Lately, the internet has seen a crescendo of feminist voices.
The Steubenville case in America, coupled with the Delhi rape case shocked and appalled society with their brutal treatment and poor attitudes to women who in both cases have been let down by their communities and the legal system meant to defend them. Not only that, but it showed in many ways how attitudes in strikingly different countries could be so similar despite rapid progress in both.
These events brought to the fore issues of ‘lad’ philosophies and rape culture and how ingrained they are in society – this isn’t equality. So what can be done about it?
Most recently, the work of Everyday Sexism. Everyday Sexism’s website and Twitter presence, run by Laura Bates, has been running for just over a year and has recently captured the imagination of celebrities and the media alike. The content is an international and cross-demographic compilation of women’s testimonials of misogynistic incidents that vary from street harassment to sexual assault and makes for some very uncomfortable reading.
Obviously, the campaign has had its challenges and a lot of counter-opinion. Many men argue that making a movement so gender specific contradicts its cause – but so many people can pinpoint inequality, isn’t it something to be challenged and publicised to prompt us to question what we accept as normal. When do we draw the line at ‘harmless’ comments and when do they become offensive and encroach on personal boundaries?
Last month, Everyday Sexism in association with ‘Women, Action and the Media’ and activist Soraya Chemaly launched a campaign challenging Facebook’s attitudes to women and messages of violence promoted on the site. Using the hashtag #FBrape, followed were urged to tweet companies evidence of their brand being advertised alongside graphic images of domestic violence, rape jokes and other violent paraphernalia and challenge their association with the internet giant.
Facebook has a system where one can report images and content that break rules stated in the terms and conditions; including that inciting violence or promoting hate speech. But, many users lamented how often their complaints were overlooked or ignored whilst other images disseminated en mass like that of a women post-mastectomy and that of female’s breastfeeding were swiftly taken down.
The campaign’s protest and cumulative cacophony resulted in a statement directly from Facebook conceding to assess current statutes as ‘content that should be removed has not been or has been evaluated using outdated criteria’. This in many ways is unprecedented; by agreeing to reconsider the content permitted on its vast network; particularly in light of gender reignites the debate and questions if ‘banter’ has become something more insidious and out of control.
#FBrape also shows how tides are turning and how many people are using the internet and specifically Twitter-esque platforms to draw attention to political matters – engaging a new audience – and how such public pressure can initiate change even in huge corporations.
Maybe – maybe – feminism isn’t such a taboo crusade any more.