[TRIGGER WARNING: rape jokes]
I feel like this is all I post about these days.
By Frances Ryan, New Statesman:
Have you heard the one about the struggling woman and the rapist trying to pin her down? Rape is funny. It’s quite the joke, and Facebook apparently doesn’t mind if you spend your time swapping fantasised tales of abuse.
In between talk of Greys Anatomy and the annoying ones from X Factor, the global social networking site is home to pages dedicated to discussing rape in a positive light. “You know she’s playing hard to get when your (sic) chasing her down an alleyway”,”Riding your Girlfriend softly, Cause you don’t want to wake her up” and other delights have been on the site for for months, places where fans can discuss strategies of forcing women into sex in a so-called “comic” way. That this is, according to Facebook, acceptable, is the truly sick joke.
In response to calls to take the pages down, the site released a statement declaring that “groups that express an opinion on a state, institution, or set of beliefs — even if that opinion is outrageous or offensive to some — do not by themselves violate our policies.” A quick read of the site’s own terms and conditions confirms this is very much not the case. It is there in black and white with, “You will not post content that: is hateful, threatening, or pornographic; incites violence; or contains nudity or graphic or gratuitous violence”. According to Facebook, talking about raping your friend’s girlfriend to see “if she can put up a fight” is neither violent nor hateful, and advocating such a scenario is a “belief”. Not for the first time, we are told rape is something to be trivialised — the special crime that can be actively promoted with the confidence that few will bat an eye.
It’s not a newsflash that the internet is home to some deranged, offensive language — in many ways, it is the place where good taste comes to die. A distasteful liberation comes from the anonymity, as the author is comforted by the knowledge that they cannot be seen behind the screen. It’s a sense of security that is often misleading, it being illegal to stir up hatred on the grounds of race, religion or sexual orientation. When it comes to hatred on the grounds of gender, however, there is no such legislation, with anyone free to whip up misogyny.
Be it Facebook policy or our own laws, abuse against women is treated differently; separated and viewed as lesser than that leveled at other marginalised groups. The rules that would rightly apply if the victim were black, Muslim or gay are deemed irrelevant if the victim is female. The hate spouted based on this factor is not a type that counts. Women, it seems, do not count.
We exist in a culture that views the abuse of women as something less than serious. Rape can be encouraged on global networking sites, just as t-shirts and hair products can be sold based on the concept of coming home to your boyfriend and being smacked round the face. Facebook says it with confidence — if directed at women, violence is a joke. But abuse is abuse. That which is based on gender should be seen not simply as offensive, but a hate crime like anything else.
I’d just like to add, when you go to report a violation on facebook you can choose hate speech as one of the options, and facebook has this to say:
“Facebook does not tolerate hate speech. While we encourage the discussion of ideas, institutions, events, and practices, it is a serious violation of our terms to single out individuals based on race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, gender, sexual orientation, disability, or disease.” [emphasis mine]
Facebook does not tolerate hate speech based on gender. So, I guess talk about raping women does not fall under the category of gender-based hate speech. What’s worse is that there are people who go on the site and attempt to combat the attitude by commenting and they are verbally attacked and threatened with rape and violence. HOW IS THIS NOT A FUCKING PROBLEM?? How is this not, at the very very least, hate speech??
Thank you, Facebook. Thank you so much. It’s really nice to see you jumping on the patriarchal, misogynistic, rape culture bandwagon.