silicon giant: vogue represents yahoo ceo marissa mayer as living doll
The Internet was astir this week after Yahoo CEO, Marissa Mayer, posed for a photo shoot in Vogue which pictured her done up to the nines, lying upside down on a weird banana lounge. The representation of Mayer, accompanying an extensive interview with the former Google engineer, has been criticised as detracting from her position and significance as a high-powered businesswoman.
Before launching into an analysis of these criticisms, some background on Marissa Mayer is necessary. Mayer holds bachelors and masters degrees from Stanford University, both specialising in artificial intelligence (Cool!). Having achieved success in a male dominated area of expertise, one would think Mayer is a feminist trailblazing champion, subverting all the stereotypes, being a ‘fluffy girlie girl who likes clothes and cupcakes’ but spends her weekends ‘doing hardware electronics.’
Before you feminist-hell-yeah for Mayer’s cupcake spread sheets, it is important to recognise that she is notorious for rejecting feminism, disappointingly stating that:
‘I don’t think that I would consider myself a feminist. I think that I certainly believe in equal rights, I believe that women are just as capable, if not more so in a lot of different dimensions, but I don’t, I think have, sort of, the militant drive and the sort of, the chip on the shoulder that sometimes comes with that. And I think it’s too bad, but I do think that feminism has become in many ways a more negative word. You know, there are amazing opportunities all over the world for women, and I think that there is more good that comes out of positive energy around that than comes out of negative energy.’
I completely recognise that not all women in positions of power are obliged by some airy-fairy sisterhood pact to support and speak for other women, but at least acknowledging the gains feminism made which allowed women like herself to get to where they are today would be prudent.
Mayer further let the side down by stopping Yahoo employees from working from home, clearly a disadvantage for other working mothers attempting to follow in her footsteps in the tech industry. Meanwhile, Mayer enjoys the privilege of a nanny, staff and an inbuilt office nursery, making the whole having-it-all thing a bit of a breeze.
With all of this and the fact that she once spent SIXTY GRAND on a dress, in mind, the representation of Mayer in Vogue isn’t all that much of a surprise. Mayer isn’t trying to be a feminist role model for women, so why would she think twice about whether the representation of her looking like a Stepford Wife/ mannequin would send the wrong kind of message?
However, in the interest of avoiding stereotypes, why should she, as a CEO in the tech industry, be featured in a power suit, staring pensively into the distance, possibly holding something that looks like some kind of machinery/modem/thingy, when that’s just not her?
Mayer might have been represented as CEO Barbie, but the notion that a single picture could detract entirely from a woman’s validity, worth or principles only perpetuates the notion that women are defined by their appearances. But, hey! At least she didn’t do a GQ swimwear spread, right?