How come when I Google ‘PTSD’ this is what I get?
Where are the women?
It’s especially troubling considering this: “Women are more than twice as likely to develop PTSD than men (10% for women and 4% for men).”
Twice as likely.
That’s not me just saying so that is from the Department of Veteran’s Affairs website.
But it doesn’t look like women get post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) at all.
What gives Google?
There’s maybe a veteran female shown 27 images deep.
We actually get this cat that might have before clear images of women who do.
I love cats.
Twice as many women with PTSD is way more than is shown.
These are numbers, data and facts not subjective opinions. Isn’t Google supposed to be good at that?
Something is missing from the way data is culled and analyzed or crawled. When it comes to PTSD women aren’t an after thought.
They suffer at higher rates than men. That’s not a tiny or irrelevant fact.
This is a serious medical diagnosis with great physical and emotional impact.
How about not wiping out and excluding the reality of women with trauma?
How about showing the other causes of PTSD besides war?
A World Health Organization study grouped the traumatic experiences of respondents from 21 countries as follows:
- (21.8%) witnessing violence
- (18.8%) experiencing interpersonal violence
- (17.7%) accidents
- (16.2%) exposure to war (16.2%)
- (12.5%) trauma to a loved one.
War is not the only or even the primary cause of traumatic stress. This group of Google images minimize the experience of millions.
These images are skewed in a way that distorts reality.
There’s lot of these.
Which are important and accurate. Veterans and those serving DO suffer PTSD.
But they are not the singular image of PTSD which they appear to be.
Can we include more images and earlier of women?
Images of men and women who aren’t in military uniforms too?
I don’t mean to pile on Google. I know it’s been a bad week. I found out while researching for this piece (using Google, in fact) that I’m not the only one troubled by Google search results.
Twitter user, @BonKamona, (Bonnie Kamona), compared two sets of search images Googled for professional and unprofessional hairstyles for work. The professional images were of mostly white women where as the unprofessional ones were virtually all women of color.
She has a point.
What’s the Google’s response?
“This is fundamentally a societal problem — there are persistent and problematic biases, and they’re quite pervasive in the media, on the web, etc – meta-tagging their images with their own descriptions.
Search engines in turn reflect what’s on the web. This is not unique to our search engine; Yahoo! and Bing show similar results.”
Stereotypes are fine if they are popular and web-search based?
No problem to have myths and misinformation when facts, data and truth is available and online? Fine if women ignored, overlooked or not captured in secret algorithms?
If it’s just a popularity contest of images wouldn’t Bing and Yahoo yield the same results as Google?
Bing’s Top Screenshot of a PTSD search:
They are almost identical to one another. But they do show a half naked woman/butterfly in the first screenshot of images which I guess is tiny bit better if better is still really fucking bad.
Does anyone think looking at the searches that women get PTSD twice as often as men?
I get Google and other searches somehow mirror our own misconceptions and stereotypes. To which I say, sexism sucks and maybe this is a moment to pause. Again!
But it’s also fair to ask how search engines operate.
Who queries or codes them and why is it done so badly that it’s o.k. to obliterate women’s experiences so completely?
What else is not tracked, added or considered if such obvious these are missing entirely?
I get that the collective we has to change if we don’t like what we see reflected.
Let’s totally do that. Please. Please. Please.
In the meantime, do search engines should get a total pass and be able to shrug it off when perpetuating stereotypes, myths and misinformation?
I don’t think so.
Not with hair styles or serious medical conditions?
Because here’s the reality.
Women get PTSD as do children and men who do not serve in the military.
And guess what? Black women have professions and hair styles too!
Maybe this is another example of why Google, Bing and Yahoo need more diversity at all levels? But can’t robots search for truth? Doesn’t that benefit everyone who does a search?
Can’t anyone update codes and tags and fix the way words are associated? Is PTSD linked to women and children and associated with words other than war such as rape, abuse, accidents, domestic violence, crime, developmental trauma and complex trauma?
It doesn’t seem so. There are a bazillion blogs by trauma survivors and the images in those don’t seem represented here.
It doesn’t take a techine or a genius or a woman to know women get PTSD.
And it’s not only Black women that know Black woman have professional work and hair styles too.
There is no no singular image of PTSD. Women, men, children and yeah, probably cats get it too.
It’s caused by trauma from war, accidents and violence, often at the hands of men. Men are often, though obviously not always the cause of trauma. That’s not evident here.
And men suffer from accidents and violence as well which also isn’t clear. At all.
Gender and race matter – in searches and in life – but not just to special interest groups but for all of us.
I call for an upgrade of these dated and dangerous ‘operating systems’ dismissing our experiences and lives.
These images don’t do justice to reality or truth.
Note: This piece came out of one on why this feminist f’n hates trigger warnings. But I got totally side-tracked by that bullshit nonsense and couldn’t let it go.
You Matter Mantras
- Trauma sucks. You don't.
- Write to express not to impress.
- It's not trauma informed if it's not informed by trauma survivors.
- Breathing isn't optional.