Skepticism

Skepchick Quickies, 6.25

Jen

Jen is a writer and web designer/developer in Columbus, Ohio. She spends too much time on Twitter at @antiheroine.

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48 Comments

  1. I can’t use the iPhone interface. I am not a woman, and I don’t have long fingernails. I am a man and I suffer from BFS (Big Finger Syndrome). My teenage daughters have a hard time with the iPhone interface and they have neither long nails nor big fingers. Perhaps the interface just isn’t very good?

    Pat O

  2. I’m not sure how sexist it is that a product isn’t designed to be compatible with long nails… certainly, not every female has them. In fact, aside from finger-picking a nylon stringed guitar, I can’t really think of any interfaces which function well with long nails. I’m really, really not sure people should be designing a piece of tech so narrowly as to be compatible with that.

    Come to think of it, I’d imagine that something that works with the thin, pointed surfaces of long nails would be VERY hard for anyone else to use.

  3. You know, I nearly wrote a blog entry on that iPhone article because it drove me up the frigging wall. I get so pissed about women who seem to be trying to make the rest of us look like idiots. Hard to use with fingernails? Yes. Flawed in design? Maybe. Sexist? NO! With that mindset, here are some more sexist inventions: the guitar, the keyboard, digital watches with small buttons on the top, very tiny calculators . . . look, buy a stylus, use your thumb, or cut your god damned fingernail. ARG!

    Okay, thanks, I’m glad I got that out of my system.

  4. So, in extremist Islam (and I know some fundamentalist Christians that agree on this issue) men are like wild dogs that can’t possibly control themselves. I do in fact remember some imam comparing rape to the act of throwing raw meat out for dogs (“Who is to blame, the dogs or the meat”, he asked… the meat being an uncovered woman, of course). And the solution is more laws to restrict womens rights in the guise of protecting their dignity. Can I suggest the men be fitted with some sort of electric device on their genetils so they get zapped when they feel like raping someone? This would serve to preserve the man’s dignity (which should be just as important to these folks, right?) because how dignified do you really look when leering at some girl or forcing yourself on her? And here I always thought evolution was supposed to be the thing that taught people that they were no better than animals?

    Also, if I were into guys I would ask Richard Lenski to marry me.

  5. On the other hand, how about that catcalling thing, eh? Whatever your opinion on the act itself, you’ve got to agree that the double standard is completely fucking ridiculous. If the men don’t get punished for it, why should women who give a little back?

    I don’t know why we’re talking about the freaking iPhone being sexist when there are such clear and unequivocal examples of sexism sitting right there in front of us that way.

  6. Ah, yes, the “She was asking for it, I could see her *ankles*!” defense.
    If some men are allowed to argue in court they’re nothing more than wild animals unable to control their base urges at the sight of knees, can’t we start treating them that way?
    I’d recommend chaining them in front of the courthouse or keeping them in a cage at the zoo.
    “You kids stop throwing stuff at the animals! If you wanna throw stuff the rapists are in that cage over there.”

    I’d be highly amused if women catcalled me.
    There are probably very few women that catcall guys that fiddle with computers.
    Maybe the construction workers were asking for it, with their tight shirts and hardhats…

  7. “Perhaps the interface just isn’t very good?”

    For people with fingers larger than it was designed for? Most assuredly. That doesn’t make it a bad interface. It just makes it bad for you.

    There are other solutions out there. Apple is under no obligation to provide a one-size fits all of its products, no matter how desirable.

  8. If some guy at a ballgame hollers “NICE RACK!” at me (which, let’s be fair, is the absolute truth), he’s just perceived as being a normal guy. Maybe not the most classy or self-controlled, but nobody’d think twice.

    But if I were to holler “NICE ASS!” when I see one, I’d be … um … “asking for it”. Where did I just read something about that, something about showing ankles …

  9. Yeah, Rebecca, that article about the iPhone being sexist struck me as very stupid as well.

    It’s only a problem for women who insist on conforming to a freakish standard of femininity anyway.

    *waits quietly for the backlash to that comment…*

  10. Why IS it supposed to be sexy to have claws, anyway? As a musician, I have to keep my nails clipped down to the pink most of the time or they click on the keys, but for years I have grown them out over winter break just for fun. I’m not exactly sure why, though. They “look more feminine”, but why is that? I always end up being kind of glad to clip them when my January gigs start back up, because they’re such a nuisance.

    Is it something like the Oriental princes of centuries past who allowed their fingernails to grow in spirals as a visible indication that they did no work? Are long fingernails like footbinding?

    On the other hand, it’s entirely possible that I’m just really, really sleep-deprived … :P

  11. I’m not a big fan of the iPhone, but if you have one and have trouble with the interface, there is a solution:

    http://www.thinkgeek.com/gadgets/cellphone/a31f/

    With regards to the whole Lenski/Schlafly affair… the response from Lenski has been floating around blogs for a couple days now. Has Schlafly responded? I can’t seem to connect to Conservapedia right now to find out. I’d be amazed if he actually posted that, since it’s a pretty thorough verbal gutting.

