Note from BW of Brazil: Today’s article really hits home and it’s something that actually affects this site as it is a blog that discusses the realities of being black and a woman in Brazil. This site never has and never will be associated with hardcore pornography and I decided before this blog even debuted that it wouldn’t seek popularity based on explicitly sexual content. But, unfortunately, even if you don’t seek this sort of image, this is how the world of the internet works.
Let me explain.
When you blog, you can always find out what keywords people use to find your content. In my case, almost since the beginning, I have received a certain percentage of traffic simply due to the fact that I talk about black women. In the past, I have collaborated with a number of experts who work with search engine optimization and each of them told me the same thing: ‘Your blog is about black women and black women will always be associated with sex, sexual content and pornography’. “But my blog isn’t about porno and sex”, I would often reply. ‘It doesn’t matter; this is the image internet users have of black women.’
Unfortunately, this seems to be the case.
It never fails. When I check my analytics info about this blog’s traffic, I consistently find porn/sex associated keywords that lead people to the blog. Today, for example, three keyword searches leading to this blog today were “black women r…..g”, “bare ebony b….” and “gorgeous black teen double….”. But that’s just today. In past days, months and years, I’ve seen some pretty outrageous search terms and thought, why is it that so many people look for images of black women in these scenarios? Other popular search terms for a number of weeks was “black r..e scenes”, and then there are regular favorites, “black women f……” and “black teen a..”. I am censoring these terms for obvious reasons.
I also find that the most popular websites on a global level contradict themselves when they speak of the positions (no pun intended) on these sorts of issues. For example, some months ago, Facebook sent me a message on my BW of Brazil Facebook page informing me that they would be removing one of my posts due to “graphic content”. The post was a story entitled “Models bare all in an act for black consciousness at Fashion Rio” that featured a group of topless black women models protesting the invisibility and low representation of black models at the 2013 Fashion Rio fashion show in November of that year.
We all know that that how a woman presents herself or even how she stands can make all of the difference in terms of how sexualized she is seen by gazing eyes. Don’t get me wrong, I know that a naked female body can be seen in a sexual manner even if she’s just washing dishes topless. It is a signal of the sexual programming of our society. But it’s also about subtleties.
For example, maybe about five years ago, a female friend of mine rejected a photo I had posted from a woman who was interested in being featured on the blog. The woman was fully clothed, the cleavage of the dress she wore showed an average view of cleavage and she was seated in front of a tree. One of her arms was outstretched over her head while the other was positioned crossing her rib section. In this case, it wasn’t revealing clothing or a lack of clothing that my friend saw as being of a sexual nature, but rather the hint of sexual availability. Even if one could argue against the subtle sexual nature of that photo, there is nothing on this blog that is anywhere near the stuff that Facebook and Google allow on their pages.
But what really irks me about receiving this message from Facebook is the fact that the social network giant was busted for allowing 8.7 million images of kiddie porn on its network. Yep. Kiddie porn! That was in October of 2018. In March of 2017, the BBC found that Facebook failed to remove sexualized images of children. But yet this same network decided to block my post of black women in a protest.
My issue is not just with Facebook. The same applies to search engine giant Google. The very same photo and article that I mentioned above about the black models protesting topless at the fashion show was flagged by Google when I began to experiment with monetization.
Hol’lup. Let me get this this straight. Google makes millions every minute of the day allowing all sorts of explicitly pornographic images on its search engine. And I mean XXX-rated graphic, but the same search engine will flag photos of topless black women in a setting that shows no sexual activity but THAT gets flagged. I’d say that constitutes a double (or would it be triple X) standard.
What say you?
Needless to say, what a black Brazilian woman recently found on Google’s search engine images by simply searching for “mulher negra dando aula” (meaning “black woman teaching”) is not at all shocking. Not because I believe the automatic association between black women and sex should be legitimate, but because I know we live in a world in which everything is sexualized. I get that. But don’t penalize me for having “graphic/explicit content” when your content is 100 times MORE EXPLICIT and you all make trillions of Dollars/Euros more than I would see in 100 lifetimes.
Google displays pornography when the phrase ‘black woman teaching’ is searched
Google got involved in yet another controversy related to search results. It has been identified that the platform displays, at least since October 1, explicit sex images for users seeking “mulher negra dando aula”, which means “black women teaching”.
