The latest in Dubai-based Memac Ogilvy & Mather’s campaign for United Nations Women is the affecting 1:30 video, “The Autocomplete Truth.” This short video comes on the heels of the virally successful print/online campaign launched this September that attempted to “start a conversation on the major barriers that are in place of women’s economic, political and social empowerment across the globe” — issues central to UN Women.
“The Autocomplete Truth” began, according to the Memac Ogilvy announce, when the team did a search for the term “women should” and were astounded by the sexist autocorrect results: “women should stay at home,” “women should be slaves,” “women should be in the kitchen,” “women should not speak in church.” The short video begins positively, with a montage of women’s rights achievements from women’s suffrage to Sarah Attar‘s appearance in the 2012 Summer Olympics. Then the video poses the question of where we are today, before answering with the troubling autocomplete results. It comes as a bit of a shock following the optimistic portrayal of women’s rights successes that precedes it, a perfect way to disrupt the impression that society has somehow advanced beyond sexism and illustrate the continued importance of women’s rights campaigns.
Although I don’t question the veracity of the team’s March 9, 2013 Google searches (location obviously has a significant impact on results), I wondered what my own Google search for “Women should” would bring up. The results were a bit more optimistic, with the top results: “women shoulder bags,” “women should be in combat,” “women shoulder exercises,” and “women should be allowed in combat.” I’ll take “shoulder bags” over “should be slaves” any day, of course. However, when I repeated the experiment with some of the other search terms from the print campaign, my results were pretty much in line with the those of the campaign. My “women shouldn’t” search had “go to business school” as the top result, go figure. Pretty depressing stuff, and ample evidence that discrimination against women is still a dominant force in 2013. Misogynistic commenters of AgencySpy, please stay the fuck out of this one.