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Booth babes in Taiwan (videos): Good ole fun, or should we talk about it? 台灣的辣妹showgirls:有沒有問題?

Computex Jessica Boothbabe

Pretty faces, tight outfits and a permanent smile: Any visitor to Taiwan’s tech trade fairs like Computex cannot help but notice the show girls hired by exhibitors to promote their products. And for some visitors, they seem to actually be the main attraction.

If you have never been there, let my give you an impression of what we are talking about. (You might not want to watch this in the office with the boss or Gleichstellungsbeauftragte looking over your shoulder.)


Hot in here, isn’t it?

Before you file me firmly in the „male chauvinist“ category along with my video, let me just say: I am aware that there are people who find the booth babe phenomenon problematic, and for good reasons, too. Some pieces worth checking out:

So when I was recently filming some reports at Computex for German TV (check them out here), I decided to ask a show girl/booth babe/computer xiaojie about her own opinion and experiences. I met Jessica at the Acer booth:


Not to claim that she is representative for all show girls, but I do like her pragmatic attitude towards her job.

It should be noted that, because of her good English, Jessica is hosting the on-stage shows, which gives her lots of opportunities to actively communicate with the visitors, even command them to shout slogans and reward them with little gifts. A booth babe without this crowd control responsibility will probably more easily find herself in a position where she is truly objectified.

It’s kind of hard for me to take a side here. Yes, I do enjoy looking as much as the next guy (and filming and editing), and I think that’s legitimate. Don’t expect me to apologize for that first video I posted above. But I also see that there is a line between cute entertainment and sexism that is easily crossed (which results in sexist entertainment, I guess). Where exactly is this line?

It occurs to me that, being neither a woman nor Taiwanese, I am not the one directly concerned here. So I am especially interested in knowing my female readers‘ opinions about Taiwan’s booth babe phenomenon!

I am a German reporter living and working in Taiwan. Click here for more English posts on this otherwise mostly German blog. You can also follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus and Plurk.

Other posts you might want to have a look at:

Klaus Bardenhagen

Klaus Bardenhagen


3 Antworten

  1. The point I think a lot of folks miss about the feminist movement is that it was about opening up choices to women. A few decades ago, perhaps being a booth babe was the only option for employment within the IT industry, but that certainly is not the case now as proven by your case study Jessica. Now she has the choice to be either a booth babe or a computer sci engineer or both if she so chooses. Which she did, more power to her.

    I think it’s problematic in and of itself to claim that just because a bloke from the IT industry has gone along to a computer expo and seen a swathe of gorgeous scantily clad women that he will be incapable of taking any woman in his industry seriously ever again. Do women have to work harder to prove themselves in typically male dominated industries? Absolutely. But this is a function of a system that has been in place for many many years and is being changed, one small thing at a time.

    But in the meantime, I think we should celebrate the fact that Jessica and others like her have the choices that they do.

  2. It’s more that this sort of commodification of cute sends a message to the men in the industry: that women are objects, that their main asset is looks, and therefore that they aren’t to be taken seriously as colleagues and innovators.

    Let’s ban the fashion industry, the entertainment industry, the cheer leaders, stewardesses… No, best is we ban mini skirts all together – basically put under house arrest half of Taipei, because there are just too many cute girls here and someone might objectify them.

    Your post is really great and I’m happy, that you put this quote here, because your interview has proved, that the opposite is often the truth. I don’t know why would someone get upset over these things, I see ten times worse stuff on Taiwanese TV every day. But every time around the Computex, which only lasts 5 days, the „Moralpolizei“ comes out to point fingers. This is nothing compared to what’s going on in your daily office routine in Taiwan… I’ve seen and heard stuff, which I would not dare to share online. All this glitz and glamour of the booth babes is in public and most men, who drool in front of them are having a very sad life, they are mostly geeks and slaves to the company all of their life. I say let them have a little fun during that time. The ones we oughtta keep an eye on are those polished up 50+ VPs and CEOs in the background… Some of them have have their personal Computexes all year long.

    Sorry Klaus, I’m not your female reader. And maybe my comment wasn’t too PC. Hope your female readers don’t flame me 😉 Love your videos.

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