Automatic Shaming

I was using Google voice-to-text to write down some notes while I was driving today.

First off, don’t do that.  The voice-to-text automatic translation falls behind and you end up losing big chunks of what you wanted to capture.  Learn from my mistakes.

But secondly, voice-to-text CENSORS your words! It turns “fucking” into “f******” even though you REALLY REALLY MEANT fucking.  At first I thought it would just be the traditional “bad” words – you know, the ones George Carlin spoke of.

But no!  Guess what else they censor?  Slutty!  I was trying to say that men and women are equally slutty at heart (in a good way).  But no!  Apparently I meant s*****.  And sexting (excuse me, s******) is just too explicit for voice-to-text to translate without an unseemly binary blush.

What the fuck?!  Who decided that slutty and sexting needed to be expunged from the written word?  Clearly the program KNOWS those words, or it wouldn’t have censored them – it would have come out as gobbledygook.  No, some asshole (sorry, a******) at Google has decided that slutty is a “bad” word.

Thanks, genius!  Your attempt at censorship helps promote shaming and the patriarchal assumption that women having sex is a BAD THING.

(Aside: I suppose you could argue that Google just thinks sex in general in a BAD THING – hence censoring sexting which is non-gendered.  But slut is a uniquely female-gendered word to most of the world.  So I think it qualifies for extra inspection.)

There are movements trying to reclaim the word slut (like Slut Walk, for starters) in order to highlight and fight against rape culture.  StopSlut addresses teenage bullying and slut shaming and it’s effects on young girls.  But by all means, try to assert your corporate control over the word without any consideration of its current import in feminist discussion.

Obviously, I can just go ahead and type out the word.  They aren’t stopping me from doing that:  SLUT SLUT SLUT SLUT.  But I live in San Francisco where I am often surrounded by clueless brogrammers building the infrastructure of my daily life.  The vast majority of people actually creating the internet services I use to communicate with the world are men.  And their pervasive lack of interest or knowledge about how their biases affect 50% of the population gets pretty FUCKING old at times.

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