Hi everyone,

I've been following this conversation a bit while traveling this past week. I'm also happy to see the subject title has changed, thanks to whomever did that. Media representation and the use of sex to sell products is a classic subject matter of women's studies and feminist theory. In 1985, the Guerrilla Girls[1] organized a "weenie count" in which volunteers would go to museums in New York City and count the male to female subject ratio in the artwork on display. For example, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in 1985, women as subjects accounted for only 5% of the museums exhibitions and in 83% of those artworks of women subjects were nude.

While this study is out of date, it's still common knowledge amongst the museum world that women and queer representation on the walls, so to say, is severely lacking. (And if you are curious as to why I am babbling about museums it's because I work in them when not fighting the good wikipedia fight!) And as stewards of "culture" and being within the public trust, that to me says wonders about culture in general.

I'll be moving to the Bay Area at the end of the month and this summer I am hoping to do an updated "weenie count" (it's something I've wanted to do for a very long time) out west, and perhaps try to coordinate one out east. Let me know if you're interested in getting involved.


[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guerrilla_Girls

On 5/3/12 12:52 PM, Thomas Morton wrote:
Ok, as promised I went into a local store and did this research:  http://instagr.am/p/KK-RXOwWyt/ I have to say I genuinely expected that I might have to admit to being wrong. I'm pleasantly surprised the say I don't think I was! 

But first, just to say, I felt like a bit of an idiot taking a photo and then jotting down notes in the shop. Which turned into feeling like a right prat when one of the shop assisstants asked what I was doing ;)


It's immediately obvious from the photo (which cuts off a portion either side of the stand, sorry) that there are a LOT of women on these covers. However things break down in an interesting way. The vast majority of covers featuring a woman, clustered to the right hand side halfway up, are female interest magazine (fashion, gossip, etc.). Targetted at women they almost exclusively feature a photo of a woman - but they are fully clothed, it is often a headshot and the focus is fashion/style (or a celebrity). I don't think these are sexist.

Below them are another set of female interest mags - home and hearth. None of these feature a woman on the cover (though some have a person as a wider part of the image).

Opposite these are two male-targetted types of magazine. On the middle shelf cars etc. and on the lower shelf computers. These almost entirely feature no people at all - with the exception of one PC mag which features a tasteful headshot of a computer generated woman (I'm willing for this to be included in the next set of figures, if you like) and a few with men on the covers.

Which leaves us the top shelf - a total of 10 magazines, 5 each targetted at men and women. Of the 5 targetted at men you can see that 4 are obviously feature an amount of nudity sexualisation (although there is no actual bits on show). The fifth male targetted mag features a woman as well, dressed, but with a bared shoulder and a sexualised pose.

Of the female-oriented magazines three of them feature a man with his top off. One doesn't feature a person on the cover. And one (ironically going back to the blog post linked last night) features a man with his top button undone... and water spilling down his chin and onto his chest.

I make that 5:4, or 6:4 if you want to include the other image.

My conclusions?

Sex sells to men and women, somewhat equally. Tasteful pictures of women sell to women. Cars and digital imagery sell to men.


On 2 May 2012 22:52, Ryan Kaldari <rkaldari@wikimedia.org> wrote:
On 5/2/12 2:38 PM, Thomas Morton wrote:
On 2 May 2012 22:36, Ryan Kaldari <rkaldari@wikimedia.org> wrote:
Perfect opportunity to share one of my favorite blog memes:

Seriously though, it doesn't seem that controversial to say that mainstream advertising heavily skews to female nudity. Next time you pass a magazine stand, count the number of covers with female nudity and male nudity. I'll bet you a wiki-beer it's greater than 2 to 1. Judging by the last time I was in Paris, I would guess 10 to 1.

Ryan Kaldari

On the principle of genuine interest I will take you up on that challenge :) and will report back tomorrow.


I'll be very happy to be proven wrong. I'm certainly subject to perception bias, but perception isn't always wrong. Don't forget to take a cell-phone photo if you want to collect your wiki-beer :)

Ryan Kaldari

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