Monday, April 13, 2009

Snippets of real-life sexism.

These have nothing to do with science per se, except that I think my relative isolation from the real world led me to be surprised by them.

1. Amazon's recommended gifts

Here I was, trying to surf the web on a weekend day for things to help me "relax", and thinking maybe I would like to look in the Home & Gardening section.

Lo and behold, a tab for Mother's Day Gifts appears. Perfect! Except then I realized: there is no such tab under Books, or any other category at Amazon.

So then I was curious (big mistake). This experience was so jarring, it made me seriously consider completely dropping all loyalty to Amazon.

First of all, apparently there are only so many kinds of Moms, but most of them seem more or less the same based on Amazon's range of gift suggestions.

Chef Mom
Entertainer Mom
Decorator Mom
Trendy Mom
Outdoorsy Mom

Note that these categories basically all consist of only one thing: kitchen appliances and dishes.

And my Mom is none of these. I looked under the last tab: "Mom who has everything".

Apparently that kind of Mom also wants- you guessed it- more tools for domestic bliss!

Sigh. According to Amazon, there is no Organized Mom or Busy Mom or Traveling Mom. Mom stays home, and makes sure everyone gets fed. That is her purpose in life.

Then I made the mistake of trying to see if there were also book suggestions for Mother's Day (there aren't). Instead, I found the general gift page, which is arranged by Offensive Stereotypes.

Under Boyfriend/Husband/Dad, you'll find things like:

portable audio
action and adventure movies

Under Girlfriend/Wife, you find:


Need I say more? These are not the kinds of gifts I want!

2. Grocery store checkout guy's off-handed remarks about his wife and women in general

Okay, this was an odd one. The guy bagging my groceries yesterday happens to be deaf. The cashier notice that I needed a cart to get all my stuff out to my car, so he sent the other dude to get one for me. I guess there was a misunderstanding because he had to wave and correct him with sign-language, from across the store.

Pretty cool, I said, you don't have to yell that way.

The cashier turned to me and said, oh yeah, well my wife is deaf. But sometimes it gets us in trouble, you know, I've told her she has to be careful what she says in public.

I said, oh yeah, because people see what she's saying?

He says, oh yeah, you know how catty women can be sometimes. And in this country, lots of women learn sign-language when they're going through that stage where they want to be nurses.

[At this point I'm surprised he can't see the gigantic ?! over my head and steam coming out of my ears. Nurse stage???]

Anyway, he says, it's happened before, my wife will say something, this one time a woman came over and yelled at us. You know how catty women are.

This whole time I'm nodding and wondering why I'm nodding. I mean, yes, women can be catty, but I was kind of wondering why he was saying these things to me.

But I was starving, so I just really wanted to go home and cook dinner for my man.

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At 9:54 AM, Blogger EthidiumBromide said...

I love that now, three times, I have gone grocery shopping with my husband when he has come straight off call in his scrubs and white coat, and all three times, three different grocery store cashiers have made small talk about what kind of doctor is he, etc. etc., and then turned to me, acknowledged that I am his wife (wedding rings, doing grocery shopping with him, yadda yadda) and all three have then promptly said "So, you work as his nurse?"


At 3:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you stare at the world from your vagina, then everyone is bound to look like a dick.

At 6:15 PM, Blogger City Mama, Ph.D. said...

I TOTALLY went through my nursing/sign language phase while wearing lingerie and shopping for jewelry and handbags. That was, of course, before I became the incredibly trendy and entertaining decorator-chef Mom I am today. Eeesch...

At 6:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Amazon thing is happening because of science. They use analytical models to predict behavior. So, based on what people normally look at and buy, they post suggestions. So, women look at and buy handbags, etc. Men look at and buy games, etc.

At 7:57 AM, Anonymous Mastermind said...

Anonymous, how does Amazon know if the people looking at and buying from their website are men or women?

I know they recommend stuff based on the habits of other people interested in the products that you are looking at, but they don't know the gender of the user.

At 10:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amazon is able to know your gender based on information you have provided. So, in YFS example, she said she has purchased things from Amazon before. So, she supplied information to do card info or filled out the Ms,Mrs entry. They'll mine all the data to figure it out. Plus, they have access to your credit card, they can get the information there. These are very simple things to do. You would be very surprised at how much information you convey without "giving" anything.

At 1:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know they recommend stuff based on the habits of other people interested in the products that you are looking at, but they don't know the gender of the user.Amazon knows more about you than you do. Amazon knows your age, sex, race, religion, credit status, buying habits, likes, dislikes; everything.

At 4:04 AM, Blogger JaneB said...

UK Amazon had book and music suggestions for Mothering Sunday too.

OK, the books were mainly romances and thrillers (Mums don't read serious books with big words!) and the music was mostly male balladeers or 'classical calm' stuff (Mums aren't trendy!) but it was there.

So, slightly less awful 'this side of the pond'...

At 11:32 PM, Blogger helena.heliotrope said...

I hate that bullshit.


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