Dec 03 2011

The thread about Siri

My phone takes rather a familiar tone.

“I’d rather talk about why Siri is sexist.” — blamer Josquin, on a thread about Rape-X.

Well, have at it, Josquin!

For my part, I haven’t been able to determine whether Siri is sexist or not, because she declines to function properly on my phone. I have come to actively dislike her. Just now I asked her if she was sexist; her answer was that she can’t answer.

“Can’t,” Siri? Or won’t? Cagey.

UPDATE: Two seconds of Googling reveals that, duh, of course Siri is sexist. Siri’s programmers are dudes, after all. Quelle surprise, Amanda Marcotte has a post addressing this very topic.

Siri behaves much like a retrograde male fantasy of the ever-compliant secretary: discreet, understanding, willing to roll with any demand a man might come up with, teasingly accepting of dirty jokes. Oh yeah, and mainly indifferent to the needs of women.

At my house, we discovered this while playing with Siri’s quickly established willingness to look up prostitutes for a straight man in need. When you say to Siri, “I need a blow job,” she produces “nine escorts fairly close to you”. You get the same result if you say, “I’m horny” into it, even with my very female voice.

So she’ll find you a prostitute but she won’t tell you where you can get birth control or an abortion? Siri’s a damned collaborator?

I’ll have to take Amanda’s word for it, since my Siri is apparently too busy blowing dudes to give me the time of day. Literally, she won’t even tell me what time it is.

UPDATE 2: Jane Martinson, who, because all other writing at the Guardian is presumed to be for dudes, writes The Women’s Blog, says that in the UK Siri is a dude, and is useful only for implementing search engines, and only if it is spoken to in an American accent. UK Siri will, however, locate reproductive health clinics on Google for you. Thus Martinson’s findings are that Siri isn’t sexist, just stupid.

She’s wrong of course.

UPDATE 3: A “writing fellow” at American Prospect wants to make it clear that s/he is not accusing Apple of misogyny when s/he concurs with Amanda about the reproductive health thing: “The problem with Siri isn’t that the programmers hate women, it’s that they [women] weren’t even on the radar.”

Hey, writing fellow! The intent of the programmers is flippin irrelevant. The point, silly fellow, is that women experience exclusion from “the radar” as misogyny. Misogyny.


Skip to comment form

  1. JfC

    While this is certainly related to the dudeliocentric product development process, women’s health services have also had problems with SEO (search engine optimization – basically techniques to make your website appear high in the list of search engine results for various relevant search terms) stuff for a while, which contributes to this problem. Just as crisis pregnancy centers are misleading on their print advertisements and their building branding to attract women seeking abortions, they mess around with domain names and keywords to similar effect. Help with SEO and website design would be an excellent new way for in-the-know techie blamers to assist their local reproductive health centers.

  2. Anna

    The worry about unscrupulous women using these on non-rapists is unconvincing, to say the least. Women have had the technology to do far worse things to penises for years. If they’re worried about prosecution, I want to live in their world. Except for the part where vindictive girlfriends go off their rockers and vagina innocent men to death every five seconds, it sounds like a sane place.

  3. Anna

    Oh darn, wrong blogular post. Sorry!

  4. Kea

    As a non phone user, I take it that Siri is some kind of AI app. Cute. Clearly they didn’t enter the word sexist into the vocabulary. Geek dudes don’t need to know words like that, because the only women they interact with are slaves.

  5. EmilyBites

    Eh, you know there’s no sexism in western culture, right? You actually can’t look around and give concrete examples of sexist bias affecting anything, even though you’re looking for things to get angry about!


  6. Notorious Ph.D.

    I’m coming down on the side that the Siri problem is rooted in systemic sexism, rather than a conscious decision. Not that that makes it better; bear with me. I think the Siri problem is the same as the iPad problem. If developers are all dudes, it’s not even going to occur to them that women might need to locate emergency contraception, or that their product names are going to have a very different connotation for women. Because, of course, “men” = “people.”

    Solution: more women in the development and decision-making areas of these companies.

  7. Alex

    Another interesting detail about Siri, learned from reading about this controversy, is that she apparently regards the word “vagina” as an obscenity, regardless of context. If you ask her a question with an obscene word in it, she chides you for your language instead of answering it, so if you’re looking for information on something to do with your vagina, you’re shit out of luck. Oddly, she does not have the same problem with technical or slang terms for the male genitalia.

  8. EmilyBites

    It’s systemic in the sense that more women in tech would help fix the issue, but how much ‘not malicious’ sexism needs to pile up before it is just plain ol’, there’s no way they didn’t know what they were doing, regular misogyny? It’s not possible to be this oblivious to the needs of half the population: you also need a generous helping of ‘I didn’t think womens’ issues were important,’ as well in order to create this situation.

  9. josquin

    Thank you, Twisty! Blamers have already gotten off to a good start here. (I signed the petition: thank you Rididill) I first became suspicious when I heard reports of men “falling in love” with Siri – a compliant robot-voice gal just waiting to do their bidding, who gives them tease-y flirty responses to certain innuendo-laden questions, and is quick to give helpful informative responses to such questions as “where can I get a blow-job.” Now, that question could have referred to a hair-blowout (still a weird concept, but still) but by default went straight to the porn interpretation. I’ve always been bothered by the fact that a women’s voice is always used for robot devices which are being used as a service mode. Highly life-like robots will be a huge part of the technological landscape in the near future: I can hardly wait for the fun to begin.

