Here she goes again…

Warning: The below is best described as ramblings rather than a coherent defense of feminism. Now you know, don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Today I’ve read two articles about feminism. One because I was alighted to it on Twitter, the other because the first article is based on it…

I’m already doing a really good job at being clear and understandable, eh?

You know these lines, spoken by women:

I’m a feminist, but…

I’m not a feminist, because…

I would be a feminist if…

How often do you hear someone say I’M A FEMINIST. Not too often I’m afraid! Well, this (young) woman dares to say it and she shouts it out loud and argues it well. Good for you, girl!

Let us just, for once, leave glass ceilings, pay- and pension gaps and domestic squabbles behind and take a good long look at The Rest of The World.

In some parts of Africa men believe that they can be cured of AIDS if they “sleep with” (what a horrible euphemism that is, in this case!) a virgin. The number of rapes and sad new cases of AIDS is untold. But imagine!

All over Africa and parts of Asia, women bear the brunt of the sufferings of war, conflict, corruption and bad governance – all more or less executed by men. They are often the ones trying to scrape a living during and after conflicts, providing for both the children and the elderly while the men are either dead, off to war or just plain gone. All the aid organisations say the same thing and the micro loan organisations often recommend lending to women as they are more hardworking and more realistic than the men.

And then there are the endless stream of horror stories about women that flow to us from the Middle East. At the moment this story is highest on the list, but there are new ones all the time. In a world that is not in UPROAR because women risk ANY KIND OF PUNISHMENT for so-called adultery or other “crimes” related to sexuality, how can anyone claim that feminism is redundant?

I find politicians’ obsession with veil/no veil ridiculous. Who cares whether a woman covers her hair and we all know – don’t we??? – that the current dramatic rise in the number of women who wear a veil is a question of threatened identity much more than it’s a question of religion or suppression of individual women. However, it’s a whole different ballgame with the burqa. A woman who is made to cover her face is not a free woman in any sense and I simply refuse to believe that a single woman wears it entirely of her own free will. Recently, I’ve noticed that there are many women wearing these hideous garments in the Knightsbridge area and in central Geneva where rich Arabs gather. These women often wear Louboutins or similar madly expensive and VERY SEXY shoes, have polished and lacquered nails, glittering rings and – not least – lots of shopping bags from Gucci, Chanel, Vuitton, Prada, etc. I’ve definitely seen more burqas in one summer afternoon in Harrods than on all my visits to Nørrebro (Copenhagen’s largest concentration of Muslims live here).

These rich Arab countries are ardently supported by almost all Western governments and while Western politicians are all signing petitions to save an Iranian woman’s life, because we all hate the priests in Iran, don’t we? they are much less light-footed when it comes to condemn the sick policies of countries like Saudi Arabia.

I can now hear voices arguing that these wives of very rich men are lucky. Well, yes, they don’t live in poverty and they can wear Louboutin shoes in public and Gucci dresses in the privacy of their homes. But. If they try to leave the home, they can bring none of this luxury with them. And more importantly, they’ll have to leave their children behind. And we don’t know how they are treated behind those palace walls, do we? Because they don’t have a voice, these women.

So, men. While I don’t want to stop discussing inequalities here in the Western world – it livens up dinner conversations quite marvelously – I want to direct your focus towards the women who can’t blog and don’t have a dinner table to discuss around. Support them in all you say and do (and when you vote) and then we’ll talk about whether feminism has outlived itself.

While we, the women, shouldn’t stop thinking and talking about glass ceilings, etc., we should also focus more on our unfortunate sisters. We can focus with our money and with our votes. And we can keep writing about them too.

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What women want. Aha. But what do men want?

Phones 4U has done a survey on the attractiveness of men, judged by the mobile or smartphone they own. Not too surprisingly women find men with Iphones to be the most attractive. You know, they have enough money to buy one and hopefully use some of the arty applications rather than sports- and porn applications…

Iphones in the family (bar one who wasnt present...)
Iphones in the family (bar one who wasn't present...)

Read about this survey here in MacWorld. I scrolled and scrolled to find the bit about the reverse situation. How does a man think a woman’s phone adds or detracts to her attractiveness? But will you believe it? There’s not a word about that.

Now, does that mean that men don’t care what phone a woman uses as long as her other, eh, attributes, are attractive to him, or does it mean that Phones 4U simply didn’t think to reverse the question? Which leads to another question: Does that mean that far more men than women own Iphones? I know you should be careful when judging from your own circles and I am. But still, at least half of the Iphone owners I know are women.

Just asking…

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Waving the feminist flag again

Knowing how it upsets quite a few of my male readers I just can’t help myself. It’s Ada Lovelace day today, so we’re celebrating women who have excelled in technology.

