January 17, 2010

The heteronormative cell phone.

"[I]t is expected that a child will have a mother and a father involved in their life. That this is 'normal' will be reflected back at that child again and again, whether or not it reflects their reality."

50 comments:

rhhardin said...

It ought to have a sheep as well, in New Zealand.

knox said...

You can always not buy your kid a cell phone. ((gasp!))

Johanna Lapp said...

The comments are revealing. Why do communities of liberated and enlightened freethinkers seem so eager to take offense at imagined slights?

Paul Zrimsek said...

Normal thing presented as norm; easily shocked people shocked.

Johanna Lapp said...

From their fellow iconoclasts, I mean. It goes without saying that corporations and reich-wingers will offend them constantly.

t-man said...

A child should have a mother and father. It is far more depressing to me that there are a number of 5 year olds who don't have both a mother and father to call.

Ciarand Denlane said...

In situations where a child's caregivers are not one man and one woman, would it be possible to allow those caregivers to buy some different phone for their child?

jaltcoh said...

A child should have a mother and father.

Why? What's wrong with a child raised by a same-sex couple? Not a rhetorical question -- I really want to know what would go wrong.

Word verification: phobions. People who are afraid of things without any evidence.

jaltcoh said...

Of course, even if it were best for a child to have a father and mother (which I don't agree with), that wouldn't be relevant to whether a phone should be designed with the assumptions that this is the only reality. The ideal is not the real.

Johanna Lapp said...

Maybe some enterprising activists could make phones with all the necessary permutations of key icons. Male, female, neuter, transitioning, femme, butch, agg, MTF, FTM, FTF, MTM.

t-man said...

The empty link on the phone button representing "dad" or "mom" is nothing more than a symbolic representation that the link is empty in real life too. The real life empty link is more important and more damaging that the symbol.

Paul Zrimsek said...

The valleygirlnormative text layout on my phone assumes that I'm going to be using exclamation points constantly and apostrophes hardly ever, whether or not it reflects my reality.

knox said...

whether a phone should be designed with the assumptions that this is the only reality

Whether or not the designers of the phone assume that the Mom/dad Family is the only "reality" is unknowable... but... and I'm just guessing here! ... they probably are just trying to create a product that they think will sell.

t-man said...

Isn't it a little heteronormative to assume that the icons on the phone represent one woman and one man? Why assume that the icon in the skirt is a woman? The one without a skirt a man? Maybe the phone is designed for kids being raised by a gay male couple, one of whom is transgendered or a cross-dresser. Or a lesbian couple with one "lipstick" and one more "butch" mom. The people taking offense are so closed minded.

Balfegor said...

Of course, even if it were best for a child to have a father and mother (which I don't agree with), that wouldn't be relevant to whether a phone should be designed with the assumptions that this is the only reality.

This isn't Soviet Russia. There's more than one company making phones. If having mother and father buttons on a cellphone really cheeses people off that much, I'm sure there's some company in China that would be happy to slap a different pair of buttons on for an easy buck.

Balfegor said...

Maybe the phone is designed for kids being raised by a gay male couple, one of whom is transgendered or a cross-dresser.

Or Scottish.

Richard Fagin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Richard Fagin said...

When "handed" devices are no longer designed to be operated by right-handed people, those complaining about "heteronormative" cell phones will have a legitimate complaint. Until then, kindly quit complaining and use the phone as it is, buy a different one, or this left-handed person will be happpy to shove it down their dexteronormative throats.

Skyler said...

Orphans have had to deal with this type of assumption of normal for a long time. Single people put up with the assumption that one is always supposed to have a significant other.

Yet it only gets pointed out as a problem when homosexuals want us to accept their non-normal lives.

former law student said...

Moms haven't worn dresses much since the 50s, so the representation is purely abstract anyway.

When SSM was legal in California, "Husband" and "Wife" were replaced on the forms with "Spouse A" and "Spouse B." I'm sure Dad A and Dad B could apply letter stickers to those het buttons.

I support the ability for kids to reach their parents -- they're not texting their friends and running into telephone poles per the NYT's front page story

Moose said...

God. The crap people find to get wound up about.

edutcher said...

jaltcoh said...

A child should have a mother and father.

Why? What's wrong with a child raised by a same-sex couple? Not a rhetorical question -- I really want to know what would go wrong.


We should be finding out in about twenty years. A positive male and female gender model is still viewed in many quarters (talking scientifically here) for proper development.

If you agree with Freud that most homosexuality is psychological, then same-sex marriage starts the kid off with two strikes against him/her. If the data is negative, somebody, of course, will have to hunt for it.

t-man said...

