[Update: Leigh Alexander has decided to call off the event, following an examination of potential risks. It's been proposed that the event alienates those who do not neatly fit into the straight male and straight female dynamic, not to mention potentially distressing those for whom the subject of objectification is no laughing matter.
"What I wanted to encourage through humor was caring, empathy and a willingness to listen and educate -- now I've been asked to change course, and by calling a halt to #Objectify I hope I'm modeling those same qualities myself," explained Alexander.
With so many people who are sure to be smug dicks about this, it took some guts to call the event off, so major respect due. For the record, I will still be demanding Holmes put on his mesh tank top.]
On February 1, everybody involved in the tech industry -- including gadgets, computing, and videogames -- is being encouraged to objectify male writers in a bid to demonstrate what it's like to never be recognized for your work before your looks. Whenever you share a link from a male writer that day, be sure to mention how they have great hair, or pretty eyes, or that you want to bang them.
The event was put together by omnipresent writer Leigh Alexander and her friend Ben Abraham. They wanted a fun way to generate discussion about the outwardly harmless objectification that occurs whenever an audience seems unable to talk about a female writer's latest published article without first making sure everybody knows they're attractive -- or unattractive, as the case may be.
"The purpose isn't to show men what it feels like to be objectified, but to catalyze exactly these kinds of conversations and begin a fun, non-hostile dialogue on how irrelevant gendered compliments are to people's achievements," explained Leigh on the event's Facebook page. "Hopefully the net effect will be that next time, before someone comments on a woman's work with a superficial compliment, they remember she's a person who'd like to be recognized for her work."
Rarely, when a male writer's work is linked on a blog or social network, does his appearance come up. Not that it doesn't happen -- my own fatty-fatness seems to be more important to some commenters than my actual writing -- but I can certainly attest to seeing the words of my non-male writing friends inextricably linked to their physicality. Even when that link is complimentary, it's still an objectifying thing.
As Leigh asserts, it's not about making men feel bad. Some have suggested the event will "backfire" when male writers find themselves flattered and pleased by the compliments they rarely get. The goal was never to make anybody actually feel objectified, though. It's more about pointing out how weird it is to actually go to the effort of associating physical features with mental output.
Basically, once you start objectifying a male writer for no good reason, you can gain a new appreciation for just how strange and uncalled for it is -- and if it's creepy or odd to you that you're making a point to say Justin McElroy has beautiful, creamy thighs, maybe you could try and think how it looks when you're saying similar things about Colette Bennett.
As for me, I very much spearheaded male writer objectification with my love for Jonathan Holmes which, naturally, is one of the reasons Objectify A Male Tech Writer Day has become my new Christmas. I shall be demanding Jonathan Holmes put on a mesh tanktop and shake that booty on top of a lowrider -- but this time I'll be doing it in the spirit of the season!
If you'd like to talk about the steel nipples and glazed necks of the industry's hottest slabs of boyflesh, feel free to get salivating on February 1 with the help of the #Objectify Twitter hashtag. You can also read Leigh's FAQ on the plan to get better acquainted with it -- probably a useful resource for anybody planning to mouth off about how insulting the day is or how it's going to magically stop all sexism forever.
As for me, I'm off to tell Ben Kuchera he's got pretty, pretty lips.