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Asking a delivery driver to dance is deranged – but Amazon bosses appear to disagree

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Show caption TikTok users have started leaving notes in the Amazon app asking their delivery drivers to dance for their door cameras. Photograph: Brendan McDermid/Reuters The Week in Patriarchy Asking a delivery driver to dance is deranged – but Amazon bosses appear to disagree Arwa Mahdawi Amazon’s official TikTok account has been boosting the dystopic trend and sharing videos of delivery people dancing on command Sat 12 Feb 2022 14.00 GMT Share on Facebook

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‘It’s still a panoptican, even if you’re dancing’

Being an Amazon delivery driver sure sounds like a blast: you get to see the world (well, part of it anyway) as you cruise the open road. Yes, the hours are gruelling. Yes, you sometimes have to pee in water bottles because there’s not enough time and no available facilities in which you can take a proper bathroom break. Yes, hauling heavy packages means you are at high risk of being injured on the job. Yes, creepy surveillance equipment tracks your every move. But you know what? You get the unparalleled satisfaction of knowing that your hard work is helping Jeff Bezos afford an obscenely large superyacht. And while the work may be difficult, there are also moments of joy: you get to jive on the job! According to Vice, TikTok users have started leaving notes in the Amazon app asking their delivery drivers to dance for their door cameras. Then these delightful people post the videos on social media.

There are, I suppose, some delivery drivers who may enjoy being told to do a chicken dance as they drop off a package. But many of the drivers that Vice spoke to understandably found the dance requests demeaning and irritating. “I’ve only seen these requests in the app,” one driver from upstate New York said. “If they said it in person, I would probably smack the shit out of them.” And that driver would be justified: asking an Amazon worker to dance for your amusement is, to put it bluntly, deranged.

It would appear that the PR suits at Amazon HQ would beg to differ. Amazon’s official TikTok account has been boosting the dystopic trend and sharing videos of delivery people dancing on command with cutesy little comments like “poppin’ and lockin’ while box droppin’”.

It should be said, of course, that these drivers are not being forced to dance. It’s not as if Amazon is threatening anyone who ignores customers commands with 10 years of hard labour in Bezos’s space colonies. But there’s a thin line between officially requiring something of your workers and strongly incentivizing it. Amazon delivery drivers are tracked by AI-powered cameras and smartphone apps that monitor their behaviour and assign them a score at the end of the week. If you don’t behave exactly as Amazon dictates then you risk a low score and your livelihood is in jeopardy.

Drivers are also rated by customers: too many bad reviews can get them fired. So it’s not exactly surprising that some drivers told Vice that they feel pressure to dance for the people who demand it. “Customer is king” is an age-old business mantra but thanks to new technology that king can very easily become a tyrant.

Oklahoma Republicans want to put women considering abortions on a government database

Continuing the dystopian theme: Republicans in Oklahoma have introduced a bill to the state legislature that would create a call center for pregnant women who want “pre-abortion” resources. What does this mean? It means a bunch of ghouls (“care agents”) at the end of the phone pressuring vulnerable women into not getting an abortion. People who contact the center are also given a “unique identifying number” to be registered and tracked in a database run by the state department of health. Per the bill, you would only be able to get an abortion if an abortion provider can confirm you’ve been given one of these numbers. Republicans excel at weaponizing bureaucracy to control women.

Watch out for the Gazpacho!

The extremist Republican congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene must have missed the memo about her party trying to control citizens through government databases because she went on a Twitter rant this week about “Nancy Pelosi’s gazpacho police”. Speaking to the Guardian, the Soup Nazi from Seinfeld said he found the whole thing soup-er disturbing. “How in the world can a grown person, who grew up in the 20th century, not know what the word Gestapo is?” he asked. “They say ‘You can’t write this shit.’ It’s beyond you can’t write this shit.” It certainly is. Anyway, if you’ve ever felt like you’re not qualified enough to forge a career in politics just remember that there are people like Greene in power.

Adidas’s new sports bra advert is simply the breast

More specifically it’s a picture of 25 pairs of bare breasts. The point of this? To highlight the diversity of women’s breasts, apparently. And, rather more obviously, to grab people’s attention. Everyone is talking about the advert now so job well done! Will it sell bras though? That is yet to be seen.

Did Melania Trump spend $170,00 buying her own NFT?

It looks suspiciously like she did.

The gender divide in sports safety: female athletes are at higher risk for concussion

It’s not clear why this is and experts are calling for more gender-specific research on the issue. One issue could be safety gear: Florida is the only state in the US, for example, which requires helmets for girls’ lacrosse even though they are standard for male players. This was a game-changer: a study found girls who played lacrosse in states that don’t require helmets had a 59% higher concussion rate. (As an aside, it’s funny to see Florida has no problem with certain safety mandates!)

Australian men still twice as likely as women to earn more than $120,000 a year

The overall gender pay gap has narrowed slightly however.

Living in a woman’s body: a special series by the Guardian

Do spend a bit of time with this brilliant collection of essays. I especially enjoyed this beautifully written piece by Dr Frances Ryan: “It is radical to love a body that the world says is wrong.” And Arifa Akbar has a brilliant essay on compulsory motherhood: “A capitalism of the body and mind that packaged up maternal instinct and sold it back to me.”

Dua Lipa has launched a newsletter

Yours truly has an article in the first edition, which just dropped. Subscribe here.

The week in pawtriarchy

A zoo in the UK hired a Marvin Gaye impersonator to serenade a group of endangered monkeys in the hopes that they’d “get it on” and keep their numbers up. “We thought it could be a creative way to encourage our females to show a little affection to males that might not have been so lucky in love,” park director Matt Lovatt said in a statement.

Arwa Mahdawi’s new book, Strong Female Lead, is available for order.