Isn't it a little heteronormative to assume that the icons on the phone represent one woman and one man? Why assume that the icon in the skirt is a woman? The one without a skirt a man? Maybe the phone is designed for kids being raised by a gay male couple, one of whom is transgendered or a cross-dresser. Or a lesbian couple with one "lipstick" and one more "butch" mom. The people taking offense are so closed minded.

This is one reason that would tend to vindicate Freud.

Theo Boehm said...

I am offended by the tweenormative design of that phone.

Phones should be black and have wires hooked up to them.

Theo Boehm said...

I am also offended by marxistnormative academic discourse, badnormative music, and the rest of a depravitynormative culture that assaults me on a daily basis.

Beth said...

Johanna - what is "agg"?

Dammit, I'm getting old!

The Crack Emcee said...

I think it's funny - not funny ha-ha but just funny - that, as a foster child, nobody ever gave half as much concern to me growing up without a mother and a father as they do children gays want to raise. Gays, of course, were concerned - about getting in my pants - since there was little adult supervision (And, yea, I'm talking about adults,...I'm surprised nobody's ever questioned the whole "adoption" thing for gays along those lines. Needless to say, if I was running an adoption agency, it would be my first suspicion.)

So, getting back on topic, will there ever be a FosterPhone? You know, one with no numbers at all, to remind the kid he's got nobody to call in the world? Or a phone that will automatically dial large corporations on holidays so the kid can hear "your call matters to us"?

The Crack Emcee said...

"Of course, even if it were best for a child to have a father and mother (which I don't agree with),..."

You and Obama HATE black kids, don't you?

Charity said...

I do not think there is anything wrong with children having different family structures, but there is an obvious and non-judgmental, non-stereotypical reason for assuming children will have one male and one female parent - it's how babies are made!

Joe said...

Number of openly gay men I've worked with in the last three years: 0

Number of men I've worked with in the last three years who attempted to kill their wife: 1

Therefore, one of the buttons should depict someone wielding a knife.

Theo Boehm said...

Charity: That's heteronormative hate speech!

David said...

What seems to be going on here is a combination of focal bias -- people's belief that there own experience is more common than it actually is -- and a typical American ignorance about the economics of mass manufacturing.

In terms of the number of people it takes to make a market for a mass produced product, there are no children with two moms or two dads.

Johanna Lapp said...

Beth - Judging only by the craigslist personals, agg (aggressive) seems to connote a dominant, swaggering butch. But there seem to be multiple factions disputing the exact dividing line.

vbspurs said...

LOL @ ridiculous comment by Bill Diamond, which reads like a Chinese laundry list* of liberal complaints:

This phone is not only heteronormative but it is completely abelist (what about kids who are deaf?) and elitist (what about kids that can’t afford cell phones) and racist (Everybody knows Superman and Supergirl are white) and infantilizing (The S symbol is either for Superman and Supergirl but there is no Superwoman)! As Jessica on Feministing pointed out, it’s the everyday small things that are the most insidious! This is the most insidious thing I have ever seen!

*I mean Sino cleaning laboratory.

Cheers,
Victoria

vbspurs said...

Hey, guys?

Will the world never be happy until we take into consideration the feelings of every handicapped Muslim Trotskyite black Korean transgendered blue collar lesbian?

Just wonderin'.

Cheers,
Victoria

Allison said...

CrackEmcee said "Gays, of course, were concerned - about getting in my pants - since there was little adult supervision (And, yea, I'm talking about adults,...I'm surprised nobody's ever questioned the whole "adoption" thing for gays along those lines."

People question it all the time. But they don't *SAY IT OUT LOUD* for fear of being called a bigot or worse. Don't you remember what happened to the Boy Scouts?

Balfegor said...

What seems to be going on here is a combination of focal bias -- people's belief that there own experience is more common than it actually is -- and a typical American ignorance about the economics of mass manufacturing.

Sure. Although I doubt printing up stickers to market a special gay-dad phone to homosexual couples would be particularly expensive, in the grand scheme of things -- you could probably just license someone to do it on small batches of your product and sell it with a slight markup on it. In runs of, I don't know . . . 50? Or local entrepreneurs might just do it on their own.

Of course, if we're talking about children who need buttons with shapes on them to differentiate between the mother button and the father button, I'm not sure how useful having two identical father buttons or two identical mother buttons is going to be -- you sort of lose the whole point of having easily recognisable icons on them at that point.

vbspurs said...

identical father buttons or two identical mother buttons

How about "Top", "Bottom" ideogramme buttons?

vbspurs said...

