In the last week, the Whos of Whoville all took to yopping. If you read my post Monday, you saw that there was a conversation happening around the interwebz about what’s appropriate to condone as “humor” and what’s not. Facebook appeared to be saying that rape and domestic violence (and graphic depictions thereof) were fine to classify as “humor.” Over 100 women’s organizations and companies who pulled their advertising money from Facebook disagreed.
I’m thrilled to announce that Facebook stepped up, started a dialogue with Everyday Sexism/Women, Action, and the Media/Soraya Chemaly that resulted in this release yesterday. Additionally, Facebook posted this note about their Community Standards about how they are redefining their approach to hate speech. They have long been vigilant about hate speech when it came to racism and homophobia. Yesterday they committed to being just as vigilant when it comes to gender-based violence and “humor” that openly encouraged and advocated violence against women.
So what does this say?
Speaking up matters.
I’ll be frank. My husband said to me the other day that he feels like I talk about rape all the time. We had a very good discussion about it. It’s a subject that I personally couldn’t escape if I wanted to, because it’s an experience that I’m reminded of every day. It’s part of me, and I can move on from it, but it’s never going to go away. It means that when I hear stories of it happening to other people, it not only triggers memories in me, but it ignites something in me. Something that wants to raze the world to keep it from happening to others. I talk about it and I blog about it because I hope that my words will encourage others to talk about it too. Rape is something that is all too often kept locked away in darkness and in silence. I never reported it because I knew there was no way in hell I’d ever get my rapist convicted. And because I knew what happens to women who report rape. I knew that my friend’s rape never went to trial even though she went to the doctor and they found semen from her rapist and roofies in her system. They never even processed the evidence. Her rapist is a free man to this day.
This week, thousands of people around the world stood up and said YOP loudly enough that people listened. I think all decent people know on a basic level that rape and domestic violence are wrong. But they’re two subjects that make people extremely uncomfortable to talk about. They’re also two subjects that are extremely necessary to discuss if we ever hope for the systems enabling them to change.
This week, speaking up affected change. Not only is Facebook committing to retraining their moderators to recognize that graphic depictions of rape and violence against women are hate speech, but they are committing to holding those who originally post said depictions to a higher level of accountability, not allowing them to hide behind anonymity.
It says we’re not there yet.
We had to threaten the loss of advertising revenue to get this response.
That’s a bummer.
There are a lot of other things to say on this count, but I’ll leave it at that.
So after the last week, this is my thought. This is why I wanted to start Searching for SuperWomen. We’ve had an awesome first month and some great responses from readers. We got over 1000 views in our first 30 days, which to me is a huge victory for a brand new blog. We’re working on rolling out a new website. But here’s the thing — it can’t just be the four of us. I wanted to start SfSW because I believe the conversation is still important. Discussing gender equality is still important. Some people believe that we live in a post feminist world. We don’t.
Wage gaps. Horrific statistics of violence rates (1 in 3 women will be raped or beaten in her lifetime). Rapists go unpunished, and it took a week of thousands of women and men YOPPING as loud as they could to get a major corporation to publicly recognize that they were tacitly condoning violence against women by brushing off graphic images as “offensive humor.” Images that foster a climate of hatred, violence, and encourage people to think of women as punching bags and a series of holes for the enjoyment of whoever wants to use them or hurt them.
This is not a post feminist world. Gender shouldn’t matter, but it does. It will keep mattering for some time now. These things do not go away if good people sit silently by and pretend they don’t exist because they get uncomfortable when they’re confronted with them or because they don’t want to believe there’s more work to be done.
People are sick of hearing about rape culture. They’re sick of hearing about rape in general. I’m frankly sick of talking about it. I’m over it. But my feelings and their feelings and maybe your feelings — they don’t change the simple fact that we live in a world where just two nights ago, the eight-year-old daughter of an editor I follow on Twitter was cornered by four boys aged 9-12 and threatened with rape. And the boys thought they were being funny.
That is the younger generation. The ones who can’t even vote yet. And a mom had to explain to her crying child what rape was.
Last night my husband and I caught up with Game of Thrones. The episodes we watched were chock full of sexual violence against both women and men. It’s sickening for me to watch in any case. The world is full enough of these things without making more up.
We. Are. Not. Done. Yet.
Anyone who says otherwise has blinders on — or believes that because these things haven’t affected them personally, they don’t exist. It’s not true. They exist. And for literally a billion women around this planet, they are inescapable.
So I’ll keep talking about it. Until the violence stops.
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