Listing "web hunks" is sexist and does no-one any favours

Here is a list of 10 “web hunks“, showing men who are successful technology entrepreneurs or bosses and who are also, according to the article, “hotties”. Lucky them.

Usually anything that focuses on the way men look is treated rather gently. First of all, it doesn’t happen that often. Second of all, it happens to women all the time. Their appearance is immediately, and disproportionately, focused on, despite the fact that they might have a long list of achievements that are far more important than their looks (see the recent Techcrunch post on Israeli tech women, and its collection of lovely comments).

But if the boot was on the other foot, and a list of ten female “web hotties” was published, it would (quite rightly) be criticised. It’s probably a little optimistic to demand that people’s looks are completely disregarded – I wish it was achievable, but it’s probably not. But these men are not actors, singers or models – they’re businessmen and techies, and presenting them according to how “hot” they are undermines them and their achievements, same as it would if it was ten women.

It also encourages the idea that it’s ok to appraise everyone like this. If it’s ok to judge men by their looks, then it’s ok to do it to women (so the argument will go). It doesn’t do anyone any favours.

This is symptomatic of a wider, general movement to a bigger focus on what men look like. Instead of things getting better for women – the pressure is still as strong as ever – it’s just getting worse for men. There are more adverts selling male beauty products and more articles like the one linked to above. There’s still a huge gap between what women have got to put up with compared to men, but we’re heading in the wrong direction.

Thanks to Steve Jackson, who is on Twitter @ourman, for sending me the link to this.