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‘Hospitality events’ & misogyny February 13, 2018

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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Back in the 1990s and early 2000s I had reason by way of work to attend a fair few trade shows both here and very occasionally the UK. What always struck me was how broadly business oriented the ones were in the ROI whereas in the UK there was clear sexist approaches taken in terms of presentation with underdressed women at stands and so on. It’s not that that was completely unknown at exhibitions here, but that they were much less prominent. Interestingly trade shows in the North (of Ireland) tended to be more like their British counterparts, again with what I would define as clearly sexist approaches.

I always wondered what that told us about the differing societies, and about commonalities and divergences. So it’s interesting to see that in the much less sedate world of the gambling and gaming industry even more egregious sexism at work in the present day (and presumably for many years now).

The reports in the Guardian of women being harassed are depressing in the extreme, but hardly surprising given the contexts they are forced into. And again this is a workers issue as well as a gendered one. These are women who are on low wages with little or no autonomy. Indeed autonomy is deliberately removed from them. It always struck me what a bleak view of men these shows offered – and there’s much worse again too, the sense that women weren’t meant to be attendees, that that was simply not a consideration on the part of those behind these ‘promotions’.

Yet, and this was true in the 1990s here, and in the UK, there were women in attendance at shows I was at, and I find it unlikely in the extreme that there are none in the gambling and gaming industry. The piece describes an interesting hierarchy too:

Most of the people seated at the tables behind the exhibition stands, where conference visitors met to discuss business and drum up trade, were men in suits. But the stands were mostly fronted by scantily-clad hostesses in themed costumes, some of whom told the Guardian they had been hired for the day from professional model and hostess agencies.

The area I was involved in back then was, in part, electrical trunking and similar items. What was fascinating to me as well was that publicity materials from the continent were extremely – for want of a better word, professional with no hint of sexism, whereas those from the UK were disturbingly gendered. Now, as anyone who has been to many states on the continent knows in general advertising this is not necessarily the case, but I thought it telling that in relation to promoting these goods there was that differentiation too.

And all these have effects too. It takes no imagination at all to see how the environments described by the Guardian would be off-putting to many women (and men). That can and potentially will shape the nature of that industry.

Comments»

1. 6to5against - February 13, 2018

‘…would be off-putting to many women (and men). That can and potentially will shape the nature of that industry.’

I dont think that point about how off putting this is to men as well as women gets made often enough. They’re not pandering to men with this sort of marketing, but to a tiny minority of men – alongside a monolithic caricature of maleness. It doesnt even work on its own lazy terms.

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WorldbyStorm - February 13, 2018

+1 6to5, agreed it isn’t said or noted enough but it’s genuinely off putting and anger inducing the way these events exploit woman as well as completely patronizing in terms of its view of men.

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2. An Sionnach Fionn - February 13, 2018

I’ve done a few IT seminars for the job and though there was a fair bit of Celtic Tiger era “tech-bro” sexism among the male-dominated audiences it was always fairly low key. I think an Irish sense of politeness/sociability kept the overt stuff below the radar. Plus, maybe, a little bit more liberalism on the subject of female participants in a largely male environment. I heard dickish comments about women but I never heard of or witnessed dickish behaviour towards women, if you know what I mean.

Though maybe it went on out of public view in post-conference celebrations.

The few times I’ve been in the UK at these gatherings, yep, it was noticeably different. Why would you have “glamour models” handing out PR crap at a talking heads event filled with nerds??

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