Over the last century, society has consistently made steps toward equality for women. And okay, we’re still a long way from the egalitarian utopia women have dreamed of, but that’s nothing to sneeze at considering that suffragettes were still fighting for women’s rights to vote in federal elections a hundred years ago.
Yet even now, in 2018, women continue to be stereotyped and discriminated against based on their gender. The subculture of the vaping community is a clear example of such judgements.
Let me give you some context: I am a woman who is deeply immersed in the vape lifestyle and industry, and through my experience I have noticed many commonly-reported misconceptions based on what I have between my legs.
Some of these misconceptions include
- I am not interested in vaping because I am female
- I prefer pink or “feminine”-looking devices because I am female
- I know less about vaping than my male counterparts because I am female
- I don’t know how to build my own coils because I am female
- I lack basic scientific understanding because I am female
Now, some of these points may be true for some female vapers, but certainly not for all. And that’s not to say that everyone makes these assumptions about them. I’ve seen men who were nothing but accepting of women in the vaping community, and women who have perpetuated these damaging stereotypes. But the reality is that there are many women who break the gender mould in vaping culture. In fact, the majority of vapers are women, according to this 2015 Daily Mail article.
To illustrate this point, imagine you’re taking your car to a mechanic. For the most part, if both a male and female mechanic is available to work on your car, most people (of both genders) would automatically prefer the male to work on their car. Why? It’s based on historically and culturally-taught gender stereotypes that men are more capable of working with cars and technology that their women. However, gender doesn’t have anything to do with knowledge, skill, or experience. The female mechanic could be much more skilled in her work, and yet overlooked because of her gender.
The majority of the vape industry does nothing to help combat this bias either. E-liquid is often plastered with images and names that traditionally appeal to men, and products are strategically advertised with images of beautiful women. Though I completely understand that gender and sexuality are not always on a binary plane, it’s clear who companies are looking to target in their marketing: heterosexual men.
This bias is also visible across online communities, with the hashtag #girlswhovape being used to sexualize and objectify female vapers.
In response to this apparent cultural phenomenon, female vapers have started their own vape-related online communities in order to avoid the condescension of other vapers. This gives members an open space to ask questions or generally discuss vaping topics without judgement based on gender.
Of course, gender bias isn’t the only prejudice found in the vaping community. Those who don’t vape are sometimes under the general assumption that all vapers are “bros” who listen to metal and practice vape tricks in their mom’s basement. Vapers have been targeted by the countless “We get it, you vape” memes floating around the net. But the difference is that the gender stereotypes are, more often than not, perpetuated from within the vaping community itself.
Considering that even the idea of e-cigarettes is often under fire, it is up to us in the vape community to band together rather than create a divide. Let’s take it upon ourselves to ensure that the vape community is an inclusive one.