Booth Babes at PAXAUS

26 Jul

Two weeks ago I attended the Australian Mathematical Sciences Student Conference, followed up with a trip to PAXAUS. One thing PAX events are known for are no booth babes. However, in the exhibition centre, there were both babes. Multiple companies in fact. There were the military ladies in short skirts and heels promoting world of tanks, the police women who somehow had a connection to Sennheiser headphones and some others wondering around in black and orange catsuits with bare tummies. The world of tanks were called out on it and were forced to put in tights (I noticed that, I thought it was because they were cold). A few other media outlets have commented on the booth babes. The Guardian had a good mini interview with the world of tanks guy: they obviously didn’t get the issue with booth babes. Kotaku missed the point.

The problem with booth babes isn’t that they are showing too much skin or that they are inappropriate viewing for young children.

There are two sides to the problem. First, your product should be able to sell itself. Why are you needing to rely on female skin to sell it? Who are you trying to attract? At PAX, Sennheiser was trying to sell headphones with female police officers. I had no idea those two were connected. Thinking back to what was probably the Sennheiser area, I thought it was just a game relating to police officers.  I might have actually looked at them I knew they had anything to do with headphones and if I thought they were marketing to me at all.

Secondly, for a female to sell your product, why does she need to be turned into a booth babe? At all the stands that had babes at PAX, I did not see one male dressed nearly as provocatively as the females. Why is that? Is it because women are some how lesser and need to be attractive in order to be able to sell a product? Does the company also think I’m not worth attention unless I’m dressed in a similar way?

Booth babes make me uncomfortable. Its more that I perceive that they are hired to attract men to the stall, I’m not a man, ergo, the company does not wish to attract me. Its that I feel like I’m an object when around them. I would like to look at the stand, but I’m not feeling welcomed.

I applaud the Penny Arcade guys for not allowing the booth babes. I despair at the companies and the media who don’t understand why.

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