In this week’s Wednesday 5: Samsung launches its new phones with sexist commentary as selling points; another company unveils a tablet for women pre-loaded with the ‘feminine essentials’; a visual tribute to Maya Angelou; the politics of pubic hair; and the “feminism” in romance novels.



This Phone Lets My Nails Dry. . . and Other Sexist Moments from Samsung’s Launch Event

Sexist Moments from Samsung’s Galaxy S4 Launch

Women in tech are clearly in the news lately. (See our analysis of the backlash on Sheryl Sandberg). But while the tech industry has largely stayed away from gendered marketing of its products, Samsung has decided to buck that trend. Recently, the company unveiled its new Galaxy S4 phone–a launch equipped with a plethora of ’50s-era stereotypes of women. And here we thought nothing could come close to Seth MacFarlane’s “We Saw Your Boobs” Oscar sketch! Wrong. In Samsung’s presentation, there is the hot Brazilian, the newly engaged woman who is all about “the ring,” the alcoholic housewife, the fashion diva whose top concern is her wet nails. The message: Women need high-performing technology for their trivial woman problems. See the video above.

Read more on “Samsung GS4 launch: Tone-deaf and shockingly sexist,” at CNET.



Oh, No! Now, a There’s Tablet for Women (with Lots of Pink Tones)

xxfactor_130314_epad-femme.jpg.CROP.article568-largeePad Femme, by Eurostar

Perhaps we spoke too soon about companies’ staying away from gendered marketing. Consider the following question from Elizabeth S. Mitchell for PRNewser:

Ladies: Have you been dreaming of your very own tablet with which to organize your Stepford Wives lives full of nothing but recipe swapping, calorie-measuring and clothes shopping? Do you find yourselves bewildered by the complexity of the (obviously male-targeted) tablets currently on the market? Well then the ePad Femme is for you!

Here’s the issue: the makers of the new ePad Femme have taken liberties to pre-load the shiny new (and pink) gadget with the following apps: “Women’s Assistant,” “Finest Perfume for Women,” “Clothing Size Conversion,” “Shopping List,” and “Our Groceries.” When asked to respond to criticism that the product is sexist, the company unleashed a new can of worms: “The Tablet comes preloaded with applications so you can just turn it on and log in to cooking recipes or yoga . . . It makes a perfect gadget for a woman who might find difficulties in terms of downloading these applications and it is a quick reference.”

Read more at “Branding Fail: Tablet for Women Met with Cries of ‘Sexism!’ ” at PRNewser



Maya Angelou – The Reconstructionist

maya_lowresWe’re now midway through Women’s History Month. And it’s always nice to see the honoring of living women as well as those who have died.  Too often we neglect to celebrate the women who are still in our lives. Illustrator Lisa Congdon and writer Maria Popova have collaborated on The Reconstructionist Project, training their attention on Maya Angelou, the newest entry in a yearlong celebration of remarkable women who have changed the way we define ourselves.

“There’s something which impels us to show our inner-souls. The more courageous we are, the more we succeed in explaining what we know. ”Maya Angelou

Much is already known about Angelou; it’s the visual presentation, an illustrated portrait by Congdon, that makes this tribute unique and a pleasure to peruse. While you’re there, check out the archives of other vibrant portraits and beautifully written tributes to women who have made our world better.

Image via The Reconstructionist 

RELATED: The Lighter Side of Maya Angelou,” by Ellen Sue Spicer-Jacobson, at Women’s Voices for Change 



What No One Wants to Talk About: The Politics of Pubic Hair

Writing for The Independent, mom Louisa Sanders got our attention with this:

Because I belong to a generation that considered pubic hair to be a given, and because, the [Vagina] Monologues notwithstanding, vaginas are not an everyday topic of conversation, the awareness that young women are choosing to remove their pubic hair has crept up on me only gradually. A gynaecologist friend remarked that she sees increasing numbers of hairless young women in her surgery. A nanny who used to look after my children casually shared her pre-holiday checklist: get euros, arrange cat-feeding, have full Brazilian wax. My 19-year-old nephew told his mother that he had never seen a girl with pubic hair.

It might be a hairy topic (sorry, couldn’t help it), but Sanders raises a serious point–the pornification of pubic hair. “Images of female genitalia au naturel are now in a very small minority, and a large percentage of pornographic images show no hair at all,” she writes. “The partial or full removal of pubic hair in pornography is so widespread. . . that there is now a niche market for those who prefer to look at the fully covered version.”

Read more on “The politics of pubic hair: why is a generation choosing to go bare down there?,” at The Independent.



Romance Novels are Feminist?

1066201_090214104332_Bulk_Book_Group1We have to admit, we’ve yet to suggest a traditional romance novel, otherwise known at a “bodice ripper,” in our New & Notable feature. Perhaps that’s because we’re still wedded to the notion the standard plot of bodice-rippers—being deliciously overcome by some craggy, formidable man—is a step back for women. But apparently the tides are turning. We’re open to listening. Two points stood out to us in Jezebel’s post on why these novels are/can be considered feminist: (1) Women characters in these novels are bold and unapologetic about sex, sexual desire, and sexual pleasure; and (2) Any woman-centered genre, authored by women writers and catering to women readers should  be valued as pro-woman.

Read more at “Can a Romance Novel Be Feminist?” at Jezebel.

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