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The Hawkeye Initiative
May 15, 2013 4:39 AM   Subscribe

A female data scientist working on HAWKEN (a videogame) takes issue with the poster of a scantily clad comic character her CEO displays on his wall, and while he is away, replaces it with something else...

Inspired by the Hawkeye Initiative [previously], which is a Tumblr blog described by Kotaku as "a place where people take ridiculous portrayals of female comic characters and... replace them with a sketch of Hawkeye, from the Avengers, doing the same thing."

HAWKEN is a free to play game by a small indie studio praised for its excellent graphics and fast gameplay.
posted by xdvesper (164 comments total) 75 users marked this as a favorite

 
Okay, that was great.
posted by MartinWisse at 4:56 AM on May 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


and she links to this in her story?
posted by fistynuts at 4:59 AM on May 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


My favorite part was the CEO's reaction:
That was a brilliant prank. You called me on exactly the bullshit I need to be called on. I put up pictures of half-naked girls around the office all the time and I never think about it. I’m taking you and Sam to lunch. And after that, we’re going to hang both prints, side by side.
Happy ending!
posted by Elementary Penguin at 5:00 AM on May 15, 2013 [34 favorites]


This is utterly delightful and makes me wish I had the slightest interest in playing their (any) game so as to support them.
posted by amelioration at 5:00 AM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Happy ending!

Ordinarily these stories end with the teller quitting, getting fired, or submitting to their lot, so I'm cheered to see everything come out well in the end.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 5:03 AM on May 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


Ha I didn't have time to make a post on this yesterday, glad xdvesper did.
posted by emjaybee at 5:03 AM on May 15, 2013


Everything went better than expected!
posted by El Sabor Asiatico at 5:04 AM on May 15, 2013


Having a cool boss makes all the difference in the world.
posted by absalom at 5:05 AM on May 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


Cool! Thanks!
posted by chillmost at 5:11 AM on May 15, 2013


Boss asserts power by keeping the picture up; outmaneuvered employee feigns victory rather than escalating the conflict.
posted by ryanrs at 5:15 AM on May 15, 2013 [50 favorites]


remember, naked guys are a punishment, like using a squirt bottle on your cat

"hawkeye initiative": 100% not crypto-homophobic, no sir
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 5:15 AM on May 15, 2013 [14 favorites]


and she links to this in her story?

I can't decide what's more depressing: that that photo of Jensen Ackles is clearly Photoshopped, or that a woman isn't allowed some beefcake on her own blog.
posted by Kitteh at 5:16 AM on May 15, 2013 [12 favorites]


Allowed? She is allowed to do as she pleases, but I don't find it her engaging in a similar behavior to be supportive of her argument.
posted by fistynuts at 5:20 AM on May 15, 2013


There is a bit of a difference between posting a picture to your blog and posting a similar picture visibly in the workplace....
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:23 AM on May 15, 2013 [43 favorites]


I think there is difference in kind between having cheese/beefcake on your blog and hanging it around the premises of the business you run.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 5:23 AM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


The poster stayed up in the end, and I'll bet any similarly objectifying pinups stayed up as well. Which makes the reaction feel patronizing rather than a sign of genuine change.

Also I seriously can't believe we still need to even have these conversations in the workplace. Or rather, I CAN believe it, but it depresses/irritates the hell out of me.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 5:24 AM on May 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


fistynuts, the difference is that the boss was displaying the poster in the office so that employees and visitors would have to see it. People should be able to work without being exposed to demeaning imagery.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 5:25 AM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


also jesus why are these so badly drawn, at least try to match the style of the original
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 5:25 AM on May 15, 2013


Allowed? She is allowed to do as she pleases, but I don't find it her engaging in a similar behavior to be supportive of her argument.

welp this got even dumber even quicker than we could have anticipated
posted by ominous_paws at 5:26 AM on May 15, 2013 [35 favorites]


and she links to this in her story?

There is a huge difference between what you put on your own blog, which people can choose to visit, and what you put in your office when your employees are forced to see it every time they need to talk to you.

You don't like half naked 'shopped men? Don't read her blog. You don't like Rosie the Underboob? Quit your job. Or pray your boss is cool enough to let them call you out, but you're risking the rent on that one.
posted by eriko at 5:26 AM on May 15, 2013 [6 favorites]


I think it'd be more impressive if they kept both posters together and lost the other cheesecake, at least.
posted by ominous_paws at 5:29 AM on May 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


remember, naked guys are a punishment, like using a squirt bottle on your cat

"hawkeye initiative": 100% not crypto-homophobic, no sir


I don't think so... I think the point of the Hawkeye initiative was to highlight the difference in poses and costumes between men and women in comic books.

I don't think this is necessarily exactly akin to the Hawkeye initiative, although it does highlight the invalidity of a common argument by male gamers - that women are complaining unfairly about the unrealistic physiques and sexualised outfits and poses of female characters in games, because the men also have unrealistic physiques. "Brosie" is a fantasy of sexual objectification - albeit a deliberately tongue-in-cheek one - not a fantasy of physical power and athleticism.

That said, "you make a great point and I am going to put up both of these pieces of sexy art" is a pretty bad response - especially since, as Narrative Priorities points out, that one poster is going to be used to justify all the cheesecake art involving women in the office, and probably also in the game's marketing and possibly the game itself, where "Brosie" will not feature.

The upshot of all this, really, is to make me less interested in Hawken as a game, which is a shame because GIANT ROBOTS.
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:30 AM on May 15, 2013 [10 favorites]


"There Brosie stood, proud, nipples testing the air like young gophers in springtime,"

Now *that* is some fine purple prose!
posted by notsnot at 5:31 AM on May 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


I don't think so...
good for you but it's being framed as a punishment, like "oh you wanted cake? too bad here is some feces"

if it were sincere i bet it would be fucking drawn better
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 5:32 AM on May 15, 2013


This, of course, alludes to you: "remember, naked guys are a punishment, like using a squirt bottle on your cat

"hawkeye initiative": 100% not crypto-homophobic, no sir
"

It's also been pointed out that despite the creator's best intentions, the Hawkeye Initiative can also come across as pretty transmisogynistic too.
posted by ShawnStruck at 5:33 AM on May 15, 2013


There is a huge difference between what you put on your own blog, which people can choose to visit, and what you put in your office when your employees are forced to see it every time they need to talk to you.

You don't like half naked 'shopped men? Don't read her blog. You don't like Rosie the Underboob? Quit your job. Or pray your boss is cool enough to let them call you out, but you're risking the rent on that one.
You acknowledge that the key point in this discussion is private vs public/work space but then you're invalidating this idea by encouraging people to quit their jobs. What do you mean?
posted by Foci for Analysis at 5:35 AM on May 15, 2013


You know what would have made this both 100% and 100% worse?

If they had Jim Hines pose for the picture.
posted by eriko at 5:36 AM on May 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


[A couple of comments deleted; please take metacomplaints to Metatalk. Thanks.]
posted by taz at 5:43 AM on May 15, 2013


You acknowledge that the key point in this discussion is private vs public/work space but then you're invalidating this idea by encouraging people to quit their jobs. What do you mean?

I believe the poster is pointing out that the consequences of expressing one's distaste for objectification are so different in magnitude that the situations are not analogous.

As for this thread, eh, I'm a pragmatist. This seems to me a small positive step in a long long journey. A good to which the perfect should not be an enemy.
posted by Diablevert at 5:43 AM on May 15, 2013 [17 favorites]


Why the reversed K in the replacement image? Is there some underlying US-Soviet tension to the hawkeye initiative?
posted by Mitheral at 5:50 AM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I like the CEO's response because it creates an opportunity every time somebody walks in, sees both pictures, and does a double-take. It's a chance for the story to be told again, and the CEO sounds like the kind of guy who'll do it, acknowledging his inadvertent sexism and talking up his team for the clever way they pointed it out to him.

It's also a constant reminder of how even good-intentioned men can fall into normalising the sexualisation of women sometimes. I imagine there'll be less of that in the office with Ruby and Brosie watching over them.

