USB Cables, Lightning Ports, and Foreskins


What does the design of cables tell us about the men who invented them?

Computer designers often strictly gender the components they create. The most obvious example is the motherboard - the central hub of the computer from which all electronic life descends.

As well as circuit boards (often called daughter-boards) - cables are also subject to strict gender rules.

The convention is that the part with the most obvious protrusion is assigned as "male" - it then slots tightly into the "female" port. Thus consummated, a meaningful exchange of data can be conducted. Once in a while, a complicated relationship between machines and cables necessitates the use of "Gender Changers" to allow a cable to masquerade as its opposite half.

Originally, many of the sockets on a computer were of mixed gender. A male serial port nestled next to a female VGA port.

Serial portSVGA port

However, in most modern machines, all the ports are female. Sitting helplessly until their void is filled with a male cable - Ethernet, audio in and out, SATA for disks, VGA or HDMI for display - all female connectors allowing a vast pantheon of male cables penetrative access to the motherboard.

The most common cable/port pairing by any measure is USB. The ubiquitous connector continues the phallic metaphor by including a preputial sheath - or foreskin.

USB Male Plug Type A

USB's "shield" is not designed to be electrically connected or to transmit data - its presence is solely to protect the delicate electronic head from damage - just as the animal foreskin protects the glans of the penis.

It's an ingenious design, and mimics the evolutionary nature of the mammal to great effect.

All of which brings us on to Apple's new proprietary cable - Lightning.

Lightning connector

Despite the presence of fine and fragile electronics, the head of the cable is completely exposed!

If we compare the lightning male cable to a selection of USB standards, the difference becomes apparent.
Lighting, Mini, Micro, & USB 3.0 plugs
The USB cables take the natural approach of giving protection to the male part - whereas Lightning can only be described as circumcised. Each contact subject to the harsh and unforgiving environment.

Why is this the case?

The man chiefly responsible for the USB spec - Ajay Bhatt - was born in India where rates of male genital mutilation are low. It is only natural, therefore, that his impression of how the masculine part should look would reflect his own anatomy.

Contrast this with Lightning. Although Apple refuses to share the name of the man who invented it, it is well known that circumcision is the most common procedures performed during hospital stays in the U.S. with over 2/3rds of men being surgically altered.

Apple's love of American design combined with the prevalence of cosmetically altered penises in America, is almost certainly the driving force behind the "naked" appearance of the Lightning connector.

The fact that the Lightning connector can be inserted either way up inside a female port perhaps also speaks to the popularity of certain sexual positions in that country. But such matters are far beyond the scope of this blog post.

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