The one who noticed the situation was the public relations professional Cáren Cruz, from Salvador (BA). She was researching some images to include in a presentation for a company when she came across pornography, according to the Universa website.
For Google, is ‘professora’ meaning ‘teacher’ or ‘professor’ a ‘prostitute’? Understand the controversy and what dictionaries say.
Photos are displayed even when fetched from an anonymous tab. Pornographic results are also presented for netizens seeking “redheaded woman teaching” and “blonde woman teaching”. On the other hand, the search for “mulher dando aula” (woman teaching) and “mulher branca dando aula” (white woman teaching) displays images that match the meaning of the phrase.
In relation to non-black women, similar results can happen depending on the keyword specifics. When searching for “mulher loira/ruiva/japonesa dando aula” meaning blond/redhead/japanese woman teaching”, the user also comes across scenes of women in sexual practices.
Apparently, the display of pornographic results is not only related to black women, but also to the association between female profiles traditionally fetishized and the word “dando”, meaning “giving”, which acquires sexual connotation. TechTudo conducted the test and proved that searches for images about “mulher negra/loira/ruiva/japonesa” (black, blond, redhead and Japanese woman)in the classroom bring up pornographic results, both on the PC and on the mobile phone.
In a note, Google expressed regret over the case and even apologized to those who felt impacted or offended. “We want to provide results relevant to search terms, and we don’t intend to show explicit results to users unless they’re looking for it. The set of results for the term mentioned is not up to that principle,” read the statement.
According to the company, if the Internet user activates “busca segura” meaning “safe search”, results with explicit contain explicit content will no longer appear. To know how to activate the filter, click here.
Google also said the problem is being investigated and promised to find a solution to “improve results not only for this term, but also for other research that may present similar challenges.” However, it did not give a deadline for the amendment.
Last week, Google got into another controversy with search results for the word “professora” (female teacher/professor) The “Dictionary” tool, under the classification of “brasileirismo” (Brazilianism), had the following definition: “prostitute with whom adolescents begin their sexual life”. When questioned, the company decided to withdraw the result.
In the meantime, Cáren hopes the correction will be made as soon as possible. As a black woman who is dedicated to fighting racism in various media, she even thought about filing a lawsuit, but she withdrew: “It is evident how racial prejudice and sexism appear as discriminatory markers for black women in society. And there is no denying that the stigma of hyper-sexualization, arising from a colonial historical process in Brazil, is one of the latent forms of maintaining the racialization of subjects. The programmed social structure does not include black women in their intellectuality, which crosses generations, always linked to the molds and the discriminatory use of their bodies. And the media, as well as the technological platforms, reproduce this derogatory reference concerning the image of black women in social representation”, she analyzes.
Lawyer Dandara Pinho explains that, if a process is initiated, the making responsible for the concentration, creation and non-alteration of algorithms will be discussed. She is a member of the Commission for the Promotion of Racial Equality of the Brazilian Bar Association – Bahia Section.
Note from BW of Brazil: Continuing with this topic, I find it intriguing that, not only did doing a Google search on “mulher negra” produce pornographic images, but so did searches for “mulher ruiva”, “mulher loira” and “mulher japanesa”, meaning blond, redhead and Japanese woman respectively, whereas the term “mulher branca” or white woman did not. What I gather from this is that white women as a whole are seen in a more respectable manner, but when it comes to specifying a certain type of white woman, she is also the object of fetishization.
As such, the white woman has the distinct status of being respected as the standard of beauty, womanhood and motherhood as well as being fetishized, perhaps because of these very ideals. On the other hand, if we just do an image search using the term “mulher dando aula”, meaning “woman teaching” or “giving class”, almost all of the images are of white women. Once again, it puts black women in a place where being a woman is a status bestowed upon white women. I know that many blond white women have opined that it is no compliment to automatically be labeled as ”dumb” for simply having blond hair, I would say that, that may be so. But in the poor, mostly black favelas of Brazil, there are perhaps millions of ”neguinhos” (little black guys) who have been trained to dream of putting a ring on their fingers.
So many ways to look at this data, but it again shows us that, while all races of women can be subjected to sexist behavior or opinions of the “place” women belong, the white woman’s place still affords her a status that puts her higher up in the hierarchy of women.
Information courtesy of Por Metro Jornal, Mídia Bahia and Tech Tudo