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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 high W.A.F.
—Richard Tinker, "Smart Houses," The New York Times, February 21, 2003


Earliest Citation:

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, 1989



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.



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