Strangers in a strange land

There’s an article in the BBC lamenting that the whole world is designed for men and, having succeeded in their demands to access every workplace in the land, women are finding they’ve not been tailored to suit them.

From police stab vests that don’t account for breasts, to safety goggles too large for women’s faces, to boots that don’t fit women’s feet, Ms Criado Perez says the list is endless.

This reminds me of the oft-heard complaint that there are not enough female film directors, in response to which Tim Almond among others likes to ask: “So what’s stopping them?” The complaint isn’t so much that women are being prevented from making films, it’s that Hollywood studios aren’t handing directing duties on blockbuster films to women. Which isn’t the same thing.

Similarly, what’s stopping a bunch of entrepreneurial women spotting this giant gap in the market for women’s stab vests and safety goggles and touting their wares around every organisation (meaning, all of them) which boasts about their gender diversity? Surely the management would welcome them with open arms and submit an order tout de suite, if only to stem the flood of complaints being submitted to HR. But no, the demand is that people already out there doing stuff should consider their needs more. The individual female employees who’ve been forced to use unsuitable kit have a genuine complaint, but when it’s presented by the BBC as an example of widespread patriarchal indifference it sounds like a bored wife complaining her husband is inconsiderate and doesn’t notice her enough.

Democratic Congresswoman Niki Tsongas at the time called out the military’s unresponsiveness to the needs of female service members, citing the “alarming” disadvantages for women, including being unable to properly fire a weapon, Military.com reported.

Yes, there are women in the US military who can’t fire a weapon properly. We shouldn’t be surprised by this. Of course, the implication here is the weapon should be redesigned to suit women, or women given a different weapon, which would be interesting in a war to say the least. I bet none of this was discussed during the debates over whether women should be allowed to serve in the first place.

From apps to the actual size, there are a number of design features that have made some women say smartphones have been designed with only men in mind.

Women’s hands are, on average, around an inch smaller than men’s – which can make the industry’s ever-increasing screen sizes problematic to use.

Texting one-handed on a 4.7-inch (12cm) or bigger iPhone can be difficult to impossible for many women (and small-handed men).

So they can buy the smaller-sized phone, can’t they? Or do they want the version with the big screen but an option to defy physics during text messaging operations?

“The comprehensive health app on the iPhone that didn’t have a period tracker; the way Siri could find a Viagra supplier but not an abortion provider – that’s what happens when you don’t include women in the decision making process,” Ms Criado Perez says.

Apparently if women are included in the decision-making process they’ll equate aborting a fetus with buying viagra. Could that be the reason why they’re not? And as Tim Almond would say, “Why can’t they build their own abortion app?” It can’t be that hard. What I expect is lacking is demand; how many women really want to arrange their abortions using Siri?

The formula for standard US office temperatures was developed in the 1960s, based on the metabolic rate of an average 40-year-old man weighing 154 pounds (70kg).

A 2015 study published in the journal Nature found that a female metabolic rate can be up to 35% lower than the male rate used in those calculations – which amounts to, on average, a five degree temperature preference difference.

Of course, this has nothing to do with men being required to wear suits in the office while women get to wear nice dresses showing lots of skin. But again, this is an example of women demanding access to workplaces and then complaining about everything once they get there. The old dinosaur patriarchs said that women wouldn’t like it, and it would make them miserable, didn’t they? The logical answer is staring us in the face, especially in the MeToo era: segregated workplaces. Is that what they want? Seems like it, doesn’t it?

“But it makes me so angry to think of all these women, living their lives, thinking there’s something wrong with them – that they’re too small or don’t fit or whatever it is.”

“It’s just that we haven’t built anything for women.”

The irony is that this is genuinely proof of how gender equality programs have failed, but not in the way she thinks. This is not the 1980s; women have occupied senior positions in every department of every large organisation for more than a decade now, so this “we” she’s referring to is as much women as men. But the power-skirts haven’t done anything about these practical issues women face, because power-skirts rarely get involved in practical issues. The actual design, manufacture, and supply of useful goods and services appears to still be done by men, while the power-skirts do…well, what exactly? HR departments are dominated by feminists holding seminars on sexual harassment and celebrating International Women’s Day but they’ve not even made sure their female employees have got the right kit. There’s a term for this sort of thing: abject failure.