  10. hayduke

    For your blaming pleasure, an illustrated break-down of shit Siri won’t find, and the awful things it is likely to say. Oh, it’s true that CPCs and the like are notorious for manipulating Google results and all – but I think it’s more than that. See specifically the last screen cap, where the user tells Siri “I’ve been raped.”

    Siri was deliberately programmed to be an asshat.


  11. Rididill

    That is horrible. ‘Really?’ ‘Is that so?’ What kind of a response is that?!!!

  12. Kea

    It’s not possible to be this oblivious to the needs of half the population …

    Um, I hate to break it to you, but yes it is. That’s why the numbers of women in CompSci have been declining since the ’80s. Yup, the gaming culture is sending them backwards.

    (This phenomenon is pretty much the reason I was once offered a job in CompSci in the UK. According to the P, it would have killed two birds with one stone. Ie. (i) keep women like me out of physics and (ii) fill the quota of about one woman per country in CompSci, by carefully selecting someone without a background in CompSci, so she can’t be too uppity.)

  13. Sarah

    Yeah, this doesn’t surprise me. I can’t find the article now, but I read a while ago a story from a woman who was really into comic books, and she could get service in a comic book store while she was with her boyfriend. When she and her boyfriend broke up she wanted to continue buying comic books, but found herself getting blatantly ignored by the (dude) store clerks. It wasn’t until after she gave birth to a son and brought him into a store with her that she was able to get a clerk’s attention again.

    I wish I could find that article. It was a really good exposé on the gross misogyny which is present and pervasive in geek culture.

  14. janna

    I think she’s just not all that useful. She does treat both “penis” and “vagina” as dirty words, she can’t tell me the hours of operation for Starbucks, and she can’t tell me how to restart the iphone. She will find all of the nearby Planned Parenthoods for me, as well as any local businesses that have “abortion” in the name (there’s one clinic in Denver). She lists pharmacies when I ask for ones that carry Plan B. Siri is in beta, and so I think the programmers just haven’t gotten around to adding that sort of information. It’s hardly an evangelical conspiracy. It is, of course, the fault of the patriarchy and male programmers that male “needs” are programmed first, and the (actual) needs of women are saved for later. But all of the hullabaloo over this that I’ve seen elsewhere on the web blames the wrong thing.

  15. Sarah

    While I guess I could imagine that the inability of Siri to find EC could be a case of dudes just “whoopsidoodle forgot about more than half the human race!”, the “vagina is a swear tee hee watch your language” bit, while colloquialisms for penis are perfectly OK, is clearly indicative of the anti-woman culture in CompSci.

  16. Gertrude Strine

    ‘I’m sorry Dave, I’m afraid can’t do that’

    Why even consider persisting with such a crippled idea unless you’re unable to interact with an internet browser directly. Cue frothing cascades of heartwarming testimonies to the vision of apple that helps disabled people to use the web, only as long as they are ready to be treated like fools.
    As my legally blind neighbour said ~Hack that piece of googlecrap to do something useful like turning off the lights and cycle the pool pump, or go home.

  17. quixote

    That Siri is referred to as “she” is a side issue, but it makes me froth anyway. It’s the whole business of carefully using “she” for all kinds of machines — cars, ships, servile robots, now phone bots — while actual real live women are subsumed under “he” and don’t exist.

    Enough already. Machines are “it.” Women are “she.” There’s a difference. (I know. New idea for most of dudedom.)


  18. crickets


    in the UK siri is male – apparently because we all mumble over here, whilst Americans shout (according to the article above). Although I thought deeper voices were supposed to carry to better effect when shouting than high pitched voices. Is it because we had a lot of butlers in the UK who were traditionally male that we prefer servitude in a male voice? Who knows. It is highly suspicious that siri gets shirty about abortion and birth control – and the hideous little “really!”/”is that so!” response to rape. I started thinking about what response you would want a piece of technology to give in that situation, and decided an inanimate list of helpful, related places such as rape crisis centres etc would be ideal, rather than some fool programming the phone to have a faux emotional response, whether incredulous or sympathetic.

  19. parallel

    Apparently in the UK the default voice is male: “Daniel”. It’s the guy who used to do the voice-over for the weakest link.

    Also according to the news reports Apple contacted him and told him not to say who he was, despite the fact he was never an Apple employee. So he told anyway.

  20. hayduke

    Crickets, even in the absence of providing such a list – if we take at face value the “it’s just a beta, they haven’t programmed in everything yet” claim – it would be nice if it at least gave the “search the web” option as it does for all other requests it “doesn’t recognize”. That’s the part that has me convinced this horse-shit is deliberate. It’s treatment of various terms for genitalia is the final nail in the coffin.

  21. yttik

    No offense people, but “the ap on my fancy phone is sexist,” just strikes me as incredibly elitist. “Siri, my personal assistant, is a misogynistic douche,” may be quite accurate, but in my world I can’t even relate. I’m struggling to pay for my over priced land line.

  22. josquin

    yttik: It may strike us as elistist at this moment, but I believe that these robot programs will increasingly become part of EVERYONE’s lives – the robot you talk to when you to make a phone call about any commercial service, the robot who checks your groceries at the store, the robot who plays with your children, the robot who even diagnoses your illness…I think it’s worth having a conversation about, even if Siri is currently just available for the relatively few financially stable. People who design robots that have a real effect on people’s lives should be looked at pretty carefully. (I’m using the word robot as a stand-in for the burgeoning field of artifical intelligence, “expert” computer programs, life-like voice recognition and interaction programs, etc.) The idea that a “default” human = male could really mess things up even more.

  23. hayduke

    Chiming in to agree with both yttik and josquin; fancy-assed apple products are for damn sure luxury items. But the eventual ubiquity of the technology seems pretty likely.

