McAdams On: Tips for Valentine’s Day

EL AY: I love the Consumer Electronics Association. They are always thinking of me, as they were on Monday with this piece of hard-hitting research: “Tip for Valentine’s Day: Women Want Electronics.”

“As sweethearts make plans for their sweeties this Valentine’s Day, they would be wise to think about buying electronics instead of traditional gifts for the women in their lives,” it said. “According to a new study from the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)®, ‘Women in CE,’ electronics are a desired purchase among both sexes.”

Jeepers! Us little gals are finally putting down our Swiffer-brand sweepers and getting wise to electronics. It’s true! Why just the other day, I saw a person of the female persuasion using an iPhone. We womenfolk have finally arrived in the world first imagined for us by Virginia Slims. It brings a tear to my eye.

“The new study found that women’s interest in technology has increased in the years since CEA’s 2007... study, with eight in 10 women now expressing interest in CE products and nearly half of those--41 percent--saying they were ‘very interested’ in CE,” the CEA® said. “This is an increase of 10 percentage points over the previous study.”

I don’t dispute that, though I have no idea what it’s supposed to mean. I can be very interested in something for anywhere from 10 seconds to, say, 15 minutes. To say one is “very interested” in consumer electronics is like saying one is very interested in food. There’s clearly much more to this piece of research than I can ascertain because the CEA® wants $700 for it. If I had $700 to spend on a piece of research from the CEA Registered Trademark, I’d probably spend it upgrading something I already own that plugs into an outlet. Or shoes.

The CEA®’s sample size was 1,650, not including me. I would have said I wasn’t all that interested in consumer electronics. I already have three computers, an external drive, two printers, a scanner, two flat-screen displays, three sound systems, three cellphones, a hardware VoIP device, mobile DTV, digital piano, professional headphones, two digital cameras, an HD camcorder, a digital voice recorder and a Nano with a probably not Part 15-compliant RF transmitter. This does not include my vast assortment of modems, routers and cables, and the truckload of electronics I’ve given away or sold over the years. Somewhere in my world there was a Palm Pilot that I never had time to program and a TiVo with every episode of “The Simpsons” ever aired.

“Men continue to outspend women on overall CE purchases, but the gap between genders is shrinking,” the CEA® said. “On average, men spent $728 on CE purchases in the past 12 months, while women spent $667 during that same time period, a difference of $61. In the 2007 study, the spending gap between men and women was closer to $200.”

Look up, “gender pay gap,” my little kittens. We spend less ‘cause we’re paid less.

“Women also exert a significant amount of influence in most CE purchases,” said the yada yada. “Six in 10 women initiate or are involved in the process in which a CE product is actually purchased.”

Noooo. Get out of town. Really?

Let us pause now for a personal disclosure. I am not a feminist fanatic looking for a bone to pick. Today, anyway. I’m more of a personist looking for something to ridicule. And I feel obliged to ridicule a piece of flackage that blithely overlooks the 27 percent of American households headed by single women, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. This may come as a shock, but, yes, we “initiate and are involved in the process in which a CE product is actually purchased.”

“Forget pink,” said Jessica Boothe, who oversaw the study. That’s right, a woman. “Women don’t want to be catered to with ultra-feminine looking products; they simply prefer lightweight devices that can fit smaller hands and smaller body frames.”

Ms. Boothe, I am a 5-foot-8-inch black belt in martial arts with hands like a stone mason. Please give me a smartphone with a typepad I can actually use, or just give me back my pink Razr. Make it have a display that doesn’t disappear with the slightest ray of sun, and a battery that actually withstands a single conversation with my mother. And please for the love of Ra, give me a universal power cord!

Finally, the CEA circle R says women are more likely than men to find that electronics simplify their lives. That can be true for those who have their own personal IT department. Imagine the day a Frye’s associate told me someone could be watching me through my own webcam. The subsequent educational course on IT security and hours of implementation were not exactly simple. Polaroids were simple.

I think the CEAr does hit on something with this final point, however. Speaking on behalf of women who comprise myself, there are few things we want more than whatever makes our life easier. Gold bullion is one example. A Yamaha V-Star 1000 Silverado with Cobra pipes and Ace Leather bags for quick trips to the store is another. An on-call certified electrician is good. So is lifetime AAA Roadside Assistance. There’s always the old standby--objects made of precious metals and gems otherwise known as “jewelry” that appreciate in value. Show me the consumer electronics device that does that, and I will shut my mouth. For a while.
~Deborah D. McAdams