Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Everyday Sexism Project

Read this - http://www.womenactionmedia.org/fbagreement/ - before reading on :)

I am so, so pleased about this achievement by Women, Action and the Media (WAM), involving the Everyday Sexism project. It really shows that ordinary people can make a difference by showing certain large corporations errors in their policies. WAM and its partners have been campaigning to alter particular Facebook policies regarding gender-based hate speech. Today the hard work paid off for them.

For those of you who are not acquainted with the Everyday Sexism project, I would encourage you to have a look at their website and Twitter for the stories contributed by those who have experienced sexism all over the globe, male and female. In this day and age, it baffles me that there still isn't equality between genders. It doesn't exactly assure much hope for other types of discrimination as male and female have had to coexist since day one of human existence... It saddens me to read many of the accounts as I find it unbelievable that the kind of harassment and derogation described is actually a modern day problem. Laura Bates, the founder of the project, appeared on television quite recently and admirably stood up for feminism in modern society, putting the other panel members to shame. Their argument was that feminism has no place in today's society but the very fact that Laura and her team have compiled over 25,000 stories in just one year (and don't forget about the thousands of undocumented occasions) disproves their point entirely. Of course we have come a long way and are still making progress, but it has taken a new turn. Whereas before it was about doing all the things men do - being able to vote, getting the same jobs etc - the modern approach in a developed country such as our own takes its spirit from the old efforts and channels them into combatting gender-based hate speech and the normalisation of harassment. Women do feel strongly about the way that harassing behaviour has almost become the norm and the Everyday Sexism project has made me realise that this behaviour is not ok. Women shouldn't just have to "deal with it" or "lighten up". I like that the project sends out the message that we can make a stand as we have a valid point. How sad that our feelings need validation.

Today's achievement in making Facebook understand that there needs to be a change in the way in which they deal with hate speech against women is monumental in my eyes. I really do not want to link to any of the atrocious photographs and disgusting comments that have been approved by Facebook but you can see examples of them on the Everyday Sexism Twitter feed where the project has been campaigning for companies to pull their advertising from Facebook until they sort out their policy. Kudos to Nissan and Nationwide, amongst others, for doing so. I believe that Dove refused to, claiming that it was not their problem as they could not choose where their adverts were placed. The Everyday Sexism project responded with the overwhelmingly valid argument that this is the very point - why would you choose to advertise your brand via a medium that allows sexist and violent material (to put it lightly), but deletes photographs uploaded of women who have had mastectomies, or are breastfeeding? You would certainly not choose to advertise in a magazine with articles promoting rape and sexual violence/violence in general and I believe that the same principles should apply to Facebook. It has been pointed out that it is contradictory to Dove's marketing message of empowering women - it suggests that they do not care quite frankly and I have seen numerous tweets pledging to boycott Dove products as a result. They are by no means the only company who failed to take proper action which is disappointing from an ethical viewpoint.

I really hope that Facebook follow their pledge through. I am seriously impressed at the efforts of WAM and its partners so congratulations and thank you for getting our voices heard.

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  1. very well put. following this campaign shocked me, with how many companies didn't see that it was a problem - it's right, you wouldn't advertise with a magazine that had images like the ones shown by the #FBrape campaign, why is it different on the net? i'm hurt by all the companies that wouldn't make a stand, but especially dove because they reckon they want to empower women and i believed them, but really it was all just about the money, like you said.

    1. You're right - the attitudes that have surfaced throughout this are shocking. I am also upset that it seems like the involvement of advertisers is what helped Facebook reassess their policy, some time after its users/the general public expressed their views. Wonderful priorities...