With the first annual Objectify a Male Tech Writer day coming up on February 1, the Atlantic Wire tech writer department is here to help you prepare for the coming holiday. The basic rules, as outlined by Leigh Alexander in The New Statesman and also on this Facebook page are as follows:
On February 1, whenever you tweet an article, quote, comment or video from a man, add a comment about their appearance or attractiveness – “Great article on Final Fantasy XII-2 from the always-gorgeous Kirk Hamilton,” for example.
The movement has a hashtag for following along:
The point isn't to get revenge, as Alexander puts it, but rather to "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. But, this being the Internet and all, what starts out as social commentary, will take on a life of its own. In fact, it already has and thanks to some early Twitterings, we see where this meme is headed. For those looking to stay one step ahead of the meme-makers—in meme-world being first matters a lot—here's how the evolution of the hashtag will most likely go down:
Stage 1: The Earnest Phase
At first, people will objectify male tech writers with degrading compliments tacked on to tweets, just as Alexander imagined. The movement will be taken seriously. Male writers will, for a moment, learn the plight of some female tech bloggers.
Stage 2: The "Earnest" Phase
It won't take too long for commentary in the form of jokes to come along. Sarcasm is the easiest way to prove the point that compliments won't hurt anyones feelings. Soon "earnest" attempts at degrading male tech writers with the "damn smarmy winking emoticon" will overtake the earnest ones, with people tweeting compliments at certain male tech writers in a wink-wink nudge-nudge sort of way. Gizmodo has already gotten an early start on that one, asking people to objectify their "sexist" male tech writer by photoshopping his head onto things.
Stage 2b: Meme Meets Meme Phase
As the joke phase develops, people will create meme-mashups. Something like: "Great article on iPhones by the gorgeous @techwriter, #HavingItAll." See, it's easy. Someone already made a SnapChat joke. Anyone can do it.
Stage 3: The Backlash Phase
Instead of making light of the original instructions, some people will more directly make a point about the problems with the movement. Wired's Mat Honan has already given a taste of what that will look like:
If you genuinely intend to Objectify A Male Tech Writer then don't flatter; *bring it* Call us ugly, fat, old, short poorly dressed. Be mean— Probably Mat Honan (@mat) January 23, 2013
People will oblige.
Stage 4: The "Backlash" Phase
Then this, too, will degrade into sarcasm and jokes.
Stage 4b: Backlash Meme Meets Other Memes Phase
The aforementioned meme mash-ups will soon follow, maybe something like: "Disgusting piece of shit Mat Honan wrote this awesome post on iPhones. #CutForMatHonan" (This phase has the highest potential to get offensive.)
The above is the general circle of life of a hashtag. The meme could waiver from this path, maybe even find itself a Tumblr. But Twittertariat will co-opt the hashtag for its own jokes and commentary. That, however, might not be such a bad thing for the cause, which after-all, hopes to raise awareness for the very real sexism problem in the tech writer world.