Culture & Entertainment

New UN campaign focuses on gender inequality

By: Guest Blogger
Canadian Living
Culture & Entertainment

New UN campaign focuses on gender inequality

By: Guest Blogger
[caption id="attachment_16245" align="aligncenter" width="389"] Photo courtesy of UN Women[/caption] I want to think I live in a time that truly respects women. But a recent UN campaign has shown me we don't. Over the weekend I was reading Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God. It's one of those books that as a woman you struggle to get through because the female characters hold so little power. There is this awful part where Tea Cake slaps around his wife Janie to put her in her place. After reading this I had to put the book down, take a calming breath and think about how lucky I am to live in an era that values women. Then UN Women—an arm of the United Nations—released a campaign showing how gender inequality is still a problem in 2013. The Search Engine Campaign is a series of images showing what search terms come up when you type in "women." For example, searching "women need to" brings up results saying "women need to be put in their place," "women need to be controlled" and "women need to be disciplined." Apparently my world in 2013 is not that much different than Janie's world in the early 1900's. But maybe I shouldn't be surprised at these search terms. If you look at the stories that have dominated the headlines over the last few months, it shows you what little value society places on women. Robin Thicke and his hit song "Blurred Lines" is a perfect example of men having a lack of respect towards women. The song has been criticized for condoning rape with lyrics like "that's why I'm gonna take a good girl, I know you want it."  Thicke defended the song by saying he wrote it for his wife. If this is the type of song a husband writes for his wife, then I can understand why "women need to be disciplined" is a popular search term. The chants at UBC are another recent example of men demeaning women. Students at the university were encouraged to sing “Y-O-U-N-G at UBC we like ‘em young, Y is for your sister, O is for oh so tight, U is for under age, N is for no consent, G is for go to jail.” We shouldn't be shocked that when you search "women should," one of the results is "women should be slaves." Or when you search "women shouldn't" you get "women shouldn't have rights." Incidents like the chants at UBC show a culture that condones rape, meaning a culture that denies women the right to control their bodies and essentially makes them sex slaves. Another one of the campaign's images shows the search terms that come with "women should" including "women should be in the kitchen" and "women should stay at home." With popular search terms like this, it makes sense that last month University of Toronto professor David Gilmour said he wouldn't teach any female writers. Gilmour's lack of respect for female talent encourages a mentality that a woman's work is not as important as a man's. These images are incredibly powerful, but they raise the question, how do we change these search terms? When the Steubenville rape trial was going on I read an inspiring piece about how parents need to teach their children about respect, especially respect towards women. After seeing these images from the UN, I think this message is even more important. We need to make an effort to show young boys that women do have rights, that they are their equals. And we need to teach young girls to respect themselves and to demand respect from others. The only way we can change these search results is to change the way we think. Instead of thinking "women shouldn't work" we need to instead think, "women shouldn't be expected to stay at home." "Women should be controlled" should become "Women should be free." What do you think of this UN campaign?  
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Culture & Entertainment

New UN campaign focuses on gender inequality

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