Feminism and a world designed for men

Discussion in 'theory, philosophy & history' started by friendofdorothy, Apr 28, 2019.

  1. friendofdorothy

    friendofdorothy it is so much worse than Thatcherism now

    Following on from JudithB 's thread again. Thanks to Poot for bringing up the subject of how the world is designed for men and and Winot for linking to this book Invisible Women Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men by Caroline Criado Perez – Invisible Women

    Females are 51% of the population but the world its systems, technology, medicine and so much more are not designed with us in mind. Why?

    This issue makes me livid.
  2. JudithB

    JudithB Well-Known Member

    Me too! And great topic for threat Dorothy :)

    Can we start by sharing our best/worst encounters in a world made for men?
    1. Kitchen cupboards and high shelves for me. I have cupboards and shelves in the kitchen for things we hardly ever use because it's such an arse for anyone apart from the big male person in our house to reach anything that's in them. All hail the steps we keep in the kitchen for when he's not around
    2. Being cold in the office. Apparently there's an actual reason we women keep cardigans on the backs of our chairs.
  3. Sue

    Sue Well-Known Member

    Is that really a male/female thing? :hmm:Aren't women meant to typically have more body fat than men so should actually feel the cold less..?
    romeo2001 likes this.
  4. Sweet FA

    Sweet FA ✪ Three rounds Lord, in my .44 ✪

    Good summary of the book with links here: The deadly truth about a world built for men – from stab vests to car crashes

    'The formula to determine standard office temperature was developed in the 1960s around the metabolic resting rate of the average man. But a recent Dutch study found that the metabolic rate of young adult females performing light office work is significantly lower than the standard values for men doing the same activity. In fact, the formula may overestimate female metabolic rate by as much as 35%, meaning that current offices are on average five degrees too cold for women. This leads to the odd sight of female office workers wrapped in blankets in the summer, while their male colleagues wander around in shorts.'

    Edie, trashpony, 8ball and 6 others like this.
  5. Sue

    Sue Well-Known Member

  6. redsquirrel

    redsquirrel This Machine Kills Progressives

    Somewhat anecdotal but there's some basis for it.
  7. Sweet FA

    Sweet FA ✪ Three rounds Lord, in my .44 ✪

    Me neither Sue
    Sue likes this.
  8. Poot

    Poot Everyone's a superhero, everyone's a Captain Kirk

    That's Australian and talks mostly about aircon. And the comments are shit.
    mango5 likes this.
  9. newbie

    newbie undisambiguated

    To add a slightly different take, there was an interesting programme on R4 earlier about how in the early days computing was a job for women, but that changed as soon as the technology became important.
  10. scifisam

    scifisam feck! arse! girls! drink!

    The cupboards and things are what I come across most often. So many things designed for average height men despite the fact that most people are shorter than average height men.

    I taught at one school where the chair was fixed to the desk in a way that would have meant a pregnant woman couldn't fit in. It would have been difficult for some overweight people too, but at least you're not actually squishing a baby's head.

    Also, and this is a really minor thing, but I like geeky t-shirts and an awful lot of them are only for men, or there are technically some available in a woman's shape but they're never in stock. Obvs women can wear men's t-shirts, and some do, but the shape doesn't suit most women - some don't care, but I do. Went around Forbidden Planet the other day and they had one women's shape t-shirt in the entire shop, as well as about 100 men's t-shirts.
    Me76, kittyP, weepiper and 2 others like this.
  11. colacubes

    colacubes Well-Known Member

    equationgirl, kittyP, Edie and 6 others like this.
  12. Poot

    Poot Everyone's a superhero, everyone's a Captain Kirk

    When I was seven months pregnant my mother asked me when I was going to stop driving. I mean, I wasn't planning to but it's not possible to drive even a small car if you're small with a large bump because your feet won't reach the pedals when your bump is squashing the steering wheel. I can only imagine the safety implications in a crash (seatbelt goes under bump). It was just sort of understood that you stop driving (even though you can barely walk by that stage!). Never mind not being able to close the boot :hmm: (and this is a Corsa - hardly huge).

