Medium just launched Lady Bits, a new collection hosted by former Wired.com editor Arikia Millikan. The goal: Provide a space for the kinds of stories and perspectives that get left out of traditional magazines because of advertising profiles that say tech readers are all dudes. It's a worthy idea and I'm looking forward to seeing how it plays out.

15 Responses to “Technology, business, culture and more ... from a female perspective”

  1. OliveGreenapple says:

    I like the idea, but why does it have to rely on a play on words that refers to the genitals? Isn’t that kind of part of the larger problem here, reducing everything significant about a woman to her sexual utility and therefore not anything else she may care about? 

    • Gulliver says:

      My understanding was that Lady Bits referred to all outward anatomical differences, not just genitals. Perhaps the intent of the pun is to make uncomfortable those for whom the reminder that women in tech are, in fact, women disturbing. Sort of a middle-finger to the expectation that women should dress and behave like men in the professional word.

      I’ve seen a lot of that in my years in IT, where women who failed to conform to that expectation are often perceived as sluts and seductresses. Perhaps the problem is not referring to genitals, but that referring to genitals is automatically seen as reducing someone to their sexual utility. Why should women have to hide their differences in order to avoid being seen as sex objects?

      • OliveGreenapple says:

        I don’t think it amounts to hiding our differences. I think that gender and experience of  life as a woman is not defined by my having a vagina. And frankly no one sees my breasts or my vagina at work, but the differences from being a woman are not something I *could* hide. [things I'd love to say if this were not the internet redacted] In other words, I don’t think they have to be hidden… but I think they are the smallest of the differences (and no this does not imply I think women are more emotional or some such). Rather I think that experiencing life as a woman is what makes you a woman, and really it does not matter what you wear or how you act. You are being perceived as one kind of woman or another either way. In some areas women are pressured to conform more to feminine stereotypes, but it is the same thing really. In both instances we have a rejection of dealing with a real woman, or some kind of socially enforced control or modification to her. In both instances there is some mitigation of the differences in her that either heightens them (women are from venus) or effaces them (I’m not a sexist, I treat women just like men and I expect the same from them). The issue is not hiding or revealing. The issue is control. Both are methods of demonstrating control over the woman by pressuring her to act or dress in a way that confirms that she does not have to be dealt with as an individual, but as a specimen of her sex.

        • Gulliver says:

           

          Rather I think that experiencing life as a woman is what makes you a woman, and really it does not matter what you wear or how you act.

          The latter seems obvious (though I recognize it might not to everyone), but the former had not really occurred to me. My conception of someone independent of their anatomy is as a person, and sex and gender don’t factor in to that conception. To me, man and woman are terms denoting biological sex, and nothing else. While I understand that gender is also a social construct, I refuse to assume it applies to someone unless I know they accept it. But if I know it is part of thier self-identity, I will absolutely respect that and treat them as they wish to be treated. Possibly this is because my own gender or sex don’t have a lot to do with my own identity, save in relation to my anatomy, which is secondary to me as a person.

          If I were a woman, I imagine I would rebel at the idea of others defining me through something as arbitrary as my sex or gender. On the rare occasion that someone calls me a man in a context that suggests that should define my thoughts, behavior or place in society (i.e. they mean the social construct and not the anatomical difference), I usually correct them. But I realize women, on average, probably get that pigeonholing a lot more than men, and fewer people of either gender are probably willing to acknowledge the correction. I’m fairly certain I would find that extremely irritating to deal with.

          I suppose most of the confusion comes from most people (apparently) conflating sex and gender, the idea that sex should determine gender roles. That seems simply absurd to me, an arbitrary and pointless limiting of the potential roles people can choose for themselves in life. Self-determination should, in my view, only be limited by practical constraints and personal choice, never social mores.

          So while I grok that experiencing life as a woman is what makes you a woman in the sense of gender as a social imposition, and experiencing life as a man is what makes you a man in the sense of gender as a social imposition, what, other than biological sex and personal choice, make you a woman or man in an objective empirical sense? I will unabashedly concede to a deep prejudice against socially imposed gender roles, if for no other reason than I reject being pigeonholed and believe it only right that everyone else be given the same prerogative.

          Sorry for the long response, and thank you for your own thoughtful reply.

          • IronEdithKidd says:

            I can shorten this up for you a bit:  partriarchy hurts us all.

            The bit you put in about your genitalia not defining your identity?  That’s universal.  I wish more men could understand that.

