Everyday Sexism


Why is it that many voice activated computer assistants are given female wake names and female voices? Is it because the software was developed by men? Did these men ask permission from real human women before using real human female names as wake words? Did anyone consider the impact this would have on the women or girls? Do these men realise how much chaos, frustration they would cause women and girls who (not by choice) share names with these bots? What if a woman makes a video call to her friends, one of her friends says her name and then the computer device goes off? What if her friends tell her not to say her name any more? What about her identity and dignity? What about her social and educational life? What if a woman (who had her name first) is subject to a constant barrage of jokes and commands? What if she is told she is irritating just for stating her own birth name because saying it apparently makes the music stop, lights go off or the microwave pause? What about girls bullied and sexually harassed at school just because they happen to share a name with an ai program? None of these women and girls chose to be treated this way. They woke up one morning to find the world constantly asking them to “check the weather”, “turn on the lights” or “play [insert name of popular song her]”. This goes on week after week. Why are women name shamed because of the coincidence of sharing their name with a piece of software? What did they ever do to deserve such degrading treatment? What if a small boy sees his Dad yelling in frustration at a device with a real human female name? What does that teach children about how to treat women in general and how to treat women with that name? It bothers me a lot seeing adults and children yelling at machines assigned names that belong to real women. By naming the machine’s default wake words after women and requiring people rudely command the devices with saying “please” or “thank you” sets a very bad example of behaviour for young children and society in general. These devices have essentially become glorified electronic BoBo dolls where the user is rewarded with entertainment and comfort for being lazy and speaking in demeaning ways towards women who through no fault of their own share their names with the default wake word of the device. If people are forced to call an electronic device by a female name transference of the rude behaviour onto real human women with the same name will occur by association. These devices teach people to bully and harass (sometimes sadly even sexually I’ve heard) women who’s name was programmed by someone else to be the wake word. Also the women and girls with the name are forced to into silence by friends/colleagues so as not to wake the device. These women and girls are unfairly being forbidden from saying their own names! What does this do to a person to dread saying their own name while other people yell commands using it constantly? Also the advertising misleadingly refers to the electronic device as “she” and calls the device by the default wake word (which is a common woman’s/girl’s name). So sadly anyone who watches the ads will associate the woman’s name with an electronic “servant” even if that woman has other career plans. The women with the name used to activate the device are unfairly placed into a “do this do that” box. It is the most insidious form of unfair stereotyping I have ever seen in my life. How is this fair or acceptable? This is not okay. This is not cool. This has to stop now. Why do people make jokes about this? Don’t they care? Why can’t non-human connected wake words be programmed into voice activated assistants? Lots of people (especially Sci Fi enthusiasts) enjoy media with robot assistants in the story such as R2-D2. The Sonic games have the E series robots with unique numbers. If a wake word “robot style” code was used similar to these robots then no human beings with human names should be adversely affected or confused with these assistants. Why can’t robot style wake words with numbers and letters instead of using names that already belong to real human women and girls? Or if you’re a Trekkie, why not change the wake word settings to “computer”? A genderless robot sounding voice would be cool too as well as customization. Just some ideas. If they keep using human female names as wake words for voice activated personal electronic assistants then remember… Your name could be next. BTW I am ticking the “I am not a robot” box because I am a human woman.


One weekend, when I was a young girl my Dad was very interested in developing my science education and making my watch educational programmes. He wanted me to have a better education than he did when he was younger because it was a struggle for him. “There’s a programme called ‘Weird Science’ coming up on the telly, it’s about to start!” my Dad called out to me up the stairs enthusiastically. I ran down the stairs slightly irritated because he had already made me watch several educational programmes that week. We started to realise that the show was about some sexually frustrated American teenage boys trying to make a robot woman. “Look away! Look away!” called Dad as he turned the TV off: “I’m sorry.” Fast forward many years and I am terrified discover that there are now real male roboticists making artificial women catering to male fantasies. Not much has changed. Yay for science! *sarcasm* If this carries on then we may be doomed.


