April 30, 2010

Keep your apps off my body!

Posted in Feminism, Reproduction at 10:45 am by The Lizard Queen

(Alternate title: Code Red has me seeing red — [rimshot] I’m here all week, folks!)

Okay.  So, apparently there exist iPhone apps specifically geared at men to track the menstrual cycles of the women in their lives.  I’ve little doubt that they’re meant to be at least partly tongue-in-cheek (though part of me wonders if I’m not underestimating the ingrained misogyny/gynophobia in our culture with that thought).

An app like this—or at least in this general vein, without, for example, the oh-so-charming devil horns—could certainly be used for good, like participating in tracking fertility in a couple trying to get pregnant, or, as someone in the comments at RH Reality Check mentioned, scheduling hiking and camping trips.  Even in those cases, though, I can’t really imagine why an iPhone app would work any better than, I dunno, TALKING to one’s partner.

But the app could also be used for asshaberdashery, too: I can well imagine a scenario, just as one example, in which a fellow does something jerky, and his lady-friend gets upset with him over it.  He checks his iPhone, confirms that it’s devil-horns time, and pats her on the head.  “There, there,” he says; “I know it’s just your hormones talking.”  Perhaps in and of itself that might not seem so bad, especially when compared to the atrocities women endure in other parts of the world*, but as part of an over-arching system in which women’s feelings, thoughts, and experiences are dismissed and diminished, it’s a problem.

Overall, the RH Reality Check post covered the issue really well, so I recommend reading that.  I even recommend reading most of the comments, which address some of the “why is this a big deal?” knee-jerk reactions.  I just figured I’d pipe up to say that this squicks me out, too.

*Can you see, here, how I’ve internalized certain silencing criticisms?  “This isn’t that big a deal—there are starving children in Ethiopia, you know!”  Or, later, “Someone else already covered this—what could you possibly add to the discussion?”  Indeed, I imagine one could do a rhetorical analysis of my blog and find it chock full of passages where I’ve moderated my tone to make it appear I was far less angry about something than I was, places where I demur or equivocate when I actually feel quite strongly about a subject, etc.  Hmm.

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