Gender tweaking

Posted by Rhizome | Mon Jan 6th 1997 1 a.m.

Women with Beards

From January 1, 1997, you can download the calendar 'Women with Beards'
from http://www.dds.nl/~beards. This is a project by Jetty Verhoeff, Ine
Poppe and Agnes de Ruijter, three Dutch artists who are very active on
the Internet.

I have met two of them in the METRO (a Multi Users Dungeon-Object
Orientated) which is part of Amsterdam's digital city
(http://www.dds.nl). Ine once told me about a group of Australian women
internet-artists, who carry the slogan: 'I like to go out there and get
my cock sucked'. These Dutch women have apparently taken this motto to
heart. But instead of women with balls, I find a present for the
www-user: a monthly calendar: 'Women with Beards'.

When I visit the website for the first time, I look with terror at their
Hairy Babe of the Month: the bearded woman writer Natasha Gerson,
nursing her baby Sophie. Despite my disgust I read on. There is a link
to an excerpt from Natasha's book which will appear in May, there is a
calendar that you can subscribe to: a new Babe for every month! Babes of
all kinds, shapes and sizes.

I start to wonder: what type of women would want to put a thing like
that on the net? To my relief three handsome young ladies appear for the
interview: Jetty, a photographer, Agnes, director, and Ine, a writer.

Agnes says: 'The idea of women with beards started out as a joke, but it
has turned into a metaphor for ... (she takes a deep breath) a new way
of looking at ambitions, sex, love and reproduction.'

Ine laughs: 'She practiced on that one!' Agnes nods in agreement. 'The
calendar is a nice present, for everyone who types the words 'babe',
'calendar', or 'sex', Jetty adds.

Jetty Verhoeff did not digitally edit the pictures, but has instead
created an environment in which she photographs the babes in an
attractive way, after a make-up artist has applied the facial hair.

'A model who sees herself in the mirror with a beard, poses
differently', Jetty says. The choice of the bearded ladies is very
varied; there are young chicks but also some senior babes. Ladies who
are very active on the internet, and women who have never heard of the
word 'modem'. Agnes: 'Ine and Jetty are very active on the Internet,
they couldn't talk about anything else'.

Jetty: 'I have only had a modem for a year, but my phone bills are
terrible already' (Translator's note: in Holland you pay a substantial
amount per hour to your ISP) 'You can start to collect tin cans,' Agnes
suggests.

'Well I was hoping that the calendar which you get with beer (another
odd Dutch custom- translator) would be an inspiration' Jetty replies,
'but it wasn't- most babe calendars are a real disappointment, anyway.'

[...]

Since June '96, Ine has been writing the weekly column 'Newbe' on the
Digital City Newsletter (http://www.dds.nl/~krantb - only in Dutch
unfortunately, TN) about three girlfriends who hang around in a MOO, and
have rooms and identities there. 'We love her columns', Jetty says. Ine
says it's all fiction: 'Women are of course still a minority on the
Internet, especially those who show some intitiative'.

'You mean you jump some guys' bones occasionally, in the MOO,' Jetty
laughs, who, as Ine, is a regular visitor in the MOO. 'I only did that
once!' Ine protests 'and it was not a big success. The gentleman said he
wasn't an 009-number!' 'At least he can look at you now on our
calendar,' Agnes says. And Jetty adds: 'You have a lot of 'babe.com'
calendars on the Internet, of course. In a sense, our calendar is a
tasteful parody. I just hope that someone in Australia will download it,
print it, and hang it in his garage.'

When I finally get to see a preview of the babes which are planned to
come out in 1997, I have to admit that the bearded ladies have seduced
me...

[...]
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