Monday, 3 October 2011

Sexism: freedom of speech

Last night I took part in a "Rape Culture Page Bomb" along with over 300 other supporters in which we decorated a sexist Facebook page with an estimated thousand anti-rape messages and pictures. Together as a group, we worked to take back the message of the page.

Currently, the Facebook group ‘You know she’s playing hard to get when you‘re chasing her down an alleyway has 193,896 ‘likes‘. ‘Roses are red, violets are blue, I’ve got a knife, get in the van‘ has 73,243. ‘Abducting, raping and violently murdering your friend as a joke’ has 22,655. ‘Kick the bitch , why? coz she’s a slut’ has 115,303.

It is estimated that thousands of people have reported these pages, yet Facebook does not consider them offensive.

Joking about rape isn't just harmless fun. It's a part of rape culture in which rape is normalised and becoming acceptable. ‘Joking’ about rape isn't a joke because there isn't a punch line. This is hate speech against women and rape victims. 1 in 6 women and 1 in 33 men are raped in the U.S (Tjaden & Thoennes, 2006). That means that statistically, every single person making rape ‘jokes’ knows rape victims. Rape is a serious issue, it’s not funny. Neither is ‘joking’ about it. Which, by the way, I don’t see these kinds of comments as ‘jokes’ anyway:

Now lets take a look at what we are legally allowed to find hate speech:

“In England and Wales, hate speech legislation has been balanced to avoid curbing freedom of speech: while much of the content on the internet may be offensive, it is not illegal unless it stirs up hatred on the grounds of race, religion or sexual orientation.”

This law reflects the wider cultural acceptance of sexism and sexist abuse, not just on Facebook but everywhere. Sexism needs to be seen as just as destructive as racism. No, that’s not going to stop it happening but then at least it wouldn't just be a huge “joke” which is making abuse even more acceptable.

So racism, anti-religion and homophobic abuse is illegal, but sexist abuse is not. Why? Is domestic violence and rape not as serious as racism? Is it not as bad as being against religion? Is it not as hurtful as homophobia? If they were saying the same thing but being racist rather than sexist, these Facebook pages would no longer exist.

WHY are women allowed to be victims of sexist hate speech.

Please prime minister, give me your best argument because I can find no reason why this is acceptable. Sign the petition against this shit here.


  1. Great post. The only thing I think needs mentioning is that now the number of women who will face sexual assault in the USA is closer to 1 in 4 or 1 in 3 (depending on which source you consult). Sadly, the numbers have increased.

  2. Smart post, making important points. Your activism is admirable.