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That's no booth babe
February 2, 2012 7:23 PM   Subscribe

Technology/sex columnist Violet Blue (previously) has been reporting from this year's Macworld trade fair for ZDNet; among her reportage was a photograph of a woman sitting in a booth, labelled as "The Saddest Booth Babe In The World". Later it emerged that the woman in question was not, in fact, a booth babe (i.e., a model hired to smile, hand out flyers and appeal to the heterosexual male gaze) but rather an iOS developer presenting her products, hence her less-than-effervescent demeanour. Blue's response was somewhat evasive, suggesting that her (and, in her opinion, the average attendee's) expectation upon seeing a woman at a booth at a technology event would be that she would be there for decorative purposes.
posted by acb (160 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
Tempest in teapot.
posted by smackfu at 7:27 PM on February 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


She looks more irate than sad.


Probably because everyone assumes she's a booth babe. I'd be cranky too.
posted by louche mustachio at 7:27 PM on February 2, 2012 [28 favorites]


I read about this on Boing Boing

wait no.
posted by leotrotsky at 7:28 PM on February 2, 2012 [37 favorites]


Hmm her response was basically "Well, there are booth babes there, and I took this photo there, therefore I my photograph is a legitimate commentary on booth babes..."

Boggling.
posted by Jimbob at 7:29 PM on February 2, 2012 [4 favorites]


Yeah, you really don't want to respond to that in any way other than "whoops!" and dropping dead of embarrassment.
posted by Artw at 7:31 PM on February 2, 2012 [34 favorites]


I think the sad thing about this was that a woman developer behaving exactly like any other developer, the question of how well she fits the role of booth babe even comes up; i.e., that that is the (not a, the) legitimate role that people with two X chromosomes fit into at a technology trade show. This is another sign that the issue of institutional/cultural sexism in IT/technology is one that isn't close to being consigned to the past.
posted by acb at 7:32 PM on February 2, 2012 [37 favorites]


I don't get it, this blurry low res picture has some women in it? Is that the issue?
posted by mek at 7:32 PM on February 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


I read about this on Boing Boing

wait no.
posted by leotrotsky at 7:28 AM on February 3
Eponysterical.
posted by acb at 7:33 PM on February 2, 2012 [10 favorites]


Why she chose that caption is baffling to me. The only answer I could see being remotely ok would be "it was a weak joke, and I shouldn't have made it".

But "according to my definition, any woman working at a booth is a booth babe, what are you all so upset about" is b.s.

Also, "woman at expo who doesn't have perky smile and seem approachable deserves public callout for it" is not such a hot thesis either.
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:34 PM on February 2, 2012 [31 favorites]


Her shoulders were hunched and her hands sat limply in her lap beneath breasts that were packaged air-tight in a tight, branded t-shirt.

Christ, what an asshole.
posted by mek at 7:37 PM on February 2, 2012 [41 favorites]


Violet Blue is pretty useless and totally self-absorbed, but we do have her to thank (indirectly) for the wonderful "jawdropping feat of breadcraft" comment.
posted by leotrotsky at 7:37 PM on February 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


It is fascinating how the desire to crack down on "eye candy" booth babes at some conferences results in weird, uncomfortable false positives. I mean, yes, you could say that it's a sad testament to the way these expo halls usually work that many of the women manning booths are booth babes.

Seems like the appropriate response to this is to say, "Man. This is a real lesson in how easy it is to become part of the problem! I'm sorry!" Violet Blue's actual response is definitely eye-roll worthy.
posted by verb at 7:38 PM on February 2, 2012 [5 favorites]


This sort of casual misogyny calls into question Violet Blue's self-identification as a sex-positive feminist. Christ, what an asshole.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:39 PM on February 2, 2012 [41 favorites]


Jesus. What a waste of time and energy. A bad picture, a lackluster, inaccurate quip, and a poor apology.

I'm with LobsterMitten. The only acceptable response is "I'm sorry - it was a bad joke. I've corrected my silly caption. Thanks for the correction." Then everyone can just get one with their lives.

I would have expected more sense from VB. Not for the picture caption - people make stupid jokes from time to time - but from her poor response to the backlash.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 7:40 PM on February 2, 2012 [5 favorites]


Violet Blue unapologetically covers the intersection of tech trends and media stories about corruption, hypocrisy and redemption...

Well, she's got one of those bases covered.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 7:41 PM on February 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


It is fascinating how the desire to crack down on "eye candy" booth babes at some conferences results in weird, uncomfortable false positives.

No, it's even worse than that. Violet Blue is actually criticizing women at trade shows for being insufficiently babelike. It's actually a reaction against the desire to crack down on "eye candy": Violet Blue is basically criticising this woman for failing to make herself appear sexually available to men. Because that's what good women do, obviously.
posted by mek at 7:41 PM on February 2, 2012 [17 favorites]


But "according to my definition, any woman working at a booth is a booth babe, what are you all so upset about" is b.s.

Yeah, seriously. You'd think with all her time on the internet, she'd have learned to backpedal better, but I guess not.
posted by rtha at 7:43 PM on February 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


I don't think her comments would have been appropriate if the woman pictured had been a "booth babe."
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 7:44 PM on February 2, 2012 [21 favorites]


Yep....boring nothing. Bad photo, meaningless interpretation .
posted by HuronBob at 7:45 PM on February 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Vapid blogger is vapid and manages to eke out more pageviews.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:46 PM on February 2, 2012 [9 favorites]


No, it's even worse than that. Violet Blue is actually criticizing women at trade shows for being insufficiently babelike. It's actually a reaction against the desire to crack down on "eye candy": Violet Blue is basically criticising this woman for failing to make herself appear sexually available to men. Because that's what good women do, obviously.

I was mostly thinking of an incident at an OSS conference that my company presented at. There's a (proportionally) large contingent of female devs in our community, by OSS standards, and they've worked pretty hard to hold the line on booth babery. A company brought a booth babe, and the organizers talked to the exhibitor and explained that she'd have to go. She ended up blogging about it after the fact, and seemed somewhat insulted. Even worse, there was a strange air of suspicion around unfamiliar-looking women who were well-dressed for a couple of days, and jokes about playing "Spot the booth babe" floating around.

My take on Violet Blue's snafu was a bit different -- my impression was that she considered "booth babes" fair game for mockery, as a group. She mistook a female dev for a booth babe and said, "Hah! What a terrible booth babe! She looks super-grumpy!"
posted by verb at 7:49 PM on February 2, 2012 [6 favorites]


Can't a glib comment just be a glib comment?
posted by seansbrain at 7:49 PM on February 2, 2012


Sure. If it's glib, and not stupid. And wrong.
posted by rtha at 7:50 PM on February 2, 2012 [4 favorites]


You know who I blame for Violet Blue's mistake? Everyone else.
posted by Hoopo at 7:50 PM on February 2, 2012 [4 favorites]


Yeesh. She casually insults this woman, is called on it, and her response is "Gosh, why are you guys all being so mean to me?"
posted by louche mustachio at 7:52 PM on February 2, 2012 [15 favorites]


Related: Lament of the Delicious Librarian
posted by schwa at 7:53 PM on February 2, 2012 [6 favorites]


Violet Blue is still getting mileage out of the MacWorld where Steve Jobs was kind of grumpy with her.
posted by schwa at 7:55 PM on February 2, 2012


Of course, this isn't the first time that Violet Blue has thrown another female professional under the bus.
posted by Strange Interlude at 7:56 PM on February 2, 2012 [6 favorites]


For those of you just now seeing the article, it should be mentioned that the "(who was actually Piroska Szurmai-Palotai, a developer representing NeoPlay Entertainment)" caveat and the asterisked paragraph at the end were tacked on to the article after this "booth babe" issue began circulating.