    My current bugbear is good, strong, thick socks which are never available in my size when I see them. Because women notoriously never get cold feet!

    And yes, the mean height is the mean height, not the mean height of a man. I have the same kitchen woes.
    kittyP, Edie, trashpony and 5 others like this.
  13. JudithB

    JudithB Well-Known Member

    There is something I feel might be a nasty MRA meme called "learn to code" all over twitter at the moment. I wonder if there is reference to this fact or if it is pure reference to gamergate
  14. friendofdorothy

    friendofdorothy it is so much worse than Thatcherism now

    Can't recall if it was that programme or another R4 one that was talking about the inbuilt prejudice in the way computers discriminated against women eg:
    - not selecting CVs of perfectly qualified women for a job shortlist
    - or translation programs that when asked to translate 'He is a nurse' & 'She is president' into turkish that hasn't got gendered pronouns, then back in to english it became 'She is a nurse' & 'He is president'
    chnology more and more.
    - also in not recognising non white faces as human (but thats for another thread)
    There seems to be an issue of blatant sexism as well as gender bias going on inside tech companies that has far reaching effects as we all rely so much on the technology.
  15. friendofdorothy

    friendofdorothy it is so much worse than Thatcherism now

    Humph the unexpected consequences of 'Safety' law . When seat belts were first made compulsary in the '70s, They weren't retractable and adjustable as they are now a lot of women found them extremely uncomfortable (where are you supposed to put your tits?) and they often went across your neck if you were short. I don't recall the issue of pregnant women even being mentioned (but then pregnant women were generally invisible and barely mentioned at all.)
    I don't recall hearing it at the time (did it get any publicity), but heard recently women were actually killed by seatbelts.

    Thinking of pregnancy - Thalidomide was deemed 'safe' for pregnant women. I heard that drugs in general never used to be tested on women as it was considered that our menstruation mucked up the results, a brief search found this:
    Women’s involvement in clinical trials: historical perspective and future implications
    kittyP, Lupa and Poot like this.
  16. friendofdorothy

    friendofdorothy it is so much worse than Thatcherism now

    Toilets! are new buildings built with more cubicles for women yet?
    equationgirl, kittyP, tim and 4 others like this.
  17. JudithB

    JudithB Well-Known Member

    Unfortunately I do not frequent the men's to find out the balance. Aren't they making lots women's gender neutral these days or is this a scaremongering story? I don't get out much
  18. friendofdorothy

    friendofdorothy it is so much worse than Thatcherism now

    I'm not sure how common place gender neutral loos actually are, perhaps someone will have a link. It's a shame that gender neutral toilets, in my experience, usually means reeking of/or liberally sprinkled with male piss.
  19. weepiper

    weepiper Jock under the bed

    I have worked in bike shops since 1996 and not once have I ever had a workbench that was at the right height. This makes it difficult for me to reach tools, difficult to use a vice because the item I need to cut with a saw or drill is too high for me to use my muscles efficiently or to get on top of for gravity to help. I used to have to stand on an upside down crate to true wheels in my last job because the jig was about 8" too high. I have to wear a small men's polo shirt for uniform because the mechanic's shirts are not available in a women's cut. It's like a tent on me.
    tim, Edie, trashpony and 5 others like this.
  20. JudithB

    JudithB Well-Known Member

    I used to wear boy's football socks because I wanted something to keep my calves warm under bootleg trousers back in the day. Perhaps the boy's section will help you out? I also used to wear an older nephew's discarded trainers back in the day because men's trainers were so much nicer looking than women's at the time. And he grew out of my size super quickly
    Poot likes this.
  21. JudithB

    JudithB Well-Known Member

    And girl's missing school if stories from Wales are to be believed. But let's try not to go down that rabbit hole. I promised on the last thread we wouldn't get distracted with ID politics and I'd hate to screw up your thread...
  22. friendofdorothy

    friendofdorothy it is so much worse than Thatcherism now

    Thanks. discuss toilet provision by all means.

