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Academics apologize for ‘robot’ cleaning woman cover

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oh gimme a break, the truth is that in 10 years of living in Japan I never saw a male janitor, as he wouldn't be allowed to clean the ladies toilets.so...this image is very realistic.

6 ( +18 / -13 )

How dare anyone even insinuate that women would ever clean houses or other establishments for a living! Talk about a stretch! It's never happened, so don't even imagine it, you sexist misogynist!! (Rolls eyes)

By the way, who is angry over this cover again? The article is too one-sided to even mention that fact...

5 ( +12 / -7 )

oh gimme a break, the truth is that in 10 years of living in Japan I never saw a male janitor, as he wouldn't be allowed to clean the ladies toilets

Where in Japan did you live?? In Tokyo you see them all the time, especially in train stations, and yes, they also clean the women's toilets. Often there is a sign saying that the cleaning staff is male so not to be surprised if you see them in the toilets. I'm female and see men cleaning the women's toilets plenty of times.

17 ( +22 / -5 )

One of the great pleasures of living in Japan has always been the (relative) absence of PC kooks and the fascistic language police, but apparently those days are coming to a sad end. The article fails to mention who it was that complained about the "offensive" cover. Wouldn't it be nice if the editors had the guts to refuse any sort of apology, and wouldn't it be even nicer if those who complained would get a life?

2 ( +13 / -11 )

not surprising. we have come to apogogise for everything these days. i agree with you guys that its not a never seen. and frankly, these are just stunts these people pull. if they meant an apology, they knew all the time what theyre onto while they were desisgning that dumb cover. so make stupid cover, apologise unnecesarily and japan today might just be dumb enough to pick it up as "news".

.......... waiting for my "doe eyed" cleaner (wireless).

2 ( +6 / -4 )

I don't find it offensive at all. It's a reality that the vast majority of women do the vacuuming/housework here in Japan. (Of course, men vacuum, too.)

There's nothing about the cover that purports that "women should be the ones to vacuum".

So what does this mean now? You can only show a man vacuuming? You can't show a human vacuuming? Nothing to apologize for here.

10 ( +15 / -5 )

The design “gave ... room for the interpretation that women should clean,” it said.

Wow. Would you like some cheese with that whine? No one would be complaining if it was a male robot lifting heavy things, or a female robot taking care of a baby... more pussification of society as a whole.

3 ( +8 / -5 )

ben4short: "One of the great pleasures of living in Japan has always been the (relative) absence of PC kooks and the fascistic language police, but apparently those days are coming to a sad end."

I know! No more gang-rape comics as 'freedom of speech' anymore, eh?

Anyway, these guys, and they likely were almost all literally guys, knew what they were doing when they designed the cover and are not sorry for it -- just sorry that it has caused them grief. I'm only surprised she's not in a junior highschool uniform, shorter skirt, and blushing.

It's not the idea of a woman cleaning that's offensive at all, I think, but the fact that she is depicted as an automaton you plug in.

-8 ( +9 / -17 )

There's no need to make a fuss about. There is nothing out of the ordinary.

4 ( +9 / -5 )

why even bother to create a problem out of this? I don't see any offense in the pic

14 ( +16 / -2 )

Smitty, not sure of the logic of your leap to gang rapes because none of this discussion has been about 1st amendment rights, but so be it. Much of your logic I find hard to follow. For the record, though, in case you're interested, I am against censorship in any form by any body.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Obviously, most of the above posters are men... Personally, more than the reference to the "cleaning" part, I see it as being an insult to women in general. It would seem that they need to be "plugged in" to become (artificially) intelligent...

-1 ( +7 / -8 )

Western fascist feminism is the last thing Japan needs.

Hah! Interesting use of the word "Fascist". If I remember my history correctly, it was the Fascists who insisted on women staying home and being baby-making machines for the Mother/Fatherland while the brave men went off to kill lesser peoples.

