Cross-posted at From Austin to A&M.
Today is International Women’s Day. A day that is dedicated to ending oppression against women, achieving gender equality, and celebrating women and their achievements. For feminists, IWD should also be a day where we celebrate women often left out of the dominant paradigm:
Tweet from Avory Faucette that reads, “Big love for #IWD for all my trans women, queer women, WOC, WWD, neuroatypical women, fat women, & all women left out of dominant picture.”
Obviously, feminists hopefully do all these things every day (or at least try), but IWD is a nice occasion to remind the rest of the world that half the population of the globe lives under different and unequal conditions than the other half.
But for Google? International Women’s Day is about flowers. Because for Google, women are pretty much not important except as symbols of femininity.
The Google doodle for International Women’s Day 2012. The logo replaces the normal primary colors with muted purple, red, yellow, and green. The first G is changed into the symbol for Venus, and the second O is a yellow flower.
Google has come under fire for its non-holiday doodles, which often recognize the lives of notable people . And by people, I mean men. Google doodles that recognize innovators are overwhelmingly about men; as of 2010, of 109 notable people recognized, 8 were women. Eight.
And Amadi of AmadiTalks pointed out last year that the Google doodles for Mother’s and Father’s Day fail to depict women actually parenting (or even women at all), as well as failing to depict any representations of parenting that aren’t middle-class and White. Google instead settles for illustrating Mother’s Day with flowers. Every. Year. For a company that claims to be creative and innovative, this is lazy, and shows just how much Google knows and cares about women.
The Google doodle this year also includes a flower. Besides the Venus symbol (a symbol that we can read as either problematically part of a binary system or as a reference to the political feminist movement), the flower and the color change (primarily purple) are the only parts of the logo that indicate exactly what they’re trying to recognize today. Not only does the doodle fail to represent actual women or actual achievements by women (something Google doodle fails at consistently), it also conflates female with feminine. It conflates “woman” with “girly,” symbolized by the flower and the color purple (generally coded as feminine in the West). And instead of actually acknowledging women, or supporting women’s equality, the Google doodle phones it in, as it always does with women. They slap a flower on the page and pretend they give a shit, when in reality, this representation is worse than none at all.
A tweet from @GuardianJessica reading, “And birth control pills RT @mathildia @GuardianJessica I’d like to see a suffragette, rosie the riveter, a vampire & a peanut butter kitkat.”