Thumbs up from me.
posted by Georgina at 5:51 AM on May 15, 2013 [45 favorites]


this is GREAT, thank you.
posted by lakersfan1222 at 5:51 AM on May 15, 2013


MetaFilter: Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory
posted by Bugbread at 5:52 AM on May 15, 2013 [33 favorites]


I thought the story was brilliant, and considered posting it, but thought "No, I'm sure Mefites will find some way to spin it as a horrible depressing anecdote, so I'll pass." I'm glad someone posted it, though.
posted by Bugbread at 5:53 AM on May 15, 2013 [34 favorites]


It's also a constant reminder of how even good-intentioned men can fall into normalising the sexualisation of women sometimes.

sadly, people are sexual beings and we haven't yet figured out a way to fix this without cutting off the new-person supply
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 5:55 AM on May 15, 2013 [8 favorites]


invalidating this idea by encouraging people to quit their jobs

No, I'm saying that quitting a blog cost you nothing, but quitting a job costs you a great deal -- which is why rules and laws about workplace conduct are different than personal speech in a public realm.*

If you want to get away from the picture of whatshisabs, you click the X on the browser window. If you wanted to get away from The Underboobs of Welding, you had to give up your income -- unless, like in this case, you could call out the boss and he at least gets that only having half-naked women is unfair. And I give him props for that.

See, one of the problems of us Old Pharts is, well, we're older. We grew up with casual sexism. And we often don't think about it. It is, literally, background. You worked at an ice cream store, you stopped eating ice cream. When you spend your whole life with various calendar girls, you stop really noticing that, well, we're being sexist by hanging half naked women about. The fact that this guy got that when he was pranked? Credit. It took me a long time to really notice the problem as well. When you're doing something that everybody did when you were a kid and your dads and your dad's dads did, you don't think of it as wrong, even when it is wrong. See casual racism. Note: I am not saying it is not wrong. It is. I am saying that we don't notice ourselves doing something that has, in our world, always been done. Doesn't make it right -- it just makes it hard for us to see when we're doing it.

So, what we have here is a guy, who grew up in a casually sexist society, realizing that he was being casually sexist *and that wasn't right*. And, well, I'm glad for him. He could have easily fired her, and, alas, it would have been legal. Instead, he realized what he was doing wrong -- he was saying "half naked cartoon women are okay." He's now saying "half naked cartoon *people* are okay."

There are people saying "well, the half naked women are still there." If there are half naked men as well, the problem is no longer sexism. If you think that it's okay to show half naked men at work, but not women, well, to be frank, you are also sexist. If the only half naked man is this one, and there are many other half naked cartoon women? Then, yes, the problem hasn't been fully understood or dealt with.

But it's a first step. And nobody goes anywhere right without that first step.


* There's also a whole subject on those realms crossing that we should not get into here.
posted by eriko at 5:58 AM on May 15, 2013 [31 favorites]


It's a step, but I don't know if showing them side by side is the right solution as they're both sexist.

For example, Dean Markley had an ad campaign for their electric guitar/bass strings wherein they had a woman in lingerie with the head of a old man composited in. This ad was run in several nationwide magazines. A friend of mine wrote to the editor to complain. Dean Markley ran this ad (and I don't know if it was in response).

Does that make it any better? Equal, yes, but better? Maybe in a little marginal way, but not in a substantive way.

Is this better? Way better than this.

And while it was good for a prank, the right answer was probably to replace the original one with one where Ruby is better clothed. I think you can get the same message without the underboob.
posted by plinth at 5:58 AM on May 15, 2013


You know how I cheered for a happy ending upthread?

Yeah, not so much anymore.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 6:01 AM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


good for you but it's being framed as a punishment, like "oh you wanted cake? too bad here is some feces"


I think I get what you mean, now - that you see the Hawkeye Initiative as punishing straight male comic book fans by making them look at pictures of a scantily-clad Hawkeye, as if looking at scantily-clad men was a bad thing? OK, I can see the logic there.

That said, it's not my read on the project, which was not "here, look at these sexy pictures of men ARE THEY NOT DISGUST?", but "this is a convention which is sufficiently familiar as to be invisible to many readers, who therefore do not see why it is alienating to others (not just women, but also men) to see female and male characters treated so differently by comic book artists. We are trying to draw attention to it by showing the disparity in artistic treatment".

Whether that was done successfully is another question, and for that matter whether everyone putting a Hawkeye Initiative picture together had the right idea in doing so is also another question again. Shortpacked's "False Equivalence" is covering some of the same ground...

sadly, people are sexual beings and we haven't yet figured out a way to fix this without cutting off the new-person supply

This, on the other hand, I don't get at all. People should not need to express their sexual being-ness at the office in order still to count as sexual beings. If you can't get through your working day without looking at some underboob, there are jobs that will accomodate that - picture editor at TMZ, say.
posted by running order squabble fest at 6:03 AM on May 15, 2013 [31 favorites]


I don't know if showing them side by side is the right solution as they're both sexist.

I admit my argument is chiefly semantic, but - how is it "sexist" when both genders are being equally treated (or mistreated, whichever you'd rather)?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:04 AM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm more curious about the "data scientist" aspect of this, mostly because I associate the title data scientist with having a PhD, and I don't associate the game makers of Hawken with people who pay PhD money. But perhaps I need to broaden my mind.
posted by Going To Maine at 6:05 AM on May 15, 2013


I guess I'm just getting too cynical - - I can't help but believe this whole story is set-up as a bit of guerilla marketing for this small indie studio.
posted by fairmettle at 6:05 AM on May 15, 2013 [9 favorites]


how is it "sexist" when both genders are being equally treated
How is it that people presented for no other obvious purpose than to show off their sexual characteristics is not sexist?
posted by plinth at 6:10 AM on May 15, 2013


I think that this is a nice outcome, and I think that the boss did well. But I don't think it's worth anyone throwing their hands up and having a little cry just because not everyone's reaction is "this was the perfect outcome and I wouldn't have had it play out any differently". It's perfectly reasonable to have ideas about why this is maybe not 100% the perfect situation, and they help things progress for everyone.
posted by ominous_paws at 6:10 AM on May 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


I guess I'm just getting too cynical - - I can't help but believe this whole story is set-up as a bit of guerilla marketing for this small indie studio.

Possible, but this isn't the studio - it's the publisher.
posted by running order squabble fest at 6:11 AM on May 15, 2013


How is it that people presented for no other obvious purpose than to show off their sexual characteristics is not sexist?

What's wrong with being sexy?
posted by ericost at 6:14 AM on May 15, 2013 [8 favorites]


PepsiBoob?

I've always had a bit of trouble with the idea that scantily clad women need to be "properly clothed" in order for the artwork not to be sexist. I understand the issue with objectification, but the proposed solution always seems a bit unsettlingly puritanical in flavor. So I appreciated the equality angle of this story: Yes, people like to look at sexy pictures, and it's bad to only gratify men in that regard because that perpetuates a harmful understanding of the roles of men and women in society, but rather than censoring the woman for her provocativeness, let's treat them both equally to the best of our ability, and be conscious of the social implications of our artistic communication.
posted by Pfardentrott at 6:16 AM on May 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


I was confused, that is why I asked the question. I don't generally try to undermine myself when making a point about a serious issue.

"Sexism is bad, lets look at some skin"

I understood the tag to be sexism, but it seems from the response to my comment, that the more appropriate tag is misogyny

Of course there is a difference in venue, but its not less sexist, just less inappropriate.

What's wrong with being sexy?

Being Sexy promotes sexist thoughts, and as we all surely know, sexist thoughts are bad
posted by fistynuts at 6:18 AM on May 15, 2013


This, of coures, alludes to you: sadly, people are sexual beings and we haven't yet figured out a way to fix this without cutting off the new-person supply

That's a pretty blithe reading of my comment.

The problem isn't that people are sexual beings, or that men look at women in a sexual way. The problem is the normalisation of the sexualisation of women -- the idea that every representation of a woman should be shown through a lens of sexual desirability nomatter what she may be doing. (She's not a mechanic, she's a sexy mechanic! She's not a nurse, she's a sexy nurse!) If you're in the kind of environment where that isn't called out, it's easy for it to become the norm, so much that you may not even notice it.

People ask how stuff like headless, bloody bikini statues can possibly happen. This is how.
posted by Georgina at 6:18 AM on May 15, 2013 [26 favorites]


@running order squabble fest

are you willing to consider the idea that maybe american office life is a little weird and fucked up in ways that don't have to do with this picture
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 6:19 AM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


How is it that people presented for no other obvious purpose than to show off their sexual characteristics is not sexist?

Because sexism is about power imbalances rather than on sex per se. The problem with cheesecake is not that it exists, or even it exists pretty much solely to provide a low-wattage sexual thrill (most people like a little low-wattage sexual thrills in their day), but that cheesecake is normalized, so that heterosexual males are allowed that thrill on a regular basis more or less simply by existing (and having vision), while other groups' sexual attractions are marginalized to the point of nonexistence.

