UN Women wants us to start talking about gender equality. Yet, discussing gender equality can be frustrating because so much of the oppression women feel is woven into your daily life. It’s hard to wrap your head the whole picture and even if you do, it can be difficult to help others understand that there is work to be done around the world and right within your own community.
The ad agency Ogilvy & Mathers, in a campaign for UN Women, has found a way to concisely communicate these issues using the world’s most honest tool: the Google search bar. From their website:
A series of ads, developed as a creative idea for UN Women by Memac Ogilvy & Mather Dubai, uses genuine Google searches to reveal the widespread prevalence of sexism and discrimination against women. Based on searches dated 9 March, 2013 the ads expose negative sentiments ranging from stereotyping as well as outright denial of women’s rights.
The results are jarring but, with this campaign, UN Women hopes to foster a much-needed dialogue around the case for women’s rights worldwide.
Out of curiosity, I did some of these searches using “men” instead of “women.” Here were the top results:
Men need to… “feel needed”
Men cannot… “be feminists”
Men should… “be allowed to hit women”
Men shouldn’t… “marry”
My favorite top 3 result was, “Men shouldn’t wear flip flops.” To which I say: Yes you can, men. Yes you can.
While people inflict judgement on both sexes via the internet, Google search suggestions certainly show these judgements take on a much more hostile and even violent tone in regards to women. It is a tone that indicates a desire to strip women of their voice and power. Most people use the internet mainly for the purpose of finding a community. It is a place that is honest and anonymous — where deep desires and motivations can be revealed. The fact that Google’s top suggestions are so hostile towards women suggests that far too many people are looking for communities to support their misogynist attitudes and keep women oppressed.
There is clearly work to be done: whether it’s taking the time to understand the very real gender inequalities that have been ingrained in our daily lives, simply speaking up when you hear a woman being made powerless or becoming involved through volunteer opportunities. You can find out more about what UN Women does on their website.
It’s a moving campaign — hopefully with enough power to get people talking. What do you think?