Booth Babes & Auto Show Grrls: “We Are Not the Product.”

PEOPLE ARE NOT OBJECTS, VICE VERSA: Jalopnik has solicited the confessions of an “auto show girl,” author of the blog Do You Come With the Car, who would like to remind the consumer that “the fact that I am an attractive woman being paid to draw your attention to a vehicle does not give you license to hump leg, literally or figuratively.” She explains the training the girls go through before hitting the floor: “we have extensive training from the very engineers that design these vehicles. We have piles upon piles of confidential and public industry information we spend months studying before we take a single step onto the show floor.”

Here’s a little video from FOX (surprise!) Toledo — the anchor of course had to put the whole piece on his youtube channel lest the network cut some shit to make him look better:

Anyone who’s ever done promotional modeling, waited tables or really even just delivered cocktails to other humans can relate to much of the material of her confession. What’s most shocking is the commenters defending chauvinistic treatment as appropriate in said conditions. Look, unless you are literally paying the lady specifically to engage in sexual rapport with you (i.e., a call girl, an exotic dancer giving a lap dance), which perhaps accounts for .0005% of male-female interactions, you are not to assume said sexual rapport is a part of that girl’s job description no matter what she’s wearing (it’s worth mentioning that crossing pre-set boundaries with sex workers — like from agreed-upon flirting to not-in-the-job-description getting handsy — is another epidemic in which some men often seem unable to respect the limitations of the woman’s job description. Stop it!). Point blank; it’s NEVER OK to treat another person disrespectfully. Is that complicated?

On the other hand, a commenter on a Do You Come With The Car blog does make an interesting point about how “there was a time when most of the women working car shows were strictly eye candy and not product spokespeople.” (He provides a fairly extensive and fair evaluation of the practice, it’s worth checking out.)

More from the Auto Show Girl:

Also, because we’re not dumb, we know that one of the reasons we’re there is exactly because we’re attractive and direct your attention to whatever we’re standing next to. I don’t object to being a sex symbol. I object to objectification. When you ask me, even in jest, “Do you come with the car?”, do you know what you are implying? Let me fill you in: that I am nothing more than an accessory to be bought, like 20-inch rims or a stereo upgrade. It’s not cute, it’s degrading.

At Gizmodo (91% male readership), the reporters took a uber-awesome approach to their “Booth Babes Confessions” series at the Consumer Electronics Show. They have a video over there and an interview with a Suicide Girl geek working a product booth who even admits how socially awkward she is w/r/t networking amid a story of networking-gone-wrong, which makes our hearts throb for her. The article relates:

“A booth babe‘s job is to lure convention attendees into her booths, to do a product demonstration or to pass people off to a coworker. That’s fine. But when misunderstandings occur—or attendees forget they’re interacting with living, breathing human beings—some attendees turn into jerks, pressing intimidatingly close and crossing boundaries… there wasn’t a single woman we spoke to that didn’t have at least one icky experience.”

[They also remember last year’s debacle when EA even offered rewards to men who snapped photos of themselves “committing acts of lust” with the girls working Comic-Con.]

You know, many of us lesbos see hot girls sexualized in various sexy occupations all the time and manage to resist literally or figuratively humping their legs. (right? or no?) We believe that due to the essential distinction of “power” as a qualifying element of objectification, women objectifying women is not the degrading experience for the objectified as it can be coming from a man. Likewise, genders of persons enjoy objectifying photographs or videos of hot women & men & otherwise-identified persons — because that literally is the commodity being sold (the photo, the video, the tv show). But when we’re human beings talking to other human beings, it’s a different code of conduct, right?

Thoughts, ladies & gents? Auto Show “Both Babe” Smacks Men Down, Spills Secrets (@jalopnik)

SLOW DOWN: How to build an indoor stoop and why you should eliminate something, from GOOD Magazine‘s “Slow Issue.” (@good)

FURRR: Kelis is upset at PETA and her letter to them on myspace is pretty epic!. (@myspace)

SAME-SEX COUPLE STUDY: If you’ve been keeping up with the Prop 8 Trials, then you know that the body of research on same-sex marriage is unfortunately not as rich as, say, the repository of L Word screencaps available at the simple touch of a button on google. So if you’re an engaged couple or one half of an engaged couple, then this is your chance. Tila you can do it if you really want to, but it would also be kind of weird.

Here’s the announcement –

Engaged volunteers needed!
I am looking for volunteers for a study of attitudes towards marriage and parenthood among engaged couples.  The study consists of a 25-30 minute online survey. To qualify for the study, you must be 20-35 years old, live in the U.S., and plan to marry or have a commitment ceremony within the next 365 days. You and your romantic partner must not have children, and this must be the first marriage for both of you.

