I watch a lot of bad TV. This post is about a show called Young & Hungry I watched earlier this weekend (Season 5, Episode 14).
In this scene a female character, Gabi (G) walks into a computer repair shop. There is a man (M) working there. (M) "Wow." (G) Is [the computer's damage] that bad? (M) "You're the prettiest thing that's ever walked in here." When she asks how much it will cost to repair the computer, he says $1000 until she mentions she has a boyfriend. The price goes up to $2000. Her boyfriend (B) comes into the shop, she hides behind the counter, the men talk about her trying to figure out if they're talking about the same person (I'm not saying it's a show worth your time ...) (B) Blue eyes ... (M) And a body I'd like to Photoshop anime tentacles on. The girlfriend pops out, she and her boyfriend get in a fight (related to her mistakenly believing he's been masturbating instead of having sex with her -- there's more wrong with this show than the sexist portrayal of the IT person), they reconcile and leave. And then we get one more quip from the IT guy: (M) I'll tell you who is masturbating tonight.
I don’t know how someone can see that there are still portrayals of our field that make it look so unwelcoming to women and argue that there are no longer any significant societal barriers to women entering computer science.
Yes, it’s not an especially popular show; it’s just the last thing I happened to watch. Yes, this an IT person being creepy rather than a computer scientist, though I’d argue that a large subset of people don’t see this distinction. Yes, we are meant to laugh at him, not with him. But it’s still damaging.
For more on why sexist portrayals of men on TV are damaging even when the writers/directors poke fun at the characters’ sexism, the following video gives a great explanation. The whole thing is worth watching, but the part relevant to this starts at around 13 minutes:
We are so not past sexism in tech. I have a lot more to say about this (I’ll save it for another time or in person). Other women, non-binary folks, minorities, and allies have a lot more to say about this.
Here are just a few relevant links:
- Why women can’t just get over it
- Why it’s exhausting to be a woman in tech/CS
- Here’s the clearest picture of Silicon Valley’s diversity yet: It’s bad.