I was writing an assessment for one of my classes and I wanted some silhouette figures.  To have balance I wanted silhouettes of some men and some women.  I searched Google images for some male silhouettes first.

You probably won’t be struck by anything.  I wasn’t.  I used the guy at the start of the second row because I didn’t want a man in a suit.  That’s the thing to notice really.  How many of these men are businessmen.  We might also note the body language.  Confident, and assertive. 

So then I did my next search.

You might notice a bit of a difference.  The main difference of course is that there aren’t many businesswomen.  In fact most of the women seem to be either nude, being sexy, or dancing.

I also thought it was interesting what was suggested as related searches.  There are some obvious similarities (face, walking, standing, head), and some notable differences.  “Silhouette man with gun” and “silhouette man smoking” versus “silhouette woman dancing” and “silhouette woman fashion”.

Does this tell us everything we need to know about western perceptions of men and women?  If so, I think it’s pretty depressing for both genders.  Men wear suits.  They are business men.  They smoke.  They have guns.  Women are sexual, they dance, they wear nice clothes (except when they’re being sexy and nude).

All of which made me wonder about other searches.  How about the search “stock image boy”  and “stock image girl”?

Ok, so once we get through the men actually dealing with stock we have pictures of boys running, playing football, riding bikes all that stuff.  Notice the age of the boys.  How about girls?

None of these “girls” look like girls, and I don’t see much running or biking going on.

I watched a presentation by Google about how their image search works.  It was dull, but informative.  Apparently people scroll through images and go a lot further into their search results than they do with a regular search.  The images at the top of the page are a selection of images that have become popular because of click through traffic.

Various reports on internet usage by gender report that men and women use the internet for different things.  Looking at these images I think we can conclude that men use Google image more than women, and that they like to see images that reflect a reality in which men are businessmen, boys play outside, girls are hot, and women rehearse dance moves in the nude a lot.

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7 thoughts on “Interesting”

  1. Ah, J-P, we do miss your PC/Non-PCish comments from the “Bad Boys Corner” It is true about the image searches being biased, but there are other anomalies. I always keep my “Safe Search” = off and last week i was looking for an image to represent Dick. I started the search with trepidation, but was pleasantly surprised. NO GENETALIA.
    So was that caused by a male preponderance in looking for an abreviation of “Richard”? or is Google homophobic?

  2. This is bullshit. Is it okay that I just put that word on your blog? Feel free to edit/bleep/censor as needed. I just can’t think of any other word to describe it.

  3. No, that’s pretty much what it is, so that’s what you can call it. I have a hobby horse about how degrading a lot of pop videos are to women to which most people roll their eyes and tell me it doesn’t matter. Well, I think what comes up on Google image is one consequence of degrading pop videos. They partly shape perceptions. Hell, put these silhouettes together and you have a pop video: dude in a smooth suit looking confident, and sexy woman dancing around. Right?

  4. Sorta sucks raising a girl knowing the creepy world you’re going to have to turn them loose into sooner or later. Madness, I tell you.

  5. I liked the post.
    Inspired, I ‘googled’ “Naked Businessman silhouette”

    In images I got a lot of men in suits looking ‘business-like’ and a few of guys in suits with naked women draped over them and silhouettes of lap-dancers and guys in suits.
    Yes, it is depressing.

  6. it does get worse and worse, doesn’t it? And the clothes folks let their daughters out of the house in are appalling. They should at least have to sneak out in them, like I did.

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