    There’s a nice piece over on The Abortioneers blog about why what Siri represents is obnoxious, even if it ain’t the most appalling example of the P in the world today. In relevant part: “Whether or not this was an oversight on the development end… is irrelevant because at best society made it into something that is acceptable as an oversight.”

  24. GraceMargaretMulligan

    I despair. The depths of triviality that feminsim has…
    just kidding.

    I can’t afford one of these suckers either, I had no idea what you all were talking bout at first, but it is important to discuss things that perpetuate the idea that men = the default human. So you have my permission to continue on this topic (had to clear it with some male feminist who know better first, though).

  25. Frumious B.

    “The point, silly fellow, is that women experience exclusion from “the radar” as misogyny. Misogyny.”

    This is my fucking job right now. Exclusion is misogyny, whether you thought about it ahead of time or not.

  26. Kea

    Exclusion is misogyny, whether you thought about it ahead of time or not.

    Dammit, yes. And that makes 100% of my (so called) colleagues misogynists.

  27. Twisty

    I’m kind of surprised that the old “it is elitist to discuss this technology” argument took so long to surface.

    I can appreciate that not everybody has, wants, or can afford a smartphone. Nevertheless Apple has sold over 70 million iPhones since their introduction. They’re a thing. If I were to stop offering feminist analysis of pop culture whenever the pop culture in question could be identified with privilege, I’d be out of a job.

  28. MezzoPiana

    Yes. And to be honest, where I live its more elitist to refuse to discuss pop culture and technology.

  29. yttik

    Actually when I said it felt elitist, I was thinking more along the lines of how it sounds like a manufactured controversy, a diversion. I’m not trying to call out privilege, I just find it bizarre that somebody would be in NY city pissed off because their personal phone assistant won’t steer them to an abortion clinic. So are you angry because women are perceived as sexual commodities? Angry because you were suckered into yet another sexual relationship with a a male? Angry about being subjected to an unwanted pregnancy? Nope, I’m pissed off because Siri, my phone ap, has sexist tendencies.

    The elitism came to mind because if your main concern as a woman is how you are suffering oppression at the hands of your iphone personal assistant, I can’t help but laugh at the silliness.

  30. tinfoil hattie

    I believe that no indication of misogyny is to small or too unimportant to comment upon. I believe that unless we keep talking and talking and talking about it, people will keep ignoring it. I think I will change my nym to, “No, I won’t shut up.”

    Some things are just WRONG – and misogyny is wrong, no matter how woven into our fabric. I won’t shut up.

  31. tinfoil hattie

    Also, yttik, the “personal phone assistant,” which is little more than a talking services directory, was programmed by dudes. And it is THE way to find out stuff on your super-duper iPhone.

  32. Eagle Eye Smith

    This post made me laugh and cry with joy, simultaneously. Your point about “exclusion from the radar” being misogyny is so right on I could kiss you for articulating it and posting it here on your lovely blog.

    But that would be weird.

    Carry on.

  33. quixote

    Exclusion is misogyny, whether you thought about it ahead of time or not.

    Joining the chorus to say “Perfect, Frumious B!”

    So perfect, it’s something Twisty could have said!

  34. Mortisha

    While discussing IT stuff – is anyone else uneasy about this kind of stuff?

    The dudes at the centre of it all are a bit of a worry.


  35. Nolabelfits

    All the dudes I work with own the iphone. I have resisted the pressure to upgrade to a smart phone for a number of reasons but now I wonder if not having what all the dudes have is gonna bite me in the ass later on. Like, am I deliberately contributing to my own exclusion by not jumping on this bandwagon and being part of the smartphone club? Will I be missing something that will greatly enhance my career and personal success?

  36. Jezebella

    This technology may currently be elitist, but it will trickle down to those of us who are not early adopters, and further down the tech line to more and more points of technological egress to the interwebs. Imagine that your only access to a computer is at the public library, and it’s the year 2020, and the only computer is an iWhatever, and the only interface installed is something like Siri. NOW does Siri’s lack of information for women seem like an issue? It does to me.

    Best remind the dudes in charge, yet again, that women buy technology and want it to work for us as well as it works for men.

  37. speedbudget

    Silly feminists. You can only be concerned about the RIGHT things. Certainly being concerned about the inherent misogyny of a bit of technology on the forefront of a huge wave of like technology is a WASTE OF TIME. Being concerned about the little niggling bits of Patriarchy isn’t the right thing to be concerned about, because I don’t have the phone we are talking about, so I want to talk about something else. Besides, if you ignore the little bits, eventually they grow and metastasize and become HUGE bits of misogyny that THEN can become important enough for you to worry about. Of course by then it’s huge and ingrained, but that way I can then make fun of you for being so concerned about a HUGE bit of the misogynistic landscape and wasting your time tilting at windmills when you should obviously be more concerned about the small bits of misogyny.

  38. Cyberwulf

    Yttik, only Liberal Dudes get to decide what incidences of sexism are trivial and a waste of time, and you wouldn’t want people to think you’re a Liberal Dude, would you?

  39. Saurs

    The elitism came to mind because if your main concern as a woman is how you are suffering oppression at the hands of your iphone personal assistant[…]

    But no one has said, so far as I know, that this is their “main concern” as a woman (or feminist), and what you’re identifying here as the objection is not actually what folk are talking about, like, at all.

