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  1. EG
    EG September 19, 2011 at 1:55 am |

    Because I refuse to believe those smart, talented women are making the best use of their time & skills to change the world.

    Sure. I mean, getting women the resources they need to make raising children less difficult and and stressful, how the hell could something like that benefit the world? And by “world,” I of course mean “men.”

  2. Lisa
    Lisa September 19, 2011 at 2:02 am |

    Great post! And thanks for getting me onto MeMeTales – that looks really interesting and cool! (I work in a library, and I get very excited about apps that encourage reading ^_^)

    There probably are a lot of startups about fashion, shopping, and babies – but there are probably also a lot about sports, cars, and the stock market because people are interested in those kinds of things! I don’t think every startup needs to be “world-changing” and I would much rather women be behind fashion startups then none at all.

    And if I made an app, it would probably be about crochet, because that’s what I like. In fact, I’m thinking of going to technical college to learn *how* to make apps … sorry Jolie – looks there’s more girly tech stuff coming your way! ~_^

  3. James
    James September 19, 2011 at 5:38 am |

    Fuck the bourgeoisie.

  4. ugsome
    ugsome September 19, 2011 at 5:42 am |

    Nice way to publicly reinforce the smug dudebros’ little stereotypes that chix aren’t serious people, Ms. O’Dell. Don’t think your ploy to suck up to the tech boy’s club goes unnoticed.

  5. Z S
    Z S September 19, 2011 at 6:12 am |

    About 70-80% of domestic consumer spending (variation by industry) in the US is in female control – much of this it may technically be men’s money, but women take care of it. That means if you want to sell to children, or even to a lot of men, you have to go through women, and if you want to sell to women, you have to go through women. Hence catering to mothers/wives/all women is GOOD BUSINESS. It is necessary, important business. It is ludicrous to sideline or diminish consumer spending; it is 70% of the economy http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consumer_spending Yes it is girly, and it is also what keeps the rest of the world turning. The choices of women pay for the bombs and the hospitals and the schools and the roads and all the grown-up, manly things Ms O’Dell deems so much more “important”. The choices we make as consumers every day are part of the world she wants us to change.

    Besides, were it not for washing machines, fridges, vacuum cleaners and so on, how many women would still be forced to stay at home who right now can get out there and pursue their dream? They are as important as tractors, fertilizers, and combine harvesters, that free men and women from subsistence farming. They radically transform what humans can spend their lives doing; discovering DNA, flying to the moon etc. Women are half the world and so are men, and what changes their everyday lives so profoundly also changes the world.

  6. Jennifer
    Jennifer September 19, 2011 at 9:08 am |

    Dismissing a woman’s work to address her needs is in the direction of dismissing her needs. Whether the needs are to find a book your kid will read, to find a cheaper or quicker way to buy clothes, or just to capitalize on a talent or an activity that interests you, the message is, Don’t waste your time on that. What’s important to you isn’t important. Do things that are important to other people.

    Bingo!

  7. Seth Gordon
    Seth Gordon September 19, 2011 at 9:29 am |

    The emphasis on startups that “change the world” is really an artifact of the tech-journalism world, where the startups worth paying attention to are the companies flush with venture capital whose business models can be summarized in a short drama-laden paragraph.

    I used to work for Kenan Systems, a company that specialized in billing software for telecom companies. (Remember when phone companies had all these arcane rules about calling your five best friends for free, and ten cents a minute for anyone within fifty miles, discounted to eight cents a minute on Saturdays, Sundays, and alternate Tuesdays? We handled that.) World-changing? Not really. Sexy? No. Profitable? Hell yeah: the founder started it in 1982 with a thousand bucks of his own money, took no outside investment, and then sold it in 1999 for over a billion.

  8. Amarantha
    Amarantha September 19, 2011 at 9:56 am |

    I fail to see how these types of products are any less valuable than any other “manly man” ones, whatever those are. But aside from that, what do you want to bet that ladies who are pitching “traditionally female products” may have an easier time getting funding as women? I’m guessing that the very male VC world is less likely to fund a woman entrepreneur full-stop, but may be more likely to trust their ability in a more traditionally “female” genre. Because of sexism. So it’s probably also a matter of women chasing the money.

  9. Sharon Cullars
    Sharon Cullars September 19, 2011 at 10:22 am |

    The underlying problem here seems to be that of a male-identified woman. These are women who glorify (rather than just respect or appreciate) anything male to the point that they become somewhat anti-female. It’s as though they’re trying to earn brownie points by saying, “see I think like you guys think” or “I’m really one of you guys” or “I’m so not like those other women/girls.” It’s really a form of self-hatred, a kind of self-contempt that also presents itself in racial and ethnic distancing where someone denies their racial affiliation to try to identify more with those in “power.”

  10. Corissa McClay
    Corissa McClay September 19, 2011 at 11:50 am |

    When I started my business I thought: ‘I shouldn’t start a serious company, so I’ll do a girly thing! Mobile app to let women create their own jewelry it is!” Then I giggled and went to bake some cupcakes and frolic in my garden…

    Oh wait! No! I did it because I know tech, and I know jewelry, and combining them made sense. And because the market is huge. And because it fits a growing market trend.

    Stuff like this really pisses me off.

  11. Clarisse Thorn
    Clarisse Thorn September 19, 2011 at 3:24 pm | *

    This is so on point. I’ve often thought similar things and I’m glad you wrote it.

  12. Maya
    Maya September 19, 2011 at 4:43 pm |

    Thank you for addressing this a giving MeMeTales a shout!
    It is incredibly strange that anyone would find it embarrassing that we are working on startups with huge markets and in domains we understand. I am sure she would not have said that had she ever tried to do a startup on her own. Startups are hard enough, it would be stupidity to start a company in a space where we have neither passion not domain knowledge.

