In a bold redefinition of feminism, a French smart clothes manufacturer has declared that it's totally fine to put topless, objectified women in its ads as long as they're not retouched. How inspiring.
Spinali Design launched their 'smart jeans' at CES last week. Bafflingly called 'Essential' (when they're surely anything but), the connected jeans act as wearable sat nav, vibrating to direct you to a destination set in the app. This follows on from similar services embedded in smartwatches, shoes and so on, so it's not a bad idea in itself - though it's a bit weird to have to wear your Internet Jeans when you need to go somewhere.
The issue with the jeans isn't so much the pointless addition of connectivity (if we berated every new product for that, we'd be here all century) but the pictures the brand is using to promote the product, and their pitiful attempts to justify them when called out on Twitter.
The women modelling the jeans are all the typical classically attractive specimens we've got used to seeing in every ad ever, but for some reason the company can't adequately explain, none of them have got tops on. Considering Spinali Design is expecting to sell this product to techy women - who already feel enormously alienated by the bro-heavy tech scene and its relentless culture of objectification - they really couldn't have gone about it worse.
— Holly Brockwell (@holly) January 13, 2017
By way of explanation, Spinali responded that the women in the ads were not models but CEO Marie Spinali and her team. Presumably at this point we were supposed to say "Fair enough then" and forget the fact that they've all got their baps out, but as Madeleine Albright put it, "There's a special place in hell for women who don't help other women." I find it absolutely staggering that any woman in tech could look at the harassment and sexualisation of her industry peers and decide the way forward is more of the same.
In an epic thread, Spinali repeatedly argued that showing their clearly talented CEO as a piece of ass was somehow proving that women in tech could be sexy as well as intelligent. Take it from me, guys, literally no one is arguing that women in tech can't be seen as sexy. It's the other side of the coin we're fighting for, and this takes us back ten paces (to the 80s, by the looks of that dry ice and double denim).
They followed this bot-like nonsensical defensiveness with the sterling logic that all of this was fine and feminist because they don't retouch the boobs. I mean.
@holly We make the Clothes we like to wear. The photos are very beautiful (without retouching) and correspond to the slogan of our company.
— Spinali Design (@SpinaliDesign) January 13, 2017
That slogan, by the way, is "Be Nice. Be Rebel. Be Yourself." Not seeing how that translates to "be topless."
Oh, and did we mention the product video with its clichéd stripper music, woman in her knickers for no reason and long, lingering shots of ass? Or the woman wearing enormous spike heels while apparently about to ride a motorbike? Or the fact that these jeans are literally designed to use with a smartphone yet clearly don't have big enough pockets for one?
This campaign is everything that's wrong with tech companies' image of women. Instead of focusing on the benefits of their product, it's all about the ass inside it. Instead of appealing to women with useful, desirable features, it's all about the heterosexual male gaze. I can't think of a single woman in tech I know who'd feel this campaign spoke to them. In fact, one of them told me earlier she'd scrolled right past it, assuming it was something for men.
You might make perfectly nice jeans, Spinali, but sexism is never a good look.
Photo: Spinali Design