Google Thinks “Uterus” Is a Dirty Word
There are few things as helpful as an autocorrect when it comes to dashing off emails, texts or a random tweet on the go. But there are certain words that simply never will fill themselves, no matter how hard you try, because the company controlling your phone has effectively banned them from existence.
Google is adding to their banning frenzy with a new batch of words that must never be finished. As Amanda Marcotte points out at Slate, “[M]any of the words are sex-related, but the scope of the prudery here is rather shocking.”
Included in the forbidden words? Every iteration of sex act possible, including “intercourse,” “coitus,” “screwing” and “lovemaking,” according to a Wired report on the banned words. Also included is a large number of female body parts, including the oh so naughty word “uterus.”
The massive focus of the ban on female anatomy, sexuality and even “lactation” is reminiscent of the controversy in 2011 when Apple released Siri, the iPhone assistant that was designed to answer questions and provide information like a live Google search. When put into practice, however, it became clear that Siri had been programmed with a major blind spot — she was unable to answer questions about where to find birth control, emergency contraception or to obtain an abortion.
There were plenty of other things that Siri was programmed to direct you to, however. Reporter Megan Carpentier discovered Siri could still provide information on where to get Viagra, where to find an escort, the closest strip club and where to buy weed.
Apple called the omission a simple mistake. “Our customers want to use Siri to find out all types of information and while it can find a lot, it doesn’t always find what you want,” Apple spokeswoman Natalie Harrison told CNN. “These are not intentional omissions meant to offend anyone. It simply means that as we bring Siri from beta to a final product, we find places where we can do better and we will in the coming weeks.”
Carpentier’s investigation provided a more direct answer. “Reader Kristen asked Siri ‘Why are you anti-abortion?’ and she answered ‘I just am, Kristen.’”
Is Google also jumping on the anti-woman, anti-healthy sexuality campaign, by subtly changing what are considered “appropriate” and “inappropriate” words that can be used in conversation? If so, they are only following the lead of politicians who have spent the last few legislative sessions defining which women’s body parts are appropriate to mention on the floor, even when bills are being debated that would restrict their care. One Michigan lawmaker was banned from the floor for saying “vagina” during a debate about abortion restrictions in the 2012 legislative session, and a Florida Representative was chastised in 2011 for saying that his wife should incorporate her uterus so the state’s Republicans would keep its hands off it, leading the GOP to demand he no longer talk about “body parts” on the floor.
If the legislators, Google and Apple all have their way, the word uterus could end up banned from all public conversation. Should that happen, at least we will always have the Raging Grannies. No one else may be able to say it, but they’ll keep singing the word until the cows come home — or until the world becomes more rational about the appropriateness of proper, scientific terms for body parts.
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