Digi Domi

Sharing my passion for technology and learning.

Women should…

on October 22, 2013

I recently read an article on the Guardians Comment is Free blog about a new UN Women ad series, based on negative Google search results. Terms like ‘Women should…’, ‘Women need’ and ‘Women should not…’ were all searched and the actual results pasted over the mouths of women. The ad revolves around the Google auto-complete feature that runs an algorithm to predict your search term based on popular searches from other users. This gives a terrifying glimpse into how much sexism still exists, with terms such as ‘Women should not vote’ returning via the algorithm.

I took the article and the ad with a pinch of salt, but was horrified by the results I got, when I tried this myself earlier today!



An alarming set of results by any standards, for some reason the first result ‘Women should be seen and not heard’ particularly struck a cord with me. Perhaps its because I grew up having the term repeated to me every time I visited my grandparents. Not that they didn’t love me, they just grew up with Victorian parents and had certain traditional values drilled into their own brains. This meant my brother and I would go and play out of sight, so that they could not complain. This idea that people feel women should be silenced, that they do not have interesting or valid opinions, as a woman of the social media age this really upset me. I generally don’t get upset or offended by much, life is too short as it is, but those seven words have made me really rather emotional!

As a slight side note I would like to add that emotion is not a sign of weakness, and so contrary to traditional belief expressing it, does not make women (or anyone else) weak. In some cases it might make them stronger, as it can take courage to expose yourself rather than to hide away. Of course there is a time and a place and knowing this is a skill that not everyone possess.

However, lets not forget the men. Although the top result for ‘Men need to…’ is ‘ejaculate’ the results are not all in their favor. At 15:20 on 22/10/2013 I did two Google searches, one for ‘Women should not…’ and one for ‘Men should not…’ the results were quite interesting.



While the results for women continue a pattern of out-dated and sexist view points the men’s results aren’t much better. Apart from two items claiming men are not designed for monogamy and one saying they should not vote,  the rest of the results deter men from expressing anything slightly feminine. Wearing skinny jeans, shorts, Ugg boot or crying are all traditionally more female pursuits, although these days are not unusual things to see men engage in. This brings me beautifully back to my previous post about men having to be men, and having no role models if they wish to express anything nontraditional. So what if a guy wants to wear skinny jeans or cry? Neither of them are necessarily unhealthy (although the tightness of the skinny jeans could have some effects I’m sure), nor do they signify sexual preference. I suspect there appearance in the results is as much due to catty women as it is uptight men.

At the end of the day they only things that should auto-complete for either of these search terms should be medical, as there is nothing about gender that should limit us other than biology. In future we should be discussing auto-completes for ‘people should not…’ and addressing issues of humanity not issues of gender!



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