On Monday I just got back from a vacation down in Oregon–watched a lot of cable television while down there. I noticed that channels seem to be subdividing into het male and het female. Or something like that. For example, HGTV seems to be more of a female sort of channel, with scrapbooking and quilting shows, as if men never do these sorts of things. But that’s not really true. I mean guys (both straight and gay) can get into gardening and house repair and improvement. Some guys love to geek out about plumbing, electrics and woodworking. TechTV on the other hand seems to be pretty heavily geared towards young heterosexual men.
Many of it’s programs suffer from what I dub the “Barnes and Noble Syndrome.” BANS refers to the disturbing staff decisions found at new BN stories that invade neighborhoods and crush local bookstores. Have you ever noticed this? Go into a brand new Barnes in your town and take a look at the staff. What you’ll find, and it wasn’t me that noticed this right off, it was the women I was with, is that a lot of the men are in their middle ages and a lot of the women are in their early twenties. Pretty spooky and rather insulting really.
Anyway, TechTV seems to suffer from this too. As you watch, you begin to notice that many of the shows on that network consist of lots of guys in their late twenties and early thirties frothing at the mouth about gadgets and computers. Standing next to the guy, if there is anyone at all, is an attractive young woman doing a good job of feigning interest.
Luckily, I’ve grown up with real geek gals and they’re nothing like that. It’s always one of the really irritating oversights on the part of guy geeks when they complain that there no gals that are interested in the same stuff that they are interested in.
To be frank, I think the reason for this is double standard. How is it that geek guys get to look pale and greasy but the gals don’t? Most of the nerd gals I knew in my life tended to be rather mousy and rather chubby and rather pale, but devastatingly intelligent. They just weren’t fashion models. How come the male geeks don’t notice these nerdly women? It’s because they are too busy obsessing about the cheerleaders and supermodels, that’s why. Think about this for a second. While it’s certainly not true that intelligence has anything to do with appearance, there is a strong tendency that poor (Or better yet unconventional.) appearance tends to drive young children to favor other aspects and talents that they have. If you’re handsome people tend not to take you seriously, no matter deviously clever you are. Either way you are trapped. Some people are tough enough to transcend this trap but most of us are just too tired to. Not all ugly people are wise and smart and not all beautiful people are dumb and foolish but in this cruel world that seems to be the way to bet.
Anyway, TechTV seems to perpetuate all these stereotypes about male and female geeks. How come there aren’t any shows on the network hosted by aging, chubby, mousy-haired gals that grew up designing multiplexers and ham radio setups and that don’t take any crap from idiots? How come these gals don’t have a crew of young, male, swim team medalists to fawn at them? And they wonder why more women don’t become engineers and mathematicians–grumble, grumble.