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Rape page campaign: Facebook sticks by rape jokes

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Jane Osmond
WVoN co-editor

I’m pleased to report some progress this week in our campaign to remove Facebook’s “rape page”, with quite a lot of coverage of our media release, although no movement from Facebook in terms of taking the page down.

First to pick up on our press release was the wonderful Bidisha who skilfully wrote about the page within the wider ‘rape culture’ issue.

Referring to the T-shirts of Hate by Topshop (which it removed after an outcry) as just one indication of the prevailing rape culture in our society, Bidisha commented:

Rape incitement and rape apologism are not issues of free speech but of the violent abuse of women, which is absolutely mainstream worldwide and supported by all sides of a culture in which this type of abuse is ignored or belittled, the victims are demonised and blamed and the perpetrators are defended and excused.

Thanks also to the Geek Feminism blog (they support, encourage, and discuss issues facing women in geek communities, including science and technology, gaming, SF fandom, and more) for a signal boost.

Cath Elliot, over at ‘Too much to say for myself’ then weighed in:

It’s strange though, because no matter how many times I read the titles of these pro-rape Facebook pages, I still can’t even summon up so much as a smile, let alone laugh so hard I end up snorting and slapping my thigh (yes, seeing me genuinely lol is a sight to behold I assure you), and I’ve normally got a pretty good sense of humour. Maybe it’s because I’m a ‘humourless femnazi’, or maybe, and this is closer to the truth, it’s because under no circumstances is rape and sexual violence ever ever something to be laughed at: it’s just not funny.

Then yesterday the Guardian published a piece by journalist Lizzy Davies, who managed to actually speak to the boys at Facebook. However they are still refusing to budge, and issued this statement instead:

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.

I have to ask – aren’t women a ‘particular community’ then?  According to Facebook, obviously not even though, according to their own 2010 figures, over half of their US user group is female. Hmmm.

So what next?

First – I am in contact with the US petition founder and hope to join forces in gathering more signatures and information in order to challenge Facebook’s policies, so please sign and share both petitions if you haven’t already. All the information we have gathered to date can be found on this RapeNeverFunny site.

Second – there is a culture jam event planned by Rape Crisis South London for Sunday at 8pm, so please join in.

Third – there is a possible Radio 1 Newsbeat item planned for Tuesday, featuring an interview with Orlagh, the UK petition founder, which may help generate more media interest.

Finally thank you to all who have reposted, tweeted, signposted and kept the campaign going.

Watch this space!

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