No Women Were Objectified While Making this Plugin

I have way too many things to fit inside of this little post, so here’s a quick summary of what I want to say: I “adopted” some plugins from the WordPress Repo One is called ImageLens and I really like the approach I took with it But in researching tools for it, I came across… Read more No Women Were Objectified While Making this Plugin

I have way too many things to fit inside of this little post, so here’s a quick summary of what I want to say:

  1. I “adopted” some plugins from the WordPress Repo
  2. One is called ImageLens and I really like the approach I took with it
  3. But in researching tools for it, I came across code advertised with scantily clad women everwhere
  4. This isn’t new, but it needs to stop

I “Adopted”!

I’ve been looking for ways to push my knowledge of WordPress and general PHP and Javascript coding further, so I thought that I would reach out to fellow developers and see if they don’t want to support their plugins anymore, then I could take it over for them. Little did I know there’s a little trend that WPTavern has been advocating called plugin “adoption.”

Basically, developers who can’t support their plugins on the Repo anymore can add the “adopt-me” tag to their plugin so people like me can browse for plugins that want to be adopted like this: https://wordpress.org/plugins/tags/adopt-me

One really fun part of this story is that the kind folks at WPTavern got wind of my adoption adventures and decided to do a little write-up on it. Yeah! So for the full story, check out their article here: http://wptavern.com/a-successful-wordpress-plugin-adoption-story

Re-Introducing ImageLens

ImageLens Banner

 

I adopted ImageLens because it used a similar javascript to what I used for the ZOOM! FooGallery Template. The way it’s implemented for ZOOM is very different than if you wanted to activate this Magnify-glass effect for an individual image, or for all the images on the page. So I thought it would be really interesting to work with the same script (basically) but with a whole new approach.

I’ll Get a Little Technical Now

Some of the challenges for me were that I wanted to add custom Meta Boxes to all pages and posts, and to enqueue the script in different ways depending on the settings in that metabox.

This lead me to try out a Custom Metabox class called “My Meta Box” by Ohad Raz. It’s a really slim and easy class for metaboxes. I typically use Humanmade’s or WebDevStudios Custom Meta Boxes, but I was attracted to Raz’ because it’s super slim.

The next challenge was I wanted users to be able to select “Activate on all image on this page/post”. What that requires is filtering the content loop. I searched all over for a simple way to just add a class name to the div surrounding the content loop, but it simply doesn’t exist. So, for now — only for this option — I added an extra div around the content loop in order to add that class so I can target ALL images within the loop. Not ideal, but it works. (Open to suggestions).

But for the “Active per image”, I needed to add a custom Image field and then enqueue the script different if an image has that field selected. This was a new combination of things I had never considered before. Basically, I let the metabox select field dictate how the javascript was enqueued, then I use the custom attachment field to add an extra class name to the image which is targeted by the javascript. Worked out pretty well.

The Scantily Clad Women Problem

So while I was developing ImageLens, I researched different ways that people implement this magnifying glass look. One of the first scripts I came across is called “Snipe”. Obviously, this author imagined the effect looking more like the scope on a sniper rifle. Ok, that’s fine. But then his choice of featured image is a woman in bikini on the couch. Really!? Because sex and violence sells right!? Ug! Putting a scantily clad woman directly “in the line of sight” overtly suggests an ugly combination of sex and violence… for code. Really, really, really dumb.

I fully understand that there are statistics that show that both women and men respond more positively when seeing women in an ad. I fully understand that women are beautiful and there’s no shame in bikinis or burkas. But this is for a piece of code! It has NOTHING to do with bikinis or burkas. It has everything to do with DOES IT WORK!? And, by the way, Snipe doesn’t work as far as I can figure.

You might have noticed I didn’t link to this example. I don’t even want to give it that attention.

Brad Griffin pointed out to me that sometimes it even seems that Women like ads with women “assets” in them as well. This is a really detailed overview of a company trying out different women’s ads with and without the women’s chest showing. It shows clearly that the ad with chest showing got more click-throughs. But it further shows that it was women clicking through much more than men when the chest was shown.

Does that mean that women are objectifying women too? I kinda doubt it. Personally, whether women click ads of women more than men do or not does not change the nature of the conversation. Those who use others’ bodies (not persons, but bodies) to sell unrelated products are contributing to domestic violence, date rape, lower wages of women and more.