          • Gulliver says:

            Brevity is not my forte :)

            Patriarchy does, and, more generally, pigeonholing people into stereotypes of any kind hurt us all. The only exception I would make is humor, because I agree with Sarah Silverman that the purpose of humor is to make fun of stereotyping, not stereotypes…though it can still be done tastelessly and therefore unfunnily.

            I wish more men could understand that.

            I’m always a little bemused at the fact that people willingly cultivate a society that imposes arbitrary limits on individual identity. But I do see women do it as well. About half of the times that someone has referred to my being a man as though that defined my role in society, it has been a woman. I gather they think it’s flattering and that they simply expect people to be satisfied with whatever role society places them in.

            I suspect that most of the time, people, whatever sex, simply don’t question certain assumptions they’re inculcated with by their culture. And I think that when challenges to those assumptions become political, as they cannot but help do when the assumptions deprive people of their personal choices, tribal defensiveness is more prone to set in because we tend to fall to into teams over politics and any criticism of any aspect of our political stance is seen as an attack on the entirety of our worldview. Mind, I’m not saying this is every last person’s reaction; only that it seems to be the trend human societies follow. People are individuals; society is trends.

  2. xtophr says:

    From the link:

    “While working as an editor of Wired.com, I learned that the average tech
    reader is a thirty-something single white dude who wants to buy all the
    gadgets to show off how high-status he is. So naturally, this fancy bro
    is to whom writers strive to appeal.”

  3. xtophr says:

    And while we’re at it, Boing Boing T-Shirts ads are definitely NOT catering to thirty-something fancy-bros, so something, something your privilege, m’kay?

    http://media.boingboing.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/tshirt4.jpg

  4. grrrarrrg says:

    How does the “female perspective” on technology differ from the “male perspective” on technology? Seems sexist to me.

    • Gulliver says:

      Because, for better or worse, the world treats males and females differently, and that means, on average, that women will have a different experience than men in the the world of technology. Perspective is where you are in relation to the picture; not what filters you bring to view it through. As long as men and women are treated differently according to their gender, they will have, to whatever degree and in whatever way, different vantage points from which to relate. Indeed, so will every individual. If you began on blog about your perspective on technology, it would be about your particular vantage.

      A female perspective on technology would therefore be an attempt to discern in what ways being perceived by most of the world as female influences individual vantage points. Unless one is female, one cannot have that experience personally, but sharing it allows for the comparing of notes between those who can and the presenting of that perspective to those who cannot whether by dint of not being female or not participating in the world of technology. The inability to be male or female is not sexist; it’s circumstance.

      Now, there are some who believe that the way the world relates to you has deterministic effects on the filters you do bring to view it through…that experiencing A treatment will cause you to think in B way of thinking. I find that belief simplistic in that gender is not the overriding filter for everyone (male or female), essentialist in that it ascribes ways of thinking to the essence of what it is to be seen as belonging in a category, and somewhat dehumanizing in that implies that a person cannot choose how to react to pigeonholing, but I am not convinced it’s necessarily sexist.

    • IronEdithKidd says:

      True story:  ages ago I went into a brick-and-mortar computer store to buy a new mouse.  The 5 male staff members couldn’t be arsed to break away from their water-cooler gossip to assist me.  I waited around for a few minutes, and a man walked into the store.  Staff was all over him like flies on shit within seconds.  I left, went home and ordered what I needed online. 

      This is just one aspect of tech that’s very different for women than it is for men.  The underlying assumption the staff at that store made is that I could not possibly know the first thing about computers, therefore, providing me service would be a serious time suck and possibly frustrating for them.  The staff in that store couldn’t know by looking at me that I had just finished building a computer.  Rather, they assumed I could barely figure out how to plug one in.

      • lishevita says:

        Yup! I’ve had countless times when I’ve walked into a computer store with a male friend in tow. I ask a sales person a question about some piece of hardware I’m looking for. The sales person then turns to my male companion to answer my question. 

        • IronEdithKidd says:

          Yeah.  As if a penis is some kind of all-knowing magic wand that makes one’s money greener. 

      • damnfinecoffee says:

        That’s a customer service problem, though, that has nothing to do with technology. He meant, what’s the female perspective on, like, photovoltaics or rep-rap or iOS vs Android.

        • IronEdithKidd says:

          Funny how the locus for such ‘customer service problems’ is technology products.  

          You signed up for Disqus just to mansplain my comment?  That’s…just sad.

Leave a Reply