The Iron Man competition gains badges that perhaps represent women, and Mark tries to stray away from arguments about sexism
Who is the Paper Woman?
I am going to give you the short and potted history to the Paper Woman and a brief explanation about why I chose the design for her that I did.
So I am on holiday in LA and about 8 hours deviated from any conversations I would normally have with my coleagues in the United Kingdom. I checked my IRC channel last night and I saw that Matt (Matt S. Trout) had asked me to do a variant of the Iron Man badge I had done for the Iron Man competition. He asked for a Paper Woman badge.
So before I got started I had a brief think about this. Why did he want a Paper Woman badge, was a thought that wandered through my head and I figured he had been asked to do badges so that a woman could choose (this is true as I have discovered from Matt's latest post there was a conversation on Eric Bat's Journal page about the Blog post Matt did and the apparent sexism therein.
Okay, I said apparent sexism and I am going to make an aside to explain what I mean by that before I get misunderstood.
1. The Iron man contest was conceived as a homage to another contest and the Iron Man comic, at no point did we think of being exclusive to gender.
2. Language (specifically in this case, English) has been biased in favour of males for generations and therefore is favoured towards males and repressive to females and the use of gender neutral pronouns that are male and the bias of the I signifier as noted by Lacan and ther French feminists is well known.
Hence the 'sexism' is not intended and therefore can only be 'apparent' as I know it is not 'intentional'
But let's go back to last night before I knew of this post and was considering the Iron Woman badge. I trolled around the internet a bit to get a general feel for how to do an Iron Woman, I didn't find the one from the cover of the Iron Man comic but I did find quite a few examples to get my thoughts going. I eventually decided to base the image on the female android from Metropolis (in its broadest sense) but I did change one important detail...
Unlike almost every other female robot image you will find on the internet, and probably elsewhere, the one I have created has no visible breasts/cleavage. This was a conscious decision and taken long before reading Eric's post. It was quite simply that when I added them, and the images I viewed of female robots with breasts, were tawdry, they were cheap and that felt offensive. I felt at the time that had Matt been asked by a female hacker to give them the choice of a Paper Woman badge they wouldn't want it to look tawdry. When I said choice above, I do really mean 'choice' as I see no reason why males or females can't choose to have either the male or female badge on their site/posts. You don't have to define your gender all the time, surely the point of equality is choice not just representation (in fact representation gives you little in terms of real equality: choice, respect and appreciation of your individuality are far more important in my opinion). Also if I was going to do breasts I would have to do an Iron Man with moobs to represent the growing obesity in western society and the tendency for older men to develop moobular extensions as gravity begins to win the fight.
So I designed the robot to have no breasts and no shadow of a cleavage. So how to represent her. Well my response was to go for the genetic predisposition and statistical average that women are slightly more curvy and generally slighter in build. The use of oval eyes and red lips was a personal choice and just used to indicate some facial distinction to the Iron Man as was the oval shaped head. None of these things were intended to indicate anything other than a general feminine as opposed to masculine form so that a set of badges could be created.
If anyone has feedback (and until we have a commenting system) please don't hesitate to email me at: m.keating [at] shadowcat.co.uk, if your comments are useful, fun, or just plain interest me and I think will be useful to others then I will add tem to the end of this post, let me know how you would like to be named (anon, nick etc.).
Mark Keating is:
Managing Director of Shadowcat Systems Limited
Director and Secretary of Enlightened Perl Organisation
Co-Founder/Co-Leader of North-West England Perl Mongers
Work Blog: Mark Keating on Shadowcat
Public Blog: Mark Keating on Vox
LinkedIn Profile: Mark Keating on LinkedIn
My Homepage: Mark Keating's Personal site