There's obviously a bit more to it than that -- the overwhelming preponderance of heterosexual male sexual gratification in society tends to devalue the women outside of their ability to service that gratification, for example -- but sexism does not equal sexuality in a primary way. Not that a lot of people don't muddy the water, through malice or ignorance, by combining the two indiscriminately.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:24 AM on May 15, 2013 [16 favorites]


How is it that people presented for no other obvious purpose than to show off their sexual characteristics is not sexist?

Ah, I see the disconnect - "sexism" is the preferential treatment of one gender over another. Valuing a person of either gender solely for their sexual characteristics would be more accurately called "objectification."

So if one poster were up, but not the other, THEN it would be sexist, because one gender is getting different treatment. But BOTH genders being valued solely for physical/sexual characteristics is objectifying, but NOT sexist.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:25 AM on May 15, 2013 [8 favorites]


FWIW, my read on the Hawkeye Initiative is the same as running order squabble fest's - the takeaway is not "this is disgusting" but "this is ridiculous, and only tangentially similar to human anatomy."

Sexy can be just fine, it's ridiculous objectification like the sadly-ubiquitous simultaneous ass/boobs pose that is targeted by things like the Initiative.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 6:27 AM on May 15, 2013


But I don't think it's worth anyone throwing their hands up and having a little cry just because not everyone's reaction is "this was the perfect outcome and I wouldn't have had it play out any differently".

Whose reaction is this, anyway?
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 6:30 AM on May 15, 2013


sadly, people are sexual beings and we haven't yet figured out a way to fix this without cutting off the new-person supply

This is a parody comment, right? Like, a comment from before decades of discussion on male gaze, objectification, etc?
posted by kmz at 6:33 AM on May 15, 2013 [11 favorites]


Being Sexy promotes sexist thoughts, and as we all surely know, sexist thoughts are bad

Hoping this is sarcastic. Hoping, hoping, hoping...

That said... Despite being a mostly straight guy, I kinda thought Brosie was hotter, thanks to that great big come-hither smile. And I think that's great!
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 6:34 AM on May 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


Whose reaction is this, anyway?


You know how I cheered for a happy ending upthread?

Yeah, not so much anymore.


MetaFilter: Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory

I thought the story was brilliant, and considered posting it, but thought "No, I'm sure Mefites will find some way to spin it as a horrible depressing anecdote, so I'll pass." I'm glad someone posted it, though.

Were the first that sprang to mind.
posted by ominous_paws at 6:35 AM on May 15, 2013


Well sometimes guys don’t realize how much they’re talking about titties.

I know EXACTLY how much I talk about titties!
Seriously-Enjoyed that. Thanks.
posted by QueerAngel28 at 6:35 AM on May 15, 2013


And while it was good for a prank, the right answer was probably to replace the original one with one where Ruby is better clothed. I think you can get the same message without the underboob.

I'm not so sure. It would equally effectively make the point that Rosie's underboobs are not okay, but it would risk being interpreted as complaining that the problem is the existence of under-boobs, which would imply that an objectifying semi-naked picture of Rosie minus the underboobs would be perfectly okay. Instead of highlighting a feminist issue, it instead highlights an anti-nakedness issue. *

* Which is a valid issue in itself, for many people. But it's not the issue that the author and her artist accomplice were trying to highlight.
posted by talitha_kumi at 6:37 AM on May 15, 2013 [7 favorites]


I have a question.

I liked the story, and I too feel uncomfortable when I come across wanton [female] sexualization in public/semi-public spaces.

That said, why can't I shake the feeling that part of our response to this is to become huge prudes?
posted by pmv at 6:37 AM on May 15, 2013 [8 favorites]


Yay, it's great that woman didn't lose her job because the CEO was cool guy! On the plus side, there's now more illustrations of half naked people in the office.

WIN WIN
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:41 AM on May 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


That said, why can't I shake the feeling that part of our response to this is to become huge prudes?

I think there's a difference between "I'm a huge prude who hates sex and sexuality" and "I wish that hyper-sexualization weren't so often the default in all media, particularly with regards to women."
posted by Narrative Priorities at 6:43 AM on May 15, 2013 [32 favorites]


ominous_pawsJ: Yeah, sorry for not elaborating. I meant to say that the dicussion beneath my first comment is good and has pointed out stuff I wouldn't have noticed alone. My cheerful reaction has been moderated, and that's a good thing.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 6:44 AM on May 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


That said, why can't I shake the feeling that part of our response to this is to become huge prudes?

It's complicated, but I think talitha_kumi gets near it above. It's not an objection to nakedness per se, but an objection to unequal, ludicrous, all-permeating female nudity. So part of a sane reaction may involve some sort of request for nudity and / or sexualization to be dialled back - but this is not necessarily the same as a simple, prudish objection to any nudity or sex.
posted by ominous_paws at 6:46 AM on May 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


are you willing to consider the idea that maybe american office life is a little weird and fucked up in ways that don't have to do with this picture

"Are you willing to consider the idea" is kind of an odd frame, FYI. I don't think we're at a level of confrontation where we need to question people's conceptual plasticity...

That said, the particular issue we are discussing makes this question a little confusing. Do you mean this picture as in a general "what's wrong with this picture" usage, or this picture as in "this picture of Senior Engineer McBooberson"?

If the latter, of course. If the former, yes, but...

The microtop and banana hammock side by side is a nice commentary on the relative rarity of overtly sexual presentations of men in video game art - there are plenty of muscular men, and plenty of shirtless men, but few muscular shirtless men being presented as overtly sexual, or posing specifically to signal that their shirtlessness is intended to turn the viewer on.

(See also professional wrestling and action movies, of course.)

However, there's a reason why most offices don't have either sexy pictures of men or sexy pictures of women on their walls. Sexism (by whatever definition) is a factor, but so is the idea of the hostile or counterproductive work environment. If you as a boss put a picture of a naked or nearly-naked woman or man prominently on display in your office, you are in effect challenging everyone else in the office, male or female (or non-gendered), gay or straight (or any other sexual orientation) to be OK with it, or to raise a complaint, which will be stressful for them and potentially career-limiting, or to soldier on despite feeling uncomfortable.

A lot of our codes of behavior around office conduct are intended to avoid friction which will make it harder for the work to get done in the office. We expect people to come into the office wearing clothes, generally, not because we think the human body is a shameful thing, but because nudity in the office is demanding that everyone in the office is OK with the boss coming in with his or her junk on display. In this case, you've got a sexy poster, and a poster intended to subvert the sexy poster, while possibly being sexy in itself. However, it's OK, in office management terms, to feel that even a subverted sexy lady poster is going to cause friction to you getting your work done in the office, as the presence of an unsubverted sexy lady poster caused friction for this data scientist. It made her workplace a less good place for her to work in, effectively.

She felt under unfair pressure to be OK with this, and responded to it in a particular way - and, fortunately, got a recognition of the double standard. But that leaves the subsequent question of who else in the office might not be OK with either or both posters, and what pressure they are now under not to make an issue out of it - not to be "huge prudes", in effect. That's the kind of thing that helps to establish a pattern of inappropriate workplace behavior, in employment law terms.

A safer bet, and one which many offices follow, is just not to have sexy posters up at all. Game companies are slower to get that memo, and the "Brosie" approach is a smart, humorous and relatively non-confrontational way to highlight the inequality. However, it does highlight that, partly because of the traditional lack of gender parity in the workforce and partly because of the way its marketing and promotional material is created (see also science fiction book publishers, perfume manufacturers and men's lifestyle magazines for other companies whose "this is our work" posters might involve deliberately sexualized images), video games companies normalize things which would probably be red-flagged in other white-collar professions.
posted by running order squabble fest at 6:54 AM on May 15, 2013 [18 favorites]


This would feel a lot more like victory if the guy's balls were visible hanging out the sides of his briefs.
posted by mediareport at 7:04 AM on May 15, 2013 [31 favorites]


Good compromise, great story. Thanks for posting.
posted by JoeXIII007 at 7:06 AM on May 15, 2013


Can a dong make a right?
posted by humanfont at 7:08 AM on May 15, 2013 [8 favorites]


I am guessing this is the CEO's first job. Tits on the door, like, seriously?
posted by CautionToTheWind at 7:11 AM on May 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Please, dude. The preferred nomenclature is "underboobs".
posted by Elementary Penguin at 7:12 AM on May 15, 2013


Is it just me, or do BOTH illustrations look like animations from "Archer"? :-)
posted by scolbath at 7:25 AM on May 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


I have been at my job forever, and I have repeatedly complained about beefcake calenders in obvious places (accounts, lunchroom) and have been told off because they make me feel "inadequate" and I should toughen up.

