The following is a rant I originally posted on Armorama.com. The following is the content I sent to AK Interactive, Weathering Magazine, and Mig Jimenez. I posted it publicly as well in order to spark discussion, debate, and thought. There was a lively discussion that took place in the comments, and I encourage you all to read through that thread. Please comment on this post or on the original thread with your comments. As our world changes and further embraces equality, I find that there are still many ways that society (American or any other) lags in making equality happen.
To whom it may concern:
My name is Jake McKee, and I’m a 38 year old male. Last year, I returned to the scale modeling hobby after many, many years away. I’ve been excited to see how many new and amazing products are on the market and how companies like AK and modelers like Mig have really skyrocketed the quality, creativity, and opportunities for fun since I’ve been gone. The fun I remember having 20 years ago is double nowadays!
As the father to an extremely creative 6 year old daughter, I’ve been working to expose her to the hobby and she’s shown a great deal of interest. As most kids are, both at her age and older, she’s always looking for the females in the situations around her. At the model shows, club meet ups, or at the hobby shops, there are…of course… not many women and even fewer girls. Despite not having any gender connection, she’s still showing a great deal of interest in learning the craft…which if you know about young kids development, you know that this is a big thing in many ways.
She was recently asking me about various weathering techniques I’d been trying out and after verbally trying to explain them to her, I paused, grabbed my iPad and opened issue #1 of Weathering Magazine. When this transpired, I hadn’t even looked at the magazine myself yet. After flipping a few pages, I found myself looking at a scantily clad woman holding a gun to promote….. uh…. modeling? AK products? Before I knew it, any conversation about modeling has evaporated and we were instead talking about gender issues.
My question to you is a simple one: What value, business or fan engagement, is derived out of including half dressed women in your advertising/content?
Our hobby is a niche. A relatively small niche in the world. We see fewer and fewer new modelers every day, and fans grow out of the hobby in an increasingly faster rate. We, as a collectively interest group, should be doing everything, and I mean everything to encourage new people, male AND female to join this hobby. It’s good for the hobby, it’s good for us as individuals, and it’s very good for the health and sustainability of YOUR businesses! Hobby shops are barely making it by and online businesses are succeeding, but just barely, and failing just as much. This is, in large part, due to the size of the potential buyer base. In this environment, I should never, ever have to think twice about showing your magazine, or any other form of content to anyone, especially a massive untapped audience.
If any of you have daughters, you’ve almost certainly faced questions from her or to yourself about how far she can go in life and what restrictions society may place on her dreams as a woman. You’ve almost certainly gotten mad when you see overt sexism or underlying threads of it, at work or at play. I work in the computing industry and I’m ashamed of how my industry has largely shunned or flat out chased off women who are interested in learning and joining the industry. It’s not good for them or for any of the rest of us.
As a scale modeler, and as an active online and offline member of the modeling community, I want us to do better than other parts of society. Just because our hobby has been male dominated for decades doesn’t mean we have to accept that. And we certainly don’t have to encourage that. And we certainly don’t have to create clear and present reasons for women and girls to turn away.
I would ask you to rise above and make our hobby a place where we are never, ever ashamed to invite our female family and friends, or think twice about showing them any of our content. I would ask you to think about the damage you do to the reputations of us all as a group and as individuals when you use “sex” to try to sell modeling tools. I would ask you think about how much more successful your own businesses would be when you work harder to open up this hobby to the other 50% of the planet’s population.
Will you reconsider your decision to include this kind of imagery in Weather Magazine #4? I look forward to sharing that issue with my daughter without having her ask me anything other than questions about modeling techniques.
Thank you very much for your time,