The Philippine Computer Society (PCS) has just cancelled the Digital Pinay 2005 contest, citing violent public reaction and a withdrawal of sponsors as the primary cause.
I can imagine that they're feeling rather frustrated right now. The general responses to the contest weren't exactly what they expected. It appears that the current generation of IT insiders has some strong feelings about using appearance as a factor in determining 'future leaders of the industry'.
Either that, or they were running scared. Sponsors pulled out because of the growing negative association with the contest. Someone threatened to throw acid on the contestants if the contest pushed through.
Think what you will, but this feels a little like the results of mob action to me.
I'm a little surprised at the conclusion. I was at the press conference that PCS held, and it seemed as though we were able to have a nice, civilized discussion regarding the contest issues. Not that the conference fully rectified the situation, mind you, but it did show that the contest was a lot more palatable now than how it was originally presented.
There were up to eight people there who represented the blogging community, though, and I hardly think that that was a proper contingent, considering the number of angry reactions out there. If there were so many people with violent reactions to the contest, why didn't they show up at the conference?
Perhaps the momentum had grown too great by then. Perhaps PCS moved too late to stop the tide of public opinion from turning against them.
But the more I think about it, the more it seems to me that most people refused to give any ground to them. The fact that PCS answered their violent reactions and made changes to the offending portions of the contest was irrelevant - to the general community, the contest was already mysogynist, and the organizers fascist.
We pointed out everything that was wrong with the contest. We pointed out that the use of appearance to determine a winner was demeaning to the industry as a whole. We pointed out that the offending application form and mechanics never should have been released in the first place. We pointed out that the use of the word 'digital' in "Digital Pinay" did not make an accurate representation of the contest to the technical community. PCS answered all of these issues as best as they could - not necessarily to our favor, mind you, but as best as they could. But to most of the people out there, it didn't really matter.The contest was an abomination in their eyes already.
Congratulations, everyone. We put a stop to an issue that 'insulted' the dignity of women in the IT industry.
And we did it as one big unruly mob.