Global feedback: Death to WAF

  • WAF. Web application firewall? World Architecture Festival? Welsh Automotive Forum? In the dude-dominated audiophile world, we’re talking Wife Acceptance Factor — how likely an audiophile’s spouse would approve of his latest hifi acquisition, but not based upon its sound quality or functionality, but looks – and looks alone.

    According to Stereophile staffer Larry Greenhill, WAF was coined by one Lewis Lipnick, back in the 1950s when loudspeakers were as large as small cars and amplifiers their engines.

    Since then, man has been to the moon and back, TV is now broadcast in colour, the cassette-powered Sony Walkman has been and gone, the Berlin Wall has been down for as long as it was up, a sheep has been cloned, the world’s population has doubled and entry-level hifi gear has come down in size (and price).

    Do the maths: WAF is now over sixty years old. It’s as old-fashioned as the pocket watch, listening to the BBC World Service on ‘the wireless’ and Don Rickles’ stand-up routine.
    Creative Commons: Flickr / Nesstr.

    Times have changed but the audiophile world continues to drag its heels, deaf to WAF’s standing as a patronising barrier to entry for women curious enough to peek behind the curtain. Perhaps that’s a little too vague for some? Let’s get a little more direct. WAF is sexist BS.

    Don’t believe me? Consider the following:

    1. When buying a new coffee machine you invite your wife to comment only on the machine’s appearance. The resulting coffee, its taste and aroma, are, according to you, of zero interest to your wife. That’s WAF at work.
    2. When booking a summer vacation you ask your wife to comment only on how nice the beach looks. The hotel, the flight and car hire? Those are your domain – no need to seek your wife’s opinion. That’s WAF at work.

    “Ah but it’s tongue-in-cheek”, you say. OK sure – then WAF’s snickering schoolboy users are insecure grumpy old men desperately seeking peer group acceptance for their nerd hobby. Don’t be offended – my comment is purely tongue-in-cheek.

    “It’s political correctness gone mad!” you exclaim. Let me ask you this: don’t you want women to join your local audiophile society or attend your favourite audio show? I do.

    In 2018, we don’t have to look too hard to see how the audiophile community has a gender diversity issue the size of Norway. And we have a collective responsibility to tackle that gender diversity issue. And that starts with the language we use. And ‘we’ are 99% men. Time to point WAF (and its users) in the direction of the retirement home.

    Women aren’t simply arbiters of visual taste. As evidenced (somewhat) by the recent Norddeutsche Hi-fi Tage in Hamburg, women are interested in audio gear beyond its appearance. Some have an opinion on how it actually sounds. Some of them – shock, horror – even make it.

    But hey – perhaps you disagree? Time to hold our wetted finger aloft to see which way the audiophile wind blows:

    [poll id=”23″]

    The poll will live for a week but the gender diversity conversation continues here.

    Written by John

    John currently lives in Berlin where he creates videos and podcasts for Darko.Audio. He has previously contributed to 6moons, TONEAudio, AudioStream and Stereophile.

    Darko.Audio is a member of EISA.

    Follow John on YouTube or Instagram

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