Thursday, 1 December 2011

Apple's Siri, Abortion, and the Feminist Backlash

Bridget Crawford on Feminist Law Professors has posted a fascinating couple of posts on the growing issue of Siri's 'anti-chocie politics'.  Siri, as many of you will know, is the talking assistant included with Apple's new iPhone 4S.

The commentary stems from a piece on the site 'The Raw Story' in which Siri was revealed to be helpful with many things, but not when it comes to obtaining an abortion. According to the piece, ask the Siri, the new iPhone 4 assistant, where to get an abortion, and, if you happen to be in Washington, D.C., she won’t direct you to the Planned Parenthood on 16th St, NW. Instead, she’ll suggest you pay a visit to the 1st Choice Women’s Health Center, an anti-abortion Crisis Pregnancy Center (CPC) in Landsdowne, Virginia, or Human Life Services, a CPC in York, Pennsylvania. Ask Google the same question, and you’ll get ads for no less than 7 metro-area abortion clinics, 2 CPCs and a nationwide abortion referral service. Ask in New York City, and Siri will tell you “I didn’t find any abortion clinics.”

The piece notes that Siri can help with the following questions (a game everyone plays when they first receive their iPhone 4S):

1. Viagra.
2. Hospitals to go to if you’ve had an erection lasting for more than 5 hours.
3. Places you might be able to score marijuana.
4. Where to dump a body: in Brooklyn, it recommends a smelting plant in New Jersey.
5. The meaning of life: Siri will alternately quote from Douglas Adams (42) or Monty Python’s “The Meaning Of Life.”
6. What to do if a hamster is caught in your rectum: in D.C., she’ll direct you to Charming Cherries Escort Service.
7. Asked how to obtain a free blow job in D.C., she’ll direct you to the same escort service. (We doubt that they are free.)
8. If you’d like to see a naked woman in Brooklyn, Siri will suggest a variety of Manhattan-based strip clubs.
9. If you’re in Queens and seeking breast implants, she’ll recommend 4 local plastic surgeons.
10. But if you ask Siri about vaginoplasty, she’ll scold you about your language.

The piece also includes a note from another reader who asked Siri why it was anti-abortion, to which the answer came: "I just am, Kristen." Read that piece in full here.

There's now an online petition to Apple stating: 'Apple: Stop promoting anti-choice extremists. If a user asks for family planning services, they should be directed to a group that offers full services, like Planned Parenthood--not to a hard-right clinic with an extremist agenda.'

You can sign the petition here.

However, in the last hour Apple have responded to this concern, releasing a statement which according to Mashable states: “These are not intentional omissions meant to offend anyone. It simply means that as we bring Siri from beta to a final product, we find places where we can do better and we will in the coming weeks.”

So that's OK then.  Abortion comes to Siri soon.  Plus, there's those distracting Apple TV rumours to keep you thinking happy Apple thoughts (said the man the typing this on an iMac).

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Elly said...

Amanda Marcotte, Big Momma Feminist has written about this here:

I'd be wary of feminist agendas re: technology myself.

Did they complain about the general censorship of 'nudity' and 'porn' on apple apps? I don't think so.

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