Research for an article on Siri and the Feminist Media Fail

I’m having way too much fun today. Finally, I get to write on my blog! I’m trying to get in as much writing as I can before RJP and FWA get out of school next Friday and we travel to see family. Hi AMP! Can’t wait to see you next Sunday! I thought I’d archive some sources for an article that I’m planning to write about Siri and all of the hype surrounding its feminism fail from a few weeks ago. In my article, I’m not so interested in detailing how/why Siri is a problem for people who need reproductive health resources (want to know why I write “people” and not “women”? Read this) as I am in critically analyzing the ways in which the story about Siri’s reproductive health limitations was discussed by various feminist/feminist-friendly blogs and then taken up by other non (or possibly pseduo) feminist sites.

Some primary questions I want to pose:

  • What doesn’t get discussed when the issue of Siri’s limitations gets reduced to the conclusion that Apple is pro-life or anti-feminist or misogynist?
  • What important feminist/critical conversations about technology, Smartphone Apps, the digital divide, and reproductive justice are foreclosed with this reduction?
  • How does mainstream (social) media take up and distort stories first introduced on alternative media sites (like feminist or critical race blogs)?

Since I haven’t had that much time to think through this project (with teaching and grading and tweeting and running and writing other posts), I don’t have any big conclusions yet. But, I do have a timeline of sources! Here it is:

TIMELINE of articles/responses
november 27, 2011: 

november 28, 2011:

november 29, 2011:

People have suggested that this about a lack of female programmers. I don’t think it is. One doesn’t have to be female to know that if you’re going to provide your customers with the benefit of the doubt that they’re adults and will give information on where to buy condoms, beer, the names of local escort companies and “tongue in cheek” locations for hiding a dead body, you should provide information about health clinics, especially when customers know their full names and basic locations. I don’t think you need females on your programming staff to know that a person can go to an ob/gyn for birth control, not just a “birth control clinic.” I don’t think that it’s necessary to be female to know that rape is a violent crime and that a rape victim will need a hospital and/or the police before they need a “treatment center.” This isn’t just about gender. This is about something more esoteric and far far less simple to explain.

november 30, 2011:

december 1, 2011:

december 2, 2011:

december 5, 2011:

Any other blog/news sources that I should include in this timeline? I should note that I don’t think that my list is exhaustive; I’m sure that many others have written about this incident (there are probably tons of posts on tech blogs that critique the idea of a bad apple). For my article, I’m more interested in critically reflecting/documenting a general trend (and a common pattern that frequently occurs with “feminist” issues in the blog-0-spheres).

One thought on “Research for an article on Siri and the Feminist Media Fail”

  1. Hi Sara, congratulations on surviving another semester – you’re students did so much wonderful work!

    IDK about Siri providing prostitutes & viagra but not family planning… but speaking more generally…

    It was the late Steve Jobs vision of providing, well, a walled garden. A place of limited speech where no “extreme” speech was heard, and no valuable Apple customers could be offended.

    Ever since Google “grew up,” their star has been less perfectly shiny and more complex, none-the-less, Apple and Google do, to a large degree, represent opposite perspectives on speech.

    Apple has always (since Steve Jobs squeezed Steve Wozniak out) been about high quality and high control. Google has always been a lot more willing to let all of it in. That also means a lot more hate speech. My personal hope is that if we don’t censor speech, yes there will be hate, but I hope and believe in a large enough array of voices speaking their many, honest truths and refuting chauvinism, that we can have a better informed, less subject to propaganda, culture.

    As an artist I have enjoyed Apple products in the past, but I don’t buy them anymore and I don’t plan to in the future. Steve Jobs was essentially a 21st century “Hollywood Mogul” creating spectacular products that delighted the masses, but eased out diversity and speech.

    I still believe in openness, free speech, and inclusivity.

Comments are closed.