Also, in the comments, Blue refers to being attacked by John Gruber. This is the blog post in question, which even the harshest Gruber critic would have a hard time defining as an attack.
posted by Ian A.T. at 7:59 PM on February 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


Ok so I read her previous article which gives "her real view of the booth babe problem", which she offers in defense of this comment, suggesting that it contains her definition of awesome lady hackers as booth babes.

But no. In the article, she is envisioning an alternative reality scenario. First she imagines a world where women outnumber men at tech conferences and there are beefcake male booth babes. Then she imagines another scenario:

"I would swap out the brains of CES 2012 booth babes for brains of fierce lady hackers."
and she goes on to imagine what that world would be like. (spoiler: the alternate-universe SMART booth babes would still dress sexy)

In other words, she does not genuinely think "booth babe" is a phrase that refers to someone smart or a lady hacker in the real world.
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:04 PM on February 2, 2012


"booth babe" = "woman in a booth,"
"mentioned in a blog post" = "attacked"

Got it.
posted by rtha at 8:05 PM on February 2, 2012


Having personed a booth a trade show, it is no fun. I feel bad for that sad iOS dev. Someone let her go back to her hotel and play some WoW or something.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:06 PM on February 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


which even the harshest Gruber critic would have a hard time defining as an attack

Oh, I'm sure someone here will try!
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:06 PM on February 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


She's blaming Gruber for some pretty ugly twitter attacks from @gruber followers:

Her (twitter) responses "And I think Gruber knew exactly what he was doing. Says a lot about Gruber" and "G could have embarrassed me by leaving a comment. Instead he made sport of it to draw as much attention as possible. Gross."
posted by schwa at 8:08 PM on February 2, 2012


Related: Lament of the Delicious Librarian

That's a sad story. It sounds like a great little idea for a booth. It's a pity that extreme sexism (e.g. using girl in bikinis to sell USB keys) menas that any women in the tech sector can't have a bit of fun (or, as VB demonstrated, just be) without being assumed to be vapid marketing sex objects.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 8:09 PM on February 2, 2012 [6 favorites]


What's amazing is that anyone is still willing to pay Violet Blue to write.
posted by bardic at 8:09 PM on February 2, 2012 [23 favorites]


It is funny, but the developer's upcoming product Judit Polgar's ChessPlayground got me thinking about the "booth babe" comment. I get the feeling that a part of Polgar appearing in lots of chess mags and attempting to attract girls to play lies in her being something of a chess babe -- in addition to the whole world champion/grand master thing. Danica Patrick comes to mind as a parallel. The animation in the app is really cute.

I was hoping that all of this would have been sorted out by now for the sake of my illustrator daughter and chess team captain sons. I didn't read Violet Blue's original article but I get the feeling she is one of those people I didn't like in gender studies class 20 years ago.
posted by cgk at 8:10 PM on February 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hmm her response was basically "Well, there are booth babes there, and I took this photo there, therefore I my photograph is a legitimate commentary on booth babes..."

Boggling "Blogging."

posted by Graygorey at 8:12 PM on February 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


Hey, here's an additional couple of facts:
- NeoPlay Entertainment is based in Budapest. Perhaps the fact that Piroska Szurmai-Palotai is Hungarian is one reason she wasn't as outgoing as Violet Blue wanted her to be.
- NeoPlay produces only one app; a cartoon version of a reality singing competition. NeoPlay's second app? Why, it's a chess-teaching program for kids: Judit Polgár - ChessPlayground. Judit Polgár is by far the world's top female chess player.

So it's not even a random iPad app company, it's one that is focusing on presenting intelligent women as role models for children.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 8:13 PM on February 2, 2012 [26 favorites]


I refuse to be dragged into another Violet Blue drama.
posted by jsavimbi at 8:14 PM on February 2, 2012 [7 favorites]


> "G could have embarrassed me by leaving a comment. Instead he made sport of it to draw as much attention as possible. Gross."

Of course, if she knew anything about Gruber, she'd know he doesn't post comments on other's blogs. And he doesn't take comments on his own. His attitude has been if you want to comment about something, make your own post about it and publish it on your site.
posted by mrzarquon at 8:14 PM on February 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


My guess, from a very limited and tangential set of experiences, is that booth babes, many of them at least, are nagged, teased, cajoled into the act, rather than having signed some contract that everybody had read and understood beforehand "I will be fun and engaging to all nerds who approach me for X hours...". Most people, women and men, have been sold to some degree that their skills, viewpoint etc are valid and valuable in this context. To say that she is or is not a booth babe is to be complicit in the notion that some people are here even though they have no valid reason to be here other that to flirt with the nerds.
posted by newdaddy at 8:16 PM on February 2, 2012


Can I coin tl;dgaf or has that already been taken?
posted by phaedon at 8:16 PM on February 2, 2012 [9 favorites]


Her own apology seems to contradict itself. In one paragraph she says "It was not obvious that the woman in the booth was not a booth babe. I was not the only one to do so." and then a couple of paragraphs later, she says "And you will see that Ms. Szurmai-Palotai is exactly the kind of "booth babe" I am referring to - women devs, women hackers. Not the kind some of you seem to instantly think I mean. "

So, which was it. Did she assume the chick must be a booth babe (traditional) like everyone else. Or did she simply insult her for not being cheerful enough as a booth babe (Violet Blue's totally made-up bullshit definition)?

And shouldn't Violet Blue be aware that telling women to smile is failing Feminism 101, regardless of whether you think that woman is a hired piece of ass or a well-regarded software developer?
posted by jacquilynne at 8:16 PM on February 2, 2012 [19 favorites]


I messed up the order of those sentences in the first quote.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:18 PM on February 2, 2012


Violet Blue is an idiot.
posted by jayder at 8:22 PM on February 2, 2012 [9 favorites]


"And you will see that Ms. Szurmai-Palotai is exactly the kind of "booth babe" I am referring to - women devs, women hackers. Not the kind some of you seem to instantly think I mean. "

"Judge me on what I mean, not on my actual statements or actions! God!"

Pathetic.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 8:25 PM on February 2, 2012 [4 favorites]


I don't understand people who, when found in error, don't simply go, "whoops, sorry" and move on. Violet Blue looks like an even bigger moron now than she did before.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:26 PM on February 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


This continues to baffle me the more I read about. Previously I'd only seen the photo with caption, but not the article.

Here are quotes from the article:
I was standing stock-still on the Macworld 2012 Expo show floor[...] I was, in fact, looking at The Saddest Booth Babe* In The World [...] My friend [...] stood quietly next to me. We both watched her. We were waiting for her to change expression.

