‘nekkid’)?
JonathanEunice: Today’s irony: Despite the porn diacussion, yet again asked to have drinks “with the girls” after work.
JonathanEunice: A simple Zivity joke turned into serious discussion. Pity the poor jokster!
JonathanEunice: I did. Very classy high quality photography. But at root still pics of naked chicks. High end porn still porn IMO.