Is the internet sexist?

Here’s a simple experiment.  Go to Google Images.  Turn off safe search.  Type in the word “man.”  Look at the first screen of results.  Note how many are nsfw.  Then search for “woman,” and make the same note.  Repeat the process with “girl,” “boy,” “male,” “female,” “she,” “he,” and other gender words.  Include pairs of masculine and feminine names, such as “Julia” and “Julius,” in your search.


  1. cymast

     /  June 24, 2009

    Did you do it?

    Some of the images are a tough call. I find violent images more objectionable than sexual images, but I tried imagining being in an office with a manager looking over my shoulder.

    NSFW I gave equal censure to real people, cartoons, fine art, and medical drawing/diagrams. In addition to the obviously sexual, I included images of exterior genitalia and buttocks, and images where most of the female breast is exposed, or where there is an exaggerated focus on the aforementionated body parts. I also included obviously suggestive poses and underwear pics.

    SFW I included images of starving/mutilated bodies and pics with non-human genitalia as SFW.

    Here’s the NSFW counts out of 20 images per first page of results:

    woman 12
    man 0

    girl 11
    boy 2

    female 17
    male 15

    she 12
    he 2

    hers 13
    his 4

    feminine 6
    masculine 3

    lady 4
    gentleman 0

    Julia 3
    Julius 0

    Mary 2
    Mario 0 (it’s all the same Mario cartoon)

    Queen 0 (mostly the rock band)
    King 0

    “female cousin” 5
    “male cousin” 2

  2. acilius

     /  June 24, 2009

    I’ve done that experiment from time to time over the last year or so, usually for 3-4 minutes at a time. It amazes me how little time it takes before I start to feel queasy. I don’t think of myself as someone who is especially sensitive to things like that, but the search results give such a hostile answer to the implicit question “What is a woman?” that I’ve never been able to stick with it for very long.

  3. cymast

     /  June 24, 2009

    Yeah I had the same reaction. And I didn’t expect to see so many sex act images in the results. I felt like one of my callers.

  4. acilius

     /  June 24, 2009

    I keep doing the searches because I keep thinking I’ve lost my ability to be shocked. But nope, no such thing. The first result for “man” when I searched this morning was a guy smiling, looked like he was at a conference. As you’d expect, a very wide variety of pictures followed. Some demeaning, most not. The first result for “woman” was someone having sex with two men at once.

  5. cymast

     /  June 25, 2009

    It’s been said the interenet was the best thing that happened to porn.

  6. cymast

     /  June 25, 2009

    By the way, is “interenet” (with 3 “e”s) a word, A? If it is, that’s what I meant to type.

  7. acilius

     /  June 25, 2009

    It isn’t listed in any of the online dictionaries indexed by onelook, but that never stops me!

  8. cymast

     /  June 25, 2009

    “Interenet” really seems like it should be a word, along with “aforementionate(d).”

  9. acilius

     /  June 25, 2009

    Or “aforementiontated.”

  10. cymast

     /  June 25, 2009

    And “aforementionstated.”

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