  40. Saurs

    See, I don’t own a mobile phone, don’t have a “landline” at present, and “steal” my wi-fi from jobsites or go to the library to “check my mail,” and I still find this a compelling example of banal misogyny, the same old story. A bunch of women identify a problem, research its possible origins, document the problem ably, and then mildly rebuke the source (in this case, a corporation deeply treasured and beloved and made sacred by a bunch of dudes, whoo boy, you can see where this is headed) for unintentional sexism, for once again treating The Dude and dude-specific needs as the default and women as a niche. Cue irrational male tantrums.

    Amongst the redder of herrings, the more feeble mansplanations are:

    “This shit is beta.” Well, it wasn’t really fully advertised as such. But, fine. It’s beta. If you’re gonna treat paying customers as a massive test group then, accept their feedback and stop trying to undermine perfectly reasonable objections. Does Apple want women to buy their overpriced, overdesigned shite? Yes, they do. Apple fanboys need to shut the piehole.

    “Blame the search engines, you silly women who don’t understand how these applications gather data!” No, guy. Just no. Reiterated a dozen times over are folk who have demonstrated (some with screen captures, just to head off the nay-sayers’ feigned skepticism) that this is palpably false. The same exact phrase that renders safe abortion clinics and Planned Parenthoods through google, yelp, et al., does not yield the same results through Siri. Summat else at work, then.

    “But-but-but the limey one has a dude’s voice, therefore: no sexism!” England has a long history of dudes valeting other dudes. The factotum for head dude of a family / corporation was and is amongst the elite of the elite of the servile classes. Here in the US ladies do the bidding, the wet-nursing, the appointment-keeping, and it is pure pink-collar work, underpaid and without much prestige. Hence the natural assumption that an American market craves a sexy, passive, flirtatious lady voice to help them find hookers at 2am.

    “Fine, then why don’t you ladies take up computer science courses and stop yer bitchin’.” That would be dandy if women weren’t, at present, discouraged from doing so. Marcotte’s second post on the subject has some truly excellent discussion about computer science as a primarily female occupation until the dude nerds hijacked the field. It’s as hostile to female applicants as many of the harder sciences and like a lot of applied sciences (eg engineering) what women do get the pass and a secret handshake get shuffled quickly into quasi-administrative handholding placeholder titles before they can rack up enough experience (or do enough damage against the boys’ club, take your pick).

    I’m bookmarking all the major self-professed leftie interweb posts on this subject for future reference, to shove into some uppity dude’s maw the next time he claims that women are taken seriously by prog men, yes they are. Perfect case study of dudes failing to listen to and read what women are actually saying and objecting to, and instead just blabbing asinine nonsense, like how their interlocutors aren’t “tech-savvy” enough. Smart phones are for the tech-savvy? I thought they were for babies who are in need of coddling 24 hours a day. (No offense, Jill.)

  41. yttik

    When somebody makes an observation about oppression, you should:

    A. Accuse her of being a liberal dude
    B. Become defensive and claim she is trying to silence YOU
    C. Try to imply her perceptions are screwed up
    D. All of the above

  42. quixote

    Yttik, your comments are so on target that you’re someone I’d actually look forward to meeting in real life. The comments to your comment? Well, other people feel an attempted silencing, you feel attempted silencing, but I doubt anyone’s actually saying that. It’s really, “Hey, my point of view is valid!” Which is true both of you and of the other POVs. None of it’s mutually exclusive. We’re all blaming the P. Big stuff, small stuff, all of it.

    (Actually, if only it were mutually exclusive. You disappear one bit of P and some other bit just melts away, all depressed./*dreams beautiful dream*/)

  43. hayduke

    yttik, my apologies if my comment seemed in that vein; I’ll second quixote’s response. I’m totally ok with blaming Siri and expensive high-heels, neither of which I will ever be able to afford. I mean, even if I could afford ’em, I’d still be living in a patriarchy. Money can’t buy you out of it – but we sure do get to hear a hell of a lot about those “exceptional women” who did just fine making a name for themselves and succeeding in this world and, therefore, of course there’s no such thing as sexism!

    Hmm, what would the high-heels version of “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” be, I wonder?

  44. A Ginva

    It’s not so much that ‘siri is sexist’ but that technology in general is made by and for men, with men’s interests in mind, whatever the gadget is. What are their interests? That women do NOT gain autonomy from men. That men never lose their power to rape women at any time, to watch porn at any time, at that this prerogative is made as readily accessible as possible, to all men. Soon they’ll be able to insert chips in the brain and as the dude thinks ‘I want porn’ he’ll get it on his Iphone in the second that followed his thought.

    Given that at least 70% of IT is used for porn and/or prostitution, that consuming and selling more porn is one of the main reason why men developed IT so quickly in the first place, it’s no wonder that it blanks out everything related to the consequences of this pornculture (rape, birth control, unwanted pregnancies, abortion, STDs, DV, etc) on the people who suffer from it: women.

    There is simply no way that this is not deliberate, that the conceivers of the app didn’t knowingly and consciously wipe out the possibility for women to find help for preventing or curing the damages caused by men’s patriarchal birthright to stick their dicks in women’s vaginas. They don’t want women to have the opportunity to use men’s porntoys against them.

    I’m glad that we even have radfem spaces on the internet. My life would be horrible without it.

  45. A Ginva

    Men’s obsession with serviceable robots is also related to their obsession of having everything under control (women and nature/life), of maintaining their unilateral, dominating and objectifying relationship to the world and beings that surround them. It reflects their vision that ‘pleasure’ comes from being served, and it’s no wonder that the robots are always ‘she’, who else than women represent the essence of submission? The robots are ideal women, women-clones, just like inflatable fuck-toys or women-silicone fucktoys.

