3D Printing’s “Pink Panther” Sets Stage For Talking Feminism In Tech

pink panther woman 6

When you start poking around 3D printing blogs, marketplaces, websites, whatever, you’ll start to notice some models popping up over and over again. There’s the Shapeways Bunny. There’s Bathsheba’s wildly popular Klein Bottle Opener. There’s the lacy skull by Joshua Harker.

And then there’s the Pink Panther lady.

For the uninitiated, the Pink Panther lady is an armless, headless, legless nude lady body that has, inexplicably, become a popular benchmark print. I don’t want to link to it because I don’t want to give it more views, but here she is:

pink panther woman1

Well, I guess it’s not totally inexplicable. Horny basement-dwelling dudes tend to be early adopters of new tech; after all, the internet exists in its current form mostly because of porn. And so, I guess this is the 3D printed equivalent.

The origins of the Pink Panther are a bit mysterious. She was first uploaded in November of 2009 by a Thingiverse user called januario. There’s not much information on the page- no background, no context- just a few dimensions. No one seems to know why she is named after a farcical French detective series and cartoon cat. Or why she’s a quadruple amputee. Perhaps the artist was going for something Venus de Milo-esque? Based on her “body by Soul Cycle” vibe, though, I would guess she’s a modern girl. Or maybe the artist just wore himself out on sculpting the hell out of that ass and figured that a lady’s arms and, you know, head, are just decoration anyway.

The original model has been downloaded only about 7000 times, but it’s spurred countless remixes and variations and has become a classic print in the 5.5 years since it was first introduced. Why? You can guess. Blegh.

Of course, the Pink Panther lady is not the only unclothed woman in the 3D printing universe. Oh, no- She’s just an OG. In fact, a very unscientific and informal study- conducted by yours truly- of search results for simple gendered words and phrases, like “male” and “female,” on a variety of 3D printing sites and marketplaces yielded LOTS and LOTS of naked ladies. Exhibit 1:

PINK panther lady2

If I met a guy and found this $170, 1.85″ tall naked lady figurine in his place, I’d open the nearest window, hop out, and as I repelled down the side of the building, Amazon-Prime-him Suze Orman’s entire bibliography; boyfriend clearly needs some help with personal finance. We all have the right to spend our $$$ on the things we love, but… again, blegh.

Of course, the people who defend this stuff will say it’s “art.” I guess, in a way that’s true- because artistic license is the ONLY way to explain the gravity-defying rack on this lady (same artist):

pink panther woman3

Please, show me ONE pair of breasts that can do that. I’m flat-chested and my boobs would still end up around my neck in that pose.

Guys, I don’t think I’m a prude. It’s not like I’m a Duggar (although I feel my affinity for bulky crewneck sweaters would be appreciated by said clan). My biggest issue with the nudity in 3D printing is the same issue I have with most nudity in pop culture, and that’s the very different subtexts of male and female nakedness. Male nudity is heroic (think Greco-Roman appropriation) or “hilarious” (see “Forgetting Sarah Marshall”, every Sacha Baron Cohen movie ever, Jackass, etc). Female nudity is, by and large, sexual and intended for the male gaze (see: every movie ever), and therein lies the difference.

“But what about Magic Mike?”

You’re right. Feminism is solved.

Not. For every single Magic Mike sequel or Buzzfeed list of 25 hot and shirtless pictures of Neville Longbottom, there are about 100,000 equal and opposite gratuitous topless scenes (Newton’s Third Law of sexism). And that’s the case in 3D printing, too. This little blog post from 2010 calls to our attention the recent addition of a MALE COUNTERPART to the Pink Panther lady. Unfortunately, in the 5 years since that post, dozens of Pink Panther iterations have sprung up, while the weird little tripod-dicked man-body referenced in the post has remained pretty untouched, for lack of a better term.

I mean, yes, you can find other naked dudes on 3D printing sites. But on the first page of search results on Shapeways for the term “woman,” there were 12 fully naked models. I’m not even counting the weird giant-boobed cosplay sculpts- JUST fully naked ladies. In contrast, there were ZERO nude- or even partially nude- models on the first page of search results for “man.”  In fact, I got to page 8 before I saw my first- ahem, member– and then when I clicked on the thumbnail, was mildly horrified to see this:

pink panther woman 4

A little more naked than I would have preferred. When you ask someone to “take it all off,” you’re generally not referring to their skin, too.

Meanwhile, by page 8 of the “Woman” search, I had already seen: a “sexy oil warmer” (translation: a vase made of 3 naked girls), a nude lady doing a pretty extreme backbend so you can wear her as a ring, all sorts of softcore girl-on-girl sculptures, a naked lady elf, a topless lady centaur… actually, that was all by page 3.

pink panther woman 5

Guys, I could spend a week on this, just sharing search results and screencaps, but frankly, it’s bumming me out, and I’d rather spend my time making stuff and tagging them all “woman” to flush out all this garbage. I want to emphasize that this is not the fault of Shapeways, or Thingiverse, or any of the other sites where users are free to upload any model they want. Could those sites perhaps clean up their search algorithms to prevent unwitting customers from being bombarded with hentai when they’re looking for, say, a necklace? Sure. Should they prevent their users from uploading these naked ladies? No- as much as part of me would want them to- for the beauty of these sites is their accessibility and their crowd-sourced content.

What all these naked girls are symptomatic of, however, is a more pervasive issue within 3D printing regarding the state of gender equality, and that DOES have to change. 3D printing, as an industry and consumer product, paints itself as an egalitarian utopia where anything is possible. Since most adult women have already spent a lifetime resisting objectification, it’s going to take a bit more to scare them off than a few pervy nerds who know how to use Blender. But what a barrage of naked models says to the younger girls behind the screen- the future of this industry- is, “This space is not for you.” And that’s just not acceptable.

The responsibility to change this falls squarely on the shoulders of the community. People (men, I’m talking to you, but I said people to be PC), stop using the Pink Panther as a benchmark print. It’s weird and offputting. Stop tagging your naked lady models with every synonym for women you can think of- because it pretty much effs up all the results for everyone else. People will find your model, don’t worry. If there’s one thing at which horny guys are exceptionally skilled, it’s using the search bar. Or maybe, just maybe, like, be a little more discrete with your nudies?

Just be cool about it, that’s all I ask.

I want to make it very clear that I don’t think women and girls need to be shielded from sexuality and nakedness. We’re not shrinking violets that need to carry around smelling salts in the event that nipples appear. Nudity has its place. We’re all human and each of us can appreciate a well-placed peen or set of tees. But, like most things in life, it’s all about being in the right time and place, and the first page of search results for “girl’s jewelry” is certainly not it.

Kasia Wisniewski is the founder and designer of Collected Edition as well as the writer behind Beulah. Collected Edition is made by hand and machine. The label designs eclectic, modern jewelry, accessories, and home products at the intersection of modern manufacturing and handcraft. By combining 3D modeling and printing with an eye trained in couture methods and bespoke design, Collected Edition creates feminine and delicate nature-inspired pieces that retain a sense of the human touch. The flexibility of 3D printing and related technologies allow Collected Edition to bring these life-like, complex products to life in materials ranging from nylon to precious metals while always remaining affordable and accessible.