    I'd like to ban all references to ID politics on this thread as anyone wanting to take the discussion that way should take it to the existing really long thread on that subject >>>
    JudithB likes this.
  23. Gramsci

    Gramsci Well-Known Member

    l listened to most of that programme. Yes the examples you put up are correct.

    What is most disturbing is that this is getting to be insitiutionalised in algorithms. Such as the Turkish translation.

    Its moving beyond men making gender bias to algorithms doing it as part of the way they have been set up.

    I've started reading a novel about some of these issues. Gnomen.

  24. Sea Star

    Sea Star have you ever explored your dark side?

    i'd rather that thread was binned tbh

    (also, if feminism isn't id politics what is it? - or is it just trans women's perspectives not being welcome on here?)
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2019
    Mation likes this.
  25. SheilaNaGig

    SheilaNaGig Struggling and striving

    Well blow me down. I now realise that I’ve been complaining about this shit all my life but never really stopped to think it was about being an invisible woman.

    I’m not really short but I have a little foot stool in my kitchen because I can’t reach the top shelf, and I have to stand on tip toe to do anything that needs me to lean in, lean down with my weight. I’ve always assumed “I’m too short” and suddenly finally I’m aware that it’s the default design that’s wrong.

    So even the kitchen, which is meant to be the domain of the Little Woman, conforms to the comfort of the average male?
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2019
  26. scifisam

    scifisam feck! arse! girls! drink!

    Yeah, because it's generally men designing and fitting the kitchens. When my kitchen was installed at my previous flat I saw the men standing there working out from their own heights where to place the upper wall-mounted cupboards so you can comfortably reach them, and I wasn't allowed to have them change it. They were all at least six inches taller than me so the cupboards were all six inches too high for me, and the worktops made me feel like a child trying to cook, and I'm average height for a woman.

    So they were sort of being considerate by making sure the cupboards were reachable but they didn't consider who they were going to be accessed by, which, given not only women but children and older people (who are generationally shorter and also lose a little height in old age), is going to be on average noticeably shorter than young workmen.

    I've often noticed that showerheads are placed too high for me too, though not my current one because I had installed myself and got in the bath to work out exactly where I wanted it.
  27. kabbes

    kabbes "A top 400 poster"

    Drug testing was mentioned earlier. Actually, drugs and other therapies are still routinely tested on principally male populations (phase I and phase II), for various reasons that mostly come down to this visibility issue (or “markedness”), really. ISTR lots of painkillers come into this category. Also, lots of wider social science studies do too — the amount I see that have populations of about 25-33% women but whose results are imputed onto the whole population based on a simple test for dissimilarity. It’s definitely a known issue but doing anything about it is slow. (At least now, though, students are taught about the concept of external validity, which addresses precisely this).

    Thalidomide, which was mentioned, is an interesting example because the problem there was specifically a lack of testing in pregnancy. But, of course, that’s still an assumption that a pregnant woman is just the same as a non-pregnant woman, which I can’t help feel comes from the same wheelhouse.

    (There’s a similar problem that even phase III tests are generally carried out on the most well patients, often much younger than the typical sufferer, and then mostly given to the most unwell, who have been entirely excluded from the testing).
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2019
  28. dylanredefined

    dylanredefined Not a house elf a tiger

    Office temp is a known problem men are expected to wear suits and ties. While women should wear dresses. So the temp is never going to please everyone.
  29. Poot

    Poot Everyone's a superhero, everyone's a Captain Kirk

    But women feel the cold more - that's just a fact and it's just the way we're made. And most of us do dress for the temperature but having to wear 2 jumpers cos the aircon is on is just bonkers.
  30. Lupa

    Lupa Well-Known Member

    On the whole kitchen height issue. I decided that my very home made kitchen would have no high presses at all. At 5ft 2inches it was going to be impossible to reach anything other than things on the lower part of a wall press si I ditched that completely.
    I've only got the lower presses and worktop. And I stacked the 4 presses(2x2)that were meant to go on the wall...in order to make a set of low shelves sat on the floor at the other side of the room.
    friendofdorothy likes this.

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