Doesn’t say great things about us, I’m afraid

I think this is actually remarkably informative (and depressing). It’s easy to assume that “most people are sensible” because the people around you are (to some degree) sensible, and I know I often fall into that trap. Data like this is closer to some version of “objective” because to a significant degree Google’s just reflecting what’s “out there” without any awareness of an agenda. My results were slightly different than these, but definitely similar in spirit. The #4 hit for “women should” was “be silent”. Luckily I’m surrounded by feisty women who are full participants the world around them, but what does a result like this tell a young woman trying navigate the complex terrain of identity and place?

And to cut off those who will argue that somehow these data are “meaningless”, it’s exactly this kind of data about what people are searching for that people are using to track flu outbreaks and spending lots of money to try to influence for marketing purposes. Sure, this doesn’t tell us anything about who searched for the silence of women or why they were searching for it. But it tells us that people are searching for that phrase and that it comes up with some frequency on-line, i.e., the silence of women is in some meaningful way an important part of our collective conversation. And in case you’re optimistically inclined to think that this reflects some positive conversation on the subject, if you actually do the search, the top results are almost entirely tied up in Bible quotes saying that indeed the ladies should remain mum.


I think I should go listen to WeatherGrrrl being clever for a while to cleanse my mental palate.

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