  12. Yeah Bug_Girl, you’ll get no backlash from me (or many of the other skepchicks here). I accept that we have certain societal expectations for how women and men look, dress, and are groomed. I shave, wear some make-up, and pick and choose the things I like to do. I’ve never been much for long fingernails, because they get in the way of typing, playing football, and playing guitar chords. If shaving my legs suddenly got in the way of a bunch of stuff I’d like to do, then dammit I’d stop doing it. And having short fingernails is way more socially accepted than having hairy legs. So yeah, no clue what these women are complaining about.

    As for Lenski? Any man who can rock the dreaded PPPPS is a star in my book. I heart him very much.

  13. @ Improbable Bee: I think it’s part aesthetics. Long fingernails make fingers appear longer and more slender, much like high heels do for legs. And yes, there may be some echo of visible affluence, as well. Intentionally making yourself less capable of manual labor is a show of how wealthy you are.

  14. I agree that long fingernails handicap us unnecessarily. Besides, maintaining long and polished looking nails costs so much more than shaving, and requires more maintenance and care. Who the hell has time for that?

    On another note: does anyone else think it’s strange that the most alluring part of wearing high heels is their noise? I thought it was the whole elongation thing. And how it pushes up your butt and all.

  15. Gabriel: I believe, if that war ever came to pass in reality, I’d be fighting doggedly in the Porn Army. So I’m not losing that one :-P

    Also, that’d be a great T-Shirt: “Fighting Doggedly in the Porn Army”

  16. You know, I always had music teachers tell me I’d need to clip my nails short or they’d interfere with [instrument of the day]. It never really did. Nothing from the cello to the psaltery ever had issues with my nails. Sure I didn’t always hold or play the instrument in question using “correct form,” but so long as the music comes out sounding good, what the Hell do I care if I’m holding it funny?

  17. I think the catcalls things was not about the men being upset but rather the fact that the builders were spending a lot of time “dicking about”, showing off and generally being distracted by female students yelling at them to take their shirts off (which they did) etc.

    Also, its not that unusual any more. Google BBC, UK & Drinking. It was only in the news because some action was taken. I have heard with my own ears a female student reply to a builders catcall “Show us yer t*ts” with “Show us yer c*ck first”. Very Classy, clearly that year in finishing school was worth every penny

  18. Weird thing about porn is how much people like it. Wouldn’t rather actually HAVE sex than watch two (or more) people having sex? I really like Riggwelter Beer, but I get no enjoyment out of watching someone else drink it.

    It’s also really boring. Honestly. Sit and watch a porno for 30min and you’ll soon be bored with it. I haven’t found it exciting since I was about 17 (and then it was mainly the excitement of doing something Verboten).

    Lets be honest, even third rate sex is better than porn. Though I wouldn’t want to take away people’s right to watch other people enjoying themselves, I don’t get the appeal. If you’re a teenager at a single sex boarding school and never meet women, I understand, but once you can go to bars etc and actually hook up with the opposite sex (or same sex), whats the appeal?

    As for the women who said we were all pervs now that there is a recent fashion for shaving pubic hair (which will probably swing back the other way in a couple of years when having a full bush is “naughty”), well havent we brought up a couple of generations of people of both sexs to be turned on by people who’ve cleaned their genitals (AND the rest of their bodies too)? What sick b*stards we are

  19. russellsugden: While you’re PROBABLY right that third-rate sex is better than porn, there are some factors to consider:

    1) Not everyone likes one-night stands, and it certainly simplifies matters to avoid unnecessary “entanglements” and damaging relationships from time to time.

    2) Even third-rate sex isn’t typically available on demand (at least, legally).

    3) Your first point is easily reversed. Just because I like watching extreme sports on TV doesn’t mean I’m ready to strap on a rocket jetpack and ski off of the Alps. OK, maybe I AM ready to do that because it’d be pure, concentrated AWESOME. But you get what I mean.

    The Porn Army: The revolution will not be televised, though it will be available in the restricted section of your video store :-P

  20. Sure I didn’t always hold or play the instrument in question using “correct form,” but so long as the music comes out sounding good, what the Hell do I care if I’m holding it funny?

    You might care if you got an RSI. Or possibly if holding it funny slowed down your playing.

    Just sayin’, the sound isn’t the only (or even necessarily the main) reason to do things the “proper” way.

  21. If it slowed down my playing, then it wouldn’t sound good, would it? Well, unless it was supposed to be slow, but then, how could you tell?

    Hand and wrist injuries would theoretically be an issue with the way you hold/play an instrument, but I’m not talking about cocking my wrist back while playing a violin here… this is more in the vein of playing a drum kit without using a down-grip on one of the sticks. For example, I cock a cello about 20 degrees left of vertical to finger the strings with fishing callouses instead of the sensitive fingertips, which need to maintain their sensitivity for other hobbies… bad enough I have no nerve endings in my right index finger mucking up the works without building up a quarter inch of dead skin on the rest of them.