It always seems okay for some, and not others. It has never sat well.

Although this CEO? Had it coming.
posted by Mezentian at 7:30 AM on May 15, 2013


I don't get it. She says, "I loathe this picture...while our CEO was having everyone in the company sign it, I stand there grinding my teeth into tiny shards." But now, because Brosie is hanging next to it, she's happy that it's still hanging there? How does that work?
posted by straight at 7:54 AM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


The key positive outcome is this:

Mark and I are now in an open dialogue about gender in comics and gaming.

The solution of hanging both pieces of art side-by-side is imperfect. But the willingness of the CEO to engage in an ongoing dialogue about sexism in his industry with his employee is good. I don't think this means that Mark Long will never use sex to sell a game again, but hopefully the company will be a little more conscientious about alienating at least half of the population.
posted by Mister_A at 8:13 AM on May 15, 2013 [8 favorites]


I don't get it. She says, "I loathe this picture...while our CEO was having everyone in the company sign it, I stand there grinding my teeth into tiny shards." But now, because Brosie is hanging next to it, she's happy that it's still hanging there? How does that work?

Because she didn't loathe the picture so much as what it represented, and now hanging beside Brosie, it represents to her a public lesson she taught her boss and a minor personal victory, instead of the systemic sexual objectification of her gender?

I mean, we can legitimately question whether it staying up is actually a victory for women's equality in the workplace, but I don't exactly find it hard to see why she now feels differently about the poster.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 8:18 AM on May 15, 2013 [15 favorites]


"hawkeye initiative": 100% not crypto-homophobic, no sir

Well, no, not really. Compare the images on THI with actual gay porn/beefcake pics and see if you get it.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:24 AM on May 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


He could have easily fired her, and, alas, it would have been legal.

Just in case anyone else has to deal with something similar -- please don't assume that it's legal for your boss to sexualize your workplace and then retaliate when you object. It's more likely illegal, even in an "at-will" state. Of course this is more complicated because of the particular way she objected, but it would be a fun case.

But BOTH genders being valued solely for physical/sexual characteristics is objectifying, but NOT sexist.

I take your point. But if we're talking specifically about, say, posters of both men and women going up in the workplace, doesn't it depend on how people respond to both posters and why they're put up? I mean, extreme example: a workplace with all men and one woman. There are sexy pictures of women up in the break room. She objects. Boss responds by putting up sexy pictures of men to screw with her. I think that's more sexist rather than less: you have the ordinary underlying sexism of putting up pictures of women to objectify, plus the extra sexism of putting up pictures of (anything, in this case men) to harass a woman.

Obviously that's not always true, but in a situation like this where a straight man is putting up both pictures, you need to know more about what's going on to judge whether it's serving a sexist purpose.

- "hawkeye initiative": 100% not crypto-homophobic, no sir
- I've always had a bit of trouble with the idea that scantily clad women need to be "properly clothed" in order for the artwork not to be sexist.
- That said, why can't I shake the feeling that part of our response to this is to become huge prudes?


A lot of this is getting at the same underlying point: do we really want to suggest that it's wrong for men to be in sexy poses / men to have to look at men in sexy poses / men to act like women / women to show their bodies / people to like sex / etc. ?

And, no, of course not. In any given situation there's going to be a natural level of sexuality people are happy with, which will depend on whether it's a workplace or a bar and friends or strangers and on individual personalities and religious preferences and a million other things. Whatever level the people involved are happy with is a good level. But then we take whatever that natural level is, and layer on an ever-present, non-negotiable dose of sexually-available-women. It's like your entire life was set in one of those cliche film scenes with out-of-focus women stripping in the background.

That's what the Hawkeye project is about: when you put a man in those poses, it becomes obvious how weirdly sexual they are in non-sexual contexts. Like this or this or this or this or this or this. None of these are based on characters, for example, at a strip club. They're women doing ordinary comic book things like running around trying not to die, and just incidentally for no reason adopting strip club poses the entire time. It is bizarre.

And so: while "women doing normal things in strip club costumes and poses" might be an interesting 4chan board, it shouldn't have to be a baseline background condition for reading about superheroes. And it shouldn't have to be a baseline condition for being a researcher at a game company. Or watching TV. Or checking out at the supermarket. But when it's everywhere, we forget that it's happening, and so it becomes this non-negotiable poorly-considered thing that people have to put up with to get by in the world even though it's not a happy, consensual level of sexuality to be at.

I don't think we're at a level of confrontation where we need to question people's conceptual plasticity.

This sentence made me really happy.
posted by jhc at 8:45 AM on May 15, 2013 [31 favorites]


So the actual power relationship is actually important here. The contexts in which these superficially symmetrical but quite different statements are being made and fact that they're being made by different people may matter more than the abstract "content" of the statements.

People have already picked up on one difference between the beefcake-on-blog picture that this blogger posted to her blog and the underboobs-on-the-door poster that the CEO put up in the office. But people seem to be glossing over how the two situations are different specifically because we live in a society where:
  1. CEOs are powerful by dint of their job title — being a CEO is sort of like being a medieval knight — and,
  2. Those powerful jobs tend to go to men, just by default, to the point where being masculine is seen as a prerequisite for the job.
Hey look I'm gonna just go ahead and drop the p-bomb here:

Because of these fundamentally patriarchal power relations, beefcake and underboob play distinct cultural roles, despite their both featuring depictions of people posed in (differently) sexualized ways.

And keep in mind, "patriarchy" doesn't mean "rule by men," it means "rule by patriarchs." All the men and women grumbling about the CEO's clueless poster are grumbling about a patriarchal system of control. The CEO himself is likewise affected; he seems like a relatively smart person, but he maintained cluelessness for a good long while specifically because of his position of patriarchal privilege.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 8:50 AM on May 15, 2013 [8 favorites]


She felt under unfair pressure to be OK with this, and responded to it in a particular way - and, fortunately, got a recognition of the double standard. But that leaves the subsequent question of who else in the office might not be OK with either or both posters, and what pressure they are now under not to make an issue out of it - not to be "huge prudes", in effect. That's the kind of thing that helps to establish a pattern of inappropriate workplace behavior, in employment law terms.

I thought about this as well. But then I thought since this was a video game company, maybe there are scantily clad characters in their games, so it would make sense to have posters of them on the walls. But then I looked up screenshots from the game Hawken, and it seems to be mostly about big robots/machines without any actual people in it. So even though this company isn't making games with scantily clad characters in it, because others in the industry are doing it, it's considered de rigueur that everyone there would be ok with those posters on the wall.

As a data scientist myself, I, too, am interested in knowing what kind of stuff they do at video games companies. (But, I don't know if I'd be too much of a prude to work there...)
posted by bluefly at 8:54 AM on May 15, 2013


Moreover, the people making the "underboob == beefcake == any sexualization whatsoever in any context == bad" equivalencies, and who are therefore postulating a slippery slope from messing with the CEO's poster to total asexual prudish hellscape, are, well, just wrong from the start, and so glaringly wrong that I just automatically read the argument as entirely disingenuous.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 8:57 AM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


total asexual prudish hellscape is near Cardiff, isn't it?
posted by Mister_A at 9:03 AM on May 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


Thinking on it further, the CEO is a manipulative sociopath that can simultaneously say he needs to be called on his bullshit and then keeps the picture there.

On a company that has an uncommonly high percentage of women working there.

He sought this confrontation and enjoyed driving the situation to the conclusion he expected. This lady got trolled, hard.

Now she has wasted her one shot and the picture stays. She is worse than when she started, and while she might associate the two posters to some sort of pyrrhic personal victory, the other women working there won't have that luxury.
posted by CautionToTheWind at 9:06 AM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've always had a bit of trouble with the idea that scantily clad women need to be "properly clothed" in order for the artwork not to be sexist.

jhc really gets the point. The Hawkeye project is not about shaming people for liking sexy pictures, it's about trying to get people to notice how stupid and silly those pictures look in many of the contexts where they appear and to people who don't share a fetish for unrealistically proportioned and painfully contorted women.
posted by straight at 9:07 AM on May 15, 2013


But now, because Brosie is hanging next to it, she's happy that it's still hanging there? How does that work?

