Just as I was about upgrade to the LeapPad2, Eurostar Group has released the new ePad Femme Tablet for Women.
"The Tablet comes preloaded with applications so you can just turn it on and log in to cooking recipes or yoga," says Mani Nair, Associate Vice President for Marketing at Eurostar Group.
The ePad was released in October of last year but received a marketing push this Valentine’s Day, because well, what’s more romantic than receiving a tablet that helps you lose weight, cook, and track your periods.
Now, it is very likely that these are the apps that a woman would want on their tablet (I myself have a calorie tracker…that I never use) but the issue lies in the fact that the Femme Tablet is telling women that these are the things they should be concerned about, and it is assuming that women are not capable of using a “regular” tablet. Heck, my 84 year old grandfather owns an iPad and he has trouble using his television at times, but his iPad did not come pre-loaded with an AARP app.
On a more serious note, it is important to take a step back and remember that Eurostar is headquartered in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. We are reacting to this product as Westerners, and as if this is a product that we could drive to BestBuy and purchase.
Although the UAE is one of the most liberal countries in the Gulf, politically it remains authoritarian. In 2012 the UAE imposed internet restrictions to hinder the use of social media for organizing protests, and a large group of Islamists were arrested on charges of plotting a coup in early 2013.
However, none of this will, or does, excuse the blatant sexism of the product. Eman Al Nafjan, a Saudi feminist blogger, states “There have always been special books for women concerning sex, how to please your husband, and what to cook for him…this is just using technology for the same thing.” She adds that “whoever made this Tablet doesn’t understand us very well…we are home all the time and we are extremely tech-savvy.”
The tablet actually does include Google Talk, Android Market, Facebook, Twitter, Skype, YouTube, Gmail, Dictionary, Encyclopedia, and games. As far as pre-loaded apps go, this seems like it would have been an adequate place to stop. Yet, the Femme Pad took it a few steps (and stereotypes) too far, has feminists seeing red, and with its unfortunate name, has become the brunt of at least one or two bad jokes.