I googled orgasm synonyms the other day and the first thing that popped up was male orgasm.
This was not the first time Google’s algorithms left me in a mix of laughter and weakness. I started to play around with Google searches more and more after being inspired by a lot of research I had read on the topic. For a long time now, I have felt the growing need to showcase Google’s racist, patriarchal, heteronormative, Americanized and erasing narratives to be called to attention.
So here is the truth, Google is not an objective machine that gathers all human experience and provides a golden truth, instead it profits on “user caricatures” and on racism and sexism itself.
Author of Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism Safiya Umoja Noble, a professor of communication at the University of Southern California said in an interview that “There is a dominant male, Western-centric point of view that gets encoded into the organization of information.”
The cartoonized online world I demonstrate in these cached pages visually demonstrates that the white-cis-het colonial patriarchy dominates Google Image search results.
As so many people look to Google as a starting place of academy, scholarly research and knowledge, it is vital to educate ourselves that Google operates under the same American-centric capitalist yuck that most of us are embedded in as well. And this begins with understanding that algorithms are made by human beings. This code is programmed by someone deciding what the most relevant content is to the globe. This naturally comes with bias and replication of systems that exist in the offline world.
Academic Tarleton Gillespie says assigning meaningfulness to content in an algorithm is almost impossible, as it comes from the subjective conversation of what is “relevant”, “newsworthy” or “popular.” In deciding this, we exclude truth, eliminate stories and push marginalized groups out of the margins.
My reason for making this piece is that as a Media Studies student, I have learned to hold the powerful belief that the online world is the place to create revolutions and dismantle norms. To end oppressive algorithms in the online world, is to come closer to doing such in the offline world.
If you don’t think so, click to see the real life implications of #idlenomore, #metoo and #Blacklivesmatter.
I wanted to visually highlight in this photo series a lot of problematic elements of Google Image’s algorithms. This includes the sexualizing of young girls, latina girls, asian girls, its pornification and gendering of jobs, politics and power searches directly associating with America though not the country’s prisons- which have the highest incarceration rate in the world. I also highlighted other elements such as heteronormativity, the male gaze, patriarchal structures and balant erasure of the experience of people of colour. There are other elements I demonstrated with this series that I hope you have a chance to go through and take a look at.
Check out the “Fight the Algorithms” tab to find out more sources, see what movements and steps you can take to transform this Goggled image of modern humanity.
Thanks for stopping by.
And special thanks to Elisha Lucero who helped me code as Google spied on our schemes and kept pausing our Chromecast.
- Angelica Poversky