She sat on a stool in between two large monitors across the aisle from us. The pretty brunette was in one of those big corner booths that paid a few bucks for that sorta-prime real estate [...]

Her shoulders were hunched and her hands sat limply in her lap beneath breasts that were packaged air-tight in a tight, branded t-shirt. She stared at the floor. Unlike her counterparts, she never smiled. Sad booth babe was sad.
And her follow-up comment after the criticism:
"“Booth babe” is a job description. Some people (none of whom are booth babes) seem to think the term indicates a gendered insult. I have no problem with booth babes and women that want to be sexy in tech - unless they don’t know anything about their products or are unapproachable. The problem I have is with booth babe culture is the way men treat them, and the way men see and define booth babes. This article is impressionistic, and not review or investigative. As it happens, the woman described in the beginning of this article was one many thought was a hired model in a sea of hired models. She was, in fact, the unhappiest looking female company rep at Macworld. After that, how you view booth babes is up to you."
First of all, "in one of those big corner booths"? Is the photo even a photo of the person she's talking about?

Second of all, not to be crass but... the woman in the photo looks like she is dressed in a totally normal, neutral way, not in a way designed to "be sexy in tech".

Third of all, "Booth babe is a job description"... then "she was the unhappiest looking female company rep". But even VB doesn't think that "booth babe" is really equivalent to "female company rep".
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:26 PM on February 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Grace Hopper died for your sins.

Or something like that.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 8:26 PM on February 2, 2012 [8 favorites]


Her shoulders were hunched and her hands sat limply in her lap beneath breasts that were packaged air-tight in a tight, branded t-shirt.

I have a feeling this is how Violet Blue "writes".
posted by tumid dahlia at 8:29 PM on February 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Gee - I wonder why she could have been unhappy?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 8:29 PM on February 2, 2012



TRANSLATION FROM BULLSHIT TO ENGLISH

It's revealing to not get additional information to give context to the woman in the booth, but a blog post attack by Gruber and a series of attacks and name-calling in comments on my original article is going too far.

A simple correction would have sufficed, and then you could have seen what I did with it.

It's a fucking huge crimp in my day to get called out for being full of shit.

Now I am reacting to a Grueber-fueled pile-on and fanboy personal attacks.

I believe the best course of action now is to find the right scapegoat and do some namecalling.

My partner and I considered walking up to this booth but the woman's demeanor put us off. My commentary as a take-away of the experience was a reflection of the scene. It's really reaching to brand me a misogynist because I put the woman in a social category based on the environment she was in. I was not the only one to do so. It was not obvious that the woman in the booth was not a booth babe: Macworld was covered with women that were only hired reps - in all manners of dress.

Ugh. Work.

I'm glad for the correction, but the way you have ganged up to attack me as the method of delivery for a correction is repulsive. And, typical.

Only a single person is allowed to jump on my bullshit at a time. Anything more makes me righter than I already was.

If you want to know how I really feel about booth babes (though I'm sure you won't because the drive-by is always better) - get some context for booth babes in my column by reading this:

And you will see that Ms. Szurmai-Palotai is exactly the kind of "booth babe" I am referring to - women devs, women hackers. Not the kind some of you seem to instantly think I mean.

Hey, what's that over there! Sorry, thought I saw something. I think you were going to apologize for offending me. Please continue.

One commenter on Twitter suggested I dressed her down for being "not slutty enough." This is absolutely untrue. And is very revealing about the person that said it.

This is not the bullshit you're looking for. Waves hand.

No, I was dismayed because the woman representing the company at Macworld was unapproachable - not because she was female or dressed in a certain way.

Who's the victim now? Assholes.
posted by Mikey-San at 8:30 PM on February 2, 2012 [16 favorites]


That dude in the red zipup next to her is no great shakes either. Saddest booth hunk ever.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:31 PM on February 2, 2012 [12 favorites]


Right before we left, my friend stopped in the middle of an aisle near the main stage.

He turned and looked at me for a minute.

He said, “Isn’t this where Steve Jobs yelled at you?”

Yes.

Yes it was.

And Steve Jobs was never coming back to Macworld.


Milk it there Violet!
posted by schwa at 8:40 PM on February 2, 2012 [9 favorites]


Welp, I guess in the future she'll talk to a woman at a booth before presuming she's not there as a vendor. It's kind of ironic that a feminist would have to learn that lesson, but it's also kind of a heartwarming reminder of blah blah blah
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:49 PM on February 2, 2012


I don't get the impression that she's learned anything.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 8:50 PM on February 2, 2012 [6 favorites]


makes u think
posted by tumid dahlia at 8:51 PM on February 2, 2012 [5 favorites]


I'm always amused by these kind of events. Everybody knows the score, but nobody can talk about exactly what happened, so we all end up in some kind of weird alternate universe discussing otherwise obvious events like some sort of Machiavellian Kabuki.
posted by effugas at 8:53 PM on February 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


so if cory doctorow had a problem with violet blue does this mean cory doctorow is cool now
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 8:55 PM on February 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


I don't understand people who, when found in error, don't simply go, "whoops, sorry" and move on. Violet Blue looks like an even bigger moron now than she did before.

I know too many people like this, they just can't accept that they are wrong, misinformed, or just too set in their ways. These people are all types really, and all frustrating when they pull this crap.

booth hunk

Can i suggest "Booth beef"? ;)
posted by usagizero at 8:56 PM on February 2, 2012 [9 favorites]


so if cory doctorow had a problem with violet blue does this mean cory doctorow is cool now

Nah, that was Jenny Garden who had the problem with her.
posted by Artw at 8:57 PM on February 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


s/problem/affair/
posted by unSane at 9:00 PM on February 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Of course, this isn't the first time that Violet Blue has thrown another female professional under the bus.

Heh, I didn't know that the actor formerly known as Violet Blue changed her name to Noname Jane in response to the writer currently known as Violet Blue®'s absurd lawsuit.

I also didn't know Violet Blue® attempted to take out restraining orders on people editing her Wikipedia page to reveal that "Violet Blue" is not her birth name as she claims, and that she was born several years earlier than she claims.

Gruber should lawyer up. As should I after this comment, presumably.
posted by jack_mo at 9:00 PM on February 2, 2012 [8 favorites]


Anyone else find themself trying to approximate a Ferengi voice when reading this:
So says the Rule of Acquisition 5 Subsection 12: "Booth babe” is a job description. Some people (none of whom are booth babes) seem to think the term indicates a gendered insult. I have no problem with booth babes and women that want to be sexy in tech - unless they don’t know anything about their products or are unapproachable. The problem I have is with booth babe culture is the way men treat them, and the way men see and define booth babes. This article is impressionistic, and not review or investigative. As it happens, the woman described in the beginning of this article was one many thought was a hired model in a sea of hired models. She was, in fact, the unhappiest looking female company rep at Macworld. After that, how you view booth babes is up to you.

posted by infinite intimation at 9:02 PM on February 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


If she can't even take a product with a name like X-Code and make a pun out of it what the hell kind of a sex-nerd is she, anyway?
posted by Artw at 9:12 PM on February 2, 2012


Early in my engineering career, a friend of mind and I were walking through this enormous conference and came up with a theory about booth babes: you can tell them by the eye contact, smile, and most importantly, the skirt ending above the knees. (By this last definition, the woman photographed has none of these, whereas the woman walking by has the skirt).

