Have you ever tried typing “women should,” “women shouldn’t” or “women can’t” into Google? The autocomplete suggestions you get may surprise and horrify you, as a new series of ads from UN Women makes abundantly clear.
Google autocomplete is a feature that suggests what your search term might be, based on its most frequent searches and the content of web pages. It is, in many ways, a neutral reflection of society. These ads feature genuine top-line results, such as “women shouldn’t have rights; women shouldn’t vote; women shouldn’t work.”
For anyone who thought the Internet was a more enlightened place than the world at large, or that sexism was less of a problem in the 21st century, the ads are quite the wake up call. In each of four posters, autocomplete results are placed over the mouth of a woman as if to silence her.