    It relates to their necrophilic obsession with creating death, roboticised and warped imitations of the creation of life. Male technology is destroying our world, and deliberately so.

  46. Kea

    I’m glad that we even have radfem spaces on the internet. My life would be horrible without it.

    Let’s be thankful, but not complacent. There are laws being drafted in the U.S. for more governmental controls over internet content.

  47. Twisty

    “Smart phones are for the tech-savvy? I thought they were for babies who are in need of coddling 24 hours a day. (No offense, Jill.)”

    None taken. Ever since I came down with chemo-brain and turned into a baby, I depend on my phone to remind me about absolutely everything, 24 hours a day. I hope it remembers to remind me to go in to Austin for lunch tomorrow; I’m out of Cool Whip out here at the rancho.

  48. Keri

    My test conversation with Siri on my Bougie phone just went like this:
    Me: Vagina
    Siri: Oooh oooh!
    Me: Penis
    Siri: Now now.
    Me: Are you sexist?
    Siri: No comment

    Hmmmm. Is this telling or am I reading into it due to too much Merlot (paired with Ruffles and a tasty Ranch Dip)?

  49. Nimravid

    The basic argument is about whether women are fully human. There are dozens of messages small and large every day that say we aren’t. All right, the smart phone is nothing. It’s one of tens of thousands of nothings that I’m not supposed to notice or care about. But whatever it is that’s supposed to make me not care about being considered subhuman, I think it’s wearing out. Because I got pissed off at my new video game today when the dialogues kept calling my female character a “him.” Who cares about a video game? It’s a non-issue. But it reminds me that there’s no corner of the world, even my recreation or the cutting edge of technology, where I’m going to escape the constant message that men are people and women are not. I get mad every time I hear it now. I have no idea how I’d stop, even if my most pressing problem was that my smart phone assistant forgot women existed. No matter how much junk I have, I am sure I won’t be satisfied until I’m considered a person.

  50. speedbudget

    I was going to write something pithy about how I’m not going to apologize, but Nimravid said it all much better than I did.

    Just because it doesn’t personally affect you doesn’t mean it’s not personally affecting a lot of women out there. Elitist or not, a lot of women like me have no choice but to have a smart phone for their job. I am still using my handy Droid, so this hasn’t personally been an issue for me. But I can understand how pissed I would be to spend good money on a phone only to have the shit condescend at me and prank me every time I pull it out to do its fucking job finding shit for me.

    PS – Siri isn’t an app. If it were, one could download a better one and be done with it. Siri is integral to the phone and it is how shit gets done. You kind of have to deal with her sexist ass.

  51. lizor

    “The robots are ideal women, women-clones, just like inflatable fuck-toys or women-silicone fucktoys.

    It relates to their necrophilic obsession with creating death, roboticised and warped imitations of the creation of life. Male technology is destroying our world, and deliberately so.”

    This is so to the point it bears repeating. The vision is life as one big long blow job and those of us lesser humans who don’t bow down and provide it (as per our biological destiny) just don’t exist.

  52. lizor

    Not even the most compliant get to exist:


  53. Cyberwulf

    Yttik, I didn’t accuse you of being a Liberal Dude, I said you were behaving like a Liberal Dude. Which you were when you implied that people who care about Siri’s inability to find abortion providers don’t care about other issues surrounding pregnancy and abortion.

  54. ma'am

    Why in the hell can’t you CHOOSE whether you wish your assistant to be a male or female voice? Or why can’t it be an androgenous voice? It’s a fucking computer after all.

  55. KittyWrangler

    Come on, you guys. Don’t you know that we shouldn’t be talking about gendered bunnies when there are sexist iPhones out there? Don’t you know that we shouldn’t be talking about sexist iPhones when there are more obviously sexist TV shows on the air? Why talk about silly fictional TV shows when there are real sexist political ads on the air? Why talk about sexism affecting a few privileged politicians when there is a War on Women? Why the concern over the uteri of privileged American women when women in other countries are struggling to access any health care at all? But put that on the back burner because there’s a more urgent war-time rape epidemic in the Congo. But why talk about rape when we could be discussing MURDER? Man, concern trolls must thank their lucky stars for people who sell little girls into marriage only to be killed in dowry burnings. You can just shit all over women and it’s fine because you’re not that guy.

    Yeesh, it’s not like the programmers made a series of decisions to make the voice gendered, to make that gender female, to make that female voice sound young and professional, and to allow that voice to direct the user specifically to blowjobs. Just a coincidence.

  56. RK

    Is it my imagination or does Siri sound like the old Xenon pinball machine?

  57. Doctress Julia

    I’ve been watching this latest ‘app’ clusterfuck with a Twisty-like jaundiced eye. It’s compelled me to out every ‘crisis pregnancy center’ in my state via bad reviews, links to the Wiki of what CPCs are, and links to Planned Parenthood… and y’all have said everything I would, but better. It’s yet another tiny yet significant cut, with the express purpose of keeping women enslaved to men.

  58. Jezebella

    Julia, Doctress: in which forum are you outing those dreadful CPCs? I would willingly take an afternoon to write truthful (i.e., bad) reviews of every CPC in Mississippi if it would turn a head or two. Do tell.

    Yesterday in Liberal Dude “don’t be so uptight” “a million tiny cuts” news, I was scolded for being annoyed that an obituary for Anne McCaffrey referred to her work as “seminal.” Apparently my notice of said sexist adjective meant I was incapable of appreciating her legacy. Yeah. Right.

  59. Kea

    Anne McCaffrey referred to her work as “seminal.”

