There is an annoyingly persistent meme in a variety of different media formats where beautiful and thin (but not necessarily smart or if they are there is something unusual about them such as they are from another country) girls get together with nerdy/geeky guys that are often either unattractive by societal standards or are unpopular. The persistence of this is really beginning to piss me off for a number of different reasons and is exemplified by a recent advert that I believe was shown during the Superbowl in the USA yesterday.
The reason that this particular advert bothers me so much are because of the messages that it appears to be putting forward and are as follows (in no particular order);
Geeks are guys, unattractive and make no/little effort to be presentable.
Beautiful women cannot also be smart and computer literate or able to put together a website.
A stereotypical blond, thin, pink and high-heeled wearing Barbie type female is the ideal sexy look.
That geeks are not sexy and are socially inept (Walter starts off the advert by ignoring the audience and working on his computer). And who says geeks have to be computer geeks anyway?
Just before the two of them start to kiss there is an obvious look of disgust on the woman's face and relief when it is over. This offends me. In the first instance because it is obvious she doesn't want to kiss the guy, thus giving me the message that she has been coerced into kissing him (possibly for monetary gain) and, secondly, that Walter couldn't be found to be attractive in his own right. Attraction can be based on a number of factors, not just looks. Had there been any chemistry between the two of them, perhaps fuelled by an attraction to Walter's intelligence, it may have resulted in a less repulsive advert. But this kiss is devoid of any chemistry and highlights the contrast in the two actor's relative beauty. Well, the advert has done a couple of things, caused controversy and certainly stopped me from wanting anything to do with that particular web-hosting agent.
So, the advert pissed me off. But back to the meme "beauty and the geek". It is perpetuated not only in the dreadful reality TV show of the same name but repeatedly in films, TV, adverts (as shown above) and magazines seeking to advise women to date "nerdy" men. Even popular shows such as The Big Bang Theory, which I have to admit I do find funny, also perpetuate the same narrow minded thinking (often the "smart"/"intelligent" girls on this show are not shown to be particularly sexy, with the occasional exception of Bernadette, and the sexy/pretty one is constantly being shown as either unintelligent or uneducated. The "geeks" are not shown in a great light either).
Isn't it about time this meme died, from both sides? Intelligence and beauty do not reside on the same chromosome and thus replace one another. Nor to they act as the other's inhibitor. Lets see more positive exposure for sexy men and women who are intelligent (in my opinion the two go hand in hand anyway) and sexy people who do not fit into the ideal of beauty set by media in today's society. Exposure such as the work done by ScienceGrrl in their latest calendar, showcasing great images of real men and women in science (example image shown below). That is the type of meme I can really get on board with.
Tilly Blyth (l) and Alison Boyle (r) pictured with Babbage's Difference Engine No 2 in this photograph by Greg Funnell and featured in the 2013 ScienceGrrl calendar.
It is not a difficult concept to grasp. The only manner by which we may judge people in our lives, be they family/partner or casual passing acquaintances (and all in between) is through their actions. In many cases it has to be with regard to their actions towards us, unless there is a means of witnessing their actions towards other people, such as actually being there to observe their actions or via evidence.
We cannot know someone's intent. There may be cues that can alert us, but then again there may be no cues or we may be misinterpreting those cues. This is especially important when dealing with cultural differences and something I have been caught out on numerous times in the US, where relatively simple words in the same parent language (English) have distinct and different cultural meanings. Language can be difficult and much harder to interpret, I think, than physical actions. Part of this is the perception of meaning by the observer rather than meaning intended by the speaker, and as such intent is a difficult thing to determine. These differences, from my observations, are especially apparent online, where people can read different meanings and tone into the same text (given no cues such as tone and speed of the "voice") and on numerous occasions provide prime ground for misunderstandings to occur and even when no misunderstanding is in place, a clash of different opinions can rapidly escalate.
Current technology permits not only greater access to travel opportunities but also rapid communication across the globe and between diverse groups of people. I think that this is certainly part of an exciting time to live in as many opportunities are open to a greater number of people. But it can also lead to clashes. A prime example of culture clashes fueled by online events are the draw Muhammad day http://www.facebook.com/pages/2nd-Annual-Draw-Muhammad-Day-May-20th-2011/119371148108513 campaigns, and is also a good example for my point. You cannot dictate what another's person's actions should be based on your feelings alone. Some people feel very strongly that drawing their deity is blasphemous, while others do not hold the same beliefs and think it wrong to hold people accountable to the same rules.
Recent clashes (see previous blog entry for some links http://www.skepticrainbows.com/1/post/2011/07/oh-the-drama.html) in the online skeptic community are suffering from the same thing, I think. People are taking offense as a result of misunderstanding the original statements and then later escalating these by misunderstanding qualifying statements and jumping on anyone who disagrees with their position. It seems we all hold strong opinions on the subject. But it is just that, an opinion and our own unique perspective, not something that we can then dictate to others as to how they should behave and act.
One thing that may come of it all is a greater understanding all round. When people get angry about something there is evidence that they will look into opposing arguments and thus expand their knowledge about a subject. http://bps-research-digest.blogspot.com/2011/03/how-anger-can-make-us-more-rational.html So perhaps the online clashing is a positive thing after all and certainly more productive than literally getting up in arms. :)
My linky things do not seem to be working again, but you should be able to copy paste.
Skeptical kinkster musing on whatever takes my fancy!