Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Vive la Difference!

I recently watched an interesting documentary titled, The Cutting Edge, Magic of Movie Editing. I was unaware of this, but it turns out that before movies had sound, film editing was largely a women's profession. The skills needed to cut and assemble film segments were seen to be something akin to sewing or needlework. It was also (like most 'women's work') anonymous. When sound tracks came to the movies, film editing began to be taken over by men because the sound track was somehow perceived to be more "technical". A more masculine approach to handle all this "technology" was needed.

Isn't it interesting that some aspects of technology are somehow seen to be the realm of men? I could understand this, perhaps, when the technology in question was blacksmithing or steel making, or laying railroad tracks. But even in those areas, more current times have shown that women are perfectly capable of what were once thought to be "high strength" professions.

I wonder if it isn't an even more fundamental issue that has to do with being in control of whatever is the driving force in our world. In prehistory, this would have been hunting food or making fire. In modern times, it is the technology that defines the world we live in. Gender roles die hard. Men just can't seem to give up the driver's seat in the car or the keys to the tool shed.

To be fair, many women have their own opinions on whether they like or dislike dealing with technology. One example I have heard from others and I can speak to personally is the Home Entertainment System. My son and I think that flipping a few settings on the remote control to get the TV, amplifier, cable box, and DVD in sync is no big deal (even though half the time we do have to push a few random buttons to get it to work). My wife and daughter represent most women, I think, when my wife says, "Give me a TV with one button for on and off and none of this ridiculous patching that has to be done to make it work!" Now, I understand what she is saying but honestly, isn't it more fun to have a cockpit of hardware to drive than simply to hit the power button?

Even big companies are waking up to the gender differences. Sony has studied the differences between what men and women want in home entertainment and is proposing different designs for each. Best Buy is even trying out a different retail space that is less "techie" in order to appeal to more women. Stay tuned for more products and stores that respect the differences.

It is hard to see where all this might lead. The cellular/wireless/FaceBook world we live in, particularly in the case of younger people, seems to be received equally well by both sexes. I don't think there is much difference between how young men and women text message or link up...but I admit I may just be out of touch.

What I know for sure is that I will never have to battle my wife for the control of the lawn mower or snowblower. Some things are best left to a man.

[Image from Wikipedia of an early film editing machine]

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