Saturday, 28 March 2015
Off-Topic: Internet Censorship
This is my third post on this topic this month. No, it's nothing to do with ASA this time. Now it's all about Facebook's censorship.
A 17-year-old girl at a school in Iceland, Adda Þóreyjardóttir Smáradóttir, who was the leader of her school's feminist society, announced that March 26th would be her school's Free The Nipple Day, to protest against the sexualisation of women's breasts. On this day all the girls in her school were encouraged to come to school topless or wearing see-through tops; at the very least they should wear no bras. Last weekend, March 21st and 22nd, there were a series of Twitter posts on the subject which turned viral and made it a national debate. First Adda's boyfriend posted on Twitter mocking her. Then she posted a topless photo of herself which led to a rash of sexist abuse. In shame she removed the photo, but her friends encouraged her to repost it. What was intended to be a local school event became a national protest: Free The Nipple Day was celebrated throughout Iceland. (Not that that means much, because only a small area of Iceland is populated). The highlight of the protest was a march of topless schoolgirls to Iceland's parliament.
Now Facebook steps in. On the evening of March 26th many of the girls involved in the protest posted photos of themselves to social media