Objectification and Branding of Women in the Guitar World

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by narad, May 17, 2018.

  1. narad

    narad SS.org Regular

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    So, this is going to be a very open topic and I honestly don't know where it's going to lead. But I was involved over in another forum, of just making a quick comment about this new guitar amp / amp brand from George Metropolis and others:



    I said basically, it's 2018, are we really going to go with the sexy librarian logo on an amp for adults ($4k+). This turned into me having to say more than I probably wanted to at the time, but here's what I see as the issue.

    So for a long time I've worked in various computer science departments, and CS has really been at one of the forefronts of really trying to push gender equality in the department. The reason for this is pretty obvious -- CS departments are often almost entirely male, despite a very high rate of success amongst the female students who do stick it out through a few years. But because the students are primarily male, student groups will be mostly male, organizational decisions will reflect male values, and in aggregate we found that this often resulting in an unwelcoming environment for women students.

    This could be many things -- I used the example of "Striptease" being chosen by an all male group of CS club students when the event wound up containing some women. One of which, didn't complain, but said, that she's "used to it". I guess that resonated with me / really stirred a debate inside me over whether things did need to change. And we've had plenty of more overt problems, porn mags in student lounges and things of that sort, and things with faculty/student dynamics that can be really depressing.

    But the point is that many departments have acknowledged this, and have put policies in place, to make women more included in organizational decisions, nad have groups where young female researchers can receive mentors, and just many small policy changes that really don't change anything, but have had a profound effect on enrollment (with I'm sure together with the larger cultural shift, #metoo and all that).

    Now getting back to guitars, to me the guitar world feels very similar to the CS world. It's predominantly male, women that do play guitar are subject to being critiqued on their appearance to no end (leading to some of the cringiest youtube comments), and women are often judged with the "oh, well, we wouldn't even be talking about her if she wasn't a girl." sort of thing. I *imagine* that it would create an unwelcoming environment. If I was in the minority demographic here, and a bunch of products and advertisements were trying to push products with sexy versions of my gender or race, I think it'd probably make me a bit uncomfortable tbh, depending on how pervasive it is.

    Shouldn't we be trying to behave similarly? I am not trying to protest an amp logo or ask that it be changed (they said they'd build one without the logo if I wanted, and that's good enough for me), but if I was making an amp I would never have a sexy woman logo, just the same as any race, nationality, or any other demographic of minority guitar players.

    At the very least, shouldn't we include the demographic in decisions that use them for branding purposes? I think that's where I'm maybe the most surprised to get this blowback of "stop being offended for people!" It's like I'm not offended, and I don't think they'd be "offended", but maybe how these choices effect minorities (and whether or not that is an issue) shouldn't be something that's decided by white guys who make up like 97% of the guitar playing population?

    Do you guys feel this is an issue? Am I being too progressive even by SSO standards by bringing this up? Curious especially to any female pov on this. I could see it going either way to be honest!



    * I do know many CS women who would probably be offended at the notion of "smart belle" as like a hot girl in a miniskirt...but with glasses! If it's "smart belle" and like a logo of Grace Hopper -- now that's progressive!
     
  2. Sollipsist

    Sollipsist SS.org Regular

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    I feel very strongly that the BKP logo presents an unrealistic and objectifying image that could potentially traumatize sensitive young males.
     
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  3. KnightBrolaire

    KnightBrolaire git gud scrub

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    From an artistic side I can totally see the validity of pinups, including the one on that amp. Pinups made a huge comeback in the last 5-10 years, with some female photographers specializing in them and a general push from a lot of women as seeing them as empowering/sexy without reinforcing twiggy/typical model proportions. To put this in a broader historical context, people have been sexualizing both genders since we were capable of drawing on cave walls. It's nothing new, and as far as I'm concerned there's nothing wrong with it. I think it says something when some of the most enduring and powerful art is that of the human figure. Pinups are just another avenue to celebrate the human form like sculpture or photography. Is it reinforcing a archetype? sure, but you have to understand that historically most pinups contained recognizable archetypes, like naughty librarian, cowgirl, etc. Alberto Vargas' work would be an obvious exception, or some aircraft nose art from that time period (ie 1939-1960s). Think about the typical demographic of buyers for products like that amp, they're generally 40-50+ yrs old with steady jobs and grew up in a different time where stuff like this wasn't considered demeaning or inappropriate. Also, think about how much car/hot rod culture overlaps with guitar culture (which is where we steal all of our good paint job ideas). Pinups are still everywhere in hot rod/car culture and are still being actively published in car mags. It's a specific type of art style that people love and still love (with female proponents as well).