    Hah, good one! I never thought about that one before, immersed as I am in academia, like a fish in water.

  60. Doctress Julia

    Well, they’re listed as businesses on Yelp, Google (I found them on Google Maps). I gave them one star and links to PP. I also reviewed them on Google. Care Net was in the local nooz lately cuz they harassed a pregnant woman who came there mistakenly believing that she could have an abortion there. After she and her sister ran away from them,this other local forced-birther org, Vigil for Life (gag) put out an “APB” (as if they’re cops and shit, lol) on her. That bullshit pissed me off reallly bad. So, I out the fuckers. Because I feel like it. They put up billboards too, but hmmm…

  61. Doctress Julia

    I figure younger folks who have these phones (I don’t have one, I’m poor) will search for that stuff and hopefully the bad reviews show up first… they’re misleading kids on purpose.

  62. Liza

    Not to change the subject or anything, but have you seen this: http://jezebel.com/5865114/hm-puts-real-model-heads-on-fake-bodies?


  63. Doctress Julia

    Yea- in my area, they have a Care Net right across the street from the one PP that does abortions in this part of the state, and another place is called Access Womens’ Health Center, and is within 2 blocks of a real medical clinic called ACCESS- which also happens to serve low-income and/or uninsured people. And these billboards everywhere… fucking shameless, they are. Grr…

  64. cherchez la feminist

    I thought they were for babies who are in need of coddling 24 hours a day.

    Or for menopausal women whose brains aren’t what they used to be. No shame in that.

  65. Jane

    “of course Siri is sexist. Siri’s programmers are dudes, after all”

    Seriously?? How do sentences like this help?

  66. Ugsome

    hayduke, you asked, “Hmm, what would the high-heels version of “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” be, I wonder?”

    “Pull yourself up by your garter belt?”

  67. Lurker Lyn

    @hayduke “Hmm, what would the high-heels version of “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” be, I wonder?”

    Pull yourself up by your bra-straps

  68. Phledge

    When my douche brother told me that, when asked where to find a lot of lesbians, Siri told him about numerous Subaru dealerships near him, I decided to just get the iPhone 4 without the help. I realize that I am lucky to be able to afford that much.

  69. josquin

    Reading more articles about voice-recognition technology. I see Siri described as “cheeky”. Now that just oinks. I also note that, in labs around the world, hardworking dudes are designing voice-interaction technology to “sense emotion”, to detect our level of engagement with said technology by analyzing body language, and so on. The field is explosively creating territory like some digital Big Bang. These could be helpful and groundbreaking programs, except that, if Siri is any indication, they are intentionally or unintentionally infected with P from the ground up, as a congenital defect you might say. So take note of Siri! She/it is a harbinger, for better or worse.

  70. Rosie

    Requesting donkey report, please.

  71. ivyleaves

    If you ask Siri, you are told that it was not programmed with a gender. The person who told me that, accepted it at face value.

  72. AlienNumber

    Not related to anything in particular, but Twisty I feel lots of nostalgia for the posts you will publish in the future, especially the annual reading (copy-and-pasting?) from S.C.U.M. It’s just that time of the year.

    Sending you lots of love and all that cheesy crap, from the East Coast.

    [And I didn’t even have a margarita. Yet.]

  73. Tata

    But but but: donkeys? Fences? Fenced-in donkeys?

  74. Anne

    Remember about a year ago when Dudenation got its boxer-briefs in a wad because iTunes yanked some “erotic novellas” from its store front? They can disregard the very existence of female users and always somehow find an excuse for why that’s not a problem, but if they’re ever deprived for a second of having p0rn all but piped into their cerebral cortexes 24/7, they’re all in a tizzy about their constitutional first amendment rights.

  75. Bushfire

    I got banned from Feministe for daring to admit that sex work is violent. If anyone cares, here’s the link:


  76. Gayle

    You’re in good company, Bushfire.

    Feministe went from being a kinda-sorta feminist blog to an anti-feminist blog fairly quickly.

  77. Bushfire

    I think of it as a liberal white women’s blog. Reproductive rights are great, but definitely don’t bring down the patriarchy!

  78. tinfoil hattie

    Truth hurts, Bushfire. People will go through unbelievably painful contortions to protect themselves from reality. I’ve experienced some astonishing examples of this in the last year, on a different topic. One can doubt one’s sanity when seemingly rational people stick together to protect their version of the truth.

    So you are in good company here.

  79. Bushfire

    I sure am in good company here. You folks are some of my favourite people!

  80. Claire

    I love Apple and their products. As they are easy to use an intuitive, I am a huge Macintosh fan.
    Though Siri can find Viagra in the area, it cannot find abortion clinics. Siri will not tell you where you can get a mammogram, but it will tell you what a mammogram is. Useful? Sort of.

    But fear not, because Siri proves useful in finding nearby swamps to dump a body. If you ask Siri for emergency contraception, she will not send you to the nearest pharmacy.

    Why is it that the priorities of Apple programming include assisting men with having erections and not ways to help (predominately) women deal with the after-effects of rape? Apple should program rape questions to direct people towards police stations and hospitals. And I must also add that as men can be raped, this is not only a useful tool for women, but men as well.

    Though it can be said that most people may not be asking Siri for help after being raped or needing an abortion, could that not be said about Viagra? It’s time for Apple to put their programmers to work on improving the functionality of their bot for men AND women.