3 ( +8 / -5 )

the truth is that in 10 years of living in Japan I never saw a male janitor

Small sample size for sure, but in my office building most of the janitors are men.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Back on topic please.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The percent of female students/researchers/professors of AI and computer science/information technology in Japan is very small. The male students/researchers/professors of AI have decided they would enjoy the company of real live intelligent women more than just looking the picture of a cute female artificially intelligent robot cleaner on the cover of their journal. That's an intelligent decision.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

This is a case of making something out of nothing. This is an attempt at boost readership of their small magazine. Good or Bad, free publicity in news papers is good for business. I doubt very much that the masses were upset by the cover. Kudos to the person who thought up this shocking cover idea. Enjoy your five minutes of fame and what ever boost you get.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Please don't go all PC Japan. There is enough of this nonsense in the west and look at the state of them.Too many people are too easily offended these days, my advice, shut up and get a life.

0 ( +7 / -7 )

There a handful of people who desperately want debate on such topics, and so they resort to attempting to turn mole-hills into mountains. The entire plan was to gain relevance to get the ball rolling, and here we are discussing this silliness. On the other hand:

I am not going to say that Japan does not need some gender equality. It does. But harping on this might well do more harm than good. It makes those who desire equality look like a pack of oversensitive PC morons, who will be assumed to be mostly women, thus furthering the case NOT to grant women more equality.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

ben4short: "Smitty, not sure of the logic of your leap to gang rapes because none of this discussion has been about 1st amendment rights, but so be it."

You talked about fascist language police and political correctness, so I countered by pointing out that is the same kind of language current manga artists use when a law was being discussed recently about banning rape and kiddie-porn in comics. Id est, there are times, in society, when political correctness and positive images are a plus, while limiting negativity, bias, and stereotypes, etc., is also a plus. The argument against the image on this cover deals with that -- it's not 'fascism' by any means, the same way as trying to limit gang rape or what have you is not fascism, but common sense. My example was an extreme, but it's the same kind of logic, even if hard for some to grasp.

"For the record, though, in case you're interested, I am against censorship in any form by any body."

I know you are, and hence my comment. Not really that hard to follow.

In this case, as I said, I personally don't think it's all the big a deal (save the cable), but I can perfectly understand why some people would object to it. Saying those people are fascists or what have you though is a bit much.

0 ( +7 / -7 )

Readers, the word "fascist" is not relevant to this discussion.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Maybe the socially correct image to use is some type of hybrid in order not to offend both genders. Either lady-like men or men-like women, is that why Japan auto makers are so into hybrid technology? - because they are constantly forced to think and behave in the middle or compromised way?

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

@ebisen

All of the cleaners at the university where I work are men and they clean the women's toilets too. As far as I know, women's toilets have stalls so unless women romp around naked, I don't understand the problem. Gasp, some of the gardeners are women too :-0

Last place I worked at back home preached anti-discrimination constantly (left In late August last year). I saw the following:

Women paid a lot less than their male counterparts. Even when they were much better workers.

All of the secretaries, oh I mean Office Assistants, were all women. And always young and pretty.

And when I hire secretaries, most that apply are young and pretty too. I make my own coffee though.

Gags aside, I'd hire/work with a woman anyday, for any job.

-2 ( +5 / -7 )

What is funny is, if given the choice of cleaning bots with AI, I bet even the women would choose the cute young female over the balding middle aged man, or even a handsome young male bot, in a spiffy butler's outfit.

There seems to be a great desire among certain people to blame men for everything and deny that women really do have power and influence over what goes on, even here. It seems to me to be driven by the minority of females who strongly wish they were males. Those females often find themselves at complete odds with the opinions of the majority of females, and so just ignore those opinions and pretend they all agree and stubbornly march forward.

I guarantee that if you showed that pic to a majority of Japanese females, the first thing out of their mouth would not be a claim of gender-bias. Nor even the fifth thing out of their mouth.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

I think, but the fact that she is depicted as an automaton you plug in.

But, that is what the article was about: A.I. Whatever could be wrong with depicting a robot on the cover of a magazine with an article about robots/articficial intelligence?

Talk about overly sensitive.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

slumdog: "But, that is what the article was about: A.I."

The article, yes, the picture no. For example, as you said, a 'robot', and not a the usual anime-maid. They could have easily depicted A.I. in other ways. I'm only surprised they didn't enlarge her bust and shorten the skirt. In any case, since there is controversy over the cover, they bombed in terms of 'appealing' to people. Sure, some middle-aged oyaji might be drawn to it, but they'll only be drawn to the cover, not the article. In short, they've offended people instead of appealing to them, and hence the apology.

0 ( +6 / -6 )

They could have easily depicted A.I. in other ways.

They could have and have done in the past. They wanted to try something different.

