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Sexism in Photography

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Miranda F View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Miranda F Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 September 2017 at 09:52
Originally posted by angora angora wrote:

I've met an elderly lady who purchased Nikon 5200 and is therefore a 'wedding photographer' now.
out of the blue she said she didn't get the aperture thing, not a clue what aperture was.
and, when I gave her a blank stare, "well, you just take 6 pics and at least 1 will be fine?"
we (girls) refer to them as 'auntie Truus'-with-a-camera. and they are ruining business for the girls who are real wedding photographers. (+ 'reputation' perhaps?). asking ridiculous prices. it's a serious prob.
haven't heard that about men (the uncle Johns + cameras? ;-)) yet?

That's not confined to elderly women, I'm afraid.   
My wedding pics were taken by what appeared to be an old codger in his eighties, with thick pebble glasses, and had to be helped around by his wife. The pictures were well enough staged, and quite useable, but his manner didn't inspire much confidence!
Miranda F & Sensorex, Sony A58, 5d, Dynax 4, 5, 60, 500si/600si/700si/800si, various Sony & Minolta lenses, several Tamrons, lots of MF primes and *far* too many old film cameras . . .

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PMac View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote PMac Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 April 2018 at 01:30
Saw this topic very late and would have let it rest but I see a couple of issues arising in the discussion we are dealing with at work so figured I'll add my two cents.

1. Definitions. Talking about sexism etc is complicated by the fact that there are essentially two different definitions in use (really broadly) and if you dont understand this the conversation ends quickly and badly.

definition 1. Sexism is discrimination based on sex. IE sexism is 'just' a form of discrimination.
definition 2. Sexism is discrimination based on sex backed by systemtic power to make it pervasive and oppresive. IE sexism is not 'just' a form of discrimination.

The author is using definition 2. In that context it is almost impossible for women to be sexist - they can be discriminatory, sure - but as that isnt backed by a system that men cant really avoid and must always suffer under they cant be sexist.

Many commenters here are using definition 1.

You dont have to agree with the authors definition of sexism but we really should acknowledge the entirity of what she's talking about and address that, not simply ingnore the systemic forces shes referring to by imposing our definition of sexism on her article.

2. Tone Policing. People fighting against things are generally struggling to be heard, to rise above the background noise. They are fighting hard against the natural inertia of things preventing change. They are routinely ignored, mocked, patronised etc. They get angry and that powers them forward and makes them heard. A tactic of those that those who want to resist change is to then turn that anger against them, to "tone police" and instead of addressing what is said, discount the speaker as too emotional, too invested, irrational, undisciplined etc. thereby avoiding the need to actually address the real issue.

3. Global Inconsistency. All of us live in cultures that have different norms and expectations. Thats fine, most of our lives are spent in those cultures and we adapt. Occasionally we deliberately cross those boundaries (like when we travel) and we mentally brace for the fact things are going to change. Increasingly however this is breaking down and things said and done in one culture are immediately picked up and communicated into totally different arenas and understood completely differently. A danish clothing company takes an advertising shot and gets in trouble in the US for not understanding that that image would be offensive there. A russian model that learns english through pop culture gets in trouble for a word in a quote repeated in english language media that in the anglosphere cant be said by a white person.

I think its important to understand the cultural norms and expectations of the writer of this article. She is clearly writing (I think) from a US perspective. That doesnt mean shes not saying anything of value to those of us not in the us but rather we need to understand that and try and imagine what her experiences might mean where we are.


All that said, pretty much everything she said would probably be true here in Australia. Generally our reflexive responses to female photographers would match what she's described.

That doesnt mean we are all bad people because our reflexive responses dont really define us, our rational choices do.

Rather, listening to what this writer has said, recognising the basic truth of it and understanding we might be unconciously contributing to it how about we slow down, accept our reflexs might be wrong and conciously try to make things a little better rather than defend the current situation and/or hope it will all get better without us.
We are all going to die but at least we can go down swinging
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lonewolf View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote lonewolf Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 April 2018 at 15:59
no doubt that sexism still happens in photography, its just an extension of the rest of society.

It does go both ways, you'll find that there is a bias towards female newborn photographers for example
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ricardovaste View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote ricardovaste Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 April 2018 at 16:03
Pete, great insight, thanks for sharing!

