Why are booth babes still a thing at (some) Tech events?
Cate Lawrence

Alex Colon’s article is obvious bullshit and I sense that he fed everyone that line because he feels some culpability in how this phenomenon persists. If you read between his lines, you’ll see a warm, coursing ooze of cognitive dissonance.

Colon’s choice of the word “sexy” caused my bullshit detector to really peak. Not that his word choice was incorrect but it’s a flashy diversion that keep us above the surface.

What if you s/sexy/friendly? Not only does the article still work, but you’ll notice that a more insidious form of exploitation is taking place. Booth babes are hired because they’re friendly in order to comply with our society’s expectation that women are supposed to be.

When I read men’s reactions to the #yesallwomen tweets, I think they feel scorned. Scorned by women telling them to stop telling them to smile. Scorned by women who don’t holla back upon request. This frustration suggests these dudes feel like every woman is their friend. How often does a man’s defense in a sexual harassment situation rest upon the assumption of friendship or affection that just isn’t there?

If you consider the tired trope of your typical IT worker as a young, straight and sort of socially inept man who spends several hours a day stuck behind a screen with little human contact then booth babes make perfect sense. Hiring a conventionally attractive and bubbly young woman to pitch your product to him will utterly blindside and disarm him, causing him to associate that sublime high with your product.

That’s what the vendors think of us. We’re young, straight, male and too immature/dumb to realize that women aren’t our friends by default.

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