Pinkification of The Internet, For Dummies


The For Dummies series is arguably the best known computer self-help manual series in the world. It’s diversified into other fields, of course, with Sex For Dummies and Fishing For Dummies, but its bread and butter is still the computer industry.

But it turns out that they evidently haven’t been capturing one all-important market with their Internet For Dummies books, at least in France. How else could you explain this bit of blatant pinkification?

“Internet pour Les Nulles”, or “Internet For [Female] Dummies” cover

What’s amazing to me is Alexander Brown’s translation of the publisher’s blurb (thanks for saving me the time in translating myself!):

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]

And from a retailer’s synopsis:

Mac for Dummettes will become your best [female] friend! In this book, there is a strict ban on computer-scientist-with-spots-and-glasses’ jargon! We’re amongst girls, aren’t we?

(By spots the original French means pimples. Thanks, fuckers, for also stereotyping computer nerds.)

Subjects covered include “finding your Mac’s place in the house” and “shopping safely”. Of course, it’s not like those topics weren’t covered in the gender-neutral Internet for Dummies. It’s just that it’s far more important that we ease these women into the “man’s world” that is the internet.

Except, that last part is kind of true. If only so many self-entitled men weren’t so invested in making women so damn unwelcome around these parts, the newbie women could use the same damned book as the men. And it wouldn’t even have to contain special tips on how to email and instant message while protecting yourself from assholery.

Comments

  1. Rodney Nelson says

    , you will have to learn to use the operating system and domesticate it

    I understand swatting the OS on the nose with a rolled up newspaper works well for this. But that may be true only for Windoze.

  2. Beatrice says

    This is insulting and patronizing in so many ways, it’s unbelievable.

    1. Women by default aren’t interested in technical details
    (Our fluffy lady brains can’t deal with so much tough masculine technical information.)

    2. Er, why do I get only minimal information needed to survive?
    Gee, I think they might be calling us women stupid, but I’m not sure. The thought process got complicated and I don’t have a man handy to give me s-i-m-p-l-e, c-l-e-a-r i-n-s-t-r-u-c-t-i-o-n-s.

    3. Shopping!!!
    I bet the general version doesn’t have it mentioned in the publisher’s blurb.

    4. We’re not among computer scientists, we’re among girls….
    There’s never an overlap, right?

    And god forbid women be interested in anything complicated, or not related to the possibility of shopping!!!, or not pink.

  3. says

    In general we IT nerds spend a lot of time inventing obscure acronyms that no one outside the industry would know so we can happily insert them into any discussions to keep outsiders baffled. So we are more non-IT-misanthropic than misogynist as everyone outside the tech language sphere is kept at bay :-)

  4. fastlane says

    Beatrice, don’t worry your pretty little head about it. And would you mind making me a sammich? =P

    I’d love to introduce the author(s) to my wife. The one who is pursuing a PhD in computer science…..

  5. says

    Gee whiz, I’m so glad this book exists. I’d never be able to wrap my lady brainz around the concept of the Internet.

    The freakin’ Internet. The freakin’ everyone and their granny what can afford it Internet.

    *fluffy lady-brainsplode*

  6. says

    I can get together a posse of female programmers and other IT/IS sorts, if we should need to march on the “Dummies” publishing house to talk some sense to them.

    And I might add that we all have lovely skin…

  7. Ysanne says

    Oh OH so I can actually use a Mac to buy internet shoes? But can I walk in them on a, like, not-internet street?
    And can I buy shoes with my powder-pink metallic Vaio too?

    No seriously,

    If only so many self-entitled men weren’t so invested in making women so damn unwelcome around these parts, the newbie women could use the same damned book as the men.

    Women can actually use these same books regardless of the number of unbearable assholes on the internet, because fortunately the assholes haven’t made it into the books. so reading the book is a completely safe and enjoyable activity…
    (A nice corollary is that it’s also possible to read advanced programming and CS books without encountering some bespectacled nerd with pimples. Though I don’t really understand why that should be a bad thing at all.)

  8. Trickster Goddess says

    Meh. Never cared for a publisher that demeans its readers in the title every book they publish. This just seems like a logical extension of that mindset.

  9. Anonymous Atheist says

    Their books can sometimes be good references, so I own a few used ones that were free or super-cheap, but I’ve always been annoyed by the “For Dummies” series titles too. The not-quite-as-famous “Complete Idiot’s Guide” series takes it a step further, though. ;)

  10. alexbrown says

    “thanks for saving me the time in translating myself!”

    >> you’re welcome.

    FWIW the non-pink version of the book isn’t technically gender-neutral, “Les Nuls” is the masculine form. It’s just that in French we use the masculine plural for all groups containing at least one masculine thing. But that’s “just” the way French works.

  11. says

    Oh man, now I got all these ladybrains everywhere. That’ll never come out.

    ‘S okay, Jason. We’ll come out with a laundry-for-boy-dummies book very soon. I promise. Just be prepared for all the grunting required.

  12. says

    ‘S okay, Jason. We’ll come out with a laundry-for-boy-dummies book very soon. I promise. Just be prepared for all the grunting required.

    Ain’t it amazing? All that technical understanding, this guys and machines thing, this “your ladybrainz ain’t capable of using hightech stuff” suddenly vanishes when it’s a washing machine or a dishwasher.
    And they’re not even pink, usually…

    FWIW the non-pink version of the book isn’t technically gender-neutral, “Les Nuls” is the masculine form. It’s just that in French we use the masculine plural for all groups containing at least one masculine thing. But that’s “just” the way French works.

    Same with German. And it’s also the area where people will most likely point at “stupid PC, really that such a nonsense”.
    We can show that women will feel excluded if only male nouns are used, but that’s largely subconscious.
    Ask any woman and she’ll say “of course not, that’s just stupid!”
    Because if you say “yes, that makes me feel unwelcome” you’re just an oversensitive bitch. Nice catch 22…

  13. Pieter B, FCD says

    you will have to learn to use the operating system and domesticate it

    Back a few decades, I did freelance Mac consulting under the business name of Macintosh Obedience Training.

  14. says

    The university I went to had a pilot program where they’d assign you a (big-ass clunky) ThinkPad and charge you an extra grand. First year it was optional, every year thereafter mandatory. But they also had a mandatory program you’d have to have called a “Care and Feeding” class. I guess it’s some kind of common trope, that a computer is your pet.

    It just seems interesting that they used the specific word “domesticate” which mostly in French seems to carry the connotations of taming a romantic partner. At least, in the dialects of French I know enough to know connotations.

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