Well, regardless of need, they’ve got one. Apparently, iPhone apps for following women’s periods are a booming market; the latest, called “Code Red,” allows men to type in the first day of their female partner’s (or any other woman whose cycle they would like to track) period for a couple of months, and the phone responds with a “devil horns” symbol during PMS time – and a “frisky ovulation alert” during ovulation. And yes, before you ask, the app works on the iPad.
“Code Red” is admittedly less offensive than other period tracking apps – I’m thinking especially of IAmAMan, which allows the owner to track the menstrual cycles of several women at once, because of course to be a man is to be a gadget-loving adulterer. And if marketed as a way to track women’s fertility, I suppose it’s not as problematic as it could be.
But let’s just take a look at the way the app is advertised on Apple’s website. The description: “Men’s best defense against the monthly Her-ricane. Men no longer need to fear the wrath of menstrual madness. MEDL Mobile is pleased—and very relieved—to introduce Code Red: a simple but powerful menstrual calendar for men to keep track of—and survive—their girlfriend’s/fiancé’s/wife’s monthly cycle.”
“Code Red” provides a series of helpful alerts and tips to let men know how to “brave even the most violent of storms.” Because clearly, women are completely ruled by their menstrual cycles. At the end of the day, as Monica Hesse writes in the Washington Post, “one might speculate that the proliferation of these apps all ties into some deep fear of womanhood — an attempt by men to make sense of what they do not understand.” My frustration with the app is very simple. If you want to know where your wife/girlfriend/fiance is in her cycle, ask her.
As Jodi Jacobson points out on RHRealityCheck, “We can’t quite accept socially that there is a spectrum of sexuality inherent in being human and that not everyone is embraced under the culturally constructed ‘one (heterosexual) man and one (heterosexual) woman’ notion of marriage. We still hide condoms in drugstores and some men still have problems buying tampons for their significant others because its….embarassing.”
I also find the assumption that women are fundamentally different people during various phases of their menstrual cycle to be deeply irritating. Women have bad moods; we want sex at different times, and it’s usually not related to our reproductive cycles. Women are not machines to be monitored, any more than men. And if men are terrified of their partners during different times in their partners’ menstrual cycles, well, then I’m sorry for them.
Photo is a screenshot from Apple.com.