Dear Mark Zuckerberg: Please stand up for gender equality and the preservation of history


Dear Mark Zuckerberg: Please stand up for gender equality and the preservation of history

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In this era of free speech and open source information, there are still certain individuals that feel that information should not be shared. Education is still limited to those who have both the will and the means to seek. And censorship remains in the hands of those who have power.

My personal Facebook account has been disabled for sharing historical photos of Indonesian women. The women were mostly topless, in line with their traditional way of dressing. I shared these photographs for educational purposes, because our history has been forgotten. I posted the photos to question certain conservative elites that censor women’s bodies and state that they want to protect traditional Indonesian culture. My aim is to illustrate what that traditional culture is.

Facebook has been clear on its policy regarding nudity. Nipples are permitted to be shown in photographs when those photographs are used for educational purposes. But because more than 50 people reported the photographs I posted for nudity, Facebook decided to take action and disable my account.

Mark Zuckerberg presents himself as a feminist ally. Mark, I bet the women who helped build the temple of Borobodur, where you posed for photographs last year, would be disappointed that you are erasing their history. Their existence. The whole reason Facebook was invented is: “Giving people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.” – Quoted from Facebook twitter account. Let’s review that again:

Giving people power to share – Facebook already took that power away from me.

And make the world more open – Open in what way? Facebook has decided to take down the post that opens the world to Indonesian Women in History.

And connected – Since they shut down my Facebook, I am no longer connected with my friends. I have (had!) 3500 friends that I have met since I joined Facebook in 2008, whom I share a lot of information with. And who share information with me.

I appealed to Facebook to reactivate my account. They have refused, saying that I violated their policy and that my account has now been permanently suspended. All for sharing a handful of photographs of Indonesian women in traditional dress, which including being topless.

This is a matter of taking control and giving the space for women, and educating the public on how women existed back in the day. Indonesian women in the 1940s and 1950s weren’t sexualized for being topless in public. It was normal. Even some high ranked women used to go topless.

This kind of openness in educating the society is important. People may agree or disagree, both ways this information has reached out to them. It is also the kind of attitude that can inspire people to advance their research in art, history, photography, gender studies, sociology and anthropology. It helps promote tolerance, acceptance and peace within the diverse world we live in.

As the world becomes more multi cultured and diverse, it is also safe enough to say that this kind of information that depicts heritage and culture is necessary to be brought up, because this is what we are missing in our everyday life. It is what we celebrate and cherished. It is our heritage. It is what we’re made of. If this information is banned from the public, we won’t be sitting down and trying to contemplate why we are here, or how the society has progressed this far and how to make the world a better place to live in.

I believe Facebook is better than this. Facebook needs to support gender equality and women's empowerment. This includes allowing the sharing of historical photographs of women, including when they are topless in public.

I appeal to Facebook to reinstate my account.

I hereby attached the links to the news articles that have highlighted the Facebook incident:

  1. Asian Correspondent
  2. TechInAsia
  3. Quartz
  4. Beritagar


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