I'm only surprised they didn't enlarge her bust and shorten the skirt.

Let me get this straight, you are now surprised they didn't do more of something that you did not want them to do in the first place. Maybe they did not do those things because the intent was not what you assume it to have been.

In short, they've offended people instead of appealing to them, and hence the apology.

Nothing wrong with apologizing for offending someone. However, that does not necessarily mean the offended party was not being overly sensitive. If they had drawn the cover as you suggested you were surprised they did not, then you might have a point. As it is, it just looks like a regular anime character. People need to choose their battles more wisely.

2 ( +7 / -5 )

When women's participation in the sciences, academia, and business more accurately reflect the population at large, this kind of thing will go away.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Feminism is here in Japan? How do they say "Check your male privileges" in Japanese? it's time for me to move to escape to an ASEAN country

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

slumdog: "If they had drawn the cover as you suggested you were surprised they did not, then you might have a point. As it is, it just looks like a regular anime character. People need to choose their battles more wisely."

The bottom line is that it can still be seen as sexist and demeaning, and as long as it can give that impression, it is not a wise choice for advertising (works for other products, granted, but not here).

ReformedBasher: "Smith, I hope you read this before it gets deleted - you're a whining, prissy pseudo-intellectual who impresses no one but yourself."

Says a lot about your way of argumenting.

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

The bottom line is that it can still be seen as sexist and demeaning

Just because it can be spun and twisted does not mean we should bow to those who do. If we do that, I don't think we could do much of anything. Everything under the sun would have to be gender neutral. Madness. Pointless. And most of all, counter-productive.

I am good with equality, as far as it is possible (men cannot get pregnant for an example of what is not possible). But I am not for a boring genderless society where we bend over backwards for political correctness gone mad.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

these dudes should have more humour sense in face of such criticism (learn from Feynman when he was attacked by feminists). Several suggestions: "we apologise, we made a mistake on the cover. The next issue will drop the "intelligence" part from the title"; or "we apologise, the model on the cover was a transsexual. The next issue will depict his/her penis sticking from the dress", etc. Or maybe the image of a pregnant, bearded rough dude cleaning would make them happy?

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

The bottom line is that it can still be seen as sexist and demeaning, and as long as it can give that impression, it is not a wise choice for advertising (works for other products, granted, but not here).

I think the only way for this to be seen as 'sexist and demeaning' is if you overreach. This cover could have easily been of a robot male butler holding a tray of tea or something. Would you have felt that that was sexist and demeaning, too?

The journal, which sells 3,000-3,500 copies, is published every two months and the January cover design was selected from about 100 ideas submitted to a public competition JSAI held.

This was a contest and this cover was chosen. It is not some giant sexist plan. Again, as a poster writes just above, you can will yourself to see anything and everything as sexist and demeaning. But, I just do not see that here at all. Perhaps you could specifically speak to the parts of the cover you feel are sexist and demeaning. Keep in mind, I would like you to speak to the actual cover, not the one you imagined and that you are surprised they did not use.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

My question about AI robots would be "Which came first, the sex robot or cleaning robot?"

0 ( +0 / -0 )

slumdog: "I think the only way for this to be seen as 'sexist and demeaning' is if you overreach."

Not really, and clearly a lot of people are seeing it that way -- and we're not talking about International outrage or anything but local people criticizing, and they are used to all the 'cute' anime stuff. It's a woman plugged in for the purpose of housecleaning. Not a stretch at all.

"This was a contest and this cover was chosen. "

I wonder whom the judges were. They obviously made a mistake.

"It is not some giant sexist plan."

Didn't say it was a plan at all; just said it can be, and obviously is being, seen as sexist. The fact that no thought was put into that shows both a lack of PC in parts of society, while others like the critics are moving forward.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

And I found the wonderful answer Feynman gave to similar critics 50 years ago:

"A few years after Igave some lectures for the freshmen at Caltech (which were published as the Feynman Lectures on Physics), I received a long letter from a feminist group. I was accused of being anti-woman because of two stories: the first was a discussion of the subtleties of velocity, and involved a woman driver being stopped by a cop. There’s a discussion about how fast she was going, and I had her raise valid objections to the cop’s definitions of velocity. The letter said I was making the woman look stupid.

