Sexism, the Internet, and the World: Powerful Ads Use Real Google Searches to Show Shocking Popular Opinions of Women Across the Globe

A new ad campaign from UN Women reveals shocking opinions held worldwide about women through the use of real Google searches across the globe.

UN Women shouldn't

A new campaign from UN Women, AKA the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, uses suggested terms from Google’s autocomplete feature to highlight authoritative attitudes towards women across the globe—and the results are shocking, saddening, and, above all, a call to arms.

The search terms utilized begin innocently enough, with terms like “women need to” and “women shouldn’t”; but in each case, the top results are things like, “women need to be put in their place” and “women shouldn’t have rights.” And these aren’t simply Photoshopped images, either—taking a look at the fine print reveals that the phrases used are from actual Google searches conducted on September 3, 2013.

UN women cannot

Said Christopher Hunt, head of art for Ogilvy & Mather Dubai and the creator of the ads, “This campaign uses the world’s most popular search engine (Google) to show how gender inequality is a worldwide problem. The adverts show the results of genuine searches, highlighting popular opinions across the world wide web.” Perhaps the most damning result is which searches tend to be ignored: As DesignTaxi points out, results like “women need to be seen as equal” and “women shouldn’t suffer from discrimination anymore” appear in tiny, barely legible white print below the search box, showing how little attention they receive.

UN Women need to

Adweek notes that although Google users in different countries are likely to get different results, “a quick test shows that several of these suggested terms definitely come up in U.S. searches.” And they’re right—here’s what autocomplete pulled up for me when I plugged in the search terms just now:

women shouldn't

women should

women need to

women cannot

I can’t even. How is it that in this day and age, these are still the prevailing opinions of women all over the world? How is it even still an issue? And why does it seem to be getting worse, rather than better? I’m aghast—well and truly speechless. I don’t have any subtly nuanced thoughts about the issue; but these ads were a slap in the face to me, and I can only hope that they’ll be a slap in the face to both men and women the world over, as well.

It’s time for all these –isms to end. If we can change even just one opinion at a time—it’s something worth fighting for.

UN Women should

Founded in 2010, UN Women represents a historic step in accelerating the Organization’s goals on gender equality and the empowerment of women. Find out more here.

Lucia Peters is BettyConfidential’s senior editor.

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