Posts tagged " feminism "

Time for Mass Resignations at Amazon?

February 28th, 2019 Posted by Susan's Musings 17 comments

There is a concept in Jewish thought that God judges us in the manner in which we judge others. If we overlook a friend who slights us, God will similarly overlook our slighting of Him. If we judge someone else’s actions in the most favorable light, God will  judge our actions in the most favorable light. If we go out of our way to help another person, God will likewise provide extra help for us. 

It would be lovely if our society adopted this idea. Anyone who insisted during the Justice Kavanaugh’s show trial that, “We must believe all women,” should be held to that standard even if they or someone they revere is accused. Meanwhile, in a similar situation, those of us who argued for upholding the rule of law and evidence would be given a fair hearing.

On this basis, those who claim that any whiff of sexism condemns a person to the dungeons should now fall on their own swords. I am talking about Jeff Bezos and anyone, male or female, in a position of responsibility at Amazon. I realize that Mr. Bezos is having a rough time because of  personal indiscretions as well as a change of business plans in New York. I don’t mean to pile on, but neither do I want to avert my eyes from egregious sexism at his company.

Where do I find this? Alexa. Having spent a few days in an Alexa dominated home, I watched how the machine is configured in a way that demeans women. I’m not talking about Alexa transcripts uncovered from thirty years ago (since the program didn’t exist then), but how, in 2019, Alexa is laying a misanthropic vision for the future.

Why is Alexa, or Siri for that matter, presented as female? This electronic wonder responds to commands issued to it. There is a most evident imbalance of power between the speaker and the machine. And the voice responding to instruction is female. Is a male voice too hard to simulate? Do we really think that the machine’s creators would have crafted a recognizably Mexican-accented voice, for example?

Could the brilliant coders not have devised a way for the machine to insist on the words “please” and “thank you” before fulfilling a request? If my grandson said, “Alexa, turn on the light,” couldn’t she have said, “What’s the magic word?” What if every other time he wanted something he first had to say, “Alexa, is there something I can do for you?” As it stands, my three-year-old grandson, representative of the next generation of boys, is learning to bark orders at women, to expect females to respond instantly to his every whim and never to consider a woman’s perspective.

While a bunch of white-garbed women made a ridiculous spectacle of themselves prancing arrogantly around at the State of the Union speech, surely the feminist standards they purport to uphold would be better served by destroying Amazon for this transgression? Keeping them out of New York City is small potatoes compared to completely eviscerating the company. As a side-benefit, this would bring many aspiring Socialists one step closer to their fantasies. Naturally, most Americans would be worse off and the economy might tank. But, hey, you can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs. 

P.S. Lest anyone not catch the satire of the above writing, I do feel the need to add a conclusion. I think that Alexa actually represents one example of a  relatively serious problem in terms of our culture’s encouraging rudeness, self-centeredness and instant gratification. However, changing the voice to a male one would be equally problematic. All people should be treated with respect and suggesting that there are ‘loser’ groups who should be treated badly, whether they are women of color or white men, is a formula for failure.

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Fire, Frauds and Feminists

December 18th, 2018 Posted by Thought Tools 28 comments

Ready for a quiz?   Is the following news report true or false?   A famous explorer just returned from his latest expedition with shocking news.  He has located a remote and isolated island culture that generates electricity using the heat from nuclear reactors.  What astounded him was that these islanders who had mastered nuclear and electrical technology were primitive in all other ways.  They created electricity but used it only for lighting fires.  They had no knowledge of medication, artificial fabrics, or transportation.  They had no electrical appliances in their kitchens.  In fact, they had no kitchens.  They cooked outside their huts over wood fires that they ignited from huge electrical sparks obtained from their nuclear power plants.  Well, what do you say? True or false?

Oh yes, I know you answered, “False,” but did you mean that you considered the story highly improbable or are you certain that it’s demonstrably untrue?  The story is not only improbable but also impossible.  The explorer is a fraud.  There is an inevitable sequence to scientific discovery.  No culture has or ever will discover the secrets of atomic structure before they understand the chemistry of the periodic table.  Once people have probed the secrets of magnetism, the discovery of electricity will inevitably follow quite quickly.

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We’ve Come a Wrong Way, Baby

June 27th, 2018 Posted by Susan's Musings 72 comments

Are we happy yet? A few years ago, in Dallas, my husband and I gave a ‘Money and Marriage’ seminar. I spoke about the brilliant Virginia Slims cigarette ads of the late 1960s. Using the advertising slogan, “You’ve come a long way, baby,” the ads contrasted sepia-tinted cheerless, oppressed-looking women from earlier decades with modern Virginia Slims women – bold, happy, often wearing colorful pants suits and liberated by, among other things, their ability to smoke openly. My point was that these ads actually gave an unspoken anti-feminist message. Women could only come a long way by behaving like men, in other words, by smoking.

With that in mind, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry at last month’s report from the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute. Not only have young women achieved parity with men in getting lung cancer, they are actually getting ahead of men

What a triumph for feminism!

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You Should See the Other Guy

September 28th, 2017 Posted by Susan's Musings 38 comments

We are now in the midst of the Ten Days of Repentance, that started with Rosh HaShanah (Head of the Year) and ends with Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement). It’s a time for introspection, for evaluating one’s actions over the past year and committing to improvement should God bless us with more time.

I always find it disconcerting to discover that the character flaws that I examined last year—and the year before that and the year before that—are often the same ones I revisit this year.  Occasionally one gets to pat oneself  on the back for having made some change but, being human, there is always more to do.

I don’t know if this is my own personal failing or if other people grapple with this as well, but I sometimes find myself aiming for humble soul-searching at the same time as a script plays in my mind along the lines of, “Well, o.k., so I showed a lack of (fill in the blank) when I did (fill in the blank), but compared to (fill in the blank) I don’t think I’m doing that badly.” After all, in a world filled with some really bad people, I consider myself one of the good guys. In a world filled with lots of complacent people, at least I can say that I try.

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