  13. Tony
    Tony September 19, 2011 at 8:09 pm |

    It’s amazing how many professions that are now considered feminine actually represented progress when women first entered them. One that comes to example now is teaching. When women were first allowed to become teachers, it was a huge advance and a lot of the most forward thinking women of the 19th century were school teachers, it also justified more education for women. A hypothetical critic could have come then and lamented that “all the women in white collar jobs are teachers”, but that would be beside the point. Another example would be first generation immigrants who work at restaurants, farms, convenience stores, as maids, and other initially most accessible service positions. The next generation can go to college, etc. although there is certainly nothing intrinsically wrong with any of the above professions. So here is my hypothesis to O’Dell… when women have established themselves as entrepreneurs in a critical mass within areas that they feel comfortable, however “stereotypical”, it will be a big help to women branching out in other areas of entrepreneurship.

  14. News: Back-to-Work Legislation, Walk 4 Justice, Rabble’s Activist Toolkit, Coming Out as Mentally Ill, Working While Disabled, and Women Entrepreneurs «

    [...] out the expert deconstruction at Feministe of Jolie O’Dell’s sexist comment “Women: Stop making startups about fashion, shopping, & babies. At least for the next few [...]

  15. Lolagirl
    Lolagirl September 20, 2011 at 10:55 am |

    Jennifer: Bingo!

    Ditto.

    Let’s just call O’Dell blatant sexism for what it is. Anything related to what is traditionally considered “women’s stuff” is silly and trivial while whatever gets a man’s attention is superior and truly important.

    I’m personally sick and tired of supposedly feminist women falling into these tired tropes and (inadvertently, purposefully?) undermining other women in the pursuit of their personal passions and dreams. Of course women don’t have to buy into any of the stuff that is traditionally considered feminine if that isn’t their thing, but that doesn’t mean that any other women who does is some sort of pathetic traitor to their sex.

    And hello, gender essentialist much. Ms. O’Dell?

  16. numb
    numb September 20, 2011 at 8:07 pm |

    EG: Sure.I mean, getting women the resources they need to make raising children less difficult and and stressful, how the hell could something like that benefit the world?And by “world,” I of course mean “men.”

    pretty sure getting anybody “the resources they need to make raising children less difficult and and stressful” is a world benefit, how is this NOT a benefit to men again?

  17. seisy
    seisy September 20, 2011 at 10:40 pm |

    I wish I didn’t understand her point. I mean, I see exactly where it is wrong, and I know that my ‘getting it’ stems from a lot of internalized nonsense about how girl/woman-associated things are bad or lesser, but that doesn’t make it easier to escape.

    Especially when it comes to those things that are part of gender roles and stereotypes I personally find constricting. And there is a catch-22 here (though that seems true of pretty much every experience related to being a woman in this society), in that….hmm… we’re all so pigeonholed, sometimes. And when only a few people break that mold, they often get dismissed as the exception that proves the rule: that the categories are solid and real and inescapable. And even though it isn’t fair at all, in that context, it can be very difficult (though still wrong) to not see those who do conform to it as…IDK, hurting the effort to break free of those narrow roles.

  18. FYouMudFlaps
    FYouMudFlaps September 21, 2011 at 12:45 am |

    I see your point, article-creator. But I also must say I share Ms. O’Dell’s frustration somewhat. NOT because girl stuff is lesser or bad. It seems every time there’s a list of “hot young entrepreneurs” and the like, there’s about 7-9 men out of 10. The 1 or so women present are presented as tokens almost and yes their startups seem to always be about one of those three things.

    So how bout this, maybe I should turn my annoyance to the writers who select these entrepreneurs rather than the women themselves?

  19. ola
    ola September 26, 2011 at 6:19 am |

    Z S:
    About 70-80% of domestic consumer spending (variation by industry) in the US is in female control – much of this it may technically be men’s money, but women take care of it. That means if you want to sell to children, or even to a lot of men, you have to go through women, and if you want to sell to women, you have to go through women. Hence catering to mothers/wives/all women is GOOD BUSINESS. It is necessary, important business. It is ludicrous to sideline or diminish consumer spending; it is 70% of the economy http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consumer_spendingYes it is girly, and it is also what keeps the rest of the world turning. The choices of women pay for the bombs and the hospitals and the schools and the roads and all the grown-up, manly things Ms O’Dell deems so much more “important”. The choices we make as consumers every day are part of the world she wants us to change.

    Besides, were it not for washing machines, fridges, vacuum cleaners and so on, how many women would still be forced to stay at home who right now can get out there and pursue their dream? They are as important as tractors, fertilizers, and combine harvesters, that free men and women from subsistence farming. They radically transform what humans can spend their lives doing; discovering DNA, flying to the moon etc. Women are half the world and so are men, and what changes their everyday lives so profoundly also changes the world.

  20. Adda
    Adda October 6, 2011 at 11:00 am |

    I love this post. It addresses such important points.

    I too have had moments where I look at a list of women led startups and see that 2/3s are family/fashion orientated and groaned. I think sometimes the concern is that putting a fashion company online doesn’t a tech company make.

    That said, I totally agree that tearing down the entrepreneurial efforts of any women-led startup in NO WAY benefits anyone. The only way to get a more diverse pool of women-led startups is to just encourage, encourage, encourage. More women, no matter what they are doing, is a good thing. And the only way to get more women doing anything at all is to tell them that what they have to contribute is valuable for the world and in the market and that we need them to take risks and devote themselves to solving problems. And who knows what someone’s next startup idea will be?

    Look, most startups are not good ideas, most will fail. But you have to encourage all 100 companies in order to get the 10 that will really shine.

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