    The most prudent answer is, if you don't like it, don't buy it and vote with your wallet. I'm sure the niche for a pinup covered amp is relatively small, especially at a 4k price point.
     
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  4. narad

    narad SS.org Regular

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    The BKP logo would be akin to Rosie the Riveter or other empowering images of women, so really just the complete opposite. The "problem" would never be about like "hey, there's a man on this" or "there's a woman on this" -- it would be with the type of role the figure has.

    That's not really what this is about. The market demographic of this amp is probably 45-55 year old white men. The people who might be affected by pervasive objective imagery are < 25 yr old women. This never going to be a vote with your wallet scenario, nor do I even want it to be an actionable "let's do something about this!". It's just, moving forward, as a community do we think this type of imagery is having a negative effect on the extremely skewed demographics we have (in the guitar community), and should people be aware of it going forward.

    The most important aspect of promoting diversity in CS has been an awareness that many of the existing policies, even ones we (the voters in your scenario) thought were minor things, were ultimately very harmful to that goal.
     
    Last edited: May 17, 2018
  5. NateFalcon

    NateFalcon The Impossible Kid

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    I think it’s corny...when I was a teenager/younger I bought into the “sex sells” mantra to some extent, Hot Rod and skate magazines used half naked chicks on every other page to sell fad products. Heading into my 40’s I see it as douchey imagery that probably reflects bad integrity on the company itself. To be hung up on “hot chicks” as an adult is pretty low IQ and reminds me of the dudes you see at Hooter’s with the lifted pavement princess truck and the backwards trucker hat having a side of midlife crisis with their wings and smells like a mix of Paco Rabane and pathetic. Just because some girls don’t mind that lifestyle doesn’t mean it has to trickle into company sales like it has everywhere else. Leave entertainment to the entertainment industry...yeesh
     
  6. NateFalcon

    NateFalcon The Impossible Kid

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    Those two wrinkly-balled old fuckers should be long past that kind of mentality...hell, their doctors are probably advising them NOT to have sex due to health issues. Knock it off...
     
  7. odibrom

    odibrom .

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    I think that any brand using this kind of advertising is missing the point on branding and their seriousness or confidence on their own products. Appealing to the "reproduction instinct" is not an intelligent way of selling anything besides condoms... or related objects... so, where can one test these amps? at a sex shop? how do I play them, with a dildo?

    I'd go even further not to buy said products (those who use sexual objectification of some kind which seems to be the case)... I'll teach myself that those amps sound bad to my ears... done... what brand is it? never heard of... never will...

    PS - they sound just like any other amp of said sonic structure...
     
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  8. NateFalcon

    NateFalcon The Impossible Kid

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    The Peavey XXX got a lot of scoffing over the trucker girls and dumb EQ labeling....this reminds me of a Billy Blades advertising campaign...
     
  9. Slunk Dragon

    Slunk Dragon Gear Nerder

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    When Orianthi first started becoming prominent a few years back, a much younger me was amazed and thrilled to see a female guitar player with character and attitude, who was so skilled at her instrument that she got gigs playing with Santana and recording with Steve Vai. Yet I feel like she's tried to go for the "sexy female guitar player" so much that her guitar playing has kind of stagnated, at least for me.

    I really wish female guitar players could be more properly musically educated without the whole 'sexified' aspect almost always taking precedence because it's what 'gets them noticed'. I despise the 'sex sells' aspect of music, I hate it in songwriting, and I wish the focus on the music was more important than the aspects of the art that business dictates 'must be the focus'.
    To me it just feels so demeaning to women to worry about how much cleavage they show, or talk about their appearance, when rock stars have been slovenly, hot messes and are still wildly adored. Hell, look at Justin Bieber. The dude is a jackass, and without any effort, he still has millions of people who adore him and praise him. And yet it's like it's a prerequisite for women to look as hot as they can, before they're even considered deserving of attention.

    Everyone deserves to explore music and art without the expectations of being sexy and using your image as part of the selling point.
     
