Facesmash

Godalmighty Soraya Chemaly’s article on misogynist shit on Facebook is horrifying and scary.

Earlier this week I wrote about how the use of photography (especially without the subject’s consent) intensifies harassment, abuse and violence against women.  Quicker than I could type “Feministe” this Change.org petition appeared in my inbox:  “Please sign to remove 12 Year Old Slut Memes from Facebook.”  One of the offending page’s profile photos is of a pink-lipped and pouty child (she looks a lot younger than 12) wearing a tank top that reads “I love COCK.”  Now, anyone can create a page in Facebook (published at Facebook’s discretion) and this page doesn’t openly advocate violence against 12-year-old sluts.  It is, however, the virtual equivalent of street harassment and, as such, demonstrates the way the photography serves to exponentially magnify the effects of subtle and real violence along a broad spectrum.

But Facebook won’t remove it. It treats it as “Humor” and thus not to be taken down.

This is pretty much Facebook’s attitude and why it deals with this page and assorted others by adding [Humor] to titles.  As a result, according to Facebook’s interpretation and adherence to its own policies, they will not take down Boobs, Breasts and Boys who love them, unless the boys are babies since they do take down photos of breastfeeding mothers.  They will not take down  [Controversial Humor] rape pages, but they will remove a photograph of a woman crossing the street in New York City because she is topless (legal in New York, but not the sovereign state of Facebook).

They do take stuff down, but they won’t take down “Humor” about beating up women.

And, yes, I know, I know, the 12-year old slut meme page does not openly suggest, say,  hitting a pre-teen girl who makes the mistake of posting a photo that lends itself to Dom and James’ critical insights, nor does it make jokes about raping children or women.  Other Facebook pages, with fans ranging from the tens to the hundreds of thousand, however, do.  For example, “[Satire] Kicking a slut in the vagina and losing your foot inside” is still up and does not specify age of slut to kick…

Ah the ever-popular joke about kicking a woman in the cunt and getting your foot dirty! I’ve had those. The “joke” about kicking me in the cunt has offspring that include the “jokes” about the slimy boot. Those jokes are so funny – no wonder Facebook won’t take them down.

Why is it so hard to imagine a world in which girls and women are not daily subjected to the use of hate-filled violence against us as entertainment?  Endorsed more than tacitly by a major cultural force like Facebook?

It is arguable that misogyny is in Facebook’s DNA and integral to its culture. In defending his woman-denigrating representation of Mark Zuckerberg’s alcohol-fueled creation of Facemash, the precursor to Facebook, Aaron Sorkin wrote that “that was the very specific world I was writing about…Facebook was born during a night of incredibly misogyny… comparing women to farm animals, and then to each other, based on their looks and then publicly ranking them.” Even aside from the subjective nature of what people find funny and the erroneous use of the word “Satire” it is hard for me to ignore this origin story when considering Facebook’s gender selective interpretations of what constitutes “threatening,” “violent” and “hate speech,” in its content censorship choices.

Some of this is news to me. It creeps me out.