Public Transport

Anon

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.

Jade

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.

Ally

I was walking in the city to meet up with a friend. She quite a lot taller than me so I decided to wear some boot heels with a cropped tee and jeans. On the train ride in, a man maybe in his 30s kept staring at me and just as I stood up to get off the train he said that I should come over to his for some fun. I just ignored him and went about my day. I got to the city early so I put some headphones in and wondered around the city for a bit. Less than 20 minutes since the train incident, I could hear a person calling out to me through my music but I thought that if I ignore them they’d just get bored. I was wrong and the next thing I know he grabbed my arm and tries to start talking to me His man was probably around his mid 20s. Luckily I’m asian in a white country and said no English and walked off. This happened last year, I was 16 and these men still had the audacity to try talk to me. It just left me feeling icky for the day.

Maz

I believe that if you ask any woman, she can describe at least one instance of a male either touching her or compromising her. I myself can remember at least five instances from school days to adulthood. Three ‘flashers’, One man touched me on a bus as a schoolgirl and I was touched in a cinema when watching The Sound of Music with my Grandmother. I remember details of all of them and I’m now in my late 60’s. I was also physically attacked by a man when I was about 25. The police asked me if I had been wearing the vest top I had on at the time (height of summer and very hot) and if the marks on my neck where he attempted to strangle me, were ‘lovebites’ As a retired Probation Officer with 25 years + experience honestly say that in dealing with male and female offenders both in the community and in custodial settings, that misogyny, despite this being the 21st century, continues. Trying to change attitudes is a continual and uphill struggle. Generally I would suggest that men present as being entitled and women as being dominated by their male partners with little recourse to change that relationship. I have tried to enable women and to counsel men. Hopefully over the years some of them have had cause to re-think their behaviours and make those changes, I fully support your project and wish you well.

Public

1. As a 16 year old on a crowded tube, a man stuck his hand up my dress 2. With a friend in subway at 6pm ish in Cambridge and a man came in and exposed himself to us 3. When I was about 14, a neighbour saw me and my sister over the park, and he came up to us, took his top off and started rubbing himself 4. I was once sat opposite a guy on the central line. It was busy. He was openly masturbating 5. I once went to a ‘nappy night’ at a night club and my friends and I were approached with a car of 20+ year olds asking for oral sex. We were 15.

Bus

Once I was on the bus going to visit my boyfriend who was in hospital. I was 16, and it was a quiet Sunday. There was one other person on the bus and he moved to sit next to me. I felt trapped in but at the same time like I couldn’t get up and move for fear of offending him. He started to ask me lots of questions, friendly at first but it soon turned sexual. I didn’t know what to do and just had to put up with it until we got to the last stop- the hospital. Made me feel sick

Flora

I´m am 19 and writing a thesis on sexualised assault on women. I was supposed to be finished in June, but whilst writing in January i had a mental breakdown, because I realised the depth of my own experiences. Especially one incident, that occurred 2 years prior, where a friend, that I loved deeply but platonically, sexually abused me. Until January I was mostly convinced that everything was mostly my fault because my heart would break even more knowing that he could and would do such a thing to me. Since then I have begun to grasp the daily sexism and violations against me and remember my naïve conversation with a guy who repeatedly tried to force himself on me and stopping after repeatedly saying no and or running away. When he realised the vileness of his actions he sat down with me one day and told me how sorry he was and that he sees now the barbarity he had done, I responded (at the age around 16) with: don’t worry about it, I’m used to it, happens all the time.

Anonymous

When I was was 11 or 12 I was on the school bus after school and I sat between two of my classmates. We started talking and suddenly they started touching me in between my legs and asked if that tickled. I said no, but they kept on doing it. I didn’t say anything because I guess I had a crush on one of them and I liked the attention, but still, I felt really uncomfortable. And when I wanted to get up I had to go past one of them and it was very narrow. And he suddenly pulled me on his lap and didn’t let me go for a few seconds. I walked out of the bus and was really ashamed of myself because I didn’t do anything against him. I blamed myself. I thought I was dumb and naive. I’ve never told anyone and I don’t think I have the courage to.

Varnika

I was hardly 12 or 13 when I went to punjab with my parents for a trip. We all were returning from somewhere and we all sat well in a bus. a think man with red check shirt of black strips sat two seat next. Mom and dar and my lil brother went to sleep. I was awake, never a fan of sleeping in vehicles. There was this mirror at the top head some centimetres near to that man and he smiled. So did I, kind gesture. Afterwards he kept smiling and staring at me through the mirror. I was terrified and I didn’t want to wake anyone up, so I ignored. We got off the bus and took our luggage out at the station. The man stood somewhere near and kept smiling and staring. I shouted, “mom, he is staring at me” and mom told dad. Dar who was busy taking out our luggage felt frustrated and spoke out curses to the person and then we left. I mean it was strange, weirdly strange. I felt helpless, what I really wanted was to drill his skull with those point eyes along with it. I wanted to be strong and the moment when I needed to be, I wasn’t. I didn’t talk about it and still don’t after it happened, but it stays somewhere and makes me go crazy and mad.

Navjot Kaur

Hey I am from India and I’ve been harassed in Public transport. As much as I love my education, I believe that applies in my life and that has given me a perspective and freedom to stand for myself. As I was traveling alone from I felt a man is trying to touching breast while sitting on my behind seat on the bus. The moment I felt it I shouted but no one stood for me. There were elderly people, old couples but everyone ignored. I remember how much I cried that night but nevr told anyone.