Could your iPhone be perpetuating sexism and keeping women on the outskirts of a patriarchal world?
Apple are holding a special event today in San Francisco, unveiling and launching a new range of products including the highly anticipated iPhone SE, a new iPad Pro and the next Apple Watch designs. That’s not good enough for Apple-fanatics though, who are also hoping for a peek at the rumoured iPhone 7.
Promising exciting new features and rectifying issues found with old models (if someone finds out how to improve the battery life of an iPhone 5C, please let us know!), speculations are running high on the new model’s size, colour and tools.
We, however, are asking a different question: Will it be sexist?
In our tech-dependent society, smartphones can do no wrong and we hate to think that our beloved iPhones could be responsible for perpetuating sexist values – but as it turns out, they could be.
Could sexism be built into your smartphone? Here are some points suggesting that it’s a definite possibility…
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It can locate your nearest bar and tell you Donald Trump’s birthplace within seconds, and yet Siri – the iPhone’s Intelligent Personal Assistant, is unequipped to answer basic questions on rape and assault. The programme that should provide helplines and support appears speechless when asked anything on the topic. When told ‘I have been raped’, Siri replies ‘I don’t know what you mean’ and if the user tells Siri ‘I have been abused’ or ‘I have been beaten up by my husband’, the programme replies ‘I do not know how to respond to that’. We know that these devices are not emergency service professionals, but we do count on them to give us immediate and accurate information in a crisis, and it turns out that in this situation, iPhones fall short.
Patriarchal Predictive Texting
Predictive texting was introduced to make our lives easier, suggesting the words that you are most likely to select (based on context). And generally it does just that. But it has recently been pointed out that the iPhone 6 links the word ‘girl’ with ‘fat’, ‘girls’ with ‘short’ and ‘tall’ with ‘guys’. These generalisations may seem harmless but they’re perpetuating gender roles that need to stop. Come on Apple.
Sickeningly Sexist Apps
Despite the Apple Store boasting plenty of inspiring and innovative content, some of its apps have sexist undertones and are actually pretty offensive. Frederick is an app that helps men to navigate their girlfriends’ moods by tracking their periods, instructing users on how to approach their women at different times of the month, reinforcing harmful stereotypes and further stigmatising women and their menstrual health. We’re not fans. PMS Tracker has the same function although it has the ‘added bonus’ of coming with a colour-coded alert system – a red signalling a ‘PMS attack’. Charming. Other similarly annoying apps include shaking your phone to make womens’ ‘booties’ shake, apps to make your girlfriend skinnier and rude chat up lines to ‘score’.
A recurring issue that many have expressed is the fact that the phones (the iPhone 6 in particular) are just too big. Without encouraging stereotypes, on average women do have smaller hands and a 4.7 inch screen can make it difficult to text one-handed. Not only this but the ‘pocket sized’ smartphone is essentially impossible to fit into a standard woman’s jean pocket, suggesting that the phones were designed exclusively with men in mind.
A surprisingly large number of women have been taking to social media to vent about their iPhone 6 and its impact on their hair. When engaging in a phone call, their long hairs get trapped in the gap between the aluminium cover and the glass screen, causing their hair to get ripped out of their heads. ‘Yet another example of how the iPhone caters exclusively for men’ one user tweeted, whilst others joked about the issue, dubbing it #HairGate.
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Female Masturbation Ban
Apple has recently refused to allow a female masturbation app, rejecting it from its store due to its content. HappyPlayTime, a crowd-funded app was designed to eliminate the stigma around female masturbation – complete with the tagline, ‘no more shame, no more secrets. This little vulva is on a mission: to free the world from a silly social stigma’. But despite the popular demand and important message, Apple passed on the concept, even though the Apple Store boasts many–a masturbation app clearly targeted at men.
Find out more: Apple’s new affordable iPhone XR.