Sunday, June 14, 2009

An interesting discussion...

This is an essay I posted in response to an article called Prude or Professional? by Courtney Remes regarding an inappropriate presentation at this year's Flashbelt conference. Read that article here.

I'd like to start by saying that I am a young graphic designer with 3 years of professional experience. I did my graphic design senior project on the subject of feminism, when I was afraid I'd be spending my career in a boy's club. While I realize this is not much, I am compelled to share my thoughts on this subject.

Upon reading this post and the original article, I was very much appalled. However, I can't say that Hoss's bit is completely irrelevant. In poor taste, ABSOLUTELY. But it certainly does represent a market segment. As designers and developers, we work to execute the goals of defined market segments. As individuals, we choose which market segments apply to us and filter the content we view accordingly.

The history of media platforms coincides with the history of sexism, civil rights, equality, feminism, etc. While we as a society are still sorting out these issues, so are our media platforms. The Internet is the newest form and distributor of media, and also the largest anyone has ever seen. Therefor, we have millions of sites tailored to millions of different niche markets, globally. This presentation undeniably represents a large one of those markets: pornography. While the content of the presentation was base, to say the very least, I can't deny that it is nonetheless valid in the grand spectrum of the web, which was born out of the 90's - still a hugely sexist time - where it was accepted on a grand scale that technology was a "guy thing."

Read the rest...
It doesn't surprise me (now, although it did at the time I graduated college), that the most knowledgeable and experienced male designers and developers may have this mentality. I recall the Art of the Book event in 2006 when Milton Glaser made a controversial remark regarding why there weren't as many superstar women designers as men. In this case, the very essence of the remark caused a massive explosion of comments and replies to posts. The truth of the matter was that it was not a lack of women in the field, but a perceived (or imagined?) lack of respect or public recognition.

While the senior-level individuals in the industry may have this mentality and affectively influence younger generations, the young women know it's bullshit. We no longer feel that the gender struggles of our mothers (mine is a baby boomer) apply to us, or rather, have to apply to us. This is very important, because we will teach our children or our young students not to perpetuate myths.

But back to the presentation. Again, I believe it was in poor taste and its contents were totally base, tactless, and not terribly innovative. It's not something I would have been OK with having paid to see. But the larger question in my mind is about censorship. I believe it would have been nice, even necessary, to have censored Hoss's presentation at the conference. Perhaps he would have been better suited to speak at a conference of web developers for the porn industry (as subtlety is certainly not his thing). However, his aesthetic and moral preferences do have a place on the giant Internet, which should never be censored. Censoring factions of the web would would go against it's very principles as the global information network.

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