By Stephanie Cole
Facebook has had a misogyny problem for a long time now. Let’s be honest, it started as Facemash, a blatantly misogynist, and illegal, website. So why I am not surprised with the events of the past week? For months, nay, years now, women have been lobbying the social networking site to remove its “rape humor” pages. I am not going to repeat the offensive titles you’ve most likely heard about. Just type, “You know she’s….” into your Facebook search field if you want to get steamed up.
Finally, after tireless petitioning and a full twitter-day of action last week, Facebook finally took down some of the most frequently reported pages. “Great!,” we thought. “It took a ridiculously long time, and some infuriating comparisons to bar humor, but we finally got results!” Oh, how wrong we were.
Immediately after the happy news broke, active Facebook users noticed that lookalike pages were popping back up. I wasn’t surprised. People who think rape is hilarious are nothing if not persistent. I hadn’t reported a page for a while, (I had lost hope in the fact that it would make a difference), but I was pleased to see that for a new one there was a “gender & sexual orientation” option for who the page hated. But maybe Facebook was now committed to enforcing its supposed values. Nope. It turns out that Facebook is terrible.
The site now says it will allow the rape pages to exist so long as they are clearly categorized under humor. Because we were only offended when we didn’t know they were joking! Oh, it’s a joke? In that case, HAHAHAHAHA…ah…rape. Let me explain something to Facebook: We know the pages are supposed to be funny. But their humor is not some brilliant satire. This isn’t Stephen Colbert over-exaggerating a misguided point of view to illuminate us to its ridiculousness. The only way you could find these pages amusing is if you actually think rape is funny!!! And that’s just inhuman.
If Facebook had absolutely no rules for what can appear on the site, than I would probably get upset, but eventually accept that it’s the internet and it’s a free country and sick people have the right to make sick jokes. But Facebook has clear terms and services that ban hate speech! And they seem to have no problem enforcing those terms elsewhere. So how does classifying something as a joke make it any less hateful? There is almost something more offensive about a joke page, with all its “Calm down, you’re overreacting, you uterus must be migrating,” connotations. Come on Facebook! That these pages are inexcusable should be common sense!
But since Zuck & Co. seem lacking in that area, maybe we should try a new route. A brilliant strategy inspired by a fellow SPARKer’s mom may give Facebook some financial incentive: target the ads. All pages on the site have ads, including the rape-y ones. So see what companies are advertising on those pages and call their customer service lines. Complain. Loudly. Threaten to withdraw your patronage if they don’t address the issue with Facebook. Maybe, just maybe, Facebook cares more about money than morals. I’d be willing to bet.