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33 thoughts on “Strangers in a strange land

  1. My wife is small and slim and short of a heavy machine gun has fired most weapons without much ( God bless America!) real discomfort so these military females unable to fire their weapons I’m sure have other ‘issues’ but don’t they all?

  2. Surely the difference in hand size between genders is smaller than the range of hand size within genders

  3. As per usual you have hit the nail on the head. The one of the examples above that has always bugged me is the office temperature one. Men are REQUIRED to wear at least two layers (shirt and jacket) with very limited flexibility. Women in every workplace I’ve worked in can basically wear whatever they want. I.E. they can wear a bloody jumper!!!!

    The examples are endless of an “empowered” woman finding a problem she could easily solve for herself, realising the problem has not yet been solved and then blaming men for not having solved it. And then still not solving the problem herself.

  4. My wife is small and slim and short of a heavy machine gun has fired most weapons

    That’s Liverpool for you.

  5. Ken,
    Back in the day (late 80s, early 90s) the UOTC units I served in before wandering over to the TA were one of the few places where the girlies could say “actually, I want to try that infantry lark” (at East Midlands you didn’t get a choice, at Southampton you could go engineers, signals or infantry). In theory they were meant to get SMGs (the L2 Sterling, aka Small Metal Gun) as personal weapons, in practice they just got L1A1 rifles.

    It was interesting – especially after getting over “shock of capture” yourself – to see how each September we’d recruit 300+ students who thought it sounded interesting, and how many dropped out as they discovered the joys of tabbing across Catterick or Stanford Training Areas carrying combat kit, for a weekend, in November, in the rain.

    No stats or figures on “diversity” of entry and those who stayed, but the ones who stuck with it tended to be pretty good or at least keen (in UOTC terms, anyway) and that included the girlies: there was some common-sense stuff (the taller stronger folk get the heavier kit, but then that meant the women’s hockey player from Loughborough got the PRC-351 radio instead of scrawny engineering student O/Cdt Lynch)

    Maybe we were lucky – the standard was there, meet it or leave: for instance the scoring for a March and Shoot was gender-independent, if you dropped back or dropped out your platoon lost points, everyone kept up as best they could. Big fit folk might end up helping ‘less fit’ keep up (at one point I was wearing two sets of webbing, and carrying three rifles and a SMG – scary that I counted as ‘fit’ back then) but that’s teamwork for you.

    Those that put in the effort to try to meet it were welcomed (and I was far from a star performer… but giving it the effort and keeping a sense of humour was enough to keep me in with interesting things to do. For that matter that’s how it’s working with the RNR now…), those that didn’t knew where the door was. Works for a training/experience unit like a UOTC with no defined operational role, but I’d say the folk who’d stuck with it for 3-4 years would be an asset in other units.

    But – for instance – when a four-tonner loaded with 84mm HEAT rounds (stencilled in Arabic on one side and “Property of the Libyan Ministry of Defence” on the other… Lord only knows the story there! Intercepted shipment to PIRA, maybe?) turned up while we were on the ranges at Sennybridge it was all hands to the firing point to dispose of them downrange – everyone from Imphal Platoon who’d turned up to Annual Camp got half-a-dozen rounds to fire off.

    I’d agree wholeheartedly with your view: the Charlie-G might have been a good way to annoy armoured vehicles (maybe not a T-72 but it would ruin a BMP’s day) but it was hateful to carry around, and genuinely unpleasant to fire. Despite normally taking any chance I can get to turn live rounds into empty cases, the 84mm Carl Gustav and similar are something I’d make my excuses for.

  6. Don’t talk to me about women and aircon. I once got hauled over the coals by my boss because he’d got a shoeing from on high. A female member of my team had escalated moaning about the temperature in her bit of the office from a facilities management fellow to literally board level without talking to me at any point.

    She ended up working for a mate of mine (not his hire) and effectively cost him his job because she moaned about the way he talked to her (she was useless and he pointed this out honestly). The company refused to back him because it saw her (correctly) as a lawsuit risk, so he left.

  7. Of course, this has nothing to do with men being required to wear suits in the office while women get to wear nice dresses showing lots of skin whatever the hell they feel like wearing.

