This summer, a funny little internet phenomenon occurred: the Amazon.com listing for the BIC Cristal "For Her" pen, a pen designed for and marketed to women, gave rise to a slew of satiric comments and reviews praising the pen's ability to meet the "unique writing needs" of women. The sparkly pink pens, designed to fit in "a woman's smaller hands," became a symbol of sexist marketing and a source of endless jokes.
The Cristal pen hilarity was followed, this fall, by a similarly silly set of comments and reviews on the Amazon listing for an Avery Durable 3-ring binder. In the wake of Mitt Romney's now famous debate remark about his "binders full of women," the internet wags reviewed the binders with tongue-in-cheek cheekiness, complaining that the binders did not actually come with women, or that purchasers had difficulty folding themselves or their daughters into the binders.
But the ultimate insult to women was yet to come. On October 19, Fujitsu Limited announced the release of its new "Floral Kiss" brand of personal computers, designed by and intended for the exclusive use of women. Among the features touted in Fujitsu's proud press release are three available colors (Elegant White, Feminine Pink, and Luxury Brown); a top casing equipped with a flip latch that will not break long, lacquered fingernails; pearl- and crystal-adorned buttons and keys; and custom-designed applications that will facilitate such womanly pursuits as diary-writing, digital scrapbooking, and horoscope reading.
An alternative model is offered "in collaboration with the jewelry brand Agate, which is known for its drive to constantly offer stylish new products that reflect the latest trends in women's lifestyles and fashion." The Agate model has a cursive-key font, a unique packaging box, and a lovely little tote bag. It is available in Agate jewelry shops.
I write this blog on a little MacBook that my husband gave me for my birthday last year, shortly after my last laptop died a slow, torturous death. For the same occasion, my friend Derek gave me a gift certificate for an adhesive laptop skin, so my little laptop, I admit, has a pretty, swirly design on its cover. All of its other features, however, are woefully unisex. No pink sparkly buttons for me. The damned thing is all silver, except for the keys, which are a plain old boring - and, now that I think of it, sort of masculine - black.
I had no idea that I needed a female computer. I have been using a personal computer on a daily basis since I was about thirteen years old. The first one I ever used was an Apple II, situated in the computer room of my all-girls' high school. It, too, was designed by and for men, with no thought to the length of its ultimate users' fingernails and, as far as I know, no built-in horoscope software. I and my high-school buddies all lived a pretty privileged life back then, or so we thought; we had no idea how disadvantaged we were at the time, having to use a men's computer for our math homework and our college applications.
I've known for a long time that I am fashion-challenged (as mentioned, I sometimes buy jeans at K-Mart and Kohl's, because those stores carry clothes that fit my circumference), but I really didn't understand the extent to which my lifestyle had been compromised by my lack of womanly computing supplies. For years, I have been drafting all my legal work - motions, briefs, petitions for certiorari - as well as blog posts - on a men's computer. Had my friend Patricia (a gifted artist - here's a shameless plug for her beautiful and clever children's book) not brought the new Fujitsu "Floral Kiss" to my attention, I might never have known that I had other, more suitable options. A mother-of-pearl power switch! A cursive font available at the touch of a button! A cool purse in which to carry my fancy she-machine around! How did I ever survive without such a thing?
As you know by now, women's issues are near and dear to my heart. In this very contentious election season, I have lost at least three Facebook friends because of my "stupid, idiotic, elitist, obsessive" (their words) views about women and their proper place in the world. I clearly need further education on the subject of what is and is not appropriate behavior for women in and out of the home.
Having the right computing equipment should be a good start for me.
P.S. Thank you for supporting me in my CROP Walk on Sunday. The day was gorgeous here in northern New Jersey. My daughter and I walked the course together; we raised over $1000 to fight hunger at home and abroad. Hunger is not a women's issue. It is a human issue. I shall leave the link up on the right for another week or so in case anyone is inspired to make a further donation; in the meantime, please accept my sincerest gratitude. My readers are the best.