Last week, Emma Hall ’16 created the short film “Autofill: A Gender Study.” This 4 minute and 41 second video focuses on societal microaggressions that have become “norms” and stereotypes of gender and feminism revealed through Google searches, including one-line statements such as “rape victims should take blame” and “feminists are ugly.”
After only 24 hours on YouTube, the video had gained more than 1,000 views and was repeatedly shared on mutiple social media platforms. At press time, the video had over 3,400 views. Simple in its creation and truthful in its words, “autofill: a gender study” manages to rip open the societal shield that we all live behind.
It was made quickly. Hall conceived of it on a Wednesday, filmed it that Saturday and Sunday, edited it on Monday and Tuesday, and uploaded it Tuesday night. But it has been subconsciously brewing in her mind for quite a while. She wanted to create something that would speak for her and force others to listen. The result is a video that also speaks for countless others who feel silenced in today’s society.
Hall, like many, was tired of baseless complaints against “feminist beliefs” toward oppression and sexism. These same beliefs pinpoint problems in our current society that have been continuously ignored so much they have become “norms.” This video was a chance to unmask these microaggressions and display them for what they really are.
All of the Google searches and verbal microaggressions in the video come from Hall’s own experiences as a woman. These are things she has seen and heard — things you’ve probably heard, too. She meticulously aligned each statement so that phrases such as “women should be dominated” were placed alongside assertions like “women shouldn’t vote” to emphasize the ridiculousness of both. Her video served as a platform on which every type of microaggression could be voiced.
But this project is not only directed towards women. The video includes derogatory societal norms and statements commonly directed towards men, as well, while also acknowledging that “gender is not a binary.” Hall also notes that the term “rape victim” can refer to anyone, and that “any person, regardless of gender, sexual identity, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity or economic background, can be a victim of or affected by sexual assault.” When I spoke to her, she emphasized that the microaggressions the video is combatting can be directed at anyone. “This is not a women’s issue, this is a people’s issue,” she said.
It is a people’s issue. After watching this video, I realized that statements I’ve heard throughout my life and brushed off as ignorant are actually the most searched phrases on Google. On the one hand, I know that people could just be searching these microaggressions to gain insight into their histories or origins. But there is no denying that a good proportion of these Google searchers really do believe that “men should be able to hit women” or that “women need to know their place.”
Not only does her video make me aware of this societal issue, but it also makes me want to do something. Simply ignoring people who use microaggressions will get us nowhere. In a way, ignoring the problem is just as bad as supporting it. By ignoring it, we allow this type of thought to thrive, letting the number of Google searches increase and expanding the number of silenced voices.
It’s time to be vocal and stop this verbal violence. This is our chance to change — not only society, but also ourselves.
Jessica Montes ’16 can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.