I’m going to link to a blog post that I don’t think is worthy of hits. But I’m going to do it anyway because it’s demonstrative of a serious problem, and because it features a comments section which has featured a lot of thoughtful debate that is very much worth reading. The post is an entry in a series over at Man, I Love Films entitled ‘Hot or Not‘.
I find that post pretty deplorable, but hardly unexpected on the chauvinist backwaters of the internet. In fact, it’s pretty par for the course. Not necessarily on movie blogs, but in other places. What gets me isn’t so much the post itself, which is easily dismissible as lazy piece of writing done for no other reason than to get some extra hits. No, I’m more bothered by the defences of the post. These are twofold. First, from the writer himself. Kai Parker says a lot of things in the comments, none of which help to quell my feelings about the post, and in some ways make things worse. Then there are the other women who come to his defence, which only makes me feel sad.
The ‘Hot or Not’ post is pretty simple. A list of female celebrities, each with an alluring photo followed by a quick list of superficial ‘pros’ and ‘cons’ mostly describing aspects of their physical appearance. My problems with this kind of post should be clear. This is the same kind of sexist shit highlighted in the Facemash sequence in The Social Network. Talking about a woman—or anybody’s—attractiveness is perfectly fine. Even quantifying that attractiveness is okay. The trouble begins when we get to reductionism. The title itself, ‘Hot or Not’, reduces things to a binary formula. A woman is either ‘hot’ or ‘not’ with no qualification or middle-ground. Granted, it’s a headline, and it’s partly meant to grab attention, but it sets a sour tone. The headline could have been mitigated by reasonable content. Kai, in the comments, points to an old post he wrote, which discussed man crushes and attractive male actor, and did so very well. Such a post about women would have been great. The headline wouldn’t have fit, but I get it, hits need to come in somehow and misrepresentative headlines are common. Click to read more.