People question it all the time.

Oh, yes.

Sir Archy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sir Archy said...

To Mrs. Spurs.

Madam,

As the Ghost of a Gentleman, dead these 260 Years and more, I may tell you that nearly ev'ry Utensil & Appurtenance of the Living hath, in the Course of my long Death, caus'd me Pain.

Consider, Madam, as one lacking the Power of Speach, how useless such a Bauble as shewn should be. Additionally, how could my insubstantial & Ghostly Hand ever grasp such a thing, even if my Spectral Lips had utter'd a Word?

Nay, that a Ghost incapable of Ecktoplasmick Haunts should make Complaint of the Corporeal World ought not to surprize an unbias'd Observer: Such a Spirit would at first be subject to the Puzzles & Blunders of the newly Dead; and, only by painful Experience adapt himself to his Condition.

I should recommend to those of the Living that make continual Complaint about Objects of everyday Use, that they would join us amongst the Dead to appreciate true Unfairness. The Want of Accommodation by the Living to the Needs of the Dead is a shocking Situation I fear will only be remedy'd when the Entirety of Humankind finds itself amongst our Ranks.

Praying that you may continue to enjoy the Benefits of Life, and feel no Offence at ill-made or mistaken Utensils, I am,

     Madam,
        Your Humble & Obt. Servant,
             Sir Archy

Jason (the commenter) said...

That phone isn't heteronormative if you give it to a boy.

Oligonicella said...

vbspurs --

"LOL @ ridiculous comment by Bill Diamond"

You should make an attempt to become humornormative.

wv: mouthera: large, shrill Japanese film monster.

vbspurs said...

Oh, wow. My very first Sir Archy missive. I feel very honoured, really.

Thank'ee, Sir Archy. :)

(Now to read it!)

Cheers,
Victoria

mariner said...

Sir Archy,

Well played, Sir!

(Please, PLEASE cross-post it to the linked site!)

vbspurs said...

handicapped Muslim Trotskyite black Korean transgendered blue collar lesbian

See if you can add to the list!

I forgot "homeless", and "prostitute".

mariner said...

I think it's just terrible.

We heterosexuals should just agree that homosexuality is normal and right and good, and that we're just freaks and bigots.

Jason (the commenter) said...

Sir Archy,

I am sure that I speak for many here when I say I find your "lifestyle choice" to be disgusting. Putting aside the fact that rising from the dead before the appointed hour is counter to scripture, I consider your attempts to find acceptance from the living to be entirely selfish and destructive to humanity. What if everyone became ghosts? There would be no more children and the human race would cease to exist. And don't think I don't see how your kind tries to recruit our little ones with your undead culture. Movies like "Ghost" and "Bettlejuice" glamorize a "lifestyle" that is full of pain and misery.

So please Sir, go back in the coffin.

vbspurs said...

Nay, that a Ghost incapable of Ecktoplasmick Haunts should make Complaint of the Corporeal World ought not to surprize an unbias'd Observer:

Sir Archy, should you encounter Teddy Kennedy in your ecktoplasmick haunts, please give him my regards. Seriously. For me, he'll never be too far away from this delightful image.

My most respectful regards,
Victoria

Bruce Hayden said...

Why? What's wrong with a child raised by a same-sex couple? Not a rhetorical question -- I really want to know what would go wrong.

I don't think that we have enough evidence yet that raising a family without a female parent is sub-optimal, but we have plenty of evidence that raising one without a male parent is. So far, it appears that kids raised by just their fathers do as well statistically as if they had two parents. Not so for mothers.

Not having a father in the house statistically results in a much higher chance of failure. Thus, for example, most men in prisons were not raised with a father (or even a male parental figure) in the home. Ditto, but to some lesser degree, teen-aged pregnancies. Dropping out of high school is another one.

What is really sad here is it appears that the African-American community had a higher rate of marriage in the 1950s than did the White community. Now? The marriage rate is significantly lower, and as a result, we have male gangs running in the street (and ultimately filling our prisons) while so many of the girls get pregnant young, without ever getting married. Both sexes more often than not dropping out before graduating from high school, and never being able to be productive members of society. And, we can thank LBJ's War on Poverty. How did it do this? By incentivizing single parent households.

So, yes, I think that the heteronormative standard is advantageous for society.

Kev said...

I do not think there is anything wrong with children having different family structures, but there is an obvious and non-judgmental, non-stereotypical reason for assuming children will have one male and one female parent - it's how babies are made!

So if a kid is conceived through in vitro fertilization, then one of the buttons should show a test tube?