Nikon and the men unwilling to call out sexism

You may have seen one of the latest sexism debates hit the news. Same old excuses, same old men looking for justification before they express any outrage.

The story

Nikon released their new D850 camera and wanted 32 people from across Asia, Middle East and Africa to go on a road trip taking pictures with it. So they approached professional photographers to find the best talent available. The result?

All 32 were men.

Outrage ensued and in their defence Nikon said

“Unfortunately, the female photographers we had invited for this meet were unable to attend”

During the backlash many people pointed out their enormous error. Women are yet again ignored. Companies refuse to showcase women. Refuse to market to women. Refuse to include women in any meaningful way and their excuses are laughable.

Like those all-male panels excuses abound

  • “The women we asked couldn’t come” – How many did you ask? Did you make it easy for them to come?
  • “We couldn’t find any women who were qualified” – Are you setting your parameters so high women are unlikely to have been able to attain them in this male dominated field?
  • “We don’t know any women in this field” – How hard did you try to find any?


The aftermath

As a woman, and the chair of a women’s amateur photography group I expressed my dissatisfaction on social media. Perhaps more annoying than Nikon’s rejection of women was men’s refusal to condemn.

They wanted proof that all reasonable excuses had been explored before they’d speak up against it.

“It’s an Asian company, they’re less progressive there”

“There are just fewer female professional photographers”

“But the women they asked couldn’t go”

Stop faffing about trying to deny there’s a problem and get on with calling a spade a spade.

I say to men

Understand that we weren’t angry because we don’t like men. We’re angry because it seems very much like Nikon hates women. We’re not looking to oust men from every job they have. We want equal promotion and job opportunities for women.

So if someone points out something sexist don’t seek ways to defend the act before being willing to condemn it. Whatever the intention, the outcome was sexist and offensive. It should be condemned by men as well as women.

Imagine if the tables were turned and 32 women had been chosen. Would you seek to defend their motivations before pointing out the outcome was wrong?