The other story they objected to was told by the great astronomer Arthur Eddington, who had just figured out that the stars get their power from burning hydrogen in a nuclear reaction producing helium. He recounted how, on the night after his discovery, he was sitting on a bench with his girlfriend. She said, “Look how pretty the stars shine!” To which he replied, “Yes, and right now, I’m the only man in the world who knows how they shine.” He was describing a kind of wonderful loneliness you have when you make a discovery.

The letter claimed that I was saying a woman is incapable of understanding nuclear reactions.

I figured there was no point in trying to answer their accusations in detail, so I wrote a short letter back to them: “Don’t bug me, man!”

1 ( +4 / -3 )

and clearly a lot of people are seeing it that way

How many is a lot? At any rate, I find a lot of people are wrong about stuff all the time. This is one of those times in my opinion.

It's a woman plugged in for the purpose of housecleaning. Not a stretch at all.

It's a huge stretch. Are you saying it would be okay if the robot were male and cleaning? Isn't that also sexist by your definition?

You do realize you still have not pointed out the parts of the cover you feel are sexist and demeaning. Is it that the robot is cleaning? We already have robots that do that. Is it that the robot is female? There are only two general choices: male or female. Why is one bad and one okay?

I wonder whom the judges were.

Do you know who they were? Would it make a difference to you if they were all female? Then, would it be okay? Isn't that a form of sexism, too?

Didn't say it was a plan at all

Yes, you did suggest it quite clearly when you wrote above that 'knew what they were doing when they designed the cover and are not sorry for it .'

Again, speak clearly to what you find offensive and then let's discuss it.

“Don’t bug me, man!”

Personally, I think this would have been an acceptable response to this situation.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Who took offense? Don't tell me that Japan is taking onto America's trend of being offended by everything seen, said or done.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

As smart as the people at ASAI are.... they're still human and are influenced by regular trends in Japan. I'm sure they meant nothing by the picture.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

If the robot was a male construction worker would these morons complain? This is people with too much time on their hands moaning for the sake of it, very petty and divisive.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Of course, not surprised by the disgusting comments of this site. The sexist males would run to click on such articles and degrade women (lol @ you singling out western women when it's probably a Japanese women feminist association that complained.... And thanks but they don't need western women to be feminists of their own, idiots), while failing to understand the point of it. And yes it's worth complaining, women (including japanese women) are not lower than you. And I don't care about idiotic expat males not being offended, it's not about you and you ain't concerned, it's about women so they can feel free to feel offended, right.

Anyway, sending my kudos to whoever made the complain in Japan, go girls, don't be intimidated by those dumb poeple. Also, you should ask for another apology and shame them until they bow their heads in front of you because they gotta be kidding me with what they said.

I don't understand, wouldn't ppl be warned if there is a racist comment? Why is mysoginy so spread over here?

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

People need to get a life! I do not see why it should be considered "offensive".

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@annsow

Why is cleaning degrading women? it is an essential job whether in paid employment or in the home. The problem is "girls" who think the way you do. Who say those who don't agree are "dumb" as you put it, now that is degrading. Being divisive does not help any cause it creates tension and trouble.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

boy this is interesting- instead of the idea of why someone did not think of utilizing a cover displaying robotic men and women piloting a plane together we get into a frenzy over the truth behind cleaning women.

this magazine cover is incorrect in that it makes one believe that a woman cannot ever have the intelligence - even robotic intelligence to do anything but clean.

and yet the dawn of the computer age was populated by women

this failure to embrace the positives of the feminine side in Japan is hurting the country

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Falseflagteve @

Praack explained it very well. I do not allow you to put a "" ("girl"), to define me as a woman just because I'm a feminist. I'm not any less than a girl just because I'm not submissive. Yes, those who are sexist are dumb because ignorant, it's not my fault if they are unable to take a course about feminism because they want to keep their priviledges untouched and take advantage of them. Also it's something less insulting than degrading women, way less insulting (should I cry for you? Pour priviledged boy!! You have a hard life.) than what this magazine is doing. Aw, it creates tension and trouble, so women should shut up and accept being degraded right? They shouldn't even complain for this cover? I shall drop a tear for you. Must be so hard not to feel degraded. Silence, For the peace of the priviledged. irony, hope you got it right.
-2 ( +1 / -3 )

@Annsow

1, not really.

I don't understand what point you are trying to make.