I’ve chosen not to celebrate any woman in particular but instead to muse over why so many women still shy away from technology.

Ada Lovelace embraced technology although it hadn’t even been invented when she was around. She was guided by her curiosity combined with a brilliant brain and the financial circumstances to allow it.

I think that there’s a number of reasons why women don’t tend to embrace technology the way men do.

*disclaimer*
Please note that I use GENERALISATIONS in this post. I KNOW that not all men embrace technology or are good at it, I KNOW that there are women who excel in hardcore programming, etc. etc. But I’m sure you’ll agree that MORE women than men shy away from technology and that MORE men than women enjoy discussing Megabits of this and Gigabytes of that.
*end of disclaimer*

One of these reasons is the rather dull and unsurprising that technology has always been a male thing ever since the invention of the first technologies when women were still mostly “housewives” and dumbed down by themselves, their mothers, their fathers, their teachers, their brothers, their husbands and society in general. When computers started to be household items, everything to do with them was communicated in a special language, almost exclusive to people who worked with computers and completely unintelligible to anybody outside. But most men had to either pretend to understand or buy some copies of PC World and get an understanding quickly if they didn’t want to be out of the loop.

For women it was enough to learn the weird code language that was WordPerfect. Learning that was not at all considered a computer skill and nobody ever told any secretary that she could take her advanced WordPerfect coding skills and transfer them to other forms of computer coding – that the principles were the same even if the codes were different. So a large group of people – women – who could have become programmers and learned HTML as easy as one-two-three was completely lost. Because when Apple came with their What You See Is What You Get word processing technology and Microsoft came right at their heels and delivered Word to the world, everybody forgot all about WordPerfect and the skillset required to work it.

The language surrounding computers and other daily life technologies has certainly become a lot more accessible with the acceptance and knowledge that the target group has exploded and now includes everybody. But techno speak is still rife and you do need to learn some basics if you want to purchase some new technology and actually know what you’re buying. It’s also very helpful to know basic computer lingo when you make the inevitable call to the dreaded call centre for help. But I still think it would be really helpful if the ad said: This phone has 8GB memory. That equals x number of songs or x podcasts or x movie length films. I mean, who cares whether it’s 8 or 16GB? What you care about is whether there’s room for your entire Itunes library.

So when I talk to other women about technology and they get defensive about learning a bit of computer lingo I challenge them. Every time we enter a new chapter of our lives, we learn the language belonging to this particular subgroup without giving it much thought. You start studying law and after a year or so you’ve adopted a whole new set of words which you use effortlessly, inside and outside university. When you start cooking you learn the difference between tsp and tbsp and after the first mistake you know what “separate the eggs” means. When you first get pregnant (or your girl does) you learn a whole new set of words and phrases and suddenly know exactly what is considered a “normal” birth weight and what isn’t whereas previously you wouldn’t have batted an eyelid if somebody had told you that their baby weighed 12 kilos at birth.

I therefore challenge women to sit down and learn the basics about computers, so they can understand enough to make sane purchases, avoid viruses, guide their children and do what they want to do on their computers and smartphones. Whining that it’s “too complicated” just doesn’t cut any slack with me.

And now for the second reason why I think women are lagging behind when it comes to technology. I think they lack curiosity. Or rather, they lack the inclination to pursue their curiosity. And I think that’s with us from childhood. The further we go back in time the less women are likely to have been encouraged to act on their curiosity as children. And if you go to a toy store or a book store’s children’s department you’ll see how that’s still so very much the case. I should underline that this is a lot worse here in the UK than it is in Denmark. Can’t speak for the rest of the world. The wonderful Science Museum here in the UK has developed the most amazing series of exploratory toys and, happily, they’re on sale all over the world. However, in many a toy store or department store these toys are displayed in the boys’ section and not in the girls’. And where, unfortunately, it’s a general trend that children’s toys today don’t encourage them to think “out of the box” (Now, who is responsible for ruining that phrase? come here and I’ll spank you!) as much as previous generations’ toys, it’s much more true for girls’ toys. If you don’t believe me, go take a look. And don’t tell me that I can just avoid them. I only have boys. But then, I’m not talking about me. Keeping in mind the size of the toy departments and the amount of money spent on advertising toys every year, there CLEARLY are people who buy it, right!

I blame the mothers, particularly the ones who ought to know better, for giving in to this. Just heard this morning that some girls at son’s school were invited to a birthday party with a “Makeover” theme. That makes me want to be sick in somebody’s designer handbag.