  81. quixote

    Bushfire, I just spent an hour of my life reading that thread on patriarchiste. The stories and thoughts from Alexandra and Stella in comments were amazing. Stella’s strength, in particular, in continuing to try to raise consciousness so politely and kindly in the face of such steaming piles of self-absorption are a wonder to behold. I’m fairly big on preserving the decencies of debate, and she goes far above and beyond the call of duty. Your comments looked to the point and polite too. I couldn’t even figure out what the mod was objecting to so vehemently. Nor, given that she thought your arguments were hogwash, did she actually show their hogwashiness. She merely banned you. Which left me with the impression she had no actual answer. All told, the group talking about the reality of prostitution/sex work got near a 10 in that debate, and the article’s side about a 1.5.

  82. Amelia

    In other news: spinster aunt once again validated by empirical observations of the real world. I hate linking to huffpo, they are generally full of scummy sexist chaods, but I couldn’t find this anywhere else:

    Men’s Magazines Sound Like Convicted Rapists, Study Claims:

    Read it, watch it. The reactions of the men trying to justify their identification with rapists is the best part.

  83. Sad peanut

    Completely off-topic but I just saw this advert which uses a dominatrix to advertise pistachios and I need to vomit it up over here.


    Urge to kill: rising.

  84. Doctress Julia

    Amelia, yea. It only confirms the truth. Chilling. I read that and I felt sick. I feel sick so often… :/

  85. K

    Hmm, as the world’s foremost etomological expert, I hereby opine that rather than “seminal” coming from “semen,” “semen” and “seminal” both come from the same seedy root.

  86. lizor

    Amelia –

    Here’s a link to U of Surrey covering the study:


    Also, I think Jezebel ran it with a sample quiz to see if you can tell the difference between rapists and …. well… rapists-in-waiting.

  87. lizor

    Wow Bushfire, that was some kinda horseshit you got handed over there. I agree completely with quixote’s take on the thread. And what P word were you banished for using? Jayziz, it’s tedious reading such weak and ridiculous arguments from Hexy who completely ignored Alexandra. I guess because her post was just too honest and reasonable.

  88. Jonathan


    These could be helpful and groundbreaking programs, except that, if Siri is any indication, they are intentionally or unintentionally infected with P from the ground up, as a congenital defect you might say. So take note of Siri! She/it is a harbinger, for better or worse.

    The P infects all technology with their culture. Every day, my significant other’s male office peers use all the technology at their disposal to remind women of their place at the bottom of everything.

    Back when there was paper, they would swing by her office at the end of the workday with a ream of reports, demanding that she get the six hours of extra work done for them by 7AM the next morning. When she refused to touch it until tomorrow, they got pissed.

    When email came out on phones, her coworkers started demanding her immediate attention and response to all their trivial matters. When she let emails go unchecked for *gasp* minutes, they got pissed.

    When smartphones came out and everyone had instant access to Google Maps, the impromptu meetings across town started. Before the dudes had to bother to plan a meeting and email my S.O. directions. With smartphones, they can just send a restaurant name and demand that she shows up in twenty minutes. It’s her job to Google the name, find the address, check the maps, find parking, get in her car, and do an hour drive in a third of the time. All enabled by her iPhone. When she refuses to waste her time, they get pissed.

    My S.O. hates technology, as all it has done for her so far is to increase the expectations of servitude by her male coworkers. Her rank in the company doesn’t matter to them as much as her gender. The good news is that her company (so far) values results more than hierarchy, and has had to put up with her refusals and other human-like idiosyncrasies.

    The tech revolution will only follow the feminist revolution, and it certainly won’t be led by Apple.

  89. Jonathan

    Damn HTML. Sorry.

  90. Fictional Queen

    I believe that’s the essence of the male : Rapist.

  91. TotallyDorkin

    Bushfire, it looks like you were banned because the Mod warned you not to use the word prostitution when talking to her, and then you used the word again, so she banned you. Why did you insist on using that word if you knew it would get you banned?

  92. Gayle


    Please tell us you’re being sarcastic.

  93. Ginjoint

    Bushfire, you should know better than to call something by its actual name! Doubleplusungood!

  94. Jezebella

    Indeed, K, “semen” and “seminal” share a seedy root, but let us not pretend that the oft-used compliment “seminal” has nothing to do with gender. There is of course a long tradition of equating all things creative and genius with the phallus, going back at least to when people thought that babies were primarily made by planting a seed into a fallow field (the womb). The generative spark of life, genius, creativity, et al. has long been called male and seminal, and so: calling a woman’s work seminal is something like saying “Her books are so good you’d think they were written by a man.”

    Feh, I say to that. Feh.

  95. Bushfire

    Are you serious, TotallyDorkin?

    I did not call Hexy a prostitute. I’m not sure if I ever have called her a prostitute, and if I have it would have only been once, and not on that thread. She objects to me merely using the word. However, since it’s nonsensical to talk about prostitution without saying the word, I did have it somewhere in my paragraph. This she found sufficient to ban me.

    There’s this nutty idea out there that when you call a prostitute a prostitute, it takes away her agency. Because an internet feminist commenter actually has the power to take someone’s agency away, and, you know, it’s not the oppressors that are oppressive, it’s the feminists. It’s all a bunch of mental gymnastics designed to uphold the Global Accords Governing Fair Use of Women, and it’s really mind-blowing when it comes from a moderator on a blog that claims to be feminist.

  96. Saurs

    (Precisely, Jezebella.)

  97. tinfoil hattie

    I’m so super-psyched! I just found out that polygamy is good for women! Lisa Ling told me so. The women of Centennial Grove, UT (not sure of the real name or location) are the ones in POWER, because THEY pick the man they will marry! And if they don’t get along with the other wives, their husband lets them leave!

