UN Women recently launched a search engine campaign using suggested Google autocomplete search queries. The results were sobering and remind us of how far we have to go on the road to gender equality.
But it got me thinking: what would the autocomplete suggestions be like for men? Would they be the same, different, or worse?
While different, the results were (again) sobering. But why would sexism towards men exist?
Charges of sexism have a long history of being denied where attention isn’t explicitly directed by a third party. The feminist movement didn’t make progress in hushed voices – it made its political point in campaigns run on decibels and big protests. And without first directing attention to those instances of sexism, there could be no acknowledgement of its existence – let alone a chance of addressing it.
Women couldn’t be active citizens a century ago, but men can’t turn on the television today without being told they are dumb, smelly ogres. Homer Simpson and Ray Romano are the quintessential examples of this, and many other television programs have been criticised as similarly enshrining sexist stereotypes.
Granted, though, what’s being told you’re dumb compared to not being able to vote? I’d take today’s sexism towards men over last century’s sexism towards women any day. Should that mean we can’t do better, though? As the search boxes suggest, I think we can do better for both women and men.
So if sexism towards both women and men exists, why don’t we hear about the latter as much?
Mostly because there hasn’t been a historic movement or great oppression in the past, I think. Feminism has an advantage in their track-record of progress where the same cannot be said about the mens’ rights movement. Men were never as badly treated as women, and in some parts of the world (even in the West) women are still treated much worse than men. Though that doesn’t mean we don’t treat men badly as well or that sexism towards men should be ignored.
Instead, let’s make our fight against sexism in general, not about sexism towards women or towards men; let’s just fight to #EndAllSexism.