You probablyyyyy haven’t heard about it yet, but on Wednesday Apple interrupted their technocrat circle-jerk just long enough to announce that they got rid of the headphone jack on the iPhone. Every new iPhone will ship with a set of lightning port-enabled headphones, and even a helpful dongle for people who don’t want to use the new ones. That mostly got passed over, though, in favor of another big announcement: AirPods, wireless EarPods that are probably just as shitty as the ones you already have, but wireless.
By Wednesday night, the internet had already exhausted the standard criticisms. They’re easy to lose, they don’t last very long and they cost one hundred and fifty nine fucking dollars. Fair enough, but the internet is fed by terrible concern-trolling. It demands blood. Enter Refinery29, a website whose content is hosted not on servers, but giant eyeshadow palettes.
“What Every Woman Needs To Know About The iPhone’s New Wireless Earbuds,” bellows the headline, so you know you’re in for some medicinal-quality takes. It starts out innocuously enough, but it’s just feinting, drawing you in like a boxer waiting to deliver a knockout right cross.
Are you strapped in for the good shit?
“But there’s one downside to the AirPods that, so far, has gone largely undiscussed: The impact that the loss of the visible white cords could have on women and other marginalized people who experience harassment on the street and use headphones much like a piece of armor, a layer of protection between us and the outside world when we’re navigating public space. That cord is a sign that we don’t want to be bothered.”
O fuk yeah br0. I am so high right now. You might note that this has gone “largely undiscussed” because it’s fucking stupid, and I’m not talking about the idea of someone who can afford $159 ear-penises being “marginalized.” Nor is it even about the ridiculousness of the concept in general—I, too, rely on my headphones to keep people from talking to me, and I fully understand that I have a lot less to tune out than the average woman.
At least this is a new problem, right?
“Of course, visible headphones don’t deter men who seem to think that they’re entitled to the attention of women simply because they want it.”
“We were recently reminded of this just last week when an essay about how to talk to women who are wearing headphones went viral.”
Pretty sure I solved that the other week.
“If this is what marginalized folks have to put up with when we’re out in public and our headphones are visible, imagine what it will be like when our headphones aren’t so easily seen.”
No! I don’t NEED to imagine it, because it happens right now, in real life! It’s true, many people presently wear visible headphones on their commutes, but many, many MORE people do not. Especially the ones at the most risk for violence and harassment—y’know, the kind of people who can’t afford a fucking iPhone in the first place, let alone $159 convenience upgrades.
“AirPods are by no means the only wireless earbuds on the market. In fact, Apple’s iteration is arguably bulkier, and therefore more obvious, than some of its competitors’ versions.”
So this was an entirely pointless article?
“But Apple is the trendsetter. With the release of the AirPods, it’s only a matter of time before wireless headphones become the norm.”
There’s nothing wrong with questioning the larger, unintended consequences of new technologies, but fuck you when it turns into pointless fear mongering. I have it on good authority that women already have plenty to worry about, because I am a man and men can be, and often are, fucking terrible. But to take those fears and project them onto fucking headphones that a) no one has to use, and probably won’t be forced to use for decades and b) already existed before the AirPods isn’t just stupid, it’s irresponsible and shameful.
I bet that the fact that, in 2016, our $649 pocket-computers still shatter if you look at them funny is a much larger technological concern for most women.