My iPad and my feminism

After raving about the iPad’s capabilities, it’s only fair to point out that the technology is only as good as people make it. There’s a lot of stuff on the iPad app store that really annoys me, and most of it has to do with gender.

There’s lots of apps available for people to track their menstrual cycles. Unfortunately, as far as I can tell, every single developer thinks it’s absolutely necessary to design these apps with an icon and user interface that is either full of pink, or flowers, or both. Now, I like icons that are descriptive and distinctive, but apparently the developers are concerned that women can’t tell which apps are specifically for women if the apps don’t look like Hello Kitty just barfed all over the screen.

The language used to describe these apps and inside the apps themselves is even more gag-inducing. Seriously, whoever designed these apps, do you think it’s really all that “discreet” to have an app named something like P Track that has an icon with a calendar with pink flowers marking seven days out of the month? Wow, nobody would ever in a million years guess that that’s for a woman’s….omg, don’t say it! Don’t mention the scary, scary curse of Eve and blood and everything!

Some of the more feature-heavy apps include ways to track fertility, which doesn’t particularly matter to me, but I will throw my iPad out the window before I ever refer to anything that happens in my bedroom as a “love connection.” Seriously? We can talk frankly about recording the details of acne, bloating, breast tenderness, constipation, cramps, depression, trouble concentrating, and weight gain, not to mention cervical position and fluid, but we can’t put “sex” in our calendars?

Worst of all, this isn’t confined to things having to do with what happens in the bathroom and bedroom. The yoga apps that I’ve tried have had an inordinate amount of pink, compared to other apps (in fact, the non-women’s apps tend to avoid pink, making the discrepancy all the more glaring), and plenty of flowers. Yes, I know, the lotus and meditation and all that, fine. But when all of the images of poses are done with female models, it makes it hard for me to think the other things are accidents.

The most highly-rated yoga app, Yoga Free, takes this to a whole new level by having only images of women, a feminine-sounding voice giving the name of each pose, and then a masculine-sounding voice giving directions on how to do the pose. It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that you and I and the little women who are doing yoga on the screen are all being taught by a man, who is the only one who really knows how to do the poses or how to teach us to inhabit our bodies. Isn’t that just a great piece of gender inequality to wake up to every morning?

About Literata

Literata is a Wiccan priestess and writer. She edited Crossing the River: An Anthology in Honor of Sacred Journeys, and her poetry, rituals, and nonfiction have appeared in works such as Mandragora, Unto Herself, and Anointed as well as multiple periodicals. Literata has presented rituals and workshops at Sacred Space conference, Fertile Ground Gathering, and other mid-Atlantic venues. Literata offers healing and divination services as well as customized life-cycle rituals. She is currently completing her doctoral dissertation in history with the support of her husband and four cats.
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2 Responses to My iPad and my feminism

  1. Inquisitive Raven says:

    Okaay. I don’t have an iPad, but I do have a smart phone that I can get apps for. I didn’t notice the predominance of pink and flowers that you’re complaining about, but I find that the female silhouette that one app publisher is prone to using plenty gag inducing. Since none of the apps for my phone are free, I haven’t bothered with downloading any of them, so I can’t comment on what’s in the apps themselves. Seriously, is the marketing for this stuff all designed by men?

    • Literata says:

      The question isn’t whether it’s all designed by men but whether it’s all designed by people who have extremely stupid stereotypical views of what makes something “for women.” Women can be just as bad about those things.

      Wow, that silhouette is pretty awful, but it’s better than the “women” silhouette for bathrooms (only people who wear poodle skirts can pee here) and at least the proportions aren’t as bad as they could be.

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