You can:
-Help a doctoral candidate;
-Increase the pool of scientific knowledge;
-Support research on marriage and families; and
-Spend some time thinking about your relationship!
I am working with Dr. Charlotte J. Patterson, a Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia.  This study has been approved by the University of Virginia Institutional Review Board #2009025800.

If you and/or your romantic partner are interested in participating or want further information, please email me at [email protected].  I will send you a link that you can use to access the study.

JO MARCH: A slide-show tour of sites from children’s literature. Jo March Was Born Here. (@doublex)

HEALTH:Pseudo-fitness magazines are like heroin for the eating disordered“. Self editor Lucy Danziger claims that photoshop is used to “inspire women to want to be their best” which sounds crazy because it is. If somebody needs to be photoshopped it’s because there isn’t someone real who actually looks like that. “[Fitness magazines] may be okay for some people, but for those of us who view the world through eating disordered brains, they’re just a pile of dangerous bullshit, a perpetuation of all of the lies our illnesses want us to believe.” (@jezebel)

H8ERS: Our friends at Focus on the Family have just spent $2.8 million for a 30 second spot at this year’s Super Bowl. Apparently the ad is “life — and family — affirming”. Yeah, okay. (@queerty)

DEATH OF PRINT?: Is the New York Times ready to start charging for online content? After a year of sometimes fraught debate inside the paper, the choice for some time has been between a Wall Street Journal-type pay wall and the metered system adopted by the Financial Times, in which readers can sample a certain number of free articles before being asked to subscribe. (@nymag)

Before you go! Autostraddle runs on the reader support of our AF+ Members. If this article meant something to you today — if it informed you or made you smile or feel seen, will you consider joining AF and supporting the people who make this queer media site possible?

Join AF+!


Riese is the 41-year-old Co-Founder of as well as an award-winning writer, video-maker, LGBTQ+ Marketing consultant and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and now lives in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in nine books, magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. She's Jewish and has a cute dog named Carol. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 3197 articles for us.


  1. Even hiring a call girl, escort, or lapdancer doesn’t entail you to treat them disrespectfully. You’re not hiring a rape/molestation victim.

    • Yes, truth! Especially to your last point. Idk, for some people being a call girl or whatever is their job. Like, that is how they generate income and if you’re good at it you can make BANK. It sucks that somewhere down the line perverts decided to take it to a scary/violent place.

    • No, of course they shouldn’t be treated disrespectfully! OBVS! Trust me, I am #1 Sex Worker advocate of life. I could talk about it forever, but um, that would get a little personal. But yes, obviously — the point is that in erotic dancing/escorting/massaging fields, casual flirtation is part of the job. When flirtation is what you are paying someone to do, it’s not disrespectful for the client to expect it. Also the client pays the call girl to pretend to be attracted to you and pretend to find you sexy (unless they genuinely do, which is just a bonus). And of course the woman makes the rules, and when clients cross those boundaries (for example; expecting a service that wasn’t advertised or promised by the provider), that is disrespectful and those clients deserve to be schooled just as the flirtatious convention-goers do.

      The booth girls aren’t being paid by the client to fake sexual attraction towards the convention-goers — in fact, the convention goers aren’t paying them at all, it’s the company that hired them to promote their products that are paying them — so it is disrespectful in that context.

      • Well indeed (though, having applied for some promo girl jobs, flirtation seems to also be part of the job description). There was a line up there that spurred my comment, but then I looked it up and it was gone, so hey. :P

        And heh, for the past year or so I was academically obsessed with sex work. Watching “Satisfaction” (Aussie drama set in a brothel) started it, followed by doing the Vagina Monologues. Doing burlesque just added to it – my teacher was an ex-stripper, a city stripclub rebranded itself as a burlesque venue, and all these friends started coming out as sex workers. (Then I got assaulted at a swingers Ladies night and that kinda put a spanner in the works.)

  2. Pingback: Booth Babes & Auto Show Grrls: “We Are Not the Product.” |

  3. I wrote out a long bitter diatribe but I erased it because I forgot what my point was, and I was getting bitter and bored with the sound of my own typing. Basically it was equivalent to this: hot women = YAY; harassing hot women = BOO!

  4. NOOOO. new york times, i love you. but i’m also flat broke. perhaps we can work something out? reduced prices for students? hmm? just think about it. consider it.
    i don’t want to leave you for the LA Times.