Then we went to this embedded operating system company where there was an attractive young woman standing next to brochures who smiled at us and handed us one. We looked at each other, thinking "booth babe". Then she asked if we had any questions, which usually means the booth babe will walk us to the knowledgeable salesman. Since we were interested in the product, we asked a question, which she answered in very deep technical detail.

We looked at each other again--we said it to each other with the look: so much for our theory. This was (at the time) a very small company, which meant she wasn't some unusually well trained saleswoman (which such companies usually can't afford), but one of the actual development engineers for the product.

Violet Blue decides that since she's a woman at a booth, she must be a booth babe. The fact that she isn't smiling means she's a failing booth babe. We were pretty clueless but is another level of cluelessness.
posted by eye of newt at 9:15 PM on February 2, 2012 [13 favorites]


More to the point, there's nothing to see in that photo other than a bunch of tired people at a trade show. It's as if there's this whole controversy about Blue's comments and then there's this random unrelated photo associated with the story.

And as someone who has worked software development trade show booths, all the "babes" in my booths have always been my coworkers who were just there doing there jobs, the same as every day. How odd to assume that women aren't involved in software companies.
posted by GuyZero at 9:16 PM on February 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


How someone who, for some unfathomable reason, carry their Art School Name on through to adulthood can expect anyone to take them seriously as a journalist is beyond me.

Perhaps Violet needs to grow up a bit. Real adults usually not only shed their Art School Name at some point, but they also know when to admit they were wrong.
posted by chimaera at 9:21 PM on February 2, 2012 [7 favorites]


"This is what a feminist looks like."
posted by Threeway Handshake at 9:23 PM on February 2, 2012


> Gruber should lawyer up.

I'm already lawyered up, so let me be the first to say, "Fuck Violet Blue." Unless someone else has already said that, then let me be the third or fourth or fifth or whatever the number is at this point, since I have a hard time believing I am the first person to express this sentiment.

> Tempest in teapot.

You're drinking from a different tempest obviously. The fact that she would consider disparaging any woman upsets me. Her opinion on previous "booth babes" has already been expressed, but I guess this woman deserved it because of the way she was dressed.

Seriously, everyone steps on their dick. I do it all the time. The answer to such an event isn't to exclaim, "That's not my dick!" but rather say, "Ooops, I seemed to have stepped on my dick," apologize and move on. Don't entrench, don't accuse others of crimes they haven't committed, and don't pretend like what you have done is just being taken wrong.

I wanted to download all of this developer's apps and give her a buck or three, but they are all free, and nothing I can readily promote (not my cup of tea).

From a journalism perspective this story is even more interesting. The whole thing has been whitewashed. The picture and caption where changed and the whole tempest glossed over. This is not the teapot you are looking for. Leave up the post, admit you got caught being a hypocrite, apologize, admit to being human, and fucking move on!

Or keep stepping on your dick. This is just one booth babe's opinion. I could be wrong.
posted by cjorgensen at 9:26 PM on February 2, 2012 [16 favorites]


I also didn't know Violet Blue® attempted to take out restraining orders on people editing her Wikipedia page to reveal that "Violet Blue" is not her birth name as she claims, and that she was born several years earlier than she claims.

I checked her Wikipedia article just now to see what the situation with her birth date was. Now it's so vague it just says "Period: 21st Century" and not even her birth day is listed.

So yeah to me, this is pretty much what I'd expect for the type of person who can't handle her birthdate being shown in her Wikipedia page. Check the Talk page for some ... interesting discussion about whether it's worth showing or not. (I am not aware of any controversy about anyone else in the universe having their birth date shown on their Wikipedia page). Enlighten me if this is a common thing.
posted by marble at 9:29 PM on February 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


Or as I said on twitter, "I'm guessing @violetblue can live with my disappointment in her."
posted by cjorgensen at 9:29 PM on February 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


> Violet Blue decides that since she's a woman at a booth, she must be a booth babe. The fact that she isn't smiling means she's a failing booth babe. We were pretty clueless but is another level of cluelessness.

It's not cluelessness, but intellectual laziness. Violet Blue could have thought "oh wow, that woman isn't doing a very good job of being a booth babe, maybe we should find out why she is here?" Instead she moved on and has been trying to justify her laziness after the fact. Or atleast that is the more understandable justification of being so defense. When your full time job is to be a writer, being called out on the fact that you just half-assed your report is probably going to sting a lot.
posted by mrzarquon at 9:30 PM on February 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


Apparently Violet Blue's real name is Wendy Sullivan, but she's sued Wikipedia editors into oblivion to prevent it from being reported in her entry. As well as her birthdate, which is just too petty for words.
posted by mek at 9:36 PM on February 2, 2012 [11 favorites]


You're drinking from a different tempest obviously. The fact that she would consider disparaging any woman upsets me.

Yeah, she's writing for ZDNet, so you'd think she would be a little more... polite? It's a curious situation: we're irate at Violet Blue for calling a software developer a "booth babe", yet at the same time it all seems awfully unfair to booth babes, who are really just part of technology culture, and are meeting a market need. Sex trade workers get more respect.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:39 PM on February 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


On the upside, I hope that Piroska Szurmai-Palotai sees a nice uptick in sales as a result of all of this. If I had an iDevice, I'd buy something just out of sympathy.
posted by cmonkey at 9:40 PM on February 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


How odd to assume that women aren't involved in software companies.

And yet it's a common error among people who see themselves as feminist consciousness-raising bloggers. (The place where I work caught some flak a while ago from a blogger who, like Violet Blue, failed to check her assumption that any attractive woman must be a model hired as eye-candy and couldn't possibly be a regular employee.) I think there's a depressing lesson here about the way that doing blog-activism affects some peoples' outlook.
posted by hattifattener at 9:42 PM on February 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


On the upside, I hope that Piroska Szurmai-Palotai sees a nice uptick in sales...

I think all three of her apps are free, so that makes this whole thing worse in my opinion. She had to pay to be a developer on display and VB writes her off as a booth babe. What pisses me off even more is the implication there is something wrong with being a booth babe. We all have to earn paychecks. I'm sorry VB can't see this fact.
posted by cjorgensen at 10:11 PM on February 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


I find the Encyclopedia Dramatica article on Violet Blue (real name Wendy Sullivan) pretty damn funny.
posted by jayder at 10:23 PM on February 2, 2012 [7 favorites]


I find the Encyclopedia Dramatica article on Violet Blue (real name Wendy Sullivan) pretty damn funny.

I had no idea. Why would ZDNet hire this loser?
posted by KokuRyu at 10:41 PM on February 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


What pisses me off even more is the implication there is something wrong with being a booth babe.

The existence of booth babes only serves to drive the whole women "don't know nothing 'bout programing no computers" mindset, which is what make's Eye of Newt's comment so awesome.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 10:52 PM on February 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


VioletBlue was one of the first people I removed from my google+ circles. Actually, she's the only person I've removed from my circles. It was just too much to read her posts about google censoring her while she was posting 5 times a day. I knew she was some sort of sex-blogger or something, but I quickly learned she was also self-obsessed and not real bright.