I'd suggest that when these are presented side-by-side in the context of an office where everyone present knows what happened, her point is being made, like, all the time.
posted by Hoopo at 9:09 AM on May 15, 2013 [13 favorites]


> The preferred nomenclature is "underboobs".

"Undermeats" in the article, which nearly caused me to stop reading it.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:09 AM on May 15, 2013


It was a jester move. She got to mock the king and get away with it, while he learned something about his behavior that other might be too fearful to tell him. I thought it was very well done and she probably deserves more than a free lunch for it.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:10 AM on May 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


The underboob in this example is a fairly egregious example of a cheesecake icon (in the semiotic sense) staged to titillate by showing almost but not quite enough skin to be considered full-on nudity. It's part of a symbolic package including the shorts, mostly unbound hair, expression, and incongruous use of "masculine" work tools that puts it closer to Betty Page than The Three Graces (a version of which is incorporated into the art that came with my office, not my choice), or the nudes of Cunningham, and Man Ray. The repeated use of similar icons is generally what we use to distinguish cheesecake from porn (which has it's own language of perspectives and poses), fine art, documentary nudity, or action poses, which have their own issues. Personally, I see nothing wrong with evoking that kind of iconography but it's also reasonable to say that it might not be the best face to put on your corporate workplace.

If you're going to talk about art, the relations within a given work and connecting that work to the larger "canon" of visual literacy matter. So no, not all visual depictions of breasts are equal, or equivalent to how we should treat breasts in the real world. It's entirely legitimate to critique this image as cheesecake (based on multiple visual references and elements), and say that we shouldn't gawk or banish breastfeeding from our sight.

The Hawkeye Initiative demonstrates that what is claimed to be "action poses" of women in games and comics are much closer to cheesecake than creators and fans want to admit.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 9:11 AM on May 15, 2013 [15 favorites]


CautionToTheWind, I think you are crediting the CEO with an evil genius that is just not really there. I agree that it is problematic to keep the first picture up, and that displaying it side-by-side with the second doesn't really make the issue go away. However, the two pictures may remind the CEO, and perhaps other male employees in this notoriously, cartoonishly sexist business to be mindful of that unconscious, and until recently unquestioned, sexism. And one day, the CEO will hopefully realize that both pictures are silly and unnecessary, and bin them.

So, is this a perfect ending? No, there are no perfect endings. I prefer to look at it as a hopeful beginning.
posted by Mister_A at 9:12 AM on May 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


> She is worse than when she started

I disagree. If I had to have the almost-naked woman up in my office then I'd want to have the almost-naked man as well, for the sake of awareness. My coworkers and other people in the industry might benefit from having that little nudge.

That said, they both would make me uncomfortable. Fine if the office was just me and a few friends, but in appropriate once the business gets beyond that.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:14 AM on May 15, 2013


I strive to be like this boss. Get called on your mistake, own it and do better. That's awesome.
posted by stoneweaver at 9:15 AM on May 15, 2013


>>The preferred nomenclature is "underboobs".

"Undermeats" in the article, which nearly caused me to stop reading it.


"Undermeats." *shudder*

I don't like "underboob" that much better, perhaps because it makes me imagine a villainous Overboob, laughing maniacally while reading Nietzsche....
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:24 AM on May 15, 2013 [12 favorites]


I've always had a bit of trouble with the idea that scantily clad women need to be "properly clothed" in order for the artwork not to be sexist.

It's not about the skin, because feminist artists do nudes and not all nudes are critiqued on their sexism. It's about costuming, pose, perspective, set dressing, and probably a few other aspects of the image as well.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 9:29 AM on May 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


Right, it's not nudity qua nudity that is the issue. It's the reductive sexualization that's the problem.
posted by Mister_A at 9:33 AM on May 15, 2013


I'd suggest that when these are presented side-by-side in the context of an office where everyone present knows what happened, her point is being made, like, all the time.

That's a good point, Hoopo. It probably doesn't come across as Male Cheesecake balancing out the Female Cheesecake so much as mocking the whole idea of Cheesecake. The old poster's still there, but there's a dude hanging next to it, mocking it, all the time.
posted by straight at 9:33 AM on May 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


have repeatedly complained about beefcake calenders in obvious places (accounts, lunchroom) and have been told off because they make me feel "inadequate" and I should toughen up.

Next prank: replace beefcake art with feebcake art; pictures of a flabby, twerpy, unhandsome guy in a sssasexay pose.

Also, it would make another point to replace Ruby Underboob with an identical rendering of a woman with a, let's say, less-than-idealized form.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:36 AM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yes, I came in here to say what Hoopo said. The combined message of these two pieces hanging side by side is one of active feminist critique. Not one of "Yay undertitties, also here's a dude for the ladies."

Assuming that the CEO is savvy enough to know this, his solution becomes a brilliant and admirable ongoing mea culpa, not a sneaky way to assert dominance by keeping his underboob poster up.
posted by 256 at 9:37 AM on May 15, 2013 [9 favorites]


Also, it would make another point to replace Ruby Underboob with an identical rendering of a woman with a, let's say, less-than-idealized form.

That would really just make it worse, tbh.
posted by elizardbits at 9:38 AM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I guess I'm just getting too cynical - - I can't help but believe this whole story is set-up as a bit of guerilla marketing for this small indie studio.

Yeah, um...I don't want to go all Reddit Junior Internet Detective here, but this story is in the uncanny valley of anecdotes for me. The narrator is anonymous, but the artist is credited and linked and the whole things ends with a laudatory "about the author"-style blurb...about the repentant CEO. My impression is that this is maybe something that sort of went down as described but has been cleaned up and streamlined for official release to gin up some good publicity for the game.

And you know, if it is, so what, right? I'm not sure that the best way to correct the problem of inappropriately sexy posters in the workplace is to make sure all orientations are being titillated equally, but I'm down with the two-point moral at the end. And on the scale of bad corporate behavior, fabulizing a happy parable about a CEO learning to be less sexist and douchey hardly even registers.
posted by prize bull octorok at 9:47 AM on May 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


total asexual prudish hellscape is near Cardiff, isn't it?


Not if Torchwood have anything to do with it.
posted by running order squabble fest at 9:47 AM on May 15, 2013 [7 favorites]


Also, shouldn't his pouch be revealing some underscrote?
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:51 AM on May 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


In any given situation there's going to be a natural level of sexuality people are happy with, which will depend on whether it's a workplace or a bar and friends or strangers and on individual personalities and religious preferences and a million other things. Whatever level the people involved are happy with is a good level. But then we take whatever that natural level is, and layer on an ever-present, non-negotiable dose of sexually-available-women . . . But when it's everywhere, we forget that it's happening, and so it becomes this non-negotiable poorly-considered thing that people have to put up with to get by in the world even though it's not a happy, consensual level of sexuality to be at.

I would add to this that kind of thing--like rape culture--makes the space in society for happy, consensual sexuality smaller. So if a "total asexual prudish hellscape" is something you want to avoid, you should probably be fighting the casual misogyny and reinforcement of patriarchial power relations both the comics and the cheesecake underboob poster represent.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 9:52 AM on May 15, 2013 [13 favorites]


One of the tropes that turns up at Escher Girls all the time is two women fighting, but making weird porn faces and stripper poses.

Like this one. She's supposed to be fighting, I think, but she's posed like a pantyhose model with an O-face.

If you can find some comic book art of two men fighting that looks remotely as ridiculously sexy as that, with arched backs and curled up legs and O-faces, please show us.

And to get angry at the Hawkeye Initiative is just an odd response. Do you think the artists there want men to be posed that way, as a rule? And if a given pose is offensive to do to Hawkeye, why is it ok to do to random female characters?

Here is a rule of thumb, I guess. If you can take out the speech balloons and put in "Hey there, baby, I want you, come take me now!" to almost every panel that a female character is in, and it works, then maybe there is some weirdness going on. It's ok for a character to say that of course, but if she can't even get breakfast, fight bad guys, or sit at a table without simultaneously looking like she's always saying it, and always posing for a Victoria's Secret photographer just out of frame, that's weird and offputting.
posted by emjaybee at 9:54 AM on May 15, 2013 [10 favorites]


I guess I'm just getting too cynical - - I can't help but believe this whole story is set-up as a bit of guerilla marketing for this small indie studio.