      • Even though I have no money, I would pay. Without papers making money, we’ll lose the reporting that blogs (and other papers) rely on to tell their stories. I don’t want resources cut for the most prestigious newsroom in the country, that would be devastating.

  5. Thank you so much for your write-up of my blog and the Jalopnik story and your intelligent thoughts on the matter! I truly appreciate your support and that of your readers, and hope you’ll keep checking in. I’m shocked by some of the comments I have received from men who obviously have ZERO respect for women. It’s been rather disheartening, and reading this has made me feel a lot better. If only women ruled the world… Are we getting there?

    • Nice work with it! It’s really interesting! The guys at Jalopnick; I’ve got a feeling this one just comes down to knowing how it feels to be a woman or not knowing. I think a lot of men in the “not knowing” category don’t believe there’s as much to “not know” than there is. The men who get it aren’t the ones talking to you at an auto show, and 95% of the commenters over there were speaking from personal experience (and suffering from the panicked urge to defend one’s prior and future experiences as being acceptable, because who wants to feel unacceptable?) — literally the exact dudes being criticized in the piece. It’s like if I published a same-sex marriage article on the NOM website. The ones who agree aren’t commenting as much because they (like you!) don’t really wanna talk to those dudes either! The pointlessness of it all, etc.

      I had to stop reading a few comments in ’cause I couldn’t take it, but the chummy self-importance reminded me (in tone) of the way men talk on message boards for evaluating high-end escorts (I did a story on that once a few years ago), this sort of intent-blind “I’m sophisticated, and I am going to defend myself eloquently” voice. This coupled with the fact that a lot of guys (or women who don’t feel “attractive” — they have similar feelings) can’t fathom not appreciating sexual objectification from their object of desire. Anyhow!

      Not to sound like a man-hater, I mean most men that I know are super kicakass obvs. It’s an interesting conversation over there though.

      I’m from Detroit and I went to the Auto Show once

    • I’m not necessarily a fan of PETA because I think that, although their cause is noble, they’re a bit too extreme and make it hard for people to relate and understand the fight for the rights of all animals. On the same token, we are all animals and I do think it’s a bit anthropocentric of us not to care about the well-being of other sentient beings. Would you feel fine eating your dog or cat? Kelis’ letter addresses some good points (like say “underpaid minorities picking your vegetables”) but I don’t think you can expect one organization to fend for every injustice. That’s not to say PETA shouldn’t make an effort to stop the inhumane treatment of people, but it’s not exactly their element. I think it’s two extremes and if people were more understanding towards the others’ cause, the point might come across better.

      • A lot of my problem with them has to do with their objectification of women and fat-shaming. Not cool, for any cause.

      • I agree with you. An organization cannot advocate for everything. I think Peta just rubbed her the wrong way and she went off, which was kind of good and pretty funny. I am not a vegetarian, vegan or whatever else so eating meat is okay with me. But I don’t agree with wearing fur. Its just wrong and gross.

  6. i know most people can’t stand peta but i love peta and all that they do for animals, kelis needs to sit her gold digging behind down somewhere

    • After watching Avatar (geek-so what!) you think about animals and trees and the Earth and how we are all connected. Tree hugger, weirdo, fantasy world, whatever you want to call it, we need to respect that living things are not here for no reason and nothing deserves to suffer.

      I have been a server and objectified…at an Applebee’s! It’s just awful that so many men feel that if you are working a certain job that you give up all of your dignity and that it is their right to say what they want.

      Read “Transforming a Rape Culture”. It is what we live in. Amazing.

  7. “Do you have a daughter? A sister? Wife? Mother? What would you do if a total stranger walked up to her and asked how much she charges for the evening?” A lot of guys in the comments section of Jalopnick are rationalizing the behavior described by the “booth babe” and probably didn’t read this line.

    • They can rationalize their behavior the same way some men have done for ages by saying that women ask for it.Of course their daughter/sister/wife/mother would NEVER dress/act/behave the way these women who put themselves on display do.

      • I can honestly say that I could be dressed in hot pants and a bra, sitting on a man’s lap, and if he asked something along the lines of “how much?” My father would deck him. Think about that next time, creepy/irritating men.

  8. Things like the photoshopping issue is what makes me realize how much I struggle with my political beliefs. Because my first thought is “that photoshop bullshit should be against the law” but then theres all the freedom of speech laws and blah blah blah. Do I not actually believe in democracy?
    You know what? It should be a law that if you photoshop those pics, there should be a statement at the bottom that the pic has been modified!

Comments are closed.