By Jen Thorpe
I work as the Rape Crisis Cape Town Trust as the research coordinator there. In an effort to engage different people, and to spread our mission and vision online, we entered the world of social media a few years ago. Slowly and slowly began to build our Twitter profile, and a website. Back in the days when Facebook was fairly simple, we registered for a Facebook group, with the aim of creating an online community for discussion and interaction. All was going well.
However, over the past six months or so, we have re-evaluated our social media strategy and decided that we would like to register a Facebook page, or port our Group over to a page. But, try as we might we cannot register the page. Why? Because our organisation has ‘rape’ in our name. Despite many attempts to contact the Facebook team, and to engage with them on why we need to have ‘Rape’ in our name, we have had no joy. Many an email has been sent, but we have still not been able to create our page.
It was thus disappointing as a member of staff of an organisation working with and for survivors to hear that Facebook wouldn’t allow our page, but has a number of pages that condone rape (without saying the word). Pages such as ‘You know she’s playing hard to get when you’re chasing her down the alleyway’ and ‘Riding her softly (so she doesn’t wake up)’ not only make my stomach turn, but are also part of the rape culture we live in which normalises sexual violence against women.
According to Frances Ryan,
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.
Well Facebook, your policies are being applied poorly and ineffectively.
How can you choose to block an organisation like Rape Crisis Cape Town Trust from starting a page, when you allow pages like these to persist? Pages that incite violence should be against your policy. Pages that condone rape should be against your policy.
As Ryan goes on to say:
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.
This whole situation reminds me that we live in a world where we don’t recognise that woman-hating and sexism are wrong, but instead view them as completely ordinary (and sadly, some people think they’re funny). If you’d like to get involved in the call for Facebook to remove these pages, click here
And if you’d like to get involved on Twitter, check out the hashtag #notfunnyfacebook