If video game companies want to start hyping themselves with, "Hey, we get it about sexism in the workplace," rather than "Hey! Our game has boobies!" -- I think I'm okay with that.
posted by straight at 9:56 AM on May 15, 2013 [19 favorites]


"This wonderful experience has taught me two things that I hope to carry with me for the rest of my career"

Well... I'd *hope* she'd still remember it two months later.
posted by markkraft at 10:02 AM on May 15, 2013


Isn't the message they are putting out really "no sexism in the work place... but hey, our games are sexy!"
posted by markkraft at 10:04 AM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't read it that way, because the article points out how ridiculous the pose is. I'm not the target demographic, but would anyone look at that article and think "that game is where I'm going to go to see some sexxxy characters!"?
posted by The corpse in the library at 10:09 AM on May 15, 2013


So one sexist image is bad but two are OK? I'm missing something...
posted by doctor_negative at 10:10 AM on May 15, 2013


The rest of this thread?
posted by gilrain at 10:11 AM on May 15, 2013 [19 favorites]


So one sexist image is bad but two are OK? I'm missing something...

Having to look every day at a sexualized image that objectifies someone of your gender to pander to a sexuality not your own is bad; making a point by turning the tables is OK.

But I too was a little WTF at the outcome; that they both stayed up. Now they have to look at TWO tasteless skanky posters every day, and I'm not quite getting the message that the presence of the second really improves the first.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:14 AM on May 15, 2013


I think/hope that the point of hanging both is a message that the CEO understand that sexism/objectification is a thing. It's a reminder of that time he called on his bullshit. The real test will be to see what their marketing stuff looks like going forward.
posted by VTX at 10:19 AM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm not quite getting the message that the presence of the second really improves the first.

To me this would be true for a place like my office, but the context is important here. This is a company that makes video games, and the portrayal of women in video games is often problematic. It is an issue that people in this woman's office will have to deal with on virtually any project, and having these posters side by side on the wall could potentially serve as a reminder to the game designers that maybe you want to be careful in the choices your making, because, well, holy ridiculous.
posted by Hoopo at 10:24 AM on May 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


The boss keeps the first poster up because he doesn't see the problem of sexism in the workplace. He keeps the second poster up to co-opt the employee's protest into an endorsement.

The boss is really, really clever and manipulative.
posted by ryanrs at 10:27 AM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


You really can't get around the fact that a complaint was made and the original poster remains.
posted by ryanrs at 10:28 AM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


If the boss thinks he is really clever and manipulative, good on him, but everyone who walks into the office is seeing a feminist critique of the way women are presented in video games. So... good thing for a bad reason is still a good thing.
posted by 256 at 10:34 AM on May 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


People should be able to work without being exposed to demeaning imagery.

Indeed. Unfortunately workplaces often feature horrible images like a dolphin just about to fall back into the ocean with the word "FOCUS" beneath it. It's supposed to be inspiring to employees. It's the opposite.
posted by juiceCake at 10:39 AM on May 15, 2013


Someone in my office unironically has the HANG IN THERE! kitten poster. Sometimes I wish it was a cheesy pin-up instead because at least that is something I can successfully complain about.
posted by elizardbits at 10:42 AM on May 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


You really can't get around the fact that a complaint was made and the original poster remains.

Maybe the boss is playing a game where he just really wants that poster to stay up, but then this prank/complaint happened that could be a huge HR nightmare, but then he comes up with a clever ploy to keep the poster up anyway and mollify the whiners all while showing them how powerless they truly are. And so it's a huge win for him.

But, the author of the blog post is playing a whole different game where the decor in her workplace was conveying a hostile message about women and their role in society. Now that decor, however, is conveying a very different message, specifically criticizing that undercurrent of misogyny in a playful way. In this game, having both posters up is a much bigger win than just having the original taken down.

Of course, I prefer to believe that the boss is instead playing a game where his goal is to improve as a person, respect his employees, and build monuments to his mistakes so that others may learn from them. So it looks like he won in that case too.

Regardless, I'm having trouble seeing this as a bad outcome for anyone.
posted by 256 at 10:45 AM on May 15, 2013 [8 favorites]


Here is a rule of thumb, I guess. If you can take out the speech balloons and put in "Hey there, baby, I want you, come take me now!" to almost every panel that a female character is in, and it works, then maybe there is some weirdness going on.

There's one piece of "sexy female posing" (albeit way tamer than the one in question) hanging at someone's cubicle at work and someone, in fact, added a speech balloon with "I want you, ____!". I think it turned the poster into a symbol of shame rather than pride.
posted by subject_verb_remainder at 10:47 AM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was just thinking the other day about how SNL's fake commercials are now for real companies, and they're written in such a way that the humor is not based on disparaging the product, and furthermore they often lavishly and unstintingly incorporate the product's own marketing language.

That's sort of what this reminds me of: if it didn't start out as a viral, it certainly serves the purpose of one. It appears to disparage the CEO but not really -- in fact it overtly flatters the shit out of him on every topic except the central one, and that one doesn't reflect negatively on the product at all. Ultimately it praises him on the main point as well.

In fact, the product subtext is quite the reverse of the workplace point. Having seen nothing of the product except what is suggested by this article, I am left with the strong impression that it contains and will continue to contain plenty of unrealistic objectified female characters, and none at all that I would be confronted with the workplace turnabout described in the article in the actual game. If I'm wrong about that it's certainly not the fault of this article.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:57 AM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


From reading the article, it seems like no employee ever complained or otherwise voiced their discomfort about the first poster. This surprises me because in most places I've worked that would be the first course of action before engaging in a passive-aggressive "prank". If her boss is such a great guy she should have felt comfortable raising the issue with him directly and less publicly.
posted by rocket88 at 11:14 AM on May 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


You're wrong if only because, as far as I can tell from ALL of the available media on the game's website, the game itself is all giant robots.

I mean, if this were Square Enix and the CEO hung a poster of Lara Croft, it's still probably sexist (especially before the reboot) but at least there could be some other reason than "OMG boobies" for hanging it. I'd expect plenty of posters of Master Chief hanging up in Bungie's office (or whoever develops the Halo series now).

As far as I can tell, that character NEVER shows up in the game at all. Even if she did, it's a game about giant battle-mechs so the character is clearly tertiary. It does not speak in the CEO's favor that his favorite piece of art related to his company's giant battle-mech game (which is the only product his company offers) is the slutty Rosie the Riveter.
posted by VTX at 11:20 AM on May 15, 2013


a. I don't believe this is genuine for one second.

b. How does sexualizing a man fix sexualizing a woman?

c. "half of our executive branch is female. Half of them are punk rock, and all of them are badassed." Someone actually said this, seriously? I mean it... SERIOUSLY?
posted by Cosine at 11:37 AM on May 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


b. How does sexualizing a man fix sexualizing a woman?

Because... sexualization is not necessarily bad? The severe imbalance in terms of sexualized images of men and women and the hegemony of heterosexual male sexuality is?

I still don't really get why every time an image of a sexualized man appears someone says something about "homoeroticism" or in this case, homophobia. I mean, are women not attracted to men? Is our sexual attraction to men not valid or something? Are women just supposed to make a face and say "ew!" when they see a dick?

Hanging a drawing of a sexualized man is actually sexually appealing to women, too, it's not just a "punishment." Not that I think either of this stupid posters belong in the workplace or that these CEO not a dolt, but whatever.
posted by stoneandstar at 11:53 AM on May 15, 2013 [8 favorites]


Hawkeye Initiative can also come across as pretty transmisogynistic too.

Is that a real word?

Mistransogynistic
Transgynomistic
Gynmistransontic
Sticmistransgyno

/r/ShitMeFiSays

This whole concept of "The Hawkeye Initiative" should just be relabeled The Burt Reynolds Nude Centerfold Initiative.
posted by charlie don't surf at 11:54 AM on May 15, 2013


What about a poster of a sexy plate of beans?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 11:58 AM on May 15, 2013


Yes everybody discrimination against transwomen exists and so does a word for it, you're welcome. If you'd prefer to type out the phrase "discrimination against transwomen" every time instead of use a single word for it because it tickles you just too damn much you're welcome to.
posted by stoneandstar at 12:03 PM on May 15, 2013 [9 favorites]


charlie don't surf: dog won't hunt
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 12:09 PM on May 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


How does sexualizing a man fix sexualizing a woman?

Plus, the photos aren't even equal. Where's the dude's sidenut hanging out of his too-small shorts?
posted by mathowie at 12:09 PM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


How does sexualizing a man fix sexualizing a woman?

By satirizing the sexualized woman poster and helping people see how ridiculous and embarrassing it is.

Hanging a drawing of a sexualized man is actually sexually appealing to women, too, it's not just a "punishment."