An Objectification Analogy

I don’t want to go into all the reasons why objectification is real, and bad, and pervasive. I’d really encourage you instead as a self-reliant and informed person to read a bit yourself. But here’s a quick head start:

  1. On How You Know When You’re Being Objectified
  2. What is Sexual Objectification
  3. Objectification is Not Empowering, It’s Harmful and Shaming

But since I’m writing with web developers in mind, let me make a quick analogy:

Imagine a standard was set to define what an “Advanced Web Developer” is. It doesn’t really matter how it was set, perhaps by a committee, or just societal norms; regardless, it’s set. And that standard is that to be an “Advanced Web Developer” you had to be left-handed from Philadelphia. Further, businesses wanting to build a website really only want them built by “Advanced Web Developers”. You are not left handed or from Phildelphia. Yet you make calls looking for work because you are talented and skilled and professional. The first questions you get are always:

“Are you left handed?” — Uh, no. I use both my hands while coding though!

“Are you from Philadelphia?” — Hmmm… no, but I’m sure my internet connection and computer are just as strong here as there.

“Click”

But there’s another part of the story. There are really talented and skilled left handed web developers in Philadelphia. They work hard and produce excellent websites with clean and responsive code. Yet when they turn in their work, the client asks:

“Did you use your left hand for this whole project?” — Of course, I need both hands and I am left-handed afterall.

“That’s amazing, maybe we can skype sometime and you can show me how you do that.” — {Awkward silence…}

“And were you in Philadelphia during the whole project too?” — Um… I think so. I visited my Uncle in New Hampshire for a long weekend.

“What!? Did you work on the site during that time?” — No, it was a vacation.

“Oh good. This is perfect.”

This seems like an utterly ridiculous analogy. But that is in essence what sexual objectification does. It values a certain kind of person for traits that they really don’t have a lot of control over and heightens their influence and importance over others without those traits. It values the traits, not the person. It makes left-handed-ness a commodity and values it over coding skills, intelligence, customer service, professionalism.

Also keep in mind, of course men can be objectified as well. Or people can be objectified for things beside sexuality. But why is this such an important topic? Because the objectification of women’s sexuality leads to all kinds of horrible consequences that are reflected badly in virtually every country in the world. It’s real, it’s pernicious, and it’s got to stop.

This Isn’t New, But It’s Got to Stop

I’ve seen tasteless displays of scantily clad women in plenty of scripts, plugins, themes, etc. I’m not alone either. Over a year ago, Rebeccas Markowitz bemoaned the use of of what she called “scandalous images” throughout theme shops.

I reached out to friends on Facebook for their input on this. In terms of objectification in the worst way, these are my “favorites”:

#3 Terrible Example: Club Flyer

Sure, you need a flyer for your Club, or your neon lit barber shop. So you go to Graphic River and YES! Sexy women in strange Jetson-esque outfits highlighting their crotch area. That will get people looking at this flyer! It sure will, and no one will ever remember what the flyer was about. Good for you.

Bonus! Get all the authors sexy, objectified women posters in one bundle.

See the Objectification Here

#2 Terrible Example: Zoom In and Out Slider

You need a slider for your website. Doesn’t everyone!? (No, actually no one does). But how do you tell which one is REALLY great!? I mean there’s sooooo many. I know! The one with all the bikini models on it! That will get people to buy this piece of code. Really…. Really!?

See the Objectification Here

#1 Terrible Example: FullScreen Backgrounds and Galleries

But the WORST example definitely goes to the FullScreen Backgrounds WordPress plugin on CodeCanyon. For LOTS of reasons. I mean, besides the fact that it is a horrible use of video autoplay, it’s a women’s underwear commercial! For a piece of code! The music, the women, it’s all about objectification to sell a piece of code. Ugly, ugly and needs to stop.

See the Objectification Here

If you’re thinking right now that these pieces of code are pitching themselves to all the desperate boys doing the coding, then you’ve missed the boat on women in tech. Even within the comic book world, a world notoriously stereotyped as “just for guys” is getting wise. The Hawkeye Initiative is a hilarious site that highlights what male super heros would look like if they were drawn the way women super heros are drawn. Even one of my favorite online comic artists “The Oatmeal” took a swipe at the horrendous first edition cover of Spider Woman.

If comic book fans can speak out against the ridiculous standards in comic books, then I think plugin authors and theme developers can take the high road as well.

Make the “No Women Objectified” Pledge

So here’s my encouragement to all WordPress Repo plugin Authors. Add this image as the first “screenshot” in your plugin. You can see it in mine here. Tell the WordPress world that you will not participate in objectifying women for your business, even your “free” business.

