I just saw my first ad for the hotly anticipated Droid, the Verizon phone based on the open-source-by-way-of-Google Android operating system. I've been interested in the progress of Android for some time, because so many respected members of the geekerati have been so very excited by it. Though admittedly I've also been skeptical; in my experience, opensourceware provides such an awful user experience that I'd rather shell out the money and avoid the sanity damage. But I'm always willing to rethink my stances, and there was always a distinct possibility that Android would wind up on my "Gimme Gimme Buy Me Buy Me" list.
Well, now that's one decision I don't need to rethink. Verizon has very thoughtfully gone out of its way to tell me they aren't interested in my business. Take a look at the ad, and then I'll explain my thought process:
Like whoa, did you catch that? The more I think about this ad, the more angry I get. Here's the problem: The ad is assigning to the iPhone a whole slew of traits traditionally considered feminine (pretty, glitter, hearts, tiaras) and imbuing those traits with negative value (stupid, vapid, worthless). It's the same dynamic you run into in gamer culture, which is really just a subset of geek culture; if something has a feminine trait, it inherently has less value. Because girl things are always inferior to boy things, amirite?
This widely propagated message has been toxic to me, personally, and I plan to spend some time at SXSW talking about why and how. The short of it is: I spent years and years of my life denying myself access to feminine things (no matter how much I really liked them or wanted them) because I'd internalized this idea that boy things were always better. So if I enjoyed getting my nails done, or wanted a sparkly handbag, or admitted to liking flowers: Well then, I'd be just another ordinary girl, and we couldn't have that, could we? Because girls are selfish and vapid and stupid, and I wasn't like that, so I couldn't be a REAL girl.
Shame on Verizon. I expected better, and I'm sorry I didn't get it.