We've had the blindingly obvious from Google: now it's time for the grindingly patronising. Step forward, Sony Ericsson.
SE makes, among other things, Bluetooth earpieces. These are incredibly clever little devices that pack a full-duplex 2.4GHz radio transceiver, audio processing, connection control and significantly smart power management into one tiny box. They're very cheap, and available in a wide variety of styles. By almost any analysis, they're desirable lumps of high technology - any analysis, that is, except one. They make you look like a complete prannet.
There are only two occasions where wearing one is acceptable: when you're legally or practically required to operate your mobile phone hands-free, or when you want to demonstrate what happens when a matchbox mates with an idiot. Even these two options aren't available to the more sensible gender: you'll never, ever catch a woman using such a beastly thing. Even Nichelle Nichols couldn't carry it off, and she was wearing a red miniskirt.
But this isn't good enough for messers Sony and Ericsson. No. I have a press release here, proudly trumpeting a "Bluetooth headset with a female touch". It continues; "Light, comfortable, stylish and with high performance, Sony Ericsson’s female Bluetooth TM Headset HBH-PV712 Style Edition is every woman’s must-have handbag accessory."
You have a female's touch, m'lord! I'll wager that headset has never been clamped roughly to the side of a builder's sweaty, stubbly, shaven head and used to book tickets for the West Ham game.
There's more. "From the tennis star to business women and young mothers, [this] is the ultimate tool for making the day go that little bit more smoothly... [it] will be a welcome relief to active, fashion-conscious women across the globe, and comes after extensive research by the Sony Ericsson team to find out just exactly what the active, modern woman wants..."
And what does the active, modern, fashion-conscious woman want? I don't know, I only hang out with wizened crones who dress in mud and speak in grunts. Tell me, Mr Ericsson. Wise me up, Mr Sony.
Apparently, they want "Three Style-up (TM) covers, designed to detach from the headset in one step so that you can quickly change the cover to fit your mood and outfit." (Mood? Ah, these flighty ladies!). They want a "Novel necklace carrying solution, silver-plated and decorated with red, silver and black pearls" - or, as us dull prosaic males might say, "a necklace". They want a "Stylish pouch providing a sophisticated carrying solution", although whether the pouch-oriented carrying solution can also carry the novel necklace carrying solution, is as yet unsolved.
OK, Sony Ericsson. All this may be true. But given the reason that women don't use the things is because they make you look like you're being controlled by ear robots, why do you still make the actual headset SO PLAIN EYE-SEARINGLY, ZEITGEIST-STRANGLING, YOU'VE GOT SOMETHING IN YOUR EAR THERE MATE, SO NAFF IT'S NOT EVEN RETRO, A HUNDRED YEARS OF INDUSTRIAL DESIGN NEVER HAPPENED, SPHINCTER-TIGHTENINGLY FUGLY?
"What do women want?" asked Freud. Not this, Ziggy, not this
And I thought the Swedes were beacons of gender awareness and understated design, and the Japanese had future savvy dripping from every monorail.
What's worse is the rumour that these earpieces are but the vanguard of much, much more along the same lines. I fear for my sanity. I fear for my retinas. But mostly, I fear for the human race's ability to ever procreate again.
UPDATE - Codepope says "That picture of the Sony Ericsson earpiece for girlies isn't fugly. THIS picture is fugly.. It's like she's being attacked by a penknife."
Suffering for beauty is one thing, but this?
And Codepope is right. It's worse than we thought...
But which is worse? Slack pouch or pearl necklace?