Friday, February 16, 2007

Facebook: Stupid for So Many Reasons

I'm uptight, possibly Nazi-like, about calling out subtle and culturally normative sexist attitudes or phrases that occur in everyday life. It's exhausting maintaining my level of vigilance, in fact. Do you realize how tiresome it is to correct everyone who refers to adult women as "girls"? My throat is nearly parched from jeering every television commercial that portrays only women doing housework. Can anyone else appreciate that I've perfected my "Excuse me? What did you just say?" face to employ when someone says "female doctor" or "male nurse"? Just the other night on Deal or No Deal, when a female contestant was explaining that she's a shopaholic because she buys whatever she wants, Howie retorted, "I think that just makes you a woman!" I literally booed the television, and not just because that's a horrible show and Howie Mandel is a pox on the small screen medium.

Anyhow, it didn't escape my notice that Facebook, which is aimed primarily at Internet-savvy high school and college students, is using "Mother's maiden name" as a login security prompt:

All of the other security questions are pretty innocuous (though you could argue "What is your favorite pizza topping?" discriminates against those with wheat allergies), but this default question is painfully behind the times. Yes, many mothers, even mothers of kids in the youthful 12-25 age group, took their husbands' last names when they got married, but how many of those moms have subsequently gotten divorced and reclaimed their birth names? How many of those moms didn't get married or didn't change their names to begin with?

More importantly, why is a seemingly hip outfit like Facebook perpetuating the normativity of patriarchal customs?


Andy J said...

Yeah, and while we're at it, how come you can only be in a relationship with one other person?!? Hasn't Facebook recognized that there is as much legitimacy to polyamorous relationships as more traditional relationships?

Anonymous said...

Jeez, Howie is a comedian and that was funny. No need to hate on him because he's so awesome.

Rebecca C. Brown said...

Oh, Andy J, if only everyone else knew you were joking, too.