My wife, she's always had sort of a tentative take on the home automation.
In Atlanta, things never quite worked right or I was always experimenting. But
now she's grown to depend upon it. In the home automation community, which is
mostly males, there's a coined acronym: W.A.F., the Wife Acceptance
Factor. People are always trying to find automation routines that have a
—Richard Tinker, "Smart Houses," The New York Times, February 21, 2003
The concept of stereo as a rack full of mix 'n' match components stretched
well into the '70s and '80s, and is still very much with us. But as many of us
grew older, into the happy, mostly masculine domain of hi-fi, a significant
new element entered the picture: WAF, or Wife Acceptance Factor.
And with it came a new rebellion against the domination of living-room space
by that rack of industrial-design hardware and oversized loudspeakers. This
new rebellion brings with it a concept of hideaway stereo that is heard but
not seen, that blends invisibly and discreetly into a room's decor. ...
The reality is that most traditional hi-fi equipment has been designed to
appeal to male tastes, and consequently, more typically resembles scientific
tools and industrial test equipment than your average home furniture. But, it
seems, the growing pressures of the Wife Acceptance Factor is pushing
stereo design in a new direction, and creating a new market in the process,
one that seems to be marrying hi-fi performance with interior decorating.
—Gerald Levitch, "Heard but not seen," The Toronto Star, September 3,
In these sensitive times, gender generalizing is a hazardous game that's
usually played only by fools and rabble-rousers. I hesitate to speculate which
of these groups the coiner of wife acceptance factor is a member of,
but it's clear the point is that men are generally more interested in high-end
electronic gadgetry than women. Further, this obsession with fancy digital
doodads works well as long as a man remains single. But once he's married or
otherwise sharing living quarters with a significant female other, electronic
emblems of singlehood such as refrigerator-sized speakers and wall-covering
home theater systems are doomed. Why? Because (so the theory goes) most women
don't want to live in a home dominated by over-the-top electronica. Their
preferences run more towards things that are attractive, understated, and
easy-to-use, and it's these characteristics that give devices a high score on
the WAF scale.