'Designed by men...for men'

(116 Posts)
YouMakeMeWannaLaLa Sat 09-Nov-13 21:23:36

I hear this a lot (specifically in regard to the workplace) and it does completely make sense to me. It explains that patriarchy IS society. Defined/designed by men for men.

But I was wondering if anyone could give me specific soundbites on this subject to argue my point (to my very sexist family) more coherently?

I don't necessarily think that men sat round and specifically 'designed' things to deliberately alienate women but what systems have subtley evolved to disadvantage women in favour of men?

I hope I'm being clear!

For example...the workplace: presenteeism and total dedication to a job is needed to excel which is obviously disadvantageous to women who want to bear and raise children (and men who want to be involved in child rearing). It was easy for this dedication and involvement to work equalling success to evolve because men traditionally have a woman to support their home life. So equalling up parental responsibility and what...changing working hours? increasing flexibility? in the workplace can equal this up...and what other measures?( help on this topic much appreciated...my ideas are barely half formed!).

What other aspects of society are designed 'by men, for men'.

It's not so much by design as evolution. But I remember some very interesting studies about testosterone in the stock markets. Testosterone drives risky behaviour which the stock market set up rewards.

scallopsrmissingAnyFucker Sat 09-Nov-13 21:38:50

The one that always springs to mind for me is drills. Heavy, cumbersome and designed for people with large hands. All pretty unnecessary. That could probably be extended to most DIY/building tools.

Parliament is another. An extended boys club. How you get there either as an MP or Peer. What happens when you are there. Hours that you work etc etc.

Well, it's OK as a slogan for selling (eg) penis-grooming kits or prostate self-examination leaflets, I suppose.

YouMakeMeWannaLaLa Sat 09-Nov-13 22:04:15

Ok, maybe just (some) workplaces (and tools), then?

I repeat, I don't think it is a deliberate conspiracy, just want to be pointed in the direction of things that exist that people presume women should be able to do/access/use but due to them being designed by/for men, they can't.

Penis-grooming kits?! I'm laying a quid on them being designed by women, for women SGB!

BasilBabyEater Sun 10-Nov-13 00:40:57

<Splutter> at penis-grooming kits. grin

Architecture. Public spaces. Public Transport. Public buildings.

Until very recently, designed only for able-bodied men. If you were in a wheelchair or had a pram or were on crutches, you couldn't get in to most public buildings. Once you got in there, the pictures etc. on the walls reminded you that white posh men had been the decision-makers in those buildings. You still can't use a huge percentage of public transport if you have a buggy (and 80% of women become mothers so that rules them out for a while when their DC's are young). Underpasses, car-parks etc., ignored women's safety fears. Decisions about street lighting (cutting them to save money - austerity etc.) affect women's mobility more than men's because they are taught to feel more scared in the dark than men. Rules about who gets to use car parks at works, so if the workplace is sited in a place where it's a half a mile walk to the bus stop through an industrial estate, women will be discouraged from working here.

Gyms is another one. Walk into most gyms and you'll find they're a male space. The machines are designed for the average man - not the average person. Car design - until very recently, designed for the average man, not the average person. Even furniture design - the height of tables, chairs, kitchen surfaces etc. - all designed for the average man.

BasilBabyEater Sun 10-Nov-13 00:44:29

Advice on heart disease from the British Heart Foundation - it was all based on male patients. Everything you know about heart attacks for women is wrong, because everything you've been told about the typical heart attack, is based on the presentation of the average male patient. Women present totally differently with a heart attack, hence the higher death rate - A&E simply weren't recognising that these women were having cardiac arrests, because they were showing the symptoms more commonly shown by women having cardiac arrests, not those shown by men.

Every time I sit on a public seat, particularly on public transport and am uncomfortable. I am tall for a woman so all seats, if they were made for the average, should be perfect for me. They are perfect for the average man. Whoever he is, the bastard.

