Category Archives: sexism

An end to the Hot Waitress Index

Our favorite economist Jodi Beggs points out many “indicators” of recession are sexist, the result of male-skewing humor from the men who dominate the dismal economic science. We’ve had the skirt-length indicator, lipstick measures, and our favorite, the Hot Waitress Index — you know, the idea that pretty women lose jobs in real estate or sales when bubbles collapse and so are forced to serve food at the local bar. The prettier your waitress, the worse the economy.

Sexist stereotyping? You bet. So the Puma sports brand is playfully fighting back with the PUMA Index, a stock ticker for cell phones showing models — male or female — who take off their clothes when the Dow goes down. Sure, you can pick a girl, but the default image on the app is a buff guy cranking weights, ready to drop his jeans. Economists, hope for a rally.

Image: Scott Eklund

The truth about sexual obsession

About six years ago we got on a plane bound from Washington, D.C., to New York and settled in to a blue US Airways seat next to a consulting buddy. Our friend, Ed, tapped us on the elbow. “Look at that,” he said. We moved our eyes up slowly, a bit embarrassed that Ed was checking out a blonde, and then we realized the blonde he was checking was U.S. talk show host Katie Couric.

Katie looked pretty good. At least the back of her head did, which is all we caught as she slid into a front-row airline seat. Her hair had some sort of multifaceted, shimmering gleam, as if a dozen hair stylists had worked different layers of gold through it all at once.

Katie’s hair looked expensive.

She moved on to the evening news, where great ratings didn’t happen, and as the years passed we realized (a) we would never date Katie, because we were already married, and (b) a huge latent sexism exists in society if Katie couldn’t pull good ratings because the American public judges her on hair color and not smart journalism skills. In the end, guys on planes admired young hair, and people eating dinner wanted TV news from old men.

If the fact that we’re calling her “Katie” bothers you, congrats, you’re feeling the deep-rooted emotion of sexual response on some level — an innate characteristic that humans all spend time trying to repress, or trying to stimulate, all while denying we are animals at heart. This thought occurs after a week in which national advertisers like J.C. Penney and Heinz caught flack for running/repudiating ads that showed teenagers stripping for sex and men kissing over kitchen counters. The sex-in-advertising thing that causes so much reaction is rooted in our hormonal foundation. To fight sexual prejudice — the pre-judging of people based on their biological features — is to battle a million years of evolution. Humans didn’t survive without mating, so looking for mates is in our blood.

Today a friend we made on Twitter wrote,

“My sis just said that the hiring person for a job she applied to was concerned that the size of her breasts would be a ‘distraction.’ Srsly.”

Whoa. We re-read it, and thought the appropriate response is to feel concerned for her sister. But of course, we also wondered about her sister’s appearance.

And finally, we thought –- how clever. That writer on Twitter just boosted her own ratings by stimulating a response.

Photo: Fatman. (Hey, it’s just a peach.)