In the teetering stack of books next to my bed is a book called Curious? by the psychologist Todd Kashdan (@toddkashdan on Twitter). I haven’t read it yet, but I bought it based on his op-eds in The Huffington Post and an article in the Guardian. I’m very curious myself and have often been told that I’m too curious for my own good. Imagine how pleased I was to read that curiosity is actually good for you and leads to much more “life satisfaction” if such a thing can be quantified. The curious are seldom bored, there’s always an avenue to explore. So what I know now, in the midst of the huge sea of things I don’t know, is that at least I’m not going to die of boredom.

***

So, what I meant to say on Ada Lovelace day, was this: Yes, ladies, there’s a historic precedence for women to not be curious and to be cr*p at technology. But that’s all it is. There are no excuses anymore. And if you can’t be bothered for yourself, then do it for your children. They deserve that you make the effort to understand the world they live in.

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Pink

I’ve been reading some Danish blogs’n’stuff lately since I was in Denmark and was alerted to a friend’s new blog and reminded of an old favourite. If you don’t read Danish, don’t click these two links.

This woman writes about pink technology and how it’s a total turnoff for most women. So true, so true. I cannot think of anything  more dreadful than a pink mobile phone with little sparkly thingies dangling from it.

She has also written an e-book about women and technology and divides us into Electronistas, Electroneutrals and Electronots. Well, as no surprise to any of my readers, I’m an Electronista. Trouble is, however, that I’m in reality far too old to be an Electronista, they are supposed to be younger than 35! Apparently, when you weren’t born into the tech age, you can’t be a true geek?

I’m the geekiest woman I know, maybe save one. In our home I do all things that have to do with technology, including opening envelopes from LoveFilm… I’m unafraid of technology but make no attempt to understand how it works and get annoyed when a tech product tries to tell me what to do and to prevent me from doing things it thinks I shouldn’t be doing (Windows) and when products are totally un-intuitive like my husband’s work Blackberry. When you’re used to an Iphone and prior to that to Nokia, the Blackberry seems devoid of logic. My Iphone is my best baby and I break out in cold sweat by the thought of losing it. It’s already a dinosaur, 1st generation, no 3G, 2 years old. But I adore it and use it for any thinkable and probably also some unthinkable purposes (no, you twat, not THAT unthinkable!!!).

My other best baby is my new Macbook Pro. I’m supposed to be able to make do with something much smaller and less powerful and that’s probably true. But my last MacBaby was exactly the same as this one and we had a loving relationship for 3+ years. So why change horses? (By the way, it still works and young son now uses it).

On my previous computer I had Microsoft Office installed. On this one I’ve avoided it so far, using the excellent Apple office package IWork and, mostly, Google Documents.

As you’ve guessed, because you’re so clever, I love all things Mac. I really can’t help it. When the Iphone first came out I tried to not like it, I tried to brush it off as yummy-tech for the Really Smart People. But I couldn’t. The thing about the Iphone has been that I have loved it more and more the longer I’ve owned it. There’s no grass that’s greener on the other side. Of course I’m now eying the IPad. I’m quite sure that I don’t want the first version. Mostly because I would like it as an E-Reader and it doesn’t have its bookstore ready for Europe yet. But also because I’d like to have Flash (rumour has it that the next version will sidestep Flash and use HTML 5. I honestly don’t know what that means, so I’ll just wait and see). And apparently you can’t use a USB stick on it but need Apple’s own special memory thingummies – I’m not sure I like that. But knowing Apple, all these things will be resolved in one of the next versions. That’s what happened with the Iphone; all the little things that irritated at first have been mended since. In the meantime, another rumour has it that Amazon will start giving away Kindles to all their Prime customers. Now THAT would be nice. Because I’m drowning in books and would very much like to stop buying pulped trees and start downloading.

Back to the pink. I so don’t understand why women will sink themselves and particularly their daughters into the Pink Pit. When I go shopping, both on the Interwebby (thanks Lulu) and IRL (in real life) I’m appalled at the amount of pink and glittery stuff offered to women and their daughters. It’s not that I can’t abide pink at all, I have a pink scarf somewhere and I used to have a pink t-shirt. In my bathroom I even have a line-up of pink coloured perfume bottles… What’s probably even more appalling is that it’s not just pink and glittery on the outside, very often it’s pink and glittery on the inside as well – understood in the sense that it speaks to women and girls as if they were morons and 2nd rate people.

As you may or may not have noticed, it was recently Valentine’s Day. Pink was everywhere. Where there was no pink was on Wired Magazine’s advice on how to win a geeky girl’s heart. Great advice, I would very much like to be at the receiving end of that kind of treatment and to some extent I am, thanks to my Dear Husband. But what so totally puzzles me is why this wouldn’t be a treat for any woman? Why does she have to be geeky (and why are there almost exclusively ads for men in Wired)?

In spite of the fact that I have two sons and a horde of nephews and only one niece, I’ve joined a network here in England called Pink Stinks. Go there and read about it. And, especially if you have daughters, do join!

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