On topic, this is just her doing something stupid and then squeezing it for every granule of attention she thinks she's worth.
posted by elwoodwiles at 10:55 PM on February 2, 2012


Actual saddest booth babes
posted by delmoi at 11:11 PM on February 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


Apparently Violet Blue's real name is Wendy Sullivan, but she's sued Wikipedia editors into oblivion to prevent it from being reported in her entry. As well as her birthdate, which is just too petty for words.

I recall a cyberpunk novel with a type of character named Wendy. They're a cloned, vat grown human female bodies with no brain. They are implanted with robotic software and sold as sex toys.

I dunno, it just seemed vaguely relevant here.
posted by charlie don't surf at 11:14 PM on February 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


You know how if you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail? Well, if your self-worth comes from using sexuality to get attention, everyone else looks like competition.
posted by SakuraK at 11:32 PM on February 2, 2012 [16 favorites]


What I love about this thread is all the jokes about boingboing.
Violet Blue is pretty useless and totally self-absorbed, but we do have her to thank (indirectly) for the wonderful "jawdropping feat of breadcraft" comment.
God I still find that funny.

---

Also, how ironic is it that Violet blue is getting shitloads of links, discussion, google-juice out of this yet the actual developer Piroska Szurmai-Palotai, the dev behind NeoPlay Entertainment doesn't seem to be getting mentioned much at all.

At least this person should be getting some publicity.
My guess, from a very limited and tangential set of experiences, is that booth babes, many of them at least, are nagged, teased, cajoled into the act, rather than having signed some contract that everybody had read and understood beforehand "I will be fun and engaging to all nerds who approach me for X hours...".
Huh really? The ones at the big shows like CES or commercial game conferences (as opposed to 'just for fun' cons) are professional models. they do that kind of thing for a living. I think they pretty much know what they're signing up for.
Violet Blue decides that since she's a woman at a booth, she must be a booth babe. The fact that she isn't smiling means she's a failing booth babe. We were pretty clueless but is another level of cluelessness.
Okay to be fair though, if a dude was looking all glum at a booth he wouldn't really be doing a good job either. Regardless of gender, if you're doing sales or promotion you're supposed to present a happy and approachable demeanor, get people engaged and so on. On the other hand, people obviously get tired standing around all day. I do think it's a problem to call her a 'booth babe'.
How someone who, for some unfathomable reason, carry their Art School Name on through to adulthood can expect anyone to take them seriously as a journalist is beyond me.

Perhaps Violet needs to grow up a bit. Real adults usually not only shed their Art School Name at some point, but they also know when to admit they were wrong.
Eh. Violet blue is her legal name, and a registered trademark. This seems like the lamest thing to complain about about her.
posted by delmoi at 11:36 PM on February 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


The doctor can't operate because SHE is his mother! (and other gender stereotypes)
posted by bystander at 11:45 PM on February 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


I find the Encyclopedia Dramatica article on Violet Blue (real name Wendy Sullivan) pretty damn funny

So, one of the people sued over the Wikipedia edits originally fell out with Ms. Blue because her inept piloting of a giant remote control robot led to a bystander being burned by a huge fiery ball of cardboard?

Amazing. 

I'm starting to admire this woman's unerring knack for generating colossal shitstorms of idiocy. 
posted by jack_mo at 11:45 PM on February 2, 2012 [4 favorites]


I loved her sex columns in the San Francisco Chronicle because they made even me feel knowledgeable and even jaded in the ways of sex, fetishes, and pornography as she spent most of columns being shocked or titillated by completely boring stuff.
posted by small_ruminant at 12:19 AM on February 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


Eh. Violet blue is her legal name, and a registered trademark. This seems like the lamest thing to complain about about her.

No, I'm pretty sure changing your legal name to something you have legally trademarked is incredibly lame.
posted by mek at 12:23 AM on February 3, 2012 [15 favorites]


No, I'm pretty sure changing your legal name to something you have legally trademarked is incredibly lame.

I guess it would make the whole identity theft thing less ambiguous?
posted by verb at 12:42 AM on February 3, 2012


One time, at the maker fair, I drank a bunch of $8 budwiser beers with a man who made angry fire art robots.

He was really mad that Violet Blue would never have any sex with him, but he was pretty sure that she was having lots sex with most of the, other, cooler group of fire art robot builders.

Then he told me all about his polyamorous marriage, and how my friend was ruining it by having all that sex with his wife.

I did like the lasers you could play like a harp though.
Also the giant, dorky, victorian house tank.
posted by St. Sorryass at 1:46 AM on February 3, 2012 [4 favorites]


@jayder

is encyclopedia dramatica the chris chan people
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 1:52 AM on February 3, 2012


wow, I feel so bad for this developer. It's fucking hard to sit and promote something at a tradeshow by yourself, and be "engaging" for 10-12 hours a day especially if you are not a big extrovert by nature. To get dumped on by some shitty "tech" reporter who has little real understanding of software development or technology in general must really suck.

Piroska Szurmai-Palotai, if you read metafilter, please know that you have lots and lots of fellow developers who are utterly offended by Violet fucking Blues drive-by slandering of you. Respect to you for your chess prowess, your apps & for presenting at macworld.
posted by lastobelus at 2:29 AM on February 3, 2012 [9 favorites]


She sounds like the sort of person that, before the internet came along, could only get attention by burning things in a corner at parties and then crying.
posted by Summer at 4:16 AM on February 3, 2012 [11 favorites]


So the take home theme I'm getting from metafilter here is "This was an utterly horrible thing to say to an intelligent woman who does not demean herself. It is only OK to talk about women in this way if they are in the whorish business of being booth babes."

I'm with Violet Blue on this one. If it's alright to say this about one person doing her job, then it's alright to say it about any person who appears to be doing that job. You can question the "saddest booth babe" comment outside this context, or you can agree that it's an OK caption. But to decide that some women are more deserving of ridicule than others smacks of discrimination.
posted by seanyboy at 4:21 AM on February 3, 2012


@seanyboy

What a load of crap.

My having more respect for an independent software developer than for someone who stands around in tight clothes is completely and entirely unrelated to what gender any of them (or I) have.
posted by lastobelus at 4:26 AM on February 3, 2012 [6 favorites]


It is only OK to talk about women in this way if they are in the whorish business of being booth babes.

What? Where on earth did you get that impression?

If it's alright to say this about one person doing her job, then it's alright to say it about any person who appears to be doing that job.


