Jason Tseng

iPad, Menses, and Sexism. Oh My!

Filed By Jason Tseng | January 29, 2010 9:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Media

I'll readily admit that I am an enthusiastic Apple acolyte-- however to be fair, I'm also equally enthusiastic and evangelical about all those nifty Google web applications. So, like the masses of gadget geeks across the nation, I waited with great anticipation as to the announcement of the then rumored iSlate, now officially announced iPad. I was an early adopter to the tablet PC revolution (which turned out more like the recent Iranian green revolution than a gloriously bloody and victorious French one), having used a hybrid tablet PC throughout my college career. I loved the idea of stylus input and handwriting recognition, paperless notes, and dynamic pressure-sensitive digital art. The implementation of all these great ideas by Microsoft was a lackluster to say the least.

So the prospect of the Apple tablet for me was great. I faithfully waited for the announcement, watched the liveblogs and the tweets. But I became suddenly displeased by the sudden outbreak of the now ubiquitous iPad/Maxi-pad joke. A poor choice on behalf of Apple marketing execs? Perhaps. Only time will tell. After all, the peanut gallery laughed at the iPod name.

But the fact that so much attention has been given to the iPad qua feminine hygiene is really childish and frankly sexist.

A recent CNBC segment discussing the iPad launch descended into a death spiral of anti-woman cringing and menstruation hate when a female correspondent declared her distaste for the product because it reminded her of feminine hygiene. Her male peers then proceeded to audibly groan and make derisive comments about menstruation.

Let the anti-menses rhetoric stop. The notion that menstruation is gross, disgusting, unclean, etc. only further alienates women from their vaginas and reproductive organs. Additionally, by continuing to focus on this minute natural bodily process, we discursively reduce women to a single bodily function. A bodily function that we treat with great shame, secrecy, and disgust.

Moreover, this kind of mense-talk builds on historical and institutional rhetoric on menstruation that is fundamentally biased as anti-woman. If you look at medical language, many textbooks and resource materials describe the menstrual cycle as the vaginal "decaying" and "shedding" as opposed to "regenerating" or "renewing." Same essential idea, two completely different implied meanings.

I'll be honest, the iPad is not a perfect product. The lack of flash support, open source ePubs documents, a lack of an optional stylus input (like Wacom tablets), and no camera are all missing features that will keep me from purchasing (at least version 1.0). But, the fact that mense-hating has taken over the iPad discussion is nothing but anti-woman speech and I have had enough of it.

And one more note, to all of the gay guys out there: Stop making fish jokes. Just stop it. It's not 1992. It's not funny anymore (was it ever?). We get it. You're gay, you like guys, you suck cock. Done. Finito. fini. Just because you like guys doesn't mean you need to hate on gals to get your point across. #petpeeve

CNBC clip below:

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Yes, a very poor choice in name. As one feminist blog that I read said, "Why would they choose to name it after a time of the month many women don't want to be reminded of? The name is synonymous with cramps, not feeling quite right, and being cranky." Not quite the association you want for your product.

I'd heard a rumored name was going to be iSlate. Wish they'd stuck with THAT!

Plus, the iPad name is too close to iPod and will cause confusion I think - especially since it reminds me of an overgrown iPod Touch.

Well, really, it reminds you of an overgrown Touch because, well...

it *is* an overgrown touch.

way OT part:
weird...as a user of *those* kind of pad, this never occurred to me, and i still dont see how it hit so many other ppl that way...maybe it is b/c i use a lot of writing pads, so i just thought of it that way, as apparently Apple intended (tho i havent heard if the iPad has handwriting recognition)...

i dont really like 'iTablet' so much, kinda liked 'iSlate' (tho that name makes me think of 'iSlab')...really, tho, they should have just called it the iTouch Pro, would have been more accurtate, i think...

I agree with Jason, can the mestruation put-downs just stop? esp. those that are stand-ins for behavior ppl dont like, such as 'on the rag' (tho i guess it is sometime true, would ppl say anything like that relative to men? 'must be constipated' or something?)


Perhaps when Apple does come out with a writing stylus for this product, in the interest of equal time they will dub it the iPrick.

iPrick, I'd love to be a fly on the wall when they story board that idea. ;)