Friday, February 26, 2010


The Apple App store has had something of a controversy. Long story short, Apple expunged most of the sexual apps from the marketplace. This included pretty much anything involving boobs except for apps from major developers.

There have been countless words spilt on the subject, but one element that hasn't been discussed is the nature of the two genders vis-à-vis the iPhone and the programs for it.

One of the biggest problems for gender science is that, even if differences can be experimentally discovered between men and women, it's very difficult to determine whether those differences are the result of anything evolutionary or biological or from social and societal mechanisms. One of the biggest issues with this potential confounding variable is that society is still male-dominated.

We've certainly made progress, but there's still a huge gap in which sex drives the societal dialog. Movies are all written by men. TV is dominated by men. Men dominate advertising firms. Men decide how society presents certain subjects. For example, what is sexy? Sexy is heavily affected by pop culture and male advertisers determine what pop culture is. Again, this is changing but is still a strong influence.

Aside from the usual attacks on the good ol' boys that keep women out of the power structure, is there something else? I think there is, and the app store provides me a little evidence in support of this. Namely, sex sells, as we all know, and is the male sex drive (I'm grouping all aspects of sexual behavior in the term) so strong that it simply drowns out other things?

Look at the app store. iPhone users are roughly equal, with a slight skew towards male, but in less than two years, the app store became dominated by male-oriented sexualized apps. Weather... with boobs. Calendar... with boobs. In very short order, the entire app store had sexual apps dominating the top ten of multiple app categories.

I won't bother discussing the manifold reasons why this could be the case, just suffice it to say that it is the case. Where the hell do we go from there? Apple had to make a public-image decision to shut down that aspect of the app store because it didn't want every new user of an iPhone, be it straight or gay, male or female, to have their first experience with apps be soft-core porn aimed at straight men.

Is sexual culture dominated by the male perspective not because of sexism, but because classic economics dictates that is what will happen? The app store was a new market. Its genesis was in as liberated as a time as any in history. A new platform, a new product, and a company that appealed to both sexes. Less than two years later, it was nothing but fart-noise apps and boobies. If Apple wasn't the overlord of the market, and the market was allowed to operate entirely on free-market principles, there would have been nothing to stop it from becoming dominated by the male perspective.

So I ask again, where the hell do we go from here? Is any free market economic system doomed to be dominated by the male perspective? Or is this simply a symptom of women not being completely free, or not feeling that way, to express themselves in these systems? Perhaps because systems like this have been so classically male that the women don't even bother trying to make their voices heard.

It's an annoying prospect. The app store issue was consternating because it painted a very negative portrait of men, at least to me. One of the greatest technical innovations in history... used to dispense soft-core smut. My, how we've advanced. It's all so infuriating for someone like me, who is very interested in how and about what other people think. If my perceptions are colored by a world designed for and by men, what do I learn? Nothing! I learn nothing about other people who happen to be women. And worse still, it hurts those women's (Firefox spell check wants me to change that to "womenfolk's") quest for self knowledge, since their cognitions are colored by a society that objectifies them (nothing against objectification) and only looks at sex and male-female interactions from a male perspective.

That's damaging! Self knowledge is perhaps the most important type of knowledge there is, and the male society does damage to women by preventing them from having a level emotional ground from which to embark on self analysis. And how can you blame them for having a skewed perception of themselves when all they see of the world is breasts and farts?

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