I’ve only taken a cursory glance at Naomi Wu’s (@realSexyCyborg) twitter, and I like what I see. She hooked me with the last line of her bio:
“Everything is about merit until merit has tits”
I love this because I do believe in competence as a valid construct, and I do believe in competent women (and men) and I don’t appreciate it when people subvert meritocracy. This quote is an excellent quip encoding a response to three obnoxious attitudes:
- You can’t have merit because you have tits
- I don’t need to have merit because I have tits
- Forget your merit; let’s talk about your tits
Old Fashioned Sexism
The first attitude is old fashioned sexism; you are female so you cannot possibly be competent. The weaker version of this is: you are female so you cannot possibly be as competent as most men. Fortunately, I have been spared exposure to this. I can imagine it would fan the flames of indignity in anyone’s heart to the point of resentment and retribution.
New Fashioned Progressivism
Working a corporate job, I encounter the second item quite often. This is about including people, promoting people or providing people access to spaces and resources just because they are female. You can tell me all you want about historical wrongs that need righting, but I will never attend an event to be the token, or join a group “for” my gender.
Similar to the first, but more sexual in nature. This is when no one objects to your competence or participation but can’t contain their attraction to the point where they can see you as more than your body.
I actually have some sympathy for this view point. Arguments about psychological effects of attractiveness on perceived and actual competence aside; I’m not here to shame anyone for normal human sexuality. This tweet sums up what I’m talking about nicely:
I’m guessing that Naomi is referring to commenters ignoring the lesson in lieu of her (lack of) dress. This implies that her outfit is a more pressing matter than her content. The magic of the internet is that, if you’re (understandably) distracted by the presenter, you can just watch a different video. The shit move is to try to shame your sense of propriety onto the presenter. If you can’t enjoy material if it’s too “sexy” that’s your problem, not hers.
I like the quote. I like merit. I like tits. I like competent people. I don’t appreciate it when people try to undermine measures of competence with non relevant criterion.
I don’t know if this is what Naomi meant by her quote as I only have it out of context.