· hifi ·

Sometimes, being a female geek is good fun: some of the problems and pre-occupations of the majority of male geeks simply do not apply. I was reminded of this when I was browsing the SlimDevices forum and came across a brilliant thread where people post photos of their SqueezeBox nestled in among the rest of their hi-fi equipment. Looking at (and listening to) other people's systems fascinates me almost as much as listening to my own system, so I was glued. Anyway, one of the contributors asked another why his speakers (designed for stand mounting) were sitting on the floor, and was told that he hadn't been able to find stands with a high enough W.A.F. Those of you who are hi-fi buffs or display their geekery in other gadgety fields will know that W.A.F. stands for Wife Acceptance Factor.

To quote Wordspy:

wife acceptance factor n. In an object, especially an electronic device, that normally appeals only to men, the qualities or features added to or modified in the object to make it acceptable to women.

And there's a further explanation:

The reality is that most traditional hi-fi equipment has been designed to appeal to male tastes, and consequently, more typically resembles scientific tools and industrial test equipment than your average home furniture.

You see, that's a problem that I just don't have. Not only do I not have a wife (or a problem with H.A.F.), I positively love equipment supposedly designed to appeal to men. Show me something that looks like an oscilloscope or is fashioned out of a huge, hand-machined lump of aircraft-grade aluminium, and I'll get the urge to pay someone lots of money for it. Of course hi-fi equipment should primarily sound good before anything else, but the W.A.F. refers to the appearance of an object, how expensive it is, or how difficult and inconvenient it is to use. All of which (apparently) women object to.

W.A.F. (or the mis-perception of it) is probably responsible for all those gadget manufacturers who think that if they make their gadget pink (or cover it with diamanté), 90% of the female population will be falling over themselves to buy it. They are wrong. Instead, I suspect that the majority of W.A.F. related conflicts arise because women who are not interested in hi-fi don't want their husbands spending half of their income on ruinously expensive stuff (and what the stuff is hardly matters in that context), or their living room to be filled with large lumps of metal and cables.

Me? I love big lumps of metal.