September 25, 2012

Tired of your vagina hampering your computer usage?


Well done, women readers, for getting all the way here using just your fluffy ladybrains. Aren’t you clever? If only you were French, you’d have had the help of this indispensable tome: Mac for Dummies. Female dummies. Strapline: “With The Dummettes, you won’t have to be jealous of men any longer!” There is, of course, already a non-gender-specific Mac for Dummies available in France.

Science writer Alexander Brown has kindly translated the publisher’s copy:

Perhaps you will ask yourself why there is a book about Macs specifically for women. After all, a Mac is a computer — there aren’t a million different ways of going about it, regardless of whether the user is a man or a woman. Free of boring, technical considerations, this book focusses on the practical and fun sides of Macs. Of course, you will have to learn to use the operating system and domesticate it [it’s not clear if this referes to the operating system or the Mac]. But we promise to give you only the minimum tools necessary to survive in “this hostile environment”. In the chapter about the Internet, we give you all the tips to start surfing with peace of mind,  communicate with your friends via messaging services [the original uses “amis”, which thankfully acknowledges that women can have male friends], go shopping safely. For the more audacious [feminine form used] amongst you, why not even create your own blog to put your views on show on the web?! [emphasis added]

That this is insulting goes without saying. Minimum tools? How about fuck you? What’s really interesting about it, though, is the opening. So aware are these publishers of the pointlessness of what they’ve created that they’re preempting your objections. This is not only shitty copywriting, but a dead giveaway of a publisher creating something not because they believe it to be useful, or valuable, but because they believe it to be salable. When publishers stop respecting their readers in this way it’s insulting not just to women, but to the whole book-buying public. I can’t access French sales figures, but am hoping with all my might that that bet on salability didn’t pay off.


Ellie Robins is an editor at Melville House. Previously, she was managing editor of Hesperus Press.