I did think about posting about this again... Note that I shared this in September 2017, ONE MONTH before the whole Weinstein controversy and the #MeToo movement in Hollywood (and beyond).

I wonder if some of our opinions have been re-evaluated since then...
I photograph the moments in people's lives that mean the most to them: Richard Harris Photography
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Eclipse Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 April 2018 at 15:08
Try being a woman and going into a shop to buy photographic gear.
You may have a pleasant experience where you are treated with respect, or you may be treated like an idiot.
I recall going into a camera shop to buy an SLR. I happened to have my brother with me. the sales assistant (young male, who would have been in nappies when I was first working in a darkroom) addressed his entire sales talk to my brother. If asked a question by me, he replied to my brother. This continued even after my exasperated brother said, in terms, 'she is buying it, she will be paying for it, she will be the one using it, talk to her'. It made absolutely no difference. They had done exactly the same a few years before with a slide projector, that time the person they spoke to was my husband.
I didn't buy anything, or go in there for years after that second experience. I went to another town for my gear.

Next time I went in was years later, for some pro slide-film (my usual film shop only stocked Fuji and I needed Kodak). I needed to see the reciprocity data because I was going to be taking very long exposures. I asked for the data sheets. Another young man told me I didn't need them. I said I did. He said I didn't, and I should buy a basic consumer slide film. I said they were not the same. He said yes they were. I asked, why, in that case, the pro films cost a lot more. He said (and I quote, it is burned on my memory) 'someone like you wouldn't be able to tell the difference'.
The only thing he knew about me was my gender. I'm willing to bet that he would not have spoken to a man my age like that.
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Basil View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Basil Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 April 2018 at 16:47

It's sad that these gender stereotypes are still with us. I get to see it firsthand when I shop with my wife.I went with her a few years ago while she was buying new laptops for her work group. She works in IT and knew the exact specs that she needed. The salesman kept addressing me, even if she asked the question. Finally, in her sweetest voice, she asked to speak to the supervisor. After assuring the young lad that yes, she really needed to ask the supervisor a question, he reluctantly went off and returned with his boss...a woman. My sweet, loving wife then proceeded to lay into that poor woman with a barrage of technical questions about the product that clearly went way over the supervisor's head. When she was finished, she looked at the young male salesman and said in a calm, but firm voice: "Don't you ever have that same condescending attitude with a female customer again. You just cost yourself a $10,000 sale with recurring upgrades and service contracts". The she smiled at both of them and turned to walk out. I just grinned and shook my head from side to side. We walked out to the rather harsh sound of the supervisor saying a few choice words to her former salesman. When we got back to the car, my wife laughed and said that she has so much fun doing that to those clueless little twits. Perhaps some day they will learn.

Gosh, I love that woman!!!!
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Steve-S View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Steve-S Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 23 April 2018 at 17:11
Originally posted by Basil Basil wrote:


It's sad that these gender stereotypes are still with us.

It is sad, yes. Also rather enraging at times.

Originally posted by Basil Basil wrote:

,,, a barrage of technical questions about the product that clearly went way over the supervisor's head ...

I have learned to my chagrin that most retail clerks in the tech sectors are (by my lights) pretty ignorant of their products. Questions from customers who are professionals in the field -- or even avid amateurs -- will leave them hopelessly floundering for answers. Computers, cameras, cellphones... I regularly need to ask to see spec-sheets, have them find exact model-numbers (not clear from retail displays) so *I* can research specs myself (that they clearly don't understand), etc etc etc...

I don't usually experience the blatant disrespect you describe, though it has happened once or twice that some arrogant twit thought his marginally-more-informed-than-other-sales-units information let him talk down to someone who'd been a "systems engineer" in that realm for years... :-P

I must say, Basil, I _REALLY_ liked your story of how your wife educated the folks in that store!
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Dena View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Dena Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 October 2018 at 05:47
Sometimes I'm completely ignored in the local camera stores, and that's after I've bought things there, including camera bodies and lenses and many accessories. Other times I'm helped. It's hard to predict. Now I've befriended someone who works there and will be sure to visit when they are in store.
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