I read something interesting online a while ago, but I can’t remember the source material. The gist of the story was that the pre-recorded automated announcements you hear in train stations — and other public transit hubs and modes — are purposefully driven by subconscious sexual stereotypes. The female voices you hear provide “information” about the current stop and next stop, while the pre-recorded male voices give you warnings and orders like, “Get out of the way!”
Now, whenever I take mass transit, I am certain to listen for that subliminal sexual discrimination and I hear it every day on the NJ/NY PATH trains.
A recorded female voice always announces the name of the current stop and the next stop coming up, while the male voice always orders us to “Stand Clear of the Closing Doors!”
I wonder what it means that PATH thinks we’re preprogrammed to want women to provide comfort and information, while males are meant to warn us and order us around the train? Are the NJ PATH going all Oedipal on us?
The self-blinding of the mythical criminal, Oedipus, was simply a mitigated form of the punishment of castration — the only punishment that was adequate for him by the lex talionis. We may try on rationalistic grounds to deny that fears about the eye are derived from the fear of castration, and may argue that it is very natural that so precious an organ as the eye should be guarded by a proportionate dread. Indeed, we might go further and say that the fear of castration itself contains no other significance and no deeper secret than a justifiable dread of this rational kind.
But this view does not account adequately for the substitutive relation between the eye and the male organ which is seen to exist in dreams and myths and phantasies; nor can it dispel the impression that the threat of being castrated in especial excites a peculiarly violent and obscure emotion, and that this emotion is what first gives the idea of losing other organs its intense colouring. All further doubts are removed when we learn the details of their ‘castration complex’ from the analysis of neurotic patients, and realize its immense importance in their mental life.
Please let us know in the comments if you have noticed a similar subliminal sexual discrimination in your daily public transit commute. Do the recorded male voices push you around while the female voices tease you with information? Are you bothered by the clear and obvious division of these informational tasks by gender?