So here I am, minding my own business, writing a long, researched think piece about why more women aren’t in technology, and I get an e-mail with the subject line, “Play with my V spot.”
Having occasionally written the odd line of clickbait in the past, I disregarded the tacky come-on and proceeded to the full e-mail, where I was greeted by a pair of long, sexy legs in high heels and a woman’s red-glossed mouth, parted in a perfect RealDoll state of relaxation.
It was an ad for Voco, a voice-control company. It wanted me to come to their CES booth and test out its tech “Because oral is better,” again with the image of the slippery-looking open mouth.
Sex sells, right? And disembodied female body parts coupled with Beavis and Butt-head-level puns are super-sexy, right?
Guys, this is why we don’t have more women in tech: It’s a cesspool. As long as we’re passing offensive schlock like this off as marketing for a major technology conference, we don’t deserve more women in tech.
Voco calls these ads “playful.” Maybe “playful” is in the eye of the beholder. Maybe the beholder doesn’t think of women’s body parts as playthings. Maybe that kind of play isn’t in any way related to voice-control technology or consumer electronics — you know, the kind that aren’t sold at Babeland.
Or maybe they just pitched a journalist who isn’t in the mood to play those pubescent, sniggering games anymore.
Voco, I regret to inform you that I will be unable to visit your CES booth this year. I moreover regret that I will never review, recommend, or use your products, no matter how interesting and innovative they are. I most deeply regret that you don’t have enough respect for me to put yourself on my level and look at the world and your ads through my or anyone else’s eyes.
I regret that the only consumer or reviewer you care about reaching is the man who likes women’s disembodied sexy-parts. I regret that you don’t know any men who think women’s brains are sexy, too.
I regret that you didn’t have a woman on your leadership team with the authority to nix these ads as the irrelevant smut they are. I regret that you’ll probably pass the buck to Dirk Marketing* for designing the ads, and also that Dirk Marketing doesn’t employ strong women in leadership roles.
I regret that not enough little girls in my kindergarten class took an interest in technology and went to college to study computer science and flooded the tech industry, making this kind of marketing out of the question.
I regret that the only women you think this industry can relate to are a smattering of tarted-up body parts — not even a whole person, not even a whole face.
Matthew Juaire, the marketing and sales director for Voco, I regret that you actually thought this email would work.
More than all that, though, I regret that you guys at Voco will probably write this off as the angry rantings of some hairy-legged women’s libber. But believe it or not, the views I’m expressing are the views of many consumers — you know, the people you’re trying to ultimately reach through your marketing efforts at the Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas? And if you want consumers to do you the great favor of purchasing your products, you can’t treat half of them like sex dolls and call it “playful.”
If you, dear reader, would like to contact Voco, it has a contact form on their website. Or you can e-mail the company’s marketing director, Matthew Juaire, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Now, let’s get back to the news, shall we? This time, with less vagina hatred.
*Note: Dirk Marketing is run by Angie Dirk, a woman. Patriarchy wouldn’t be patriarchy without women’s participation, and we wish Ms. Dirk would have had the wherewithal to do better work and demand higher standards of her clients.