Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Have you heard about the Wyoming Libraries scandal? To refresh your memory, they created mudflap girl stickers to distribute to would-be library patrons. Another blog I read, Feministing, has a different take on it.

"Reader Emily, who works as a shelver at a public library in Wyoming, sent us a link to this graphic, which is part of a marketing effort by Wyoming Public Libraries. Being a lover of libraries and subverting sexist symbols, I was initially excited. I naively thought maybe Wyoming was hoping to convey, "Reading is sexy!" or "Ladies with intellect are really hot!" Which, in my opinion, might be a defensible appropriation of the mudflap girl.

Of course, I was wrong. Here's the explanation of what they were going for:

Also in the second segment of the campaign is mudflap girl. This Campaign's only purpose is to market the ChiltonLibrary auto repair database. Mudflap girl stickers meant to be put on vehicles, were sent to auto repair stores across the state advertising the Chilton database.

Did you catch that? This is about getting people (primarily dudes, of course) who are interested in car repair to come to the library to use a computer database. In other words, not a whiff of subversion or reappropriation. It's just plain ol' tired sexism. Marketing the mudflap girl, without any irony or anger, to her traditional audience: men who like cars and babes.

Now, I, along with a big handful of other lady-librarians, consider myself a feminist. So why doesn't this mud-flap-girl-drama bother me? Because I'm also hard-core into libraries, and any publicity is good publicity.

And really, why not? In order to market efficiently you have to appeal to what your customers want. So dudes like hot chicks. Duh. Use that to your advantage. Get them into the library. I'm of the impression that the smarter people get, the higher the probability that they won't actually objectify women (and they'll learn that it's ridiculous to do so when so many women are much smarter than the average man - :-D but that's just my personal opinion).

What do you all think?


  • I like this ad campaign a lot, especially that it is aimed at men and auto mechanics in particular who could use a resource that they may not already have access to. This is what I believe libraries are all about. Connecting people with resources that they didn't even realize existed, or didn't realize the library could provide.

    I also think it's great that they are appropriating the mudflap girl for library interests. Let's use the stereotype of the sexy librarian to promote our services!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At Thursday, November 15, 2007  

  • This campaign doesn't bother me, but of course, I avoid feminism like the plague. Feminists have really pissed me off most recently with their "Santa is a pig" crap. Santa goes "HO HO HO" - deal with it for chrissakes! Sorry about that mini-rant.

    Anyway, why focus on mudflap girl when THIS BUMPER STICKER is awesome? I'd prefer to praise the positive, but Jessica is right - any pub is good pub. As long as people are talking about libraries, the campaign is working.

    By Blogger Eva G., At Monday, November 19, 2007  

  • Actually, I WANT to be known as a hot librarian. I do not think that is being anti-feminist. I know I am smart-so why not be an attractive librarian too? The stereotype of the dowdy lady with the bun has got to go. I wonder if they make T-shirts of this...I would buy one, as I spend my vacation in Wyoming every year...

    By Blogger Lori, At Monday, December 10, 2007  

  • Lori, you can be known as a hot librarian if you start sitting at the Info Desk. Oh the stalkers you'll get!

    Eva, I'm right there with you. Feminists can be such a drag. I feel that people of either gender can be discriminatory and act badly toward the other gender. Over the holidays I routinely get together with my husband's aunt and drool over the Take Home Chef. Women aren't the only ones being objectified. I like hot boy eye-candy as much as the next girl.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At Thursday, December 13, 2007  

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