It's not the assumption that she was sad that was insulting. It was the assumption that she must have been a booth babe, because women can't possibly be developers. Can you not see the distinction?
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:27 AM on February 3, 2012 [5 favorites]


Grace Hopper died created COBOL for your sins.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 4:31 AM on February 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's a pity that extreme sexism (e.g. using girl in bikinis to sell USB keys)

There is a large domain name company which I won't mention by name for work-related reasons, but their outdoor ads use women holding billboards with the caption 'Top Totty, Model and [Company] girl.' Every time I pass one I wonder if anyone involved in their conception, production and everything else even once stopped to think whether women might buy domain names too.
posted by mippy at 4:37 AM on February 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Anyway, her name isn't that important once you strip out the lawsuit. Many, many writers post under pseudonyms, and nobody slags off Alice Cooper for legally adopting a name that should be thoroughly embarrassing for a man in his sixties.
posted by mippy at 4:45 AM on February 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Perhaps this is just Violet Blue's way of calling out "Hey, babe! C'mon! Smile!"
posted by Grangousier at 4:59 AM on February 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


His thoughts were red thoughts: I'm pretty sure Violet Blue is aware that women can be developers. Maybe you should start with that instead of assuming that somehow she's incapable of "making that distinction" herself.

She made an incorrect assumption about what the developer did for a living. Embarrasing, yes. But it's not embarrassing because Booth Babes are bad people. And she didn't make the mistake because she assumes that women are somehow incapable of debugging javascript.

Popular comments like "Probably because everyone assumes she's a booth babe. I'd be cranky too" say a couple of things. Firstly, that sexism exists, and it robs people of the ability to see women as being more than talentless eye candy. Secondly, that doing the job of being an attractive women in order to sell a product lessens you as a woman.

Basically - If you make shit, you're cool. If you try and sell that shit, you're worth less.

I've got huge problems with the culture of booth babes, and all the shit that goes on around it. But I feel really uncomfortable with the implication that the hard working women that do that job are somehow beneath us. Especially when the commentary aimed at female sales staff is so much more vitriolic than what males get for doing essentially the same job.

lastobelus: If you've got "more respect for an independent software developer than for someone who stands around in tight clothes", then bully for you. I hope that the class system you so obviously desire works out for you.

And I hope that booth babes across the land realise that all they do is "stand around in tight clothes." /sarcasm.
posted by seanyboy at 5:32 AM on February 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


And maybe "Grangousier", it's her way of saying that she's going to be less likely to interact with people who look unwelcoming.
posted by seanyboy at 5:35 AM on February 3, 2012


/not sure why I put scare quotes on your name there. Apologies. I didn't mean to.
posted by seanyboy at 5:36 AM on February 3, 2012


That's OK, I'm a pretty scary guy. Or creepy. One of the two, I get them confused.
posted by Grangousier at 5:39 AM on February 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


So, wait a minute?

Are you saying that pervasive sexist culture can make even self-aware and self-described feminists reinterpret women's behaviour in a sexist manner?

Crazy.
posted by clvrmnky at 6:02 AM on February 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


I feel like it would maybe be better not to call anyone booth babes.
posted by running order squabble fest at 6:05 AM on February 3, 2012 [6 favorites]


Are you saying that pervasive sexist culture can make even self-aware and self-described feminists reinterpret women's behaviour in a sexist manner?

I'd buy that argument if and only if Violet Blue had said something more along the lines of, "oh, so few women were there, it had gotten to the point where I assumed that every woman there was a booth babe." Instead, it was just another opportunity for VB to rant and rave and blame everyone but herself. There are literally millions more intelligent and interesting feminists out there, self-described or otherwise.
posted by Sticherbeast at 6:12 AM on February 3, 2012


One of the things that really bothers me about software development is the pervasive lack of respect for other peoples professions. Even though very few developers could be outgoing and perky and meet and greet all day without faltering and still be great at the end of the day, most will still look down on marketing professionals. I say "very few", though I know none that could do it, but there must be some out there. I've worked a booth and have the utmost respect for professional 'booth babes' who can appear cheerful and enthused after many hours of the brutality that passes as human interaction.

Have some respect for what other people do.
posted by Bovine Love at 6:13 AM on February 3, 2012 [7 favorites]


You can question the "saddest booth babe" comment outside this context, or you can agree that it's an OK caption.

The problem wasn't with the caption, but with her article.
posted by Pendragon at 6:28 AM on February 3, 2012


I followed Violet Blue on Google+ for a little while, but it seems all she was about was her pseudonym, which was a world-shattering issue. I re-circled her long enough to have already read this article and her pathetic "correction" the article is somewhat built on a "sad booth babe". I'm not following her anymore because she really doesn't have much to add. Is she a feminist? She seems to care about sex or pornography or something but she never said anything interesting about it.
posted by fuq at 6:28 AM on February 3, 2012


Also,

"Fuck Violet Blue."

No! I certainly don't want to. She should go fuck herself!
posted by fuq at 6:29 AM on February 3, 2012


I had no idea. Why would ZDNet hire this loser?

Clicks is clicks.
posted by mediareport at 6:39 AM on February 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


That "booth babe" was me, years ago in the stone age when Lotus Notes was a thing. I had written some pretty nifty apps in Notes so my company sent me down to LotuSphere to talk about them. At the time I was 25, middling-pretty and certified as high as Lotus offered in their scripting language, server admin and consulting methodology. I had the highest billing rate per hour in my company.

No one would talk to me. I sat in my booth with my laptop and presentation all ready. Apart from a few flirters, I don't think I talked to a soul. I imagine I looked pretty much like the woman in the photo.

We all know the world is sexist, and IT is especially sexist, but it really sucks to confront it face-to-face.
posted by workerant at 7:09 AM on February 3, 2012 [21 favorites]


My impression is that Violet Blue does not go to the kind of tech conferences where people in the booths include techies of both genders, and only goes to the kind of tech conferences where the only women present are "booth babes."

As a woman in the CS / IT world, it saddens me that a female tech blogger is so unaware of this tech world, of the women on the systers mailing list, of all the women attending the various ACM and IEEE conferences. Perhaps she should consider attending this year's Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing.
posted by needled at 7:14 AM on February 3, 2012 [4 favorites]


Irritating as her non-apology was, one of the links led me to her recounting an incident where she went to an Apple expo and interrupted Steve Jobs to try to get a photo with him and he brushed her off and she got hilariously upset about it, so that pretty much made my day.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 7:30 AM on February 3, 2012 [6 favorites]


Grace Hopper creating COBOL is one thing, but that she kind of invented third generation programming languages while doing so is what I was mostly thinking of. And of course, Hopper was kind of a Johny-come-lately in terms of women in computer programming, she just had the good fortune to be alive the same time computers were actually around.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 7:49 AM on February 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well, it looks like this is a huge success for Violet Blue™ in that it has once again maximized exposure to the Violet Blue™ brand with a minimal expenditure of talent or insight on Violet Blue™'s part. I mean, I had no idea that Violet Blue™ was even blogging for ZDNet before now, just as I'd had very minor awareness of Violet Blue™ before the Boing Boing kerfluffle. (I'm still not sure what she brought to ZDNet--aside from the Violet Blue™ brand, of course--unless you count her astounding discovery that one of the most divisive figures in the history of Silicon Valley could be a bit curt at times.) Rest assured that, no matter how this plays out, it's all good for Violet Blue™!
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:57 AM on February 3, 2012 [4 favorites]


I just looked up her blog - I won't link it here because it was quite NSFW (and given I work in an office where we had a Meatspin competition, that's saying a lot) and I don't want to hunt out the link again, but it was linked on ED - and she really is a bad writer.

