Today is not “Objectify a Male Tech Writer Day”

Leigh Alexander has credentials most modern journalists would envy: A well-read blog, a devoted Twitter following and a gig as editor of the gaming site Gamasutra.

Leigh Alexander is a respected source for gaming news, but it still the target of objectifying comments.
Leigh Alexander is a respected source for gaming news, but is still the target of objectifying comments.

Google her, and you’ll learn all of this. But you’ll also find something else: Musings about how her chin resembles Jay Leno’s. (Click here to see what I mean, but be warned that some of these remarks are pretty crass.) Similar comments are routinely directed at other female journalists, particularly those covering male-dominated fields like technology.

Alexander decided to turn the tables and declared Feb. 1 “Objectify a Male Tech Writer Day.” She soon called off the event, but not before raising some valid points:

A woman who shows her face in a male-dominated space generally can’t win. If her audience does not find her attractive, she will have to hear a lot of specific criticisms of her features…It’s worse on her if her audience does like her looks: In that case they’ll say she obviously used her beauty to boost her career and is seeking attention and praise for displaying even a biographical headshot. Or she’ll be the recipient of vulgar comments and image manipulations.

The problem isn’t unique to tech writing. Just ask any political reporter — myself included — who’s been slammed for showing too little leg on election night or advised by (male) lawmakers that pretty dresses = better quotes. Online, such comments are amplified by social media and can make it hard to gain professional credibility.

That’s a big problem, especially now that a solid digital identity is vital currency for any journalist trying to build a career.

I put together a Storify about #ObjectifyaMaleTechWriter. The WordPress export tool (still) doesn’t work, so you’ll have to click here to see.

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