But this one is not meant to be appealing to anyone. It's meant to be embarrassing to straight men in the way that the Rosie picture is embarrassing to straight women. Embarrassing not because it is "sexy" but because it is unprofessional and context inappropriate.

The intended reaction is not, "Eww, being attracted to sexy men is gross" but "Eww, I don't want to watch you ogling sexy men in my workplace."
posted by straight at 12:30 PM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


(Reposted from RPS)

No, it’s not about ‘prudism’. It’s called basic professionalism and respect. You should be able to go to work without having to be confronted with the lusts and fantasies of your co-workers. You know why? Because being confronted with the lusts and fantasies of your co-workers is not always some kind of mutual liberated respectful sexytimes happyland. Sometimes, when it’s actual real people doing it, it’s creepy and hostile and oppressive. It enables and encourages an atmosphere where lines can too easily be crossed. And when it takes the form of a giant sexist poster taking up prime real-estate in your CEOs office, it makes it clear that this is all backed up and sanctioned by those with a huge amount of power over you. And that’s a bullshit state of affairs to have to deal with just to keep a job.

Saying ‘but people other than straight vanilla males can put their fantasies on display as well, so it’s all cool!’ is not an answer. Not everyone wants to sign up to that deal. And even they did, there’s still a big cultural weight that emphasises one thing as normal and manly and funny and harmless, and others as ugly, unacceptable and queer and disturbing, whether its implicit or explicit.

It’d be great if it was always cool and unproblematic and didn’t lead to harassment and other bad things when people displayed their lust in the workplace. But that’s a hell of a long way from happening here in the real world, so taking the safe route and just keeping things clean and professional until we’ve sorted this shit out is nothing to do with being a prude and disliking sexuality. It’s about making sure that people can come to work and get on with their jobs and with socializing, without being creeped out and uncomfortable. And it goes without saying, but you don’t need to be spraying your pheremones all over the place to have a workplace that’s an enjoyable and fun and interesting place to work.
posted by Drexen at 12:33 PM on May 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


Where's the dude's sidenut hanging out of his too-small shorts?

Sidenut? Sorry if you didn't get the memo upthread, Matt. The preferred nomenclature is "underscrote".
posted by [expletive deleted] at 12:37 PM on May 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


b. How does sexualizing a man fix sexualizing a woman?

Cheesecake iconography, motifs, and styles for female characters are so ubiquitous in fields like mainstream comics, action movies, and video games and their marketing that we don't usually notice it. Beefcake is more unusual and noticeable for a variety of reasons. So transforming cheesecake into beefcake makes the absurdities of costume, perspective, makeup, and posture more noticeable. Gender-swapping visual images composed for a female character highlights just how much gender influenced the composition.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 1:04 PM on May 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


It’s called basic professionalism and respect. You should be able to go to work without having to be confronted with the lusts and fantasies of your co-workers.

Generally speaking, yes. But this is marketing material for the product the company is selling--possibly even produced in-house, and therefore a lot less out of place than, say, a boss prominently displaying a bikini calendar or something. It's a problematic image in itself, but I don't think it's about "the lusts and fantasies of your co-workers" or unprofessional for a workplace that's in the business of producing and/or selling this sort of thing.
posted by Hoopo at 1:11 PM on May 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hoopo: Well, kinda, but I don't think it's redeemed much in this case -- firstly, why pick that poster in particular to stick up giant-size in the CEO's office? Because he thinks it's hot and (I think it's fair to say) he wants to display the fact that he thinks its hot. Secondly, it's a game about mechs and that character (or any other human, AFAIK) doesn't appear in it, so why is this promotional material the way it is? It's hardly a crazy random happenstance that she ended up there, anymore than it's a crazy random happenstance that the Evony ads look the way they do.
posted by Drexen at 1:17 PM on May 15, 2013


but I don't think it's about "the lusts and fantasies of your co-workers" or unprofessional for a workplace that's in the business of producing and/or selling this sort of thing.

Right, but do you not see the inherent shittiness of having promotional materials like this for a game that doesn't even feature any actual human characters? Saying "oh well it's just advertising!" kind of glosses over the underlying issue of "let's advertise this game with giant robots by randomly using TITTIES!"
posted by elizardbits at 1:34 PM on May 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


I've never played the game so I have no idea what sort of characters are featured in it. I sort of assumed it was either a character from the game or else from a comic related to the game (it's described as "comic art").
posted by Hoopo at 1:41 PM on May 15, 2013


metafilter.txt
posted by Sebmojo at 2:23 PM on May 15, 2013


For reference, this is the GIS for "Hawken".
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 2:33 PM on May 15, 2013


that kind of thing--like rape culture--makes the space in society for happy, consensual sexuality smaller. So if a "total asexual prudish hellscape" is something you want to avoid, you should probably be fighting the casual misogyny and reinforcement of patriarchial power relations both the comics and the cheesecake underboob poster represent.

Fear not, comrades, just as soon as the revolution is concluded, then you may enjoy sexual images. We promise. Just not before.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 2:54 PM on May 15, 2013


Drawing attention in a light-hearted fashion to double standards in workplace wall art ≠ Stalinism.
posted by running order squabble fest at 3:04 PM on May 15, 2013 [13 favorites]


ThatFuzzyBastard: "Fear not, comrades, just as soon as the revolution is concluded, then you may enjoy sexual images. We promise. Just not before."

Right, because anyone in this thread has said that we don't want people to enjoy sexual images. It's about situation and context.
posted by Drexen at 3:17 PM on May 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


TFB: You write like someone who doesn't think that all the fucking effort everyone is making to make the world less oppressive isn't actually, well, kind of making the world less oppressive.

Basically, you are the first to introduce the somewhat fraught concept of "revolution" in a conversation that's not about that. No one is talking down reform and talking up revolution here, as far as I can tell, and pretending that we are is more than a little bit lazy.

Wait. Why are you claiming that we're unrealistic quasi-soviet revolutionaries, anyway? I mean, I'm unrealistic and quasi-soviet up to here (I have, in public, made the argument that breadlines are better than capitalism) but I'm just not seeing it. No one is claiming that we have to wait until The Revolution or The Final Defeat of Rape Culture and The Patriarchy or whatever in order to have sexy sexy funtimes.

Except for you. Why are you claiming this?
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 4:32 PM on May 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


In this case, "properly clothed" presumably involves boots, leather aprons, dark goggles and so on.

... anything else is Not Safe For Welding.
posted by nickzoic at 9:01 PM on May 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


MetaFilter: The preferred nomenclature is "underscrote"

In all seriousness, I agree with those who believe this is all a thinly-veiled marketing ploy, but for all that I still think the conversation it's inspired throughout the 'tubes means they deserve all of the viral attention they're getting.
posted by MoTLD at 11:31 PM on May 15, 2013


"No one is claiming that we have to wait until The Revolution or The Final Defeat of Rape Culture and The Patriarchy or whatever in order to have sexy sexy funtimes. "

-----

"It’d be great if it was always cool and unproblematic and didn’t lead to harassment and other bad things when people displayed their lust in the workplace. But that’s a hell of a long way from happening here in the real world, so taking the safe route and just keeping things clean and professional until we’ve sorted this shit out is nothing to do with being a prude and disliking sexuality"

---

I find it endlessly amusing how many people are couching their comments as "Hey, I'm no prude, I just don't think there should be any public acknowledgement of sexuality without my approval."
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 11:34 PM on May 15, 2013


The only way that the Hawkeye Initiative can be said to be crypto-homophobic or transmisogynistic is if the point of the endeavor is to gross out that most important viewer, the heterosexual male, by showing him a sexualized, "masculine" body as "feminine". The actual point of the exercise is to show that the standard female comic-book poses distort anatomy, perspective, and logic to try to maximize the sexiness of the very limited range of female bodies presented. All of us viewers, regardless of gender or sexuality, take those poses for granted because they're ubiquitous. There are no male equivalents to these postures (although the range of male bodies presented in comic books is just as limited). Consequently it provides a substantial contrast to present Hawkeye, a male superhero, in those poses.

The point is not to evoke the response, "Ew, sexualized males make me heave." It's "Oh my God, Hawkeye's back must be killing him - hey, that pose should have crushed Catwoman's liver and possibly thrown her lumbar spine right out of her body. Wow, and her boobs and ass take up 45% of the cover even though she would totally have fallen over doing that. That shit's not right. Be better, comics!"
posted by gingerest at 11:34 PM on May 15, 2013 [10 favorites]


There are 50-year-old-men who aren't embarrassed to hang a cheesecake poster up in their fucking office? In your garage or den or whatever, sure, go for it, I guess.