She writes like one of those Livejournal girls that posts Instagram pictures of their legs in white kneesocks turned pigeontoed and writes in lower case...like this...about the time i was on boingboing...it was in the gazebo all gossamer-like and he turned to me and said violet you are so beautiful...and i got my usb typewriter out and wrote a post about how his words are like blood spilt on my bedsheets...and then i fell out with cory doctorow lol
posted by mippy at 8:06 AM on February 3, 2012 [9 favorites]


Of course, this isn't the first time that Violet Blue has thrown another female professional under the bus.

Strange Interlude, that seems like a pretty clear case of trademark infringement (on someone's part). Can't blame 1 VB pornographer for suing another VB pornographer for using the name VB, in this country's legal climate.
posted by IAmBroom at 8:30 AM on February 3, 2012


This is why "sex sells" is one of the most insidious things we have allowed ourselves to mumble while shrugging our shoulders. Who's sex are we selling in that little shorthand? Women's. Not A woman's or That woman's sexual identity. Women's. Generic.

It's mighty fucking difficult to have an assumption floating around that you are, de facto, sold. I suspect it's more pleasant, more affirming to consider yourself among the "sold to". As Ms. Blue awkwardly demonstrates.
posted by cheap paper at 8:32 AM on February 3, 2012 [11 favorites]


breasts that were packaged air-tight in a tight, branded t-shirt.

I don't "package" parts of my body. I wear shirts. Because I'm a person, not an object.

Just a thought.
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:51 AM on February 3, 2012 [9 favorites]


"Violet Blue" should become the new nickname for the color your ass becomes as it hits the STOOPID door recursively. Pass it along. Santorum, move over.
posted by dbiedny at 9:07 AM on February 3, 2012


I don't "package" parts of my body.

Then how do you keep them from spoiling? I tried refrigeration for awhile, but then my toes turned violet blue, and I was all, "Ewww! Gross!" So now I mostly try to smoke myself.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:09 AM on February 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sad Keanu sends his regards on the misinterpretation of a captured moment of introspection (what I mean is, can we phrase the general act of inappropriate titling of some one as "sad x", based on a micro-second snap-shot of them unsuspecting a "sad Keanu")... it feels like the tumblr taking secret pictures of people eating alone, and making up a whole "looser" story about how they are the saddest people 'ever'. It isn't a very sex, or anything "positive" attitude to take.

Was a time when a person might simply approach a sad keaunu, announce ones' presence, and, in a jocular, private, friendly way, say "why so glum, chum-what say you, let's team up'n chase away the Gollum". And perhaps a conversation happens between two people, or not, but now... Now I guess it is best to giggle with a friend, from ten feet away, snap a grainy-shaky photo-snapp (with a discard camera from a '99 nokia phone cam), upgigaload it interstitially to the tubes, to the pop-blawgs sides of the cyber, where people are supposed to laugh at the target of derision (it is nice to see it's not sticking).

That is a really weird part of the thing I am wondering about what they at zdnet are doing, cjorgensen, or anyone, noting what you are saying, it seems doubly unfair for Blue to only single out for attack or derision those who "don't know what they are talking about" to be treated as "bad"contemptable-both-attendants; I hadn't imagined that a training process would be provided by the company hiring a costumed booth attendant, or a model, in all details and answerable aspects of a product for a job title of "booth babe" (that isn't actually a job title right? The job title is 'model', or 'display attendant' right?).

This seems like the blogger has an attitude that is harmful to women having any similar job, to be seen as 'worthy of derision' or disrespect (the root of the problems involved like the guys assuming she wants to be there for him, a random stranger) by her readers, for a failing of the hiring company, or booth purveyor; not the woman who was never provided with a training program helping to learn all the possible questions about what product she was supposed to stand beside and present? Like other product demonstrators would receive.
posted by infinite intimation at 9:13 AM on February 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Strange Interlude, that seems like a pretty clear case of trademark infringement

Except that the name wasn't trademarked until 2007, and the ponographer VB was using her name in "published works" before the other one.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 9:13 AM on February 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wait, this woman is older than I am? I thought she was one of these young whippersnappers with their steampunk dildos and hipstamaticinstamemes. I could sort of forgive her transgressions because she was young and unaware of the struggles of womankind over the years but fuck that, she's old enough to know better.
posted by Biblio at 9:15 AM on February 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Except that the name wasn't trademarked until 2007, and the ponographer VB was using her name in "published works" before the other one.

Plus, according to Uncyclopedia Dramatica, Wendy Sullivan attempted to sue No-name Jane (dba Violet Blue) for earnings and other damages, after Jane had retired from the business and had kids.

Porn stars don't make a lot of money in the first place, certainly not enough to deal with a frivolous lawsuit.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:21 AM on February 3, 2012


Yeah, all of her publicized lawsuits have been against people that have not been financially able to defend themselves; these were both essentially default judgements.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 9:26 AM on February 3, 2012


according to Uncyclopedia Dramatica

This is not a super reliable source.
posted by the young rope-rider at 9:39 AM on February 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


This is not a super reliable source.

Ironically, and perhaps this is the only case where this applies, ED is more accurate about something than Wikipedia. (The ED article about her actually links to "real" sources about these lawsuits.)
posted by Threeway Handshake at 9:44 AM on February 3, 2012 [4 favorites]


[People may be confused. This is MetaFilter where wishing violent death on other people is really not okay so please don't do it. Thank you. MetaTalk is your option.]
posted by jessamyn at 10:07 AM on February 3, 2012


and the ponographer VB was using her name in "published works" before the other one.

Threeway Handshake, since they are both "ponographer VB"s, your statement is a truism, not a fact.

Starbucks Coffee(tm) pursuing a trademark injunction against Starbuck's Guided Hikes of Winslow, Oklahoma is a dick move.

Starbucks Coffee(tm) pursuing a trademark injunction against Starbucks Coffeehouse of Winslow, Oklahoma is a reasonable, and some would say essential, business strategy.
posted by IAmBroom at 11:10 AM on February 3, 2012


But still a dick move if Starbucks Coffeehouse of Winslow, Oklahoma existed before Starbucks Coffee(tm).
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:29 AM on February 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


Understandable, but still. Lots of essential, business strategies are dick moves.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:32 AM on February 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Threeway Handshake, since they are both "ponographer VB"s, your statement is a truism, not a fact.

From her (the one this post is about) carfully crafted Wikipedia page: "Violet Blue is an American writer and sex educator."

From the former Violet Blue's: "Ada Mae Johnson is an American pornographic actress."

I think it is pretty clear which one I meant with my "pornographer" descriptor.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 11:59 AM on February 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you say so. In your head, at least. My post made it clear that both of them are pornographers, in some sense of the word.
posted by IAmBroom at 12:39 PM on February 3, 2012


Ada Mae Johnson creates the content. Wendy Sullivan simply repackages Johnson's content on her blog and adds value to it.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:26 PM on February 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


His thoughts were red thoughts: I'm pretty sure Violet Blue is aware that women can be developers. Maybe you should start with that instead of assuming that somehow she's incapable of "making that distinction" herself.