BasilBabyEater Sun 10-Nov-13 02:04:42

Oh I think all seats made on public transport are just designed to be uncomfortable for anyone who sits on them, irrespective of size, weight etc. wink

You might be right Basil.

Meringue33 Sun 10-Nov-13 04:31:36

I suspect kitchen sinks are designed for the average woman! I'm fairly tall for a woman and always have to stoop over!

sashh Sun 10-Nov-13 10:05:57

The police force.

There used to be separate men's and women's forces. When they combined (?1976 - not sure) they actually all became the men's force.

There were things that the women's force had developed, eg a network of liaison with prostitutes / homeless people that was so good a runaway teenager could be located in a couple of days, just by talking to people. This was destroyed overnight. I don't think there should be separate forces, but they should have been joined not one stamping out the other.

For example...the workplace: presenteeism and total dedication to a job is needed to excel which is obviously disadvantageous to women who want to bear and raise children (and men who want to be involved in child rearing)

Not all women want to bare and raise children, not all women who want to can. But we all get lumped together and it is assumed we will want maternity leave / time off to look after the children.

Basil

Not just men, but white men. ECGs have 'normal racial variants' ie the ECG is 'abnormal' with 'racial variants' - this means that it is is actually completely normal but different from the normal in the text book because the textbook classes normal as what is normal for a white adult male.

badguider Sun 10-Nov-13 10:09:39

Why is a "full time job" 40hrs a week? Why not fewer? There's no fundamental reason you can't have four people working 30hrs a week rather than three working 40hrs to get the same work done.

FairPhyllis Sun 10-Nov-13 13:58:56

Here's a very boring example of how men design things for themselves and each other without thinking. My flatmate put up some shelves in our kitchen. He put them in a place so high only he and the other men in the house could use them easily (with no particular reason, there was a whole wall space free where they could have gone). My female flatmate and I either had to stand on a chair to use them or not use them at all.

I called them the Shelves of Patriarchy.

Another example is how working culture can be hostile to women. If you have a working culture where workers regularly visit strip clubs etc, or male workers bond in other environments where women generally don't go, like men's sports or all male clubs, women lose out on integrating with the team, networking, and possibly also on business deals that get done off the radar in male social environments. For example, Obama has been criticised for effectively shutting women out of his decision making circle by bonding with the male staffers who can play basketball with him.

It's all about the cumulative effects of men assuming that the Real Humans are men.

GoldieMumbles Sun 10-Nov-13 16:06:56

"Why is a "full time job" 40hrs a week? Why not fewer? There's no fundamental reason you can't have four people working 30hrs a week rather than three working 40hrs to get the same work done."

That's an interesting one, really and truly. I live and work in France. The working week used to be 40 hours. It was reduced (European Working Time Directive) to 35 hours. Not because of any particular feminist issue but to generally improve standards of living and, theoretically, to do just what you suggest - increase the working population. But it isn't working and small businesses have gone to the wall.

Why?

Well, if you're used to being salaried to work 40 hours and 5 hours is chopped per week - 20 hours per month - you can not survive on the new hourly wage. So employers have to maintain the same monthly salary for less productivity. To substitute for the loss, you have to hire additional headcount. We all expect equality, so you have to pay the same rate as the existing employees. So you have to PAY for 40 hours but only get 35 hours work. The costs increase.

Add to that the need to pay for training for the additional headcount. Add to that the social contributions that the employers have to make to the government.

Big corporations can absorb most of this. Any company employing about 20 people or fewer can't make it work.

So the idea is simple. the practical application destroys economies (see France's downgrading due to its sovereign debt on the financial markets on Friday). Other coutries that applied the 35 hour week? Spain, Portugal, Greece... There's a theme here!

Basically, after the social experimentation going on in the Eurozone, it's fair to say the world has found out that the working week is 40 hours long for a reason.