Do they never meet with outside contractors, financiers, VIPs or reporters?

There are other men who find it threatening that someone called him on it?
posted by maxwelton at 12:02 AM on May 16, 2013


>>"It’d be great if it was always cool and unproblematic and didn’t lead to harassment and other bad things when people displayed their lust in the workplace. But that’s a hell of a long way from happening here in the real world, so taking the safe route and just keeping things clean and professional until we’ve sorted this shit out is nothing to do with being a prude and disliking sexuality"

>I find it endlessly amusing how many people are couching their comments as "Hey, I'm no prude, I just don't think there should be any public acknowledgement of sexuality without my approval."
Oh, I get it. If one asserts that there exists at least one context in which one just keep things clean and professional, then one is thereby asserting that there should be no public acknowledgement of sexuality in any public context whatsoever. It makes perfect sense. I was wrong to doubt your wisdom.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 2:40 AM on May 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


I find it endlessly amusing how many people are couching their comments as "Hey, I'm no prude, I just don't think there should be any public acknowledgement of sexuality without my approval."

*eyeroll*

I'm glad misreading comments and indulging your ideas of grey-faced joyless aparatchiks trying to erase all human emotion brings you endless amusement. Maybe sometime you could give responding to what people are actually saying a try. You could start by actually reading my comment, where I'm actually responding to the very point you bring up! Here, I'll even repost a particularly relevant part for you:

"Being confronted with the lusts and fantasies of your co-workers is not always some kind of mutual liberated respectful sexytimes happyland. Sometimes, when it’s actual real people doing it, it’s creepy and hostile and oppressive. It enables and encourages an atmosphere where lines can too easily be crossed. And when it takes the form of a giant sexist poster taking up prime real-estate in your CEOs office, it makes it clear that this is all backed up and sanctioned by those with a huge amount of power over you. And that’s a bullshit state of affairs to have to deal with just to keep a job."

Hint: there's a difference between acknowledging that not everyone at work (see the part where I'm talking about the workplace, where people have reasonable expectations as to the sort of environment and the way people behave?) wants to have to deal with all of their colleague's lusts, fantasies, sexual attitudes, assumptions, expectations, suggestions, revelations, come-ons and oh yeah, their girly cheesecake posters all the damned time, and being unable to counter it without fear of being mocked, ostracized or fired -- and "not thinking there should be any public acknowledgement of sexuality without our approval".

Do you feel that that impinges on your universal and unlimited right to express the glorious, vibrant, glowing potency of your sexuality in all situations and contexts with no regard for the feelings of others? I'm glad for you that you haven't had to deal unwanted sexual attention or an oppressive, insulting sexual atmosphere in your place of work and sanctioned by the CEO himself. But not everyone has that privelege.
posted by Drexen at 2:59 AM on May 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


You are treating as an absolute fact the assumption that your "reasonable expectations" are universal standards of behavior. It's hard to imagine a more concise definition of unthinking privilege.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 4:18 AM on May 16, 2013


"Last week you took the coffee machine away, now we have to go to to kitchen if we want a cup of coffee. Now what are you saying - that we can't wank in the office?"

"It's like you're trampling on our rights!"

posted by running order squabble fest at 4:30 AM on May 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


My God Simon Pegg looks young in that.
posted by running order squabble fest at 4:37 AM on May 16, 2013


First factory I worked in (this was late 90s), there was pornography on plain view on the factory floor (fully naked women in erotic poses).

Second factory I worked in, the factory looked professional, sparkling and clean. There was, however, a corner that the visitors (and management, largely) would never have cause to visit, and behind a girder there was a collection of pornographic images.

Third factory - no porn (yay)

Fourth factory - I was brought in to replace someone retiring. He happily distributed pornography, I understand, but I haven't seen any after I cleared out the stuff he left behind.

This is a gradual process, and some of the half-way houses are not perfect, but they're better than the place was before. People are changing and newer generations are more aware of the issues and either don't do it because they think it's wrong or because they know HR would throw a fit.

Things are not perfect, but let's celebrate movements in the right direction rather than hammer down any nail that dares stick out enough to say that they're changing.
posted by YAMWAK at 4:41 AM on May 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


ThatFuzzyBastard: "You are treating as an absolute fact the assumption that your "reasonable expectations" are universal standards of behavior. It's hard to imagine a more concise definition of unthinking privilege."

Wow.

I hate to say NO U but what you're describing is in fact what you are doing: assuming that everyone in a work environment is going to be as fine and free with sexuality as you are, and is not going to be affected by sexism or inappropriate behaviour or any other related issues. And that is exactly what privelege is: assuming that because you've never had a problem that the problem doesn't exist, so any demand for restraint or regulation is just tyranny and horribly unfair and and insolent imposition and aren't these terrible chains of oppression just so heavy. Woe is you.

People who are capable of acting professionally and respectfully should be able to keep their sexy thoughts to themselves during work hours, in order to avoid all the myriad troubles that go with expressing them among people whose limits and experiences you have no way of knowing. It's not hard to understand or unusual to expect: it's a normal part of a decent workplace.

And now I'm done arguing with you.
posted by Drexen at 4:56 AM on May 16, 2013 [11 favorites]


I don't think there's a lot of profit in engaging directly any further on this strand - cf the Hipster MeTa.

However, I think this bump in the road is actually quite useful as an information point on the shape of the discourse. There's a set of people for whom it is not acceptable to express ambivalence about sexy pictures of women on display in a mixed-gender workplace, even if that ambivalence is expressed through a sexy picture. There is literally no level of conciliatory, not-a-prude, sexy-is-fun, hail-fellow-well-met humor that will not be immediately read as the Orwellian machinations of the Anti-Sex League.

That's probably a useful thing to be aware of when the question of tone comes up in these discussions.
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:21 AM on May 16, 2013 [10 favorites]


Every time I see a picture like that, I end up wondering if the artist has ever actually seen a pair of real human breasts. If nothing else, welding dressed like that is a health and safety hazard, and all workplaces should promote correct health and safety practices.

Jesus. If one can almost burn one's nipple off frying bacon, there's no telling what damage a torch can do.
posted by mippy at 7:07 AM on May 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


In the heat of summer it's not rare to see guys running a cutting torch topless. Not on heavily regulated work sights but smaller shops. Hell I've probably done it. Obviously the bits are different though. And welders tend not to have flawless skin like that pictured. On the other hand only a crazy person would run a torch with unrestrained long hair like that pictured.
posted by Mitheral at 7:30 AM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


the Evony ads look the way they do.

I know this kind of beside the point but, wow, Evony has made its ads a lot more pornified since I last saw a similar thread about them---to the point that you'd assume that Evony is a porn site rather than a video game if you were going solely on the last few ads.
posted by asnider at 8:32 AM on May 16, 2013


meanwhile in the real world....
posted by tarvuz at 9:53 AM on May 16, 2013


Interview with the creator of Brosie.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 2:23 PM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


However, I think this bump in the road is actually quite useful as an information point on the shape of the discourse. There's a set of people for whom it is not acceptable to express ambivalence about sexy pictures of women on display in a mixed-gender workplace, even if that ambivalence is expressed through a sexy picture.

I know you're not talking about me, 'cause I said up above that I thought the Brosie was awesome, and kind of hot. I wonder who you think you are talking about.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 3:08 PM on May 16, 2013


> meanwhile in the real world....

Yes? Do you mean that this isn't real? You think it's a story made up to publicize the company? Or you think it isn't real, because it's just about one woman's experience? Or... what, exactly?
posted by The corpse in the library at 3:09 PM on May 16, 2013


If one can almost burn one's nipple off frying bacon

Wait what with the who now
posted by gingerest at 4:40 PM on May 16, 2013


Ha. From the interview with the woman who pulled the prank:

I’d talked to a lot of geek chicks before I decided to join the industry, and I knew there was a lot of baggage. I was intimidated for sure. Then, on one lunch break trip to a thrift store, I found this giant stuffed rooster. I bought it and stuck it on my desk. Whenever someone asked “what’s up with that?” I’d say “I heard it was much easier to be successful in the gaming industry if you had one of these! So I bought one! Big, huh?” The reactions were hilarious. I could brandish it at people who annoyed me and they’d literally run away. We, and mostly I, laughed some of that tension away. We could joke about the elephant in the room.
posted by mediareport at 5:32 AM on May 17, 2013 [7 favorites]


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