Monday, 1 December 2014

Everyday Sexism - Cortana, the Windows Phone Personal Assistant

There have been lots of advertisements lately for Windows ‘Phones.  Android is very popular and has been advertising a lot, and iApple’s i’Phone isystem is always popular too, but Windows has always struggled to get a decent market share in the mobile OS market.  The latest development is Cortana, your Windows personal assistant.

In the advertisement, a man asks Cortana to remind him about his wife’s anniversary, and to remind him to buy flowers on the way home.  She even tells him to get going as there is heavy traffic.  This is surely a trip back to those halcyon days of the fifties, when women were either at home caring for the children, and cooking for their husbands, or they were at work, in ancillary roles, pushing tea trolleys, and looking after the men who did all the important work.  Microsoft simply could not imagine a man performing such an ancillary role, and the use of a man as the customer assisted by Miss Cortana reinforces the stereotype.

As their website says, like every good woman, “she is there to make help make things easier for you”.  One can just picture a glamorous but well organised secretary, a Miss Moneypenny if you will, ever ready to help the man and make him look good.  Not only this, but she is called Cortana, which has a Latina ring about it – this is designed for the American market, where servants and ancillary staff are always Latino or black. 

Shame on you, Microsoft!  The world has moved on from such stereotypical roles.  Your shameless sexism might catch on with some businessmen (who might very well be your intended market), but most of us would be embarrassed to own such an old-fashioned concept.  Not since the slave-cook Uncle Ben has such a thing been done!  

No comments: