home­wares man-up

The new tech bat­tle­field is in the home, but can man­u­fac­tur­ers re­ally make vac­uum clean­ers and irons ap­peal to men? Hell yeah!

Australian T3 - - OPINION -

What do you think of when some­one men­tions home tech? Drudgery, bor­ing de­sign, best left to the girls? Well, first up, that’s aw­fully sex­ist of you, old bean. And sec­ondly, you’re way be­hind the times on the tech, too. Mod­ern home­wares con­jure up im­ages not of a clean­ing lady wear­ing rollers, smok­ing a fag while mov­ing dirt around on a vinyl-tiled floor with a filth-en­crusted mop. Nope, they con­jure up a much more manly im­age: think Fred­die Mer­cury in the I Want to Break Free video. What could be more ma­cho than that?

Smart­phones are now in ev­ery pocket. Tablets are in ev­ery larger pocket. No­body’s buy­ing lap­tops. Fur­ther­more, up­dates to what used to be a chap’s core tech are now so in­cre­men­tal as to make up­grad­ing all but point­less. That’s why the new bat­tle­ground for the bloke-pound is his home turf.

Pe­rus­ing the new wave of testos­terone­fu­elled do­mes­tic tech, we see the way to a man’s heart and wal­let re­mains the same as ever: more fea­tures (whether needed or not); more steel and black; more high-end-ness; more ex­pense. Be­cause we’re worth it.

The Guardian re­cently asked, “Have kitchen gad­gets be­come sta­tus sym­bols?” cit­ing 51% more bean-to-cup ma­chine sales, 46% more stand mix­ers and 30% more bread mak­ers at Christ­mas than in 2012. To which the an­swer is, “Yes: that’s why we’ve been bang­ing on about such things in our Tech Life Home and Test sec­tions for the last three years.”

It’s not just kitchen kit, ei­ther, though the cof­fee maker re­mains the man ap­pli­ance par ex­cel­lence. It’s all the lovely toys a gent can buy for his house. Where once our of­fice buzzed with chat about the lat­est phone in­no­va­tions, now the edi­tor and I while away the hours gass­ing on the mer­its of hand­held over cylin­der vac­u­ums and the “cor­rect” way to use a Dyson, while the guys in the fea­tures depart­ment ar­gue about who has the iron most able to de­stroy creases just by so much as look­ing at them. Then talk turns to the way Oral-B’s tooth­brushes use a Blue­tooth-linked dis­play to “game-ify” clean­ing your teeth. We’re through the look­ing-glass here, guys.

Both the lan­guage used to de­scribe this kit and its de­sign are be­ing hy­per-mas­culinised. Vac­uum clean­ers have head­lamps and bla­tantly sport­scar-styled mo­tors. Soon, men will be el­bow­ing their girl­friends away from the Hoover and in­sist­ing, “I’ll drive, dar­ling.” And that’s be­fore we even get on to sen­tient ro­bot vacs, surely des­tined to re­place cof­fee ma­chines as the ul­ti­mate man-gadge, once they ac­tu­ally, y’know, work.

First, tech­nol­ogy lib­er­ated women from a life of do­mes­tic drudgery. Now, fired by a cap­i­tal­is­tic hunger for new mar­kets to con­quer, it’s go­ing to help men en­ter one. Now that’s progress, right fel­las?

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