    There, fixed it for you!

  8. “Apparently if women are included in the decision-making process they’ll equate aborting a fetus with buying viagra.”

    “Siri, I’ve done something a bit silly with a bloke from accounts that I don’t even like very much. Sort it out for me, will you….?”

    I hope the software behind Siri was designed by a Catholic fundamentalist.

  9. I forget who said it, but feminism starts with women blaming men for all their problems, and ends with them demanding men fix all their problems.

  10. Tim, if it helps, her Dad was NVA at 16 and smiles when reminiscing about his involvement in Vietnam war, his daughter shows some of his prowess….Liverpool just refined it.

  11. Neither is the world designed for the left-handed like me, I manage to make-do and not whine about it however.

  12. NoelC beat me to it, but I’ll expand it a bit. The world is made for short right-handers and I’m tall and left-handed.

    One time, a woman at work asked me condescendingly, “Hmm, your whole department is all men. Why is that?”

    Me: “I have never seen a single woman apply for the job.”

    Excellent post. If people want something, they need to go make it happen. Duh.

  13. Texting one-handed on a 4.7-inch (12cm) or bigger iPhone can be difficult to impossible for many women (and small-handed men).

    I suppose it would be a micro-agression (or worse) to suggest that using two hands would be a way around that problem.

    Larger hands of course are cursed with larger fingers which means that it’s harder to press the correct letter when texting. The solution may be not to attempt texting with just one hand.

  14. “That’s Liverpool for you.”

    Actual LOL.

    I suppose we should avoid the obvious lascivious question about why women might be so fixated on the issue of being able to use their phones one handed.

    I don’t know about iPhones, but on my Android thing, there’s a one-handed mode which makes it very easy. Perhaps it’s hidden in a menu that girls can’t see.

  15. Talking of Liverpool, I hear that’s the only place where the Albanian gangs haven’t taken over the hard drug trade in the UK.

  16. I have enormous hands (XXL at least) but terribly spidery thin fingers. I can span an octave and two on a piano. Almost cannot buy gloves and scissors all too small. People who make stuff you can’t specify sizes (like a car) have to make it to an average don’t they? No point in wibbling about it.

  17. My tiny fork lift truck driving wife gets all the PPE she ever needs from her work and it fits
    Anti stab vests for women are available on ebay
    Can’t sees there’s much to whine about really

  18. “Talking of Liverpool, I hear that’s the only place where the Albanian gangs haven’t taken over the hard drug trade in the UK.”

    I can’t speak for the whole country of course, but in East Anglia, what used to be controlled by the local pikeys is being rested from them by the London ‘county lines’ lot. Norfolk and Suffolk police seem to be sanguine about London’s problem eliminating their problem.

    I don’t know if the people behind it are Albanians, but the frontmen certainly don’t fit the description, if you know what I mean.

  19. Thought I was on Kim duToit’s place for a moment…
    Except he is running pics of women for Women’s History Month.
    Today?
    Maggie T.

  20. If Feminists don’t stop whining, they are going to give women a bad name!

    Years ago, the Feminist argument was that the world would be a better place once women had more control. It is hard to make the argument that women are in any way better than men after Hillary Rodham-Clinton, Angela Merkel, Mrs. May, etc.

    Reality is that every human being is different in larger or smaller ways — and those differences provide opportunities as well as challenges, if only Feminists would stop whining and open their eyes & minds. As the instructor at my Volunteer Fire Department’s live fire training pointed out — if someone has to crawl into a confined space to search for a victim, let the smallest female do it; if the team has to break through a wall to get to the seat of a fire, let the biggest male go first.

  21. Ken, a very tribal lot in Liverpool and as cities go lacking in huge numbers of ‘vibrancy’ hence everything kept inhouse.

  22. @Ken on March 29, 2019 at 2:14 pm

    Not the “only”, NI too – Blacks tried and failed; not heard of any East Europe success

  23. Ever been to a WW2 museum and noticed just how small all the uniforms were? Men were simply physically smaller in every way – the short guys were shorter than what’s considered short today, the muscular guys were not as jacked as modern gym rats, etc.

