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#WOMENSHOULD

#womenshould: An Analysis of a Gender Equality Campaign by UN Women


M. Paige Schneweis Women need to know their place. Women cannot drive. Women should be in the kitchen. Women shouldnt have rights. According to a series of campaign ads released by UN Women in May 2013, these are only a few of the results from an actual Google search on 09/03/131 using beginning search phrases including, women need to, women cannot, women should, and women shouldnt. Each of the four ads features the face of a woman with her mouth covered up by the Google search bar with the drop down menu of search results below it. Below the search results is a line of text that reads, women need to be seen as equal, women cannot accept the way things are, women should have the right to make their own decisions, or women shouldnt suffer from discrimination anymore, depending on which of the four ads the audience is seeing (Griner, 2013). Through a rhetorical analysis using a neoclassical framework, I argue that UN Womens series of ads, created by Christopher Hunt of Memac Ogilvy & Mather Dubai,2 communicates an effective message on the advocation and awareness of gender equality. This is achieved through UN Womens distinguished global positioning on the subject, the clever inclusion of Google to demonstrate the worldwide pervasiveness of the matter, the creative decision of choosing the close-up portraiture photography style to draw an emotional response, and the reference to a popular anti-censorship image to form the connection that sexism and gender inequality are ways of silencing women.
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09/03/2013 is intended to mean March 9, 2013 (UN Women, 2013, October 21) Ogilvy & Mather is one of the eight largest advertising networks in the world. Today it has more than 450 offices in 169 cities (Ogilvy & Dubai, n.d.)

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Rhetorical Contexts This series of ads is situated in a place in time when the struggle for gender equality is still present, not only in the United States, but worldwide. The campaign also takes place in the Information Age, characterized by anywhere-anytime education, computerized searches, and electronic transmission (Lewis, 1995, p. 9). Following is an analysis of the contexts surrounding this campaign by UN Women. The struggle for equality. UN Women, or the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, is positioned on the forefront of the pursuit of worldwide gender equality. The organization was created in July 2010 by the United Nations General Assembly to continue and better the work of four previously distinct parts of the UN system (UN Women, 2013): Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW), International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW), Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women (OSAGI), and the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM). UN Women (2013) addresses the current state of and the critical importance of gender equality: Gender equality is not only a basic human right, but its achievement has enormous socioeconomic ramifications. Empowering women fuels thriving economies, spurring productivity and growth. Yet gender inequalities remain deeply entrenched in every society. Women lack access to decent work and face occupational segregation and gender wage gaps. They are too often denied access to basic education and health care. Women in all parts of the world suffer violence and discrimination. They are underrepresented in political and economic decision-making processes.

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Possessing ethos as a distinguished global organization addressing the issue of sexism and gender equality, UN Women is well positioned to put forth this campaign The reign of Google. In honor of Googles fifteenth birthday in September 2013, Statista created a chart with some astounding statistics to demonstrate the search engines dominance of the Internet landscape (Fox, 2013). In a month, Google sees over one billion users, with total monthly searches adding up to over 114 billion (Richter, 2013). Ever since its launch on September 4, 1997, Google has been on the forefront of the Internet, influencing and adapting to the constantly changing digital landscape. Not even three years after being introduced, Google became the largest search engine in the world, having indexed over one billion Web documents; it would reach three billion less than two years after, and 1 trillion unique URLs were indexed by 2008. In 2001 and 2004, Google Image Search and Gmail were introduced, respectively. In 2005, Google Suggest was instituted, so that as you typed your query, Google Suggest would try to figure out what you were searching on and display those probably-final queries in a drop-down menu (Dreller, 2013). The Google Suggest feature is what is shown in the series of ads being discussed. The suggestions are based primarily on real searches and the popularity of the search terms, and the suggestions can vary by region and language (Sullivan, 2011). The reality that this reflects, then, as shown in the ads, is that worldwide, internet users frequently type the search terms women shouldnt have rights or women need to be controlled, just to name a couple; the reality is that sexism is still pervasive and alive. One may argue upon initially seeing one of the ads that the search results were fabricated. However, the author of this analysis did her own search attempts on October 20, 2013. The predictions that came up for women need to included women need to know their place,

