International Women’s Day (March 8) has just passed, and it’s sparked a lot of discussion in terms of how women are viewed and the roles they play in society. What about how women are perceived in the subculture of the vaping community?
Let me give you some context: I am a woman who is deeply involved in the vape industry, and through my experience, have noticed many commonly-reported biases based on the fact that I am a female.
Some of these misconceptions include:
- Females are not interested in vaping
- Females prefer pink or “feminine”-looking devices
- Females know less about vaping than their male counterparts
- Females lack basic scientific understanding
- Females don’t know how to build coils
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 completely accepting of women in the vape 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.
It’s kind of like 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. This is based on culturally-taught gender stereotypes that men are more capable of working with automotives and technology that their female counterparts. However, gender doesn’t have anything to do with knowledge 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 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 often 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 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.