Hysterical Wearable is a wearable device that protests against misogynist linguistics habits: a ruffled collar that detects verbal microaggressions towards females in a conversation – and reacts to it.
I started my research thinking about things on my daily routine that subtly empower myself as a female. if i bike or put makeup everyday – can those actions leverage self-affirmation as a female and therefore help me building my identity? and while i was thinking about the empowering moments, i would always end up thinking about the quite opposite: the moments, that discourage and suppress not only me but also other women. And that’s how I decided to work with microaggressions.
According to Derald Wing Sue, Phd professor of counseling psychology at Columbia University, microaggressions are the everyday slight insults, whether intentional or unintentional, which communicate negative messages to target persons based solely upon their group membership. Verbal microaggressions can be illustrated through (unfortunately) examples that are recurrent in our routine. When a woman is called a girl, you are infantilizing her as if she was not a fully grown adult; when a woman is referred as a “bitch”, you are diminishing her; when someone say something such as “grow a pair” or “don’t be such a pussy”, it is implied in the speech that identifying with the female gender is weaker & less courageous. Having in mind how microaggressions feel very intimate but is a product of cultural vices, I decided to output my research through a wearable device for both agresse and agressor: it gives feedback to the female who is being diminished and also to the aggressor who likely doesn’t even realize the weight of the words they are using.
Listening to the wearer’s conversation, the device has a python script running in the back end that is doing speech recognition, transforming the speech into text. It then compares the transcribed talk with a database of verbal microaggressions, trying to identify if any of the specific verbal expressions are being said. Once it recognizes that a verbal microaggression was used, it reacts to it by drapping up the ruffled fabric and revealing underneath it a biting denture toy.