Stock photography is inherently funny – stilted people in forced, goofy scenarios. Laughing! Spitting milk! Eating salad! But there’s a bizarre subcategory of angry women grappling with broken computers. Really, really demeaningly angry women.
Is this how stock photogs think women deal with system errors? They’re baring their teeth. They’re screaming. They’re pulling their hair. And, very often, they’re inexplicably brandishing hammers, preparing to smash their office equipment back to the PC hell it came from. What went so wrong? How can I help these women, at once so enraged and so powerless? How can I help you?, they want me to ask.
Is this why I keep searching for “angry computer woman” on Shutterstock? Am I just incredibly lonely, or are these images digging into my psyche because of some instinctive geeky male urge to help these attractive, vulnerable woman stereotypes with their broken computers? Which scenario is sadder? Do not answer that.
It’s a strange stereotype to exploit – the archetype of the helpless woman, on the verge of orgasmic fainting in the face of defective technology. Girls can’t use computers! Especially HOT girls! Which is, of course, an abject lie. The demographic slice of women who sit down at a computer and end up tangled in a heap of power cords and motherboard shrapnel is, I would hazard, somewhere between small and nonexistent. These stock women are myths. And a scan of their male counterparts – of which there are plenty – reveals a very different scene.
The Angry Computer Men are pissed as hell. But they’re just heated nerds, not passionate damsels. As they bellow and huff at their busted laptops, they come off as livid losers. I don’t want to lend them a hand. But at least they’re somewhat realistic – well, maybe not the one of the guy taking a saw to his system. But they don’t make their subjects seem like raging Amazons. Just dudes who need to call tech support. And who does that appeal to?