I reached out to the WordPress Repo Plugin Team for their take on using images in the screenshot area, and this was their response:

Generally speaking, we’d prefer screenshots to be actual screenshots of the plugin and useful to the user. The plugin directory is not really an appropriate place to make a statement.

I have nothing but respect for the Plugin team, so I complied, removed the image and added a link for more information into the description of the plugin instead. I think if you link people back to your site explaining how you made the plugin and how “No Women Were Objectified” (and maybe even use this image), then that would still be an excellent statement.

no-women-objectified

Social Media Pack

Here’s cover images and profile images for Facebook and Twitter if you want to show solidarity on social media. Then at the bottom, there’s the whole social media pack with PSD’s if you really want to get creative on your own.

Download the whole pack here

Special Thanks

The image of the woman smiling I felt was really just perfect for this. Thanks to sxc.hu (now called freeimages.com) for having great and free images like this.

Special thanks to Jami Mays for reviewing this post all along the way to make sure I wasn’t being an idiot. Jami is a talented front-end developer and kind-hearted soul (most of the time 😉 ). If you are looking for someone you will certainly ENJOY working with, contact Jami at Imajworks.com.

 

12 thoughts on “No Women Were Objectified While Making this Plugin

  1. YAAAAAASSSS! *kermit flail* Thank you for writing this! Thank you for seeking input from women. Thank you for staying true to your point and for being a man putting a voice to this issue. THANK YOU!

  2. Love the write up Matt! The ’cause’ is valiant, and [speaking as a dad of three little ladies] HIGHLY needed!.

    Now, the mission needs to turn towards making everyone aware of how objectifying these images are – not just in the coding world, but on each and every market vertical!

    There’s the approach of ‘awareness’. And then there’s the approach of “Hey, quit clicking these image! BOYCOTT the company that’s allowing these images. Quit going to the stores that crop crotches. Stop!”

    Does that mean that women are objectifying women too? I kinda doubt it. Personally, whether women click ads of women more than men do or not does not change the nature of the conversation.

    You’re absolutely right, it does not change the conversation one single bit. It does give a bit of insight as to who should be having the conversation.

  3. You must have loved GoDaddy’s old ads. Me neither. It’s why I pulled all my business from them, ahead of the elephant shooting ordeal.

    I observed the rampant use of sexy example images used in themes the past couple years. I thought there was a slight uptick in their use in the plugin space, but on the whole it was nowhere near the saturation seen in the theme space. I attributed it to plugin authors seemingly having better grasp of the non-sequitur application of using sex to sell code.

    I’m curious, can one self-objectify, even when they’re a fitness instructor using their physique to suggest, “if you workout with me, you will look like this?” There was a little side discussion around the editorial use of this image on Advanced WordPress. Given the article we might as well hit it head on. Link: http://www.natalieuhlingfitness.com/

    1. Thanks Ansel, ya, theme authors for whatever reason seem more prone than plugin authors, but in this case my whole train of thought started from that horrible Snipe jQuery plugin.

      Regarding the Natalie Uhling featured image, I was bothered by it because it wasn’t an image used on the site at all. Her site really focuses on fitness and very little on HER body. It’s a great site, actually. So the fact that that image was specifically designed for social media tells me that whoever did her SM campaign wanted to sell the “sexy”.

      True confession: I’ve done my share of home fitness videos and I cringe every time they say things like “Picture yourself on the beach in that new swimsuit!”

      Now, I’m sure some will say “What’s wrong with being sexy!?” Well, that’s a slippery slope. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wanting to be attractive and to know that others find you attractive, but I like to think my attractiveness has everything to do with my humor and intellect at least as much or more so than my physique. But I really don’t want to be perceived as “sexy”. Personally, I think that’s a different thing. That means I want hordes of women to look at me and want me. I don’t think that’s healthy for a society. Want me for who I am, and you’ll never get “who I am” from a picture or a glance.

  4. Is there a way to identify or test for objectification? There’s a definition, sure. But the whole thing feels subjective and no pun intended, squishy. Anyone can say, “that’s exploitive!” but it’s hard to determine when it’s truly occurred. Take the GoDaddy ads. The first year’s Super Bowl ad raised my eyebrows. The second year I groaned, “again?” By the third year when I realized it was to be a brainless, inapplicable series and I moved all my domains. Vote with your wallet I say.

