Recently, the Guardian published an article highlighting Facebook's lack of rigor in enforcing community standards by taking down pages purporting to be "humor" or "satire" on subjects such as rape and physical assault of women. According to this article (available at http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/oct/04/facebook-hate-speech-women-rape), "It was back in August that feminists first began to notice the proliferation of pro-rape pages on the popular social networking site. Two months later over 176,000 people have signed a US-based petition calling on Facebook to take them down, and nearly 4,000 people have signed a UK-based petition calling for the same. The Facebook pages, such as the one cited above and others that include "You know she's playing hard to get when your [sic] chasing her down an alleyway" still remain." Despite public outcry against these pages, Facebook has chosen to defend the pages as an acceptable form of humor.
According to Facebook, pages that market their aggressive hate speech against women as "humor" or "satire" should be permitted to keep their pages up, just as members of a community are permitted to tell "rude jokes" without social repercussions.
However, telling jokes and making comments in a community setting actually DOES have social consequences in the real world. If I overheard someone at a bar making a joke about raping one of the women in the bar, I would feel unsafe and uncomfortable. I would have to ask whether it was merely a joke, of if it was actually a sign that I was in danger in my environment. If the person making the joke made it to a particular person, I would assume that they were threatening that person, and I would bring in someone with authority to remove the person making the joke.
"Jokes" about rape aren't funny, just as "jokes" about beating up minorities and LGBTQ people aren't funny -- they constitute a form of hate speech that is meant to menace and intimidate their target. Shrugging off violent, abusive language as simply a "rude joke" that should be tolerated trivializes rape survivors' ordeals; it makes them, and all women and people vulnerable to rape feel that they aren't welcome, and that no one would protect them if someone were to try and harm them. Likewise, defending this form of hate speech on Facebook sends the same message to users who want to feel safe and welcome while using Facebook to communicate with friends, colleagues, and family.
I am asking you to sign this petition today to remind Facebook that they are responsible to their community of users. If you don't tolerate hate speech against minorities, why do you tolerate, and worse yet, DEFEND hate speech against women? Please listen to your users, and actively enforce your community standards. Take down "rape humor" pages.
Dorthea Fronsman-Cecil started this petition with a single signature, and now has 125 supporters. Start a petition today to change something you care about.