The interview is pretty interesting. There are some things I'd like to discuss. In what follows, quotes from the interview are offset, the interviewer's questions are in bold, Hendricks's responses are in italics, and my remarks are regularly regular. Also, I'm not quoting the whole interview; I'm snipping out the bits I find most interesting/astonishing.
A: First, why did you agree to be photographed as ‘the man of the month’ for Connery.dk?
V: I, along with many other Danes engaged in cultural, political or business projects, help promote a nonprofit charitable project called ‘youmeshopping.dk’. The pictures for Connery.dk were made in collaboration with youmeshopping.dk to build awareness of the charity initiative. This is the reason I agreed to be the man of the month in February. It is in this context that the images should be seen and understood.
This is interesting. The pictures were for charity. I don't totally understand how the pictures can be for charity, though. How do the pictures build awareness for "youmeshopping.dk"? It didn't seem to me that the pictures I saw were doing much in the way of raising awareness for charity. If it's just that the pictures accompanied an article in which he mentioned a charity, that's not the same thing as the pictures themselves promoting the charity.
A: But wasn’t the criticism directed at the photos as displayed in a different context, namely that of your own website?
V: ...Let me also point out that the criticism ended, even in the U.S., as soon as it became public that I did this as part of a charity initiative.
This is sort of interesting, because I followed this pretty closely, and I had no idea until just now that he'd done the photos as a part of a charity initiative. Or that the criticism of him had ended. Is this correct? Is this something that people knew about, and that had some effect on the criticism?
A: What was the purpose of advertizing a logic course using photos of yourself surrounded by half-naked women dressed in school uniforms?
V: ...I also wanted the course to have some appeal to young men who read these kinds of magazines but who rarely sign up for logic courses.
This is pretty fucking interesting. Hendricks's schtick throughout this whole thing has been all about how caught off guard he was, how he didn't mean to offend anybody, and how surprised he is that everyone got all bent out of shape about it. But here he is acknowledging that photos like these have a limited appeal--that their appeal was not universal. They appeal to a certain kind of person: he says 'young men' but what he means is, men with an adolescent sense of sexuality. And that he was specifically trying to appeal to these adolescents.
And once you realize that this is the kind of person to whom the photos appeal (which you have to do in order to use the photos in an attempt to appeal to them), it's not crazy to imagine that they might not be appealing to the women, who often don't like those kinds of magazines. (And other people who don't like that kind of magazine.) And that advertisements for university-level logic courses ought to be designed to appeal as widely as possible. And that these advertisements should, in particular, not be specifically and intentionally aimed at young men and away from women. And that an advertisement that appeals to male students by illustrating that you regard your female students as sex objects might aim away from female students. The dots are there.
And let's face it. It's pretty obvious why a thoughtful person would see the need to increase the number of young men in his logic courses. I think we can all agree that it's the one area in philosophy in which the men just cannot seem to gain a toehold.
A: You say that the pictures are self-mocking. How so?
What? The photos are not self-mocking. "Look at me! I'm a sharp-dressed professor surrounded by half-naked 20-year-old female students, who are dressed in sexy schoolgirl outfits and posing in sexually suggestive ways! I'm mocking myself!" What the fuck?
V: Look, what’s the chance that a professor at a university would be associated with anything that might even remotely resemble the scenario depicted in the pictures?
That's not what mocking yourself is.
It's not my world. I am Professor of Formal Philosophy. I'm not a Clark Kent, model or rock star.
I mention this just to point out how much he doesn't understand the concept of Clark Kent. (Also, I think he kind of thinks of himself as a model.)
A: Many of your critics are philosophers. Do you think that people in philosophy are too uptight?
This is pretty much of a bullshit question.
A: Didn't you realize that the pictures could perhaps seem a bit offensive?
V: Yes, I did. ... The key mistake I made was to fail to clarify where the photos came from and what purpose they were serving. I regret not doing that.
I still think they key mistake he made was using the photos to advertise for a course he was teaching. I don't think it would have helped all that much if he'd mentioned that the photos were from a magazine, and that in the magazine article he promotes a charity. I don't see why the fact, if it's a fact, that the photos are a nifty way to promote a charity in some teenager sex magazine indicates or suggests that it would be a good idea to use them to promote your university logic class.
A: The photos have been criticized for maintaining gender stereotypes, and for being quite sexist. Is it okay to display sexist pictures for the purpose of charity?
V: It is, of course, reprehensible if charity work adds to chauvinism or sexism, racism or other prejudice. It was not sexism or anything like that that was driving my willingness to participate, and I don’t think the charity initiative youmeshopping.dk or magazine Connery.dk intended these photos to be an expression of sexism.
Hmm. The idea seems to be that it's not sexist because he wasn't trying to be sexist. I'm not sure I see this as a sound inference. I guess it's necessary at this stage to point out that it's possible to be sexist without intending it. That it's possible to be sexist by accident. I don't know why, but I keep thinking about how when I was a little boy, my grandmother used to say this saying about what the road to hell is paved with. Unfortunately, I can't remember what she said. I think it was fruit salad. I don't know why I mentioned it. Nevermind.