The dicks of Digg
Remember a few weeks ago when Annalee Newitz was talking about the downside of being a woman who's article gets posted to Slashdot? For those just tuning in, here's a little bit of a background: one of her articles was linked to on Slashdot, a community-driven technology news site, which is the geek equivalent of getting a mention on national prime-time news. The commenters on the site then took the time not to discuss the merits of her article, but whether she was too fat; a second Slashdotting experience a few months later also centered around her attractiveness, but at least that time, there were a good number of commenters saying that it didn't matter. Some might call that "progress."
This morning finds us over at Digg, a similarly community-driven news site that mostly focuses on technology and geek issues. Upon reading the headline, "Finally... Fembots" I was struck with a sense of impending doom, but like a car crash you can't look away from, I clicked through and started perusing the comments. The article itself discusses the release of a lifelike Korean android, built in female form, who can move from the waist up, make four emotional expressions, and understands 750 words. It's the second android of this caliber to be built (the first was also a female form, built in Japan).
What does the Digg community have to say?
"'...her lower half is immobile...' --Kind of reminds me of my wife."
"Yeah, but is the anatomically correct?"
"Of course we think of sexual purposes. finally we can engineer all the best parts of a female and leave out all the miserable shit.. like the bitching. and we will really be able to control them by remote now! i think they might supply these in heaven.."
"I like my fembots like my Coffee." reply: "grinded [sic] up and in your freezer?"
And one of the more popular comments sums it up neatly:
"After all, the first thing everyone here thought when they saw the article was 'how do I stick my dick in it?'"
Because everyone on the site has a dick? Ahem.
Some say that it's a brutal online world, and women that complain about such behavior need to get a thicker skin. It's a cop-out answer more than anything, since breaking the old (and very tired) "boys will be boys" phenomenon that excuses everything from online misogyny to street harassment to sexual assault might just entail the dreaded work of self-examination. Seeing how each one of us participates in it is a far scarier proposition than easily waving our virtual arms, shooing away those pesky "boys."