You assume i have some kind of priviliege (the new trendy word for white males) that the repeaters like to shout. I doubt a working class person like myself who left school at 16 out of necessity and who lives in the Japanese countryside has more advantage than most. Although i made myself successful by hard work and treating everyone with respect.

a picture of a robot cleaning woman on a cover of a magazine is not going to affect women's rights, in fact it means nothing except to those who wish to feel victims. You keep calling me names, not poor me actually, i been through more crap than most but i'm a fighter not a nonce.
-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Readers, no more bickering please.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

annnsow, sister do not let them bother you on this issue. Maybe they can do up a male robot dressed as a hick with pitchfork. These "boys" are just being silly as usual. So do not let your heart not be troubled.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

@YuriOtani

Oh so you "sisters" think us men who disagree withy this are "hicks with pitchfotrks"? The insults are all one sided and not by men.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Well I like the cover, it looks like my anime characters I watch. Although it would be nice to see a male version also. I think it's just fine, so on there next. Issue let's vote for a male version....

0 ( +0 / -0 )

No Steve she can think of that man type stereotype. I really think that some of the boys and girls are overreacting. There was no insult intended it is just a drawing of a female looking robot. So please relax kind readers.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

There is no solution because there is no problem.

Put everyone in a real live utopia and I guarantee some people would still have some complaints about it.

And do you know why more women apply for cleaning jobs than men, and why more men apply for construction jobs? Because its what they prefer to do in the first place. Plenty of gender barriers have been knocked down all over the world, but women are still not flocking to traditionally male jobs.

I am a feminist, because I believe in gender equality. Those making a stink here are something other than feminists in my opinion, because what they seem to want is female rule and/or just want something to complain about. Either way, they do the goal of equality no favors.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

slumdog: "It's a huge stretch. Are you saying it would be okay if the robot were male and cleaning? Isn't that also sexist by your definition?"

Where is there a male robot plugged in and cleaning? That's the point, slumdog! If people think they are depicting women as robots whose point is to clean that is NOT at all a stretch, and the lax attitude that people are 'prissy' or 'taking it too seriously' if they question the cover is part of the problem of society today.

"You do realize you still have not pointed out the parts of the cover you feel are sexist and demeaning. Is it that the robot is cleaning?"

I have more than pointed out the reasons why I think people could interpret the cover as sexist and demeaning, and again part of the problem is you refuse to see it.

"We already have robots that do that."

Exactly! So if "A.I. is hard to depict" why not show what we already have -- a robot. Doesn't need to be a woman plugged in, smiling to the camera, with a broom in hand ready to service; doesn't need to be your man in butler uniform; doesn't need to be a black man in a loin-cloth; it doesn't need to be any gender or racial stereotype.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

All of the janitors in my business building are females, I think I never ever saw a man cleaning the toilets and the urinals. Well, also in trains stations, I never saw a man cleaning toilets, but next time I'll look closer, I promise (usually I just ignore them). Of course I don't have a problem with a female janitor,as I wouldn't have one with a male janitor as well...

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

@ebisen

Most of the cleaners for Hankyu Railways (in Kansai, not sure where you live) also seem to be men, but I have seen women too. Am not going to run around the country performing surveys though.

In any case, don't you think this is petty? A magazine cover?

It's true that discrimination exists here. It also exists back home. Denying either is silly. There's also "reverse" discrimination where men are either not allowed to apply, or not considered (which is the same thing), for some jobs. My wife does work that men are perfectly capable of but all of the staff and management are female. Sure the pay is low, but there would be a lot of men who would apply if they were allowed to.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

It's the attitude towards cleaning that bothers me. Plenty of people of both sexes make a living doing what is an underpaid, undervalued yet vital job. I worked as a one of a team of cleaners on a construction site years ago. If we hadn't been there, work would have ground to a halt within hours what with all the tiles, wires, packaging and timber left all over the place.

Nothing demeaning about cleaning.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I'm pretty much the most anti-PC person you could ever hope to meet, but I do think they were bonkers to go with this cover. The reason being that the number of women in computer science is very small, and practically none in Japan. Against a background where that is recognised as a problem, you've got to be pretty careful with stuff like this. Say you're the one woman researcher in your lab and you see this, I can understand why you might have a problem with it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Really? A Female Robot is an issue of female discrimination in Japan? This is getting silly.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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