Ok, more proof I’m not making this surveillance stuff up: Feministing recently made a great post on the pictured article from Maxim. Like the ads for cell phone surveillance applications I recently posted about, this article is freely promising a technological method for surveillance, imparting the practical know-how to “step up the stalk” without considering or discussing the consequences of this technology (aside from providing the lovely disclaimer that it is “illegal in some states”). Moreover, the “Catch a Two-Timer” blurb explicitly maintains that the object of the mentioned surveillance should/would naturally be a woman. Even better: if you read the fine print, the telltale signs of a cheating woman are apparently 1) detachment in bed because “having multiple partners is emotionally tough for a lot of women” and 2) guarding her cell phone. So, if the woman of your dreams is not automatically satisfied by your bedroom performance or if she, in fact, gets defensive when you want to monitor her telephone activity, then this obviously has nothing to with you, her partner, but her wandering ways… umm, right.
While I buy that the first part of the article is partially ironic, since it advises you to “[g]lance furtively over your shoulder with shifty eyes” and then later to “[u]se what you’ve learned to destroy someone else’s life,” the second part (sub-head “Catch a Two-Timer”) is relatively sober and informative, quoting “experts” and such. It’s not until the very last line that a little irony slips in again, and then I don’t really think it’s enough. Whether or not this is a “joke” to the Maxim editors, the problem is that there really are enough wishful tools out there to take this kind of stuff seriously. And we can’t escape the fact that there are plenty of men out there in the real world who, in fact, DO abuse and/or monitor their partners with the help of this sort of technology. As Ann at Feministing writes, “real-life stalking is, uh, decidedly not hilarious, to put it mildly, and we need to draw a bright line between a common joke of the personal-is-public-online era and the very real threat posed by stalking.” More importantly, we should never let the “how” of technology overshadow the “why.” The argument that “it doesn’t matter because it would never really work” or because the information is inaccurate is missing the point. Offering (or pretending to offer) technological information for this type of surveillance without examining why it is desired and whether it should be used in the first place is irresponsible. It promotes a culture that too often places women’s bodies (and others who do not fit the “ideal”) under surveillance and rarely reflects on why.