Sexual harassment at work has always been an issue, but the issue exploded since last October. That’s when Hollywood mega-producer Harvey Wenstein, co-founder of the Miramax studio and current owner of TWC, was accused by The New York Times.
The damning report said he sexually harassed employees and actresses for three decades, having paid an undisclosed amount of money to settle eight different cases.
Then NBC came out and talked about 13 sexual harassment or assault cases and three rapes. From that point on, apart from the producer’s trouble with possible lawsuits, more and more women starting coming out about receiving such behavior at work by their bosses or colleagues. Even Ford’s Chicago plants had been mentioned in a report from the NYT that described persisting inappropriate behavior by “bosses and fellow laborers” towards female employees.
That, in and of itself, is a healthy thing to do: no one has the right to sexually harass anyone, no matter his/her status, and if they do, then the victim must report the incident to ensure that the perpetrator is punished accordingly and won’t do it in the future.
In case you’re wondering if you’re reading Variety or Carscoops, the answer is that the tidal wave the Weinstein scandal created has reached the shores of automotive shows where, traditionally, female models were employed by automakers to stand near their cars.
Now, the industry seems to be doing an 180-degree turn and starts dropping models from the show stands, replacing them with specialists who won’t just look good and smile for the cameras, but answer questions journalists, visitors or possible customers may pose to them.
Even Italian automakers, who in the past had employed some of the most beautiful (and scantily dressed) “booth babes”, have scaled this practice down for this year’s Geneva Motor Show, with every executive declaring that they won’t engaging in that practice, which is derogative to women. Of course there are models in the ongoing event, but their outfits are more conservative than before.
Moreover, this year, Formula 1 organizers announced that, starting from this season’s opening race in Melbourne, on March 25, there will be no grid girls anymore, as this is neither “appropriate or relevant” to the sport…
Is this jumping on the bandwagon that’s sweeping most West countries these days, or absolutely justified as women are not objects to be displayed? Why, one might even argue that the term “booth babes” is sexist and degrading – and he/she could have a point.
So, where does one draw the line between following the current trends, especially when it comes to being politically correct, and what’s happening in the real world? Come to think of it, why are models employed by the fashion industry in the first place, when they don’t actually resemble what the vast majority of women out there, who’ll buy the clothing, doesn’t even come close to resemble?
As far as we’re concerned, sexual harassment notwithstanding, each automaker can do as they please and employ models – or not. Yes, they will draw the cameras and, thus, give them increased visibility, which is why they are hired in the first place, but the downside is that they can be accused of objectifying women, which right now they want to avoid like the plague.
So, what say you? Should automakers stop using models at their stands and let both the media and the visitors concentrate solely on their cars and concepts, or is it a case of a much ado about nothing?