BuffytheAnyAppleFucker Sun 10-Nov-13 16:13:01

It's not so much it's 40 hours for a reason, it's that because existing structures are based upon 40 hours per week, it's difficult to change it. IYSWIM.

80sMum Sun 10-Nov-13 16:19:27

I think that high-heeled shoes were/are designed by men - and only men 'benefit' from them. They are of no conceivable benefit to women, that's for sure, unless you count bunions, corns, hammer toes, calluses, back pain, knee strain, hip problems and sprained ankles as benefits!! No, they are men's invention, to keep women subdued and helpless, similar to the old Chinese tradition of foot-binding!!

maryannmarie Sun 10-Nov-13 17:00:16

"Shelves of Patriarchy" made me grin.

Basically anything that women wear that's uncomfortable e.g corsets, heels etc so that they're considered 'attractive'.

caroldecker Sun 10-Nov-13 17:13:03

The real trouble with work hours is the pay - an average 30 hour week would mean average wages fall by 25% - can people afford the pay cut?

VelvetStrider Sun 10-Nov-13 17:13:22

Wheel nuts. I'm perfectly capable of changing a tyre. I know how to do it, in theory. I can jack the car up, but then I become stuck. Several times I've found myself jumping up and down on the wrench, my 9 7 stone mass not being robust enough to shift the buggering nut! Then along comes a relatively weedy looking man and pop - the nut is released. Grrrrrrr... why do they not develop a system that allows tyres to be easily changed by female drivers. If I break down in the middle of nowhere I'm screwed!

<maybe it's a conspiracy by the RAC> hmm

LurcioLovesFrankie Sun 10-Nov-13 17:15:19

This is a fascinating piece I was pointed at (on a work course on software engineering): Why crunch mode doesn't work. It's pretty clear from this that presenteeism isn't about higher productivity. So it must be about something different. And I think it's about being asked to demonstrate loyalty to the firm above all other considerations - relationship, family, friends, life outside work. It's a form of loyalty test, and one heavily skewed towards only being passed by men (important caveat - a lot of men are realising the patriarchy screws them on this one too: I'm lucky enough to work somewhere that's very good about supporting part time work, and I have a lot of male colleagues who work shorter hours, either for family reasons or for better work-life balance).

And I'd like to see the evidence that 40 hours is the best for the economy (it happens to be the maximum, as far as the evidence from management studies suggests according to that link, you can get someone to work routinely before their performance drops off due to overwork and longer hours become counter-productive). My dad always mentions the fact that during the 70s when a lot of firms went down to 3 day weeks, productivity went up according to measurable stats. Certainly, a lot of managers in my workplace say they actually get more work for their money out of the part-timers.

VelvetStrider Sun 10-Nov-13 17:15:41

Oh, another....industrial rubber gloves. They seem to come in large, extra large and ginormous.

Marigolds, on the other hand, they come in women's sizes. Oh yes hmm.

LurcioLovesFrankie Sun 10-Nov-13 17:17:23

The wheel nuts one is a really interesting example! After all, you can't undo the nuts with your fingers, so you need a tool which exerts a certain amount of leverage to get the job done. So why (given that you have to have a tool at all) make it such that the leverage required can be applied by a man and not by a woman? (Personally I find wheel nuts ok - but the bloody stopcock under my sink? Forget it!)

CailinDana Sun 10-Nov-13 20:00:23

Kitchens are an obvious one. In older ordinary houses built when only men designed houses and only women used the kitchen, the kitchens are tiny while the sitting rooms are as big as possible. Now that more men see the value of a large kitchen and more women design houses a spacious kitchen is (sensibly) seen as much more important. In the past men's space to relax after a hard day's work was prioritised over women's need for a space they could work in. They were expected to do all the housework without adequate accommodation for it.

BasilBabyEater Sun 10-Nov-13 20:06:13

Ooh velvetstrider, gardening gloves as well.

Try getting really tough, thorn-proof gardening gloves in a really small size. I've been trying for over a decade and I can't find any.

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