    Of course, I could achieve the same thing by repositioning my wrist without tilting the instrument, but as you said – a person could injure himself that way, and I rely on my hands.

  22. Rystefn, sorry to go all occupational therapist on you (ans this is quite the tangent), but I’ll point out that sometimes correct form is not just about being anal, it’s about protecting nerves, joints, and the integrity and function of muscles. Doing things repeatedly with incorrect form can cause permanent damage and can lead to painful ailments – as anyone who’s typed poorly and ended up with carpel tunnel syndrome can attest to. So while the music may come out sounding good, your fingers might come out sore and less functional over time.

    PS – Claiming that anything is sexist if it doesn’t fit with ONE particular characteristic of SOME women, is garbage.

  23. After reading your last post, rystefn, I’ll add that you’d be surprised how little you have to change the angle of your body to cause permanent damage if you’re doing it consistently over time.

  24. Be that as it may, I’ve been playing for some twenty years, come August, and as of yet, no damage to wrist, hands, fingers, or back. There’s bad form, and there’s incorrect form. Yes, some of the “correct” forms exist to protect you from damaging yourself, but as many are there from tradition alone, perhaps more.

    Most people, it seems, are only capable of learning by being told what is the “right” way, and that anything else is the “wrong” way, and so things like this become quite set. Over the centuries that many of these instruments have been in existence, the forms have become stratified to the point of losing their original meaning – like many of the older martial arts traditions.

    I stand behind every adjustment I’ve made, and if it hasn’t messed me up yet, between the time I’ve been doing it and the fact that I did through several periods of fast growth, I’m going to continue on the assumption that it won’t mess me up if I keep at it for the rest of my life.

  25. Man, long fingernails = gross stuff . And the longer they are, the harder it would be to clean them with a nail brush. I’ve heard or read that the style started to show that the wearer didn’t have to do any kind of manual stuff (so…royalty). Now, though, honestly, the place that I see those nasty claws the most are places like the McDonald’s drive-through window. HOW DO THEY WIPE (and I guess they don’t use tampons)? This thought always haunts me.

    As for the instrument thing, yeah,the sound of longer nails on a keyboard is pretty annoying. I personally don’t see how you could play guitar with long nails on your fretting hand without screwing stuff up…haven’t played a cello for a really long time. But hey, according to Robert Fripp, Jimi Hendrix played the guitar incorrectly. It always hurts my brain, though, when I see those punk-pop types with their guitars slung down to their knees.

  26. Like I said – there’s a profound difference between incorrect form and bad form. Now, my nails aren’t several inches long or anything like that, mind you, but they are quite a bit longer than any music instructor (or drill sergeant, for that matter) was happy with.

  27. I was going to post something about porn…and then I was distracted by Rystefn talking about his instrument and how he strokes it.

    LoL… Puts a whole new spin on “It’s not wrong, just different,” doesn’t it?

    Now I look back at my other posts here recently I’ve been awfully dirty of late, haven’t I? You jokers are falling behind and need to catch up. :P

  28. Won’t work. I’ve got ADD, which is mostly a pain in the ass, but it does make me pretty much immune from having anything stuck in my head for any great length of time. Anything there will remind of something, which reminds me of something else, which makes me think of that one time… before you know it, it’s a Swedish techno song in my head instead.

  29. Watching people jump off buildings or general “Jackass” behaviour is not like watching porn.

    Porn is, essentially, watching other people have a good time.

    Watching Jackass-type TV is watching people hurt themselves (or potentially die live on TV) for your amusement. Its a bit like watching the News, “I sure am glad that sh*t aint happening to me”. You’re not enjoying it vicariously [sic?] you’re just enjoying someone else’s suffering.

    The REALLY weird thing is that more people have a problem with on-screen sex than on-screen violence: Watching a guy get blown, bad. Watching a guy get his head blown off, s’ok. Sick b*stards

  30. I fought in the Porn Army, and all I got was this lousy blow job.

    LOL! I’d like to see ALL of the T-shirt ideas as a combined CotW. These are cracking me up!

    I keep thinking there must be something funny about rear admirals, specialists, and privates in the War on Porn, but I can’t make any of them come out right …

  31. I’m happy that your (anecdotal) experience turned out ok, rystefn, I was pointing out that improper positioning *can* lead to damage so sometimes there’s a certain logic behind particular postures etc. Changing the angle of an instrument lets one maintain wrist angle, but the elbows or shoulders might change angles, for example. So for someone else that may be a problem and cause, say, back or neck strain. If “traditional” postures aren’t rooted in anything sensible like maintaining proper ergonomics, then of course they should be discarded.

  32. Which was precisely my point. They are most certainly NOT rooted ergonomics. They are rooted in the tradition of three to four hundred years. Perhaps some of it began as a sort of trial and error ergonomics idea, but what remains is not. Hence, my specific reference to martial arts traditions, many of which have no bearing on practical fighting, but merely exist because of years upon years of stratification.

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