The Smart Wife

The Smart Wife Why Siri, Alexa, and Other Smart Home Devices Need a Feminist Reboot

Paperback (27 Aug 2021)

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Publisher's Synopsis

Meet the Smart Wife--at your service, an eclectic collection of feminised AI, robotic, and smart devices. This digital assistant is friendly and sometimes flirty, docile and efficient, occasionally glitchy but perpetually available. She might go by Siri, or Alexa, or inhabit Google Home. She can keep us company, order groceries, vacuum the floor, turn out the lights. A Japanese digital voice assistant--a virtual anime hologram named Hikari Azuma--sends her "master" helpful messages during the day; an American sexbot named Roxxxy takes on other kinds of household chores. In The Smart Wife, Yolande Strengers and Jenny Kennedy examine the emergence of digital devices that carry out "wifework"--domestic responsibilities that have traditionally fallen to (human) wives. They show that the principal prototype for these virtual helpers--designed in male-dominated industries--is the 1950s housewife: white, middle class, heteronormative, and nurturing, with a spick-and-span home. It's time, they say, to give the Smart Wife a reboot. What's wrong with preferring domestic assistants with feminine personalities? We like our assistants to conform to gender stereotypes--so what? For one thing, Strengers and Kennedy remind us, the design of gendered devices re-inscribes those outdated and unfounded stereotypes. Advanced technology is taking us backwards on gender equity. Strengers and Kennedy offer a Smart Wife "manifesta," proposing a rebooted Smart Wife that would promote a revaluing of femininity in society in all her glorious diversity.

Book information

ISBN: 9780262542791
Publisher: The MIT Press
Imprint: The MIT Press
Pub date:
DEWEY: 303.4834082
DEWEY edition: 23
Language: English
Number of pages: 320
Weight: 406g
Height: 144mm
Width: 223mm
Spine width: 19mm