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Misogynist Technologist

Next week, I dive back in to the world of Information Technology. It’s a great job I’ve got, and anyone who has seen me bouncing around recently knows I’m very happy about it all. One thing that I’m not particularly looking forward to, though, is the casual and unthinking misogyny that abounds in the tech sector. It is waaay too prevalent for a field that should rely on brain power rather than testosterone. Usually I think it’s not really that bad, and maybe it’s no worse than exists elsewhere. Sometimes though it really leaps out at me.

Here’s a good example, from a CIO.com article on 12 Types of Cell Phones Users That Drive Us Nuts:

Cell Phone Rhoda comes in all shapes and sizes, but more often than not, she’ll be larger than you are.

A “Cell Phone Rhoda” is a woman who has “people to talk to—even if she’s got nothing to say.” Can’t say I’ve ever associated that personality type with a gender, let alone any particular size thereof. It’s the only annoying type where the author thinks to mention physical attributes. So what’s the bet that the reason he hasn’t noticed the smaller Cell Phone Rhodas and Rodneys is because if it’s a petite or attractive woman, then their presence  just doesn’t bother him so much?

The implication is that the larger the woman, the more annoying and less interesting. Men who are loud and boring? Just doesn’t happen, it would seem. Cute little women with bad phone habits? They’re not so bad, because hey, at least we get to look at them! And they don’t take up too much room, either.

I do seem to work in fields where too many experts in the tools of the trade indulge in run-of-the-mill sexism. Once upon a time I sold musical instruments. My shop didn’t have what you’re about to see, but it wasn’t unusual to hear teenage girls express their frustration at being first pointed at this kind of thing:

(note: artists do fine things ranging from genuinely cute through faux naiveté to subversive juxtaposition to just having fun with kitsch. Women really can have a lot of fun with all that; when I was younger it could be quite intimidating to have a woman obviously daring you to compliment her on something blatantly cute or sexy. But even if she does actually want a Daisy Rock guitar, there’s almost no chance whatsoever that same teenage girl entering a guitar shop wants the men inside to assume that. And yes, more often than not it’ll be men. Incidentally – kudos to Paula of Strung Out Guitars, who I once worked alongside, and who likes spiky guitars played LOUD and FAST.)

The author does point out that his list of annoying mobile phone types is mainly male, so it’s not as if he doesn’t like women. It just that it doesn’t occur to him that women also find jobs in the City and develop an attachment to their Blackberries.

So good for you, ladies, for your superior ability to be less annoying (we’ll call it being “demure”, for brevity’s sake). Especially the slim ones who don’t bother us all so much.

My new favourite equation

My new favourite equation:

x = x

It is what it is.