    I digress, back to the WordPress stuff. I think the reason the sexy images are prevalent in themes is due to their visual medium. They’re selling presentation. And plugins? They sell functionality, though I can see how you hit on a pocket of plugins using sex to sell ’em. Any that ride the fence between function and presentation could opt to go that route… and some do.

  5. I love this! I am glad to see the community of developers coming together and saying that there is no reason that you’d have to include a picture of a bikini-clad woman just to get people to use your plugin. Whenever I see that kind of thing, it makes my blood boil, and I’m really happy to see people (especially men) speaking out against it. Kudos!

    1. Thanks Ingrid! It’s important! I hope others will be more vocal about opposing plugins/themes that do that, and show more solidarity for gender equality of all kinds. Thanks!

  6. As a feminist, I very much appreciate your insights, your recommendations, and your advocacy for treating women with respect. Thank you for having the courage to write and publish this piece!

  7. “Does that mean that women are objectifying women too?”

    In my opinion yes, but in a different way than men do. I think they are two sides of roughly the same coin.

    Both men and women idolize the female form, both objectify it, but men do so out of abject desire, women do so out of the desire to be the object of desire.

    When women look through a Victoria Secret catalog, they crave being as desirable as the women they see. Men conversely crave them as the object of their desire. But both are objectifying.

    You could also argue that when women objectify, it’s the result of millenniums of male objectification. They have been taught that women should be objectified by the men who objectify them.

    1. ^^^Is this dude like a long lost relative that I don’t know about?

      Clifton makes some GREAT points! It’s easy for some folks to simply point the finger and say #yesallmen, “Look at what you men do”, “men are pigs”, or [insert your own rhetoric here].

      As I objectively zoom out and refocus it’s interesting that I’ve never seen any segment of these ‘stop objectifying women’ demographic that’ll stand up and say, “I am not a victim of men. I am not a victim of something that happened years ago. I WANT to be craved. I want to be desired. I want to be sensual. I want people to “like” me. I want people to desire me. I want people to crave me. I want firmer [insert various body parts] like that picture I just clicked on. I want to feel sexy. I want to turn every head when I walk into a room. I want every woman to look at me, my body, my face, my skin, my eyes, my hair and be filled with a slight bit of envy. I want to walk into a room, and turn every man’s head and leave them completely speechless. Yes. YES. YES!! …

      ….and in order to stop being objectified as sexual, I am willing to” [here’s where the quagmire starts] “stop wearing that dress. I am willing to stop taking 4 billion selfies looking down my shirt and squeezing my shoulders together so that my cleavage damn near goes up to my chin. Ya know that video that I clicked on with breasts as the ‘video poster’ and a great catchy title? I’m NOT gonna click that video! That makeup commercial that I just saw with ‘objectifying women’ in it ~ I’m NOT going to go check out the price of that makeup next time I go to CVS. That Taboola ad that I saw when I got done reading the article on Huffington post, ya know they one that had the horribly ‘objectifying’ picture on it? Yeah, that one. I’m not gonna click it to see “How to have better sex” [or whatever the headline happened to be]. Ya know that magazine at the checkout stand? The one that’s got insanely SEXUAL headlines written ALL OVER IT? Yeah, I’m not gonna buy that one. And, as a matter of fact I know my three model friends. I’m gonna tell them to NEVER pose for something that makes them ‘objectifying’ as well. No objectifying clothing, no objectifying poses, no objectifying …ANYTHING. As a matter of fact, those ladies need to go pass this message onto the Modelling Association and pass this message onto any and all models, photographers, and agencies around the world. That way we’ll never have to look at another objectifying picture again. And, we won’t be giving “men” something to look at either! Cause we’re all just sick of it!

      Wahoo ladies!! Everyone’s on board with this right?”

      I don’t see that dialogue happening though. I see a lot of people who continue to play the victim card. And it seems most prevalent in folks that have found a domain name, and a WordPress blog!

      I don’t have some victim mentality against men and dads. But I could very, Very, VERY easily put up a site, add pics from long ago, post police reports, CPS reports, and say something like #yesalldads. But…. I don’t. I got over it. It’s done. It’s in the past. I am NOT a victim! And yet, I see so many other people who play the victim card from something that happened 10, 15, 20, or 30+ years ago. Look, I get it. I work at [a lot] of churches. But you simply cannot live with the victim mentality forever and continue to say #yesallmen, or some equally blanketing equivalent, to women being objectified. It simply doesn’t hold up.

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