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  10. NateFalcon

    NateFalcon The Impossible Kid

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    The late 80’s were already crowning with over the top behavior and by the time hair metal was fizzling out in the early 90’s it had dissolved into tasteless indulgence and almost every song an video was centered around getting laid by (preferably) under age girls. Drugs (namely coke and heroin) perpetuated this out of control behavior...girls felt like they had to put out to band members and their audience in order to enjoy music and I’m sure looking back most of these girls weren’t exactly having a great time while these scrawny, drugged out weirdo’s were performing the “encore” segment of their artistic process on them...getting hosed by needle users doesn’t sound very appealing and hair metals’ “hot chicks” era came to an end as hard as shitbags like Aerosmith and Lita Ford were trying to keep it going...thank god for Eddie Vedder and Kurt Cobain, honestly...lol
     
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  11. Randy

    Randy ROOMFORYOUROOMFORYOUROOMFORYOU Super Moderator

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    I'd pay extra for an amp with a guy wearing a banana hammock as the logo.
     
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  12. narad

    narad SS.org Regular

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    Okay, so one Satchel Sig Amp, comin' right up!
     
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  13. NateFalcon

    NateFalcon The Impossible Kid

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    Satchel in a thong?...my dinner would be comin’ right up lol
     
  14. KnightBrolaire

    KnightBrolaire git gud scrub

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    enjoy
    [​IMG]
     
  15. USMarine75

    USMarine75 Doc McStuffins Contributor

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    So does this make women that use their sexuality, such as burlesque dancers, scabs and gender-traitors?
     
  16. narad

    narad SS.org Regular

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    No, I don't think so. We tend to make exceptions for people of a certain demographic to comment / utilize characteristics of that demographic. In the guitar world women are not executors, not creating or in control of these sorts of advertisements -- they're done by men, for men, with rarely any female involvement.

    It's not like the crowds have a consensus -- I recall a story from a couple months ago about a couple of guys getting criticized by Jews for I think having some Jewish slang in the name of their bakery. But the proprietors were Jewish as well. There's uncle Toms in the black community. Aziz Ansari has an anecdote about Indian actors taking the stereotypical Indian acting roles in one of the Master of None episodes.

    And scab and traitor are extreme words -- scabs almost completely undermine the efforts of strikers. Nothing is that clean cut here. Like I don't think some ultimate conclusion is that either young female guitarists who feel intimidated by all this male-focused marketing in the guitar world (are there any?) are wrong, just because there are Burlesque dancers, or that Burlesque dancers are wrong to do what they do because it has essentially given some precedent for bomber girls and smart belle. Like a nuanced discussion of this topic probaly isn't going to include a term like "gender traitor" like there was really a right or wrong in this case.
     
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  17. USMarine75

    USMarine75 Doc McStuffins Contributor

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    Wow. Jeez. Words really do have meaning. I'm sorry. I guess I never thought of it that way.
     
  18. Lemonbaby

    Lemonbaby SS.org Regular

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    Do we really need to introduce gender mainstreaming to Sex, Drugs & Rock'n Roll? :argue:

    Is it childish/immature/80s to use that kind of picture language for marketing? Yes. Is it idiotic/ridiculous to wear masks, paint your faces black and design a cover with blood, zombies and what not? Very much so. Is it an issue that needs our foremost attention? I don't think so, but I might not see the extreme danger to society and the world we live in.
     
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  19. Edika

    Edika SS.org Regular

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    Well narad I agree with you on this and this is always the idiotic contradiction I've seen in Rock and Metal "Oh why aren't there more women in rock and metal" and then when a woman enters the scene you get all the lovely attitudes you end up seeing, like if she's hot or not, if she's too hot she gets propositioned by "potential suitors=fucking creeps" or the "she's hot that's why everyone is indulging her", if she's not good looking then more derogatory terms might ensue or they might just leave her be.

    In the entertainment business looks do count and rock metal men are not impervious to that, as we've seen, but they're more forgiving. Not as much for women but it somewhat is starting to change. Just because something has been this way and it was founded like that and might be "good fun" and not serious it doesn't mean it makes it right. If it's childish and immature then I guess it's time to grow up. Being silly and excessive and provocative doesn't mean it has to be sexist too. That's actually the opposite of those things in my mind.
     
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  20. TedEH

    TedEH Cromulent

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    ^ This more or less sums up my opinion. I refuse to jump on the "any expression of strait male sexuality is offensive" or "any depiction of someone being sexy reduces them to an object" trains. Why do people not complain about something like depictions of sexy firemen? Why does depicting a man in a sexy way not count as objectifying them? We nitpick about which sexual expressions are considered offensive based on weird, screwed up, current social values, not because there's actually anything wrong with anyone's sexual expressions.

    Realistically, the mistake being made here is not that they've used a sexy woman in a logo, it's that they've misjudged what the market wants to see right now in 2018.
     
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