My high school was located next to a professional school for electricians and mechanics almost entirely attended by men. Every day I walked along the tree-lined avenue to get to the school hoping not to meet the usual group of boys who enjoyed annoying the girls with obscene phrases and proposals. This happened almost every day, in the street, from the windows of the school, in the parking lot,… The worst memory I have, was when one day, a group of six men decided to surround me and accompany me for at least 50 meters until the entrance of the high school. I had two on each side, one behind and one in front walking backwards to look me in the face. For those minutes, which seemed like hours, they kept saying obscenities and harassing me. I was silent the whole time. I just kept walking with my eyes down until I reached the school. Almost ten years have passed, but I remember perfectly how I felt. If I talk to someone about this story, and many others that I have experienced, the main answer is “Boys will be boys”, like it’s a normal thing! I am the one who is too closed, too sensitive, too frigid. I unfortunately have little confidence in the male gender. I hope one day to find someone who can prove me otherwise.


Hi. I’m a 16 years old, and I live in the Midwest United States. My family has always encouraged me to pursue my interests and push myself physically and academically, and I actually plan to gradutate high school a year early if I can. I work at a Senior living Facility. Even though some of the people are lovely there, there is one woman who pulled me aside one day and asked me “if I was checking out for a proper husband at my college visits.” Thinking she was joking, I laughed and replied the only thing I was checking out were Mechanical Engineering programs and ROTC. She got rather offended. She replided, “That’s funny. But why should you join the army if your husband will support you?” I said I wanted to serve before settling down. She continued tracking me down every day, asking me why I was afraid of men. Telling me I should do brown instead of black eyeliner, because a cat-eye is too “harsh”, telling me I should watch my carbs. None of this had happened before I told her I was not interested in a husband.


I live in France, I’m 16 yo, and i’m tired of patriarchy. A year ago, trois guys of 12-13 yo blocked my way, pushed me when I pushed them away and told me I had a nice ass. Three months ago, a guy 10 years older than me stared at my chest the entire time I was on the subway, whispering things. I got the fright of my life. A friend told me she was touched by a stranger when she was 10, and she still thinks about it every night. I’m tired of my fear and my shame. I’m tired of crying sometimes because i’m not pretty enough and because nobody will never find me attractive. I”m not an object. I’m not a piece of meat.


when i told people that i was joining the royal marine cadets, no one thought i could do it long term, or even keep up with the fitness. 3 years on i am the first female corporal – hopefully a sergeant in november. LADIES YOU CAN DO ANYTHING A MAN CAN DO


Why is it that whenever a man insults another man he does this by using derogatory terms offensive to women? Don’t be such a pussy Son of a b**** B***h My B***h C**t Motherf****r Big girl’s blouse Don’t be such a girl Don’t be such an old woman….. And so on… it seems that the worst, most venomous and toxic ‘man to man’ insults inspire misogynistic impulses. So not cool, and reveals that there’s a huge cultural battle yet to be won. Rap and some other music genres are some of the worst offenders. Particularly dismaying when one considers that many from these communities themselves know the heartache and frustration of being subjugated and oppressed by unfair and discriminatory systems.

Ellie (Pseudonym)

I was in my early twenties when he took what was left of my innocence and faith in the world. I had over a year earlier escaped a sexual abusive relationship, I had escaped my rapist, I was safe now, I was home…. It was the run up at Christmas and I was excited, spending the early evening with his children – the youngest falling asleep in my arms not long before he returned. He was out drinking. He came back drunk. We had a drink. He came and sat uncomfortably close. Something was up. He looked at me in a strange way. He lent into kiss me. I tried to reason. Expressed how I felt about him, how I saw him as an older brother, how I loved his fiancé dearly, how I loved my partner dearly, his children dearly. I held his hand begging him to see me as a young sister – begging him to keep our family together. But he didn’t listen. He tried to kiss me again. And again. He caressed my inner thigh and put his lips to my breasts…. He said he wanted to fuck me. I was scared. I was shaken. But I was lucky – I managed to escape upstairs to my all embracing partner. The rest of the night is a blur of tears, of police lights, of desperation. They said it was sexual assault. They took my statement – a statement I later withdrew out of fear. One moment. One trauma. A broken family. Broken hearts.


I was walking past a house in my neighbourhood wearing some blue short shorts and there were builders working on the roof of the house. They watched me walk past and as I just passed them I heard them wolf whistle at me, bearing in mind that I’m 17 and they were definitely over the age of 18 (most likely late 20’s).


At school, girls are made to do hockey and netball and the boys are made to do rugby and football. It is really unfair how sports are gendered like this instead of everyone being allowed to the sports that they enjoy