by Laura Barber
On March 26, 2016 you released a product by the name of Amazon Echo Dot- a device that would soon become ubiquitously known as “Alexa” in some 2 million households. The obvious success of this new extension of an already established Amazon Echo franchize shows the monetary profit being generated from each unit.
I, too, was convinced for a time that these new gadgets were the best thing since sliced bread and the next step towards a robot-driven society. However, upon further examining the “Alexa” phenomenon, I realized that these little $50 machines we’ve all come to know and love are just another stimulant of sexism and misogyny.
“Alexa, add eggs to the shopping chart.” “Alexa, what’s the weather forecast for this week?” Alexa has become an icon for servitude and it is no coincidence that a woman is at the forefront of this subservience. This device allows anyone to command “Alexa” to perform any task from answering a question to turning off the lights in a room without them moving at all. Amazon has created a machine that mirrors the domesticated image of women, that their only purpose is to obey the wishes of the patriarchy. While trying to implement a progressive piece of technology into society, Amazon has inadvertently taken a step backward for gender equality.
Although there are gender neutral options as well such as “Echo” and “Computer”, that does not justify the fact that the company specifically chose to utilize the inferior depiction of women to subconsciously appease the gender roles that society has taken so long to subside. Users are not able to choose between a male or female voice for the device beyond the female Alexa, unlike much other technology, including the widely popular Apple devices. From a financial standpoint, a woman’s voice might sell better, but at what cost? A woman’s social justice is relinquished once society agrees to comply with male superiority, even in the most subtle ways.
As a woman, I am disappointed with the success of this model because it means that we, in whole, have accepted to degrade the role of women in society. I am sorry, but I can’t support this product and I hope Amazon will come to understand my perspective on the behalf of all females.