When people log into facebook, they expect it to be a safe space where they can connect with friends. Women, especially victims of sexual assault and rape, should not have to worry about tripping over pages that promote and joke about rape. However, that is not the case. Pages like “You know shes playing hard to get when your chasing her down an alleyway” promote violence against women.
Facebook, however, doesn’t see any problem with pages like these. Despite the fact that its terms of reference prohibit content that is “hateful, threatening, or pornographic; incites violence; or contains nudity or graphic or gratuitous violence,” facebook says the rape fan pages are acceptable. Defending its decision, facebook said:
Direct statements of hate against particular communities violate our statement of rights and responsibilities and are removed when reported to us. However, 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. (source: Guardian)
In response to demands that the pages be taken down, facebook also pointed out that “just as telling a rude joke won’t get you thrown out of your local pub, it won’t get you thrown off facebook” (source: techwatch). To make matters worse, facebook has supporters out there on major media sites like Slate.
In an article for The Guardian, Cath Elliott described the problem with these words:
Rapists rape because they know the odds are stacked in their favour, because they know the chances are they’ll get away with it. And part of the reason rapists get away with it, time after time after time, is because we live in a society that all but condones rape. Because we live in a society where it’s not taken seriously, and where posting heinous comments online that promote sexual violence are not treated as hate speech or as content that threatens women’s safety, but are instead treated as a joke and given a completely free pass.
This isn’t the first time this issue has come up. Back in March, Ximena Ramirez wrote about a similar group of facebook pages, some of which have been taken down and some of which are still there. This problem isn’t going to go away until facebook deals with it head on. Who knows when they’ll have time for that though, since they are so busy taking down so called “obscene” photos of women breastfeeding and fully clothed gay couples kissing.
Currently close to 200,000 people ‘like’ the “You know shes playing hard to get when your chasing her down an alleyway” facebook page. Surely we can get at least double that on a petition demanding that facebook take it down.
Photo credit: david_shankbone on flickr