What the what? You know what 'assume' means, right? I.e., to believe something is true, in the absence of proof.

VB looked at a woman, and without knowing the first thing about her, labelled her as a booth babe because she was at a tech conference. That is an assumption.

I looked at her assumption, made evident by VB's dubious caption and the subsequent callouts, and stated that she had made an assumption. That is statement of fact.

But basically, what clvrmnky said.

This whole kerfuffle is mostly about VB graceless and histrionic non-apology apology, rather than the petty sexism that kicked the whole thing off.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 3:13 PM on February 3, 2012 [5 favorites]


Smiling is the canary in the coal mine of sexism. Unsmiling women are hugely threatening. If they're willing to violate the social norm that women must behave as ornamental objects at all times, what else will they be willing to do? First they stop smiling, then they stop allowing men to control their lives, then what? Probably the apocalypse, the end of patriarchy.
posted by prefpara at 9:16 AM on February 4, 2012 [9 favorites]


This is a trade show. Smiling at a trade show is a trade show norm, not a societal norm. It doesn't depend on gender, everyone is expected to be outgoing and smiling.

There is plenty of sexism to go around, but your off base on this aspect in this case.
posted by Bovine Love at 10:08 AM on February 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Grace Hopper creating COBOL is one thing, but that she kind of invented third generation programming languages while doing so is what I was mostly thinking of. And of course, Hopper was kind of a Johny-come-lately in terms of women in computer programming, she just had the good fortune to be alive the same time computers were actually around.
Actually it's not that surprising that she'd be a programmer. At the time after the war when computers were just coming on the market programming was actually considered "woman's work"
posted by delmoi at 10:13 AM on February 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


It doesn't depend on gender, everyone is expected to be outgoing and smiling.

I've been to lots of trade shows, both as a, what, goer and as a staff-the-booth person. I've never seen booth-staffers smile ceaselessly, and I've never smiled ceaselessly when staffing. I kept my eyes open, and if someone in the aisle made eye contact and looked like they might approach the booth, then yes, I gave them a friendly smile. If no one was in the aisle or approaching my booth or looking in my direction, then no, I didn't smile just to be smiling. For one thing, it makes your face hurt, and for another, it begins to be very obviously fake after a while.

In the photo, it doesn't look like VB and her friend were even close enough to the dev's booth for the dev to recognize that they were A) there and B) wanting to talk to the dev.
posted by rtha at 10:21 AM on February 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


I never meant (nor said, for that matter) ceaselessly. "outgoing" doesn't even mean anything outside of interaction. The point was the "everybody". It isn't sexist to expect people to smile at a trade show.

That said, she does not look very approachable, which is important, even from a distance. I feel bad for her, because this is not her primary job and probably not one she enjoys, either. If you are not the kind of person who enjoys manning a booth, it is not very much fun at all.
posted by Bovine Love at 11:14 AM on February 4, 2012


That said, she does not look very approachable, which is important, even from a distance.

I dunno. It's a hard thing to judge from a photo. For all we know, she's spent the previous two hours chatting up a storm with everyone who even looked like they were looking in her direction, and she's taking a moment to collect herself. I have no doubt that every single exhibitor has looked unapproachable for some moments every day they're in the booth. Nature of the beast and not a reason to particularly condemn this one dev.
posted by rtha at 11:31 AM on February 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


VB's explanation is laughable. She's complaining the woman was "unapproachable"?

She's a frickin' "journalist." journalists talk to unapproachable people all the time. It's her damn job, she was "covering" the show. She's certainly made a huge deal about approaching Steve Jobs, but is upset that this "booth babe" was unapproachable? Something is off.

Maybe she should go back to writing about dildos, the dealing-with-people aspect of journalism doesn't seem to be working out for her.
posted by jayder at 12:03 PM on February 4, 2012


Think about the last stressful 10 hour day you worked. Focus on a moment of fleeting peace during that day. *FLASH* a fameball sex blogger just took your photo from across the room. Were you smiling? Because if you let your smile slip for even a moment, you are a contemptible unapproachable person. Congrats, your exhaustion has just furthered the career of a woman who builds her reputation, step by step, by tearing down other people. Especially women who don't conform to her standards of femininity.

For a habitual sourpuss, VB is sure hypocritical.
posted by SakuraK at 5:19 PM on February 5, 2012 [11 favorites]


Beautifully said, SakuraK.
posted by jayder at 5:31 PM on February 5, 2012


Here is an update: "I found Ms. Szurmai-Palotai online rather quickly, and saw that she was not the woman in the photo...By the afternoon I found Zsfia Rutkai."
posted by sageleaf at 2:51 PM on February 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I suspect her detective work there is going to count for far less than she thinks it will...
posted by Artw at 2:58 PM on February 6, 2012


Sageleaf, do you think that persecution complex is her ACTUAL world view? Or is she just blowing smoke to try to distract from her own screw ups? What a weird post.

Also, no one has EVER before accused me of being an Apple fanboy. Someday I might even own an Apple product!
posted by small_ruminant at 3:00 PM on February 6, 2012


Turning into a boy will no doubt take longer.
posted by small_ruminant at 3:01 PM on February 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


the Change.org petition that was started to force me to apologize to her,

I LOL'd.

She has a decent point about the internet's hostility towards women. However, she is still wrong.
posted by the young rope-rider at 3:04 PM on February 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


I hate it when people point to disagreements as evidence of misogyny, as Violet Blue does so often. It really weakens the case for ACTUAL misogyny online. I feel like she undermines women's causes far more than she bolsters them. Not that she doesn't have the right to do so- it's not like *I'm*out reporting on tech- but it's a bummer anyway.

Also, those people who say "stop yelling at me!" whenever you say something they don't want to hear, no matter how quietly or gently spoken. Or is that just a NorCal thing?
posted by small_ruminant at 4:07 PM on February 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I suspect her detective work there is going to count for far less than she thinks it will...

Yes, considering that she claims to have contacted the woman directly, and then she still misspelled her name as Zsfia Rutkai. Twice. So it was no typo. I can understand if she avoided the accent on the O in Zsófia Rutkai, but this is no excuse for botching the name completely. Twice.

This is why VB is not a journalist. She could have walked over and asked the woman her name, or probably even read it off her badge. But she only bothered with fact checking a week later, in an attempt to defend herself from a monumental reaction to her ridiculous story. The defense was basically, "well you don't even know who she is." Yeah, VB, neither did you.
posted by charlie don't surf at 4:38 AM on February 7, 2012


Yeah, dropped in to link VB's latest. I gotta admire her. She is now tripling down.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:56 AM on February 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yes, considering that she claims to have contacted the woman directly, and then she still misspelled her name as Zsfia Rutkai. Twice. So it was no typo. I can understand if she avoided the accent on the O in Zsófia Rutkai, but this is no excuse for botching the name completely. Twice.

Heh. You realize now there there will be an angry article about how some kind of encoding glitch wiped out the O and we should have realized it and she's so persecuted etc... etc...
posted by Artw at 10:02 AM on February 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Chuck Jordan has an amazing rundown on everything, including VB's attempt to blame the readers for not fact checking her article for her.
posted by mrzarquon at 9:03 AM on February 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


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