Should produce expos ban "booth babes," and by doing so set a reasonable expectation for professionalism implied in the event?
The topic is making its rounds in the blogosphere, with the Pundit weighing in on the subject recently. Read the piece for yourself, but I get the overall sense that Jim Prevor is in favor of freedom of expression, whether that be Chippendales or Daisy Duke wannabes.
"But what about women who are really good at being flirtatious or at just looking good — is it right for one sister to dismiss the talents and abilities of another? Indeed, is it right for women with a whole different set of skills to try to get the rules of the game changed so those other sisters just can’t compete?"
I write the following thoughts with the reminder that they are wholly my own, and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Packer, etc.
But when I read what the Pundit wrote, I've got to say... Jim, are you serious? I hope you had a trusted colleague read your copy before you wrote this, because even I'm offended by it.
How does taking exception to the sexist objectification of women via short-term hires at trade shows translate to "trying to get the rules of the game changed so those other sisters just can't compete"? Do you really want to accuse the most accomplished women in our industry of simple jealousy?
The fact that some produce professionals are offended that a few companies cast scantily clad women as eye candy to help draw attention to their booth should not be a surprise.
This is the 21st century, after all.
With competing produce shows touting multiple events exalting the professional role of women in the industry, the dissonance between that preaching and the occasional offender is jarring.
True, it is not a huge problem in the U.S. I've been to some produce trade shows in Latin America and Europe, and some of those shows are much more blatant about their use of minimally clad women as traffic stoppers.
While some thoughtful folks may say that the free market will decide an issue like this over time (they are probably right), there is nothing wrong with showing a little leadership.
And banning "booth babes" is far from unprecedented. This story notes that the 50,000 attendee Eurogamer Expo decided to put in place a ban on "booth babes" for next year's show, following the lead of a couple of other expos in that same industry. Perhaps prompting the action, one offending company put QR codes for their games on the backside of booth babe hot pants.
Eurogamer director Rupert Loman talked about the ban here.
"One of the things we also decided was that we didn’t want booth babes at the show.
Of course, exhibitors need to bring staff to the show, but they should be interesting, cool and exciting (Master Chief was /amazing/!) and knowledgeable (developers and publisher staff) rather than pretty girls in revealing outfits just for the sake of it. We want the show to be friendly, and all 50,000 attendees to feel comfortable.
At this year’s show three companies showed up with booth babes. Two in particular we thought were dressed inappropriately. As a short term measure we told them to move into the 18+ zone, and we asked some of them to put on leggings as well.
Although it was only a small number of booth babes, our regret is that we didn’t go further on the first day and just say “this isn’t right” and ask them to change their clothes - or not attend. Instead, with the huge pressures of putting on such a large show and everything that comes with it, we let it go. And that’s what has prompted this debate – and we’re sorry it happened.
For future shows we will be issuing formal guidelines: Booth babes are Not OK. "
I agree with Loman. I've created a poll on the issue. What do you think?