There's a very special day coming up. It's one where we express love and shower certain people with compliments. I'm not talking about Valentine's Day. I'm talking about Objectify a Male Tech Writer Day on February 1.
Objectify a Male Tech Writer Day encourages everyone to add an extra comment about the appearance of a male tech writer when tweeting or otherwise sharing an article. For example, you could tweet, "Awesome Android app article from that hunky Seth Rosenblatt! @cnet."
The day is the brainchild of writer Leigh Alexander. "The purpose of the exercise isn't to 'get revenge' or to make anyone uncomfortable: simply to help highlight by example what a gendered compliment looks like, and to get people talking in a funny and lighthearted way about how these kinds of comments distract from meaningful dialogues and make writers online feel like their point of view is only as relevant as how attractive they are," she writes in the NewStatesmen.
As a female tech writer, Alexander has had to deal with plenty of comments about her appearance, something she says her male counterparts rarely, if ever, have to navigate. Objectify a Male Tech Writer Day is her way of opening up a discussion about how women writers are sometimes treated differently.
As a writer in the tech field for many years, I have also had to handle some appearance comments that have nothing to do with what I was writing about. I've had a reader insult my hairstyle rather than say anything substantive about the article's content, for example, and I've gotten fan e-mails that crossed the line from complimentary to creepy. Fortunately, those incidents have been very rare.
I've known the feeling of standing in a big room full of tech writers and being one of the very few women around, but I have also seen the times a-changing in that regard. I'm not on an island with just a few occupants anymore. Everywhere I look around these days, women tech writers and role models abound.
I'm hoping Objectify a Male Tech Writer Day kicks up some interesting and civil discussions about how far we've come and how far we have left to go. Granted, the event may have just as big a chance of going totally off the rails. We'll have to wait until February 1 to find out.