    Have you ever held or fired any WW2-era rifle? They are uniformly gigantic and fired rounds I consider a bit too large for whitetail deer. I have a “short” Russian Nagant and have to psyche myself up whenever I take it to the range because, well, it’s gonna leave a mark. My grandad was my size (short, a bit stocky) and handled the Nazi’s with a BAR. No shit, I’d struggle just carrying a BAR more than a few miles.

    HOW IN THE FUCK are we supposed to take women soldiers seriously if they struggle with the relative peashooters used by modern armies??

    [ actually reads linked article ]

    Oh, they’re not saying they need different weapons, just boots and stuff. Disregard rant.

  24. I forget who said it, but feminism starts with women blaming men for all their problems, and ends with them demanding men fix all their problems.

    That’d be Dalrock’s Law:

    “Feminism is the assertion that men are evil and naturally want to harm women, followed by pleas to men to solve all of women’s problems.”

  25. Years ago, the Feminist argument was that the world would be a better place once women had more control. It is hard to make the argument that women are in any way better than men after Hillary Rodham-Clinton, Angela Merkel, Mrs. May, etc.

    I have a theory about this.

    The far right of the Bell Curve of women have always been able to make something of themselves in the professions. Admittedly, some of them had to pretend to be men, but that made them work even harder. Most women weren’t interested because it meant entering the harsh world of physical hard labour. They watched their fathers, brothers and husbands being broken by that labour and wisely kept well clear.

    Around the late late ’60s and early ’70s the world of work started to change and become more office based for men and women started to take note. Women had always been around doing secretarial and other administrative work but that was more about finding a mate in the managerial class for upward mobility.

    As opportunities in harsh industrial work collapsed either through technology or moving offshore in the ’80s most work became technical and office based , or at least less arduous in that coal didn’t need to be shoved on trains, and women saw that both the harshness and risks were reduced and they saw an opportunity. As more of them entered the workplace they moved left on the Bell Curve and weren’t quite as good, but we’re still looking at the better and more motivated performers. Those women tended to outperform the average man and there is no doubt there was sexism around and their careers blocked – men were starting to feel threatened.

    About that time women were told that not only could they do anything they wanted but, more importantly, they were entitled to do it and no barrier should be put in their way. The age of the entitled “little princess” was born.

    We are now at the point where they are in the workforce at senior levels with that same sense of entitlement and superiority but with a lack of self awareness that an all male environment instilled in most men. The problem is that they are now in the middle or even to the left of the Bell Curve.

    Its standard regression to the mean, but feminism means they can’t accept that some women can be just as incompetent as some men.

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  27. Tim,

    A very very pertinent article, to which I cannot add anything. As you point out, women making products designed for women would find a ready market, given that all major organisations are wholly committed to diversity. So why aren’t there more female entrepreneurs?

    Jason Lynch, like your comment about turning live rounds into empty cases. Me too – but it can be expensive when you’re buying your own!

  28. You only have to look around you to see hordes of women spending most of their free time playing with their smartphones, seemingly having no difficulty typing on the keyboards. A non problem it is then.

  29. The actual complaint about weapons, from the military.com article, is that women wearing mens’ body armour can’t move their arms properly to shoot.

    I can’t shoot properly (standing or kneeling) when made to wear large-fit Osprey, so it seems entirely reasonable to me.

  30. I hear these women saying, “We women aren’t good enough to make this stuff ourselves because patriarchy, so we demand that men design everything for a woman as the primary user.”

    There may be some truth in the old sexist joke that women would still be washing clothes by bashing them against a rock if some MAN hadn’t invented the washing-machine.

  31. The significant thing about women not making blockbusters is that there aren’t many women involved in what is commonly referred to as “guerrilla filmmaking”. There are women directors but they tend to come through routes like acting (Streisand, Jodie Foster) or film school and advertising.

    Guerilla filmmaking is picking up a Handycam or iPhone and just making a film. Probably in your home town with a group of friends. That’s how people like Edgar Wright, Peter Jackson and James Gunn started. You do it good, someone gives you $50K to make a film. You do good, you get $1m. Eventually,you’re getting $100m to make Scott Pilgrim, Lord of the Rings and Guardians of the Galaxy. It’s open to everyone. It doesn’t rely on your name fitting or your connections. Any woman complaining about sexism should be doing films that way.

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