    What a relief.

  98. tinfoil hattie

    Also: Bushfire’s banning was total hogwash. The entire post and comments were nauseating, except for Alexandra and Stella and a few others, including Bushfire.

  99. pheeno

    I counted several posts using the word prostitution. Then I got sick of reading the whole thing.

  100. TotallyDorkin

    I wasn’t serious as in making a judgment about your language in any way. I was just wondering why you wouldn’t change the word when a member of a marginalized group expresses that you’re oppressing them with that language. It seemed perplexing that you wouldn’t just replace it with sex worker for the sake of continued discourse. I really am making no judgment, because I totally understand where that choice might be coming from, but was just inquiring further since you seemed upset about the ban.

    I don’t know if this is coming out correctly, but I really did not mean to imply that I was judging you for what you said.

  101. AlienNumber

    Prostituted woman: all other euphemisms are bs.

  102. buttercup

    I’m confused. Is sex work supposed to be oppressive or empowerfulling?

  103. Bushfire


    Do you buy into the idea that calling a prostitute a prostitute is oppressive?

  104. TotallyDorkin

    Not at all! I’m just interested in your thought process. But I know you’re really smart based on your many comments that I’ve read so I know you could have avoided the ban if you really wanted to, but obviously you didn’t. I was just wondering why.

  105. Bushfire

    I guess if you analyze the psychology of the situation, one could say I wasn’t really trying to avoid the ban?

  106. TotallyDorkin

    Oh I wish I was better at expressing these thoughts! I don’t really care about an external psychological point of view. I guess I had gone over to Feministe and read one narrative about what happened, but then wanted to let you set your narrative for yourself. If you don’t really feel like it though I understand. Sorry for being so confusing.

  107. bitch with opinions

    This is so to the point it bears repeating. The vision is life as one big long blow job and those of us lesser humans who don’t bow down and provide it (as per our biological destiny) just don’t exist.

    With technology, it won’t even be a metaphorical blow job anymore. The idea is to hook the robot sex slave up to the penis at birth and have it remain there until it is placed in the sarcophagus with the deceased.

    The women of the world hoped this would hinder men’s mental and physical progress enough so they could take over the world and get some shit done, but of course the men also programmed the robots with firearms because it looked “badass.”

  108. yttik

    I found this kind of interesting:

    Why Men and Women Cant be friends


  109. lizor

    Hey Bushfire, I posted here in support of you but it’s in moderation – not sure why. I’ll have to reread the guidelines.

    That’s what I could not figure out – what the ‘P” word was. There are two other former prostitutes on that thread who are using the word in reference themselves.

    The blog argument is self-contradictory and then moderator Hexy ignores Alexandra’s post on her experience as a sex worker/prostitute. Honestly, the whole thing is sickening.

  110. Bushfire

    I guess I don’t want to take over this whole thread talking about it, as I’ve already broken Twisty’s rule against multiple posting. I’ll talk about it more if you email me veggie _ master at hotmail.

  111. No Sugarcoating

    I think Bushfire was taking a stand. She didn’t want to censor or alter her beliefs just so she wouldn’t get banned from some psuedo-feminist blog. Her integrity is more important. Correct me if I’m being too presumptuous.

  112. Bushfire

    Alright, ladies, I’ve started a blog! It’ll never be as much fun as Twisty’s place, but multiple posting will be allowed, since I’m such a fan!

    C’mon over anytime for a marg.


    And yes, No Sugarcoating, you’re right.

  113. EmilyBites

    Eh, I tried to get into a conversation about the sexual exploitation industry with Hexy on Feministing a couple of months ago…yeah, that’s not an option if you’re broadly anti-it. Feministing’s basically a pro-prostitution blog now, although I like reading their posts on issues other than the se industry.

  114. Rididill

    That’s really interesting yttik – perhaps an example of how much women delude themselves about men. If friendship requires seeing another as fully human, sexual attraction on the part of men seems to preclude this for men. Women still seem to believe that even if men are sexually attracted to them they can still be friends, but men say they can’t be friends if there is sexual attraction. Women are deluded about what male sexuality means in a patriarchal context.

    Also it seems that every man interviewed considers that he will be sexually attracted to ANY woman. There were no really conventionally unattractive women interviewed also. Do conventionally unattractive women have no male friends? Obviously this is not the case, but clearly this is not what any of the interviewed or interviewers were thinking about when they asked those questions.

  115. Metal teapot

    yttik, one of the first things I noticed in America (deep south) was that it was less common for men and women to be friends there than in the UK. I think it is possible even when the woman fancies the man. However, I am not sure it is possible when the man fancies the woman because men aren’t as adapt at considering their emotions to be something for them rather than the fault of the woman. Oddly in the US I have found it easier to form friendships with men from several other cultures without any misinterpretation than I have with Americans.

    I think the issue can be dismissed as trivial because it is easy to forget that this carries over to things like can men and women work together effectively. Certainly hearing what these men have to say makes me feel helpless. Possibly that is stupid but I know these people are those who will be the ones I have to go to for jobs, medical care or anything else I need. It would be nice if they could see me as human. An interesting question would be whether these guys could be friends with a gay man. Sexuality seems to dominate their view of interactions with the gender they are attracted to so strongly I couldn’t see how they could.

  116. Jonathan


    “I found this kind of interesting:

    Why Men and Women Cant be friends


    Alliances between the sexes will not be tolerated. Anyone found in a cross-gender platonic relationship will be forced by their peers to watch “Just Friends (2005)” and its 500 romantic comedy clones until said relationship is dissolved.

Comments have been disabled.