#WOMENSHOULD

women need to shut up, and women need to be controlled; predictions for women should included women should not be in combat and women should be seen and not heard; predictions for women shouldnt included women shouldnt vote and women shouldnt have rights. This is the reality of our world. This is the reality that Google is reflecting. And this is the reality that UN Women is addressing in their campaign. Rhetorical Texts Portraiture. The images of the women in the ads are in the style of portraiture photography. According to The Royal Photographic Society (n.d.), in portraiture photography, the face and expression is predominant. The objective is to display the likeness, personalit y, and even the mood of the subject. The creative decision to portray women in a close-up, realistic fashion aids the audience in seeing the subject as human and lifelike. Had the women been cartoons, it would not have the same deep impact. Being faced with the very intimate image of a womans face causes the reader to take a moment and actually look at her face, even into her eyes, as if she were real, standing right in front of them. The focus on the face of the woman and the intimacy of the image provokes an emotional response, lending pathos to the text. The anti-censorship image. The placement of the Google search bar and suggested results over the womans mouth in each of the ads makes reference to the image of a person with tape over their mouth, commonly associated with anti-censorship. The connection then is that sexism and gender inequality are forms of censorship on women. Sexism and gender inequality aims to silence women, and this thinking is seen across the internet and the world, as demonstrated in suggested results by Google such as, women need to shut up and women

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should be seen and not heard, in the most literal sense. The silencing is also made possible by refusing women the right to vote, work, and drive. Conclusion Sexism and the struggle for gender equality are persistent issues worldwide, and UN Women, an organization known worldwide for its work in advancing gender equality (UN Women, 2013), has put forth this series of ads in an effort to market awareness on just how globally prevalent the matter is. By featuring actual Google searches, they are able to effectively demonstrate the unfortunate commonness of sexism in reality. The decision to depict true-tolife, realistic women in close-up, intimate images forges an emotional response and connection between the audience and the subject. Finally, the ads drive home the critical nature of the issue at hand by associating sexism with censorship. Kareem Shuhaibar, copywriter for the ads, says, The ads are shocking because they show just how far we still have to go to achieve gender equality. They are a wake up call, and we hope that the message will travel far (UN Women, 2013, October 21).

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References Dreller, J. (2013, October 10). The Top 7 Milestones of Google Search. Retrieved from http://searchengineland.com/the-top-7-milestones-of-google-search-173578. Fox, Z. (2013, September 27). 7 Stats Proving Googles Global Internet Domination. Retrieved from http://mashable.com/2013/09/27/google-statistics/. Griner, D. (2013, October 18). Powerful Ads Use Real Google Searches to Show the Scope of Sexism Worldwide. Retrieved from http://www.adweek.com/adfreak/powerful-ads-usereal-google-searches-show-scope-sexism-worldwide-153235. Lewis, T. (1995, September). Living in real time, side A (What is the Info Age?). Computer, 28, 9. doi:10.1109/2.410133. Ogilvy, M. & Dubai, M. (n.d.). Ogilvy & Mather. Retrieved from http://www.ogilvy.com/About/Our-History/Ogilvy_Mather.aspx. Richter, F. (2013, September 27). Chart: 15 Years of Google How the Search Giant Dominates the Web. Retrieved from http://www.statista.com/topics/1001/google/chart/1502/15years-of-google/. The Royal Photographic Society. (n.d.). About Portrait Photography. Retrieved from http://www.rps.org/learningzone/portraiture/about-portrait-photography/. Sullivan, D. (2011, April 6). How Google Instants Autocomplete Suggestions Work. Retrieved from http://searchengineland.com/how-google-instant-autocomplete-suggestions-work62592. UN Women. (2013). About UN Women. Retrieved from http://www.unwomen.org/en/aboutus/about-un-women.

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UN Women. (2013, October 21). UN Women ad series reveals widespread sexism. Retrieved from http://www.unwomen.org/en/news/stories/2013/10/women-should-ads.

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Reflection The approach I chose for this analysis was Neoclassical Criticism. I felt that in the case of these ads, it was important to look at both the context and text. The context was especially important considering the aspects of UN Womens role in promoting gender equality and the role Google plays as the leading internet search engine. The text was also important because of the anti-censorship image reference and the creative decision to portray the women in a realistic style versus a cartoon. I also considered framing the ads using the Social Movement Criticism. I actually could have used the contextual and textual analysis within the Social Movement Criticism, since Social Movement Criticism isnt restricted to one particular analysis strategy. In the end, I chose to stick to Neoclassical because in order for me to address the context and text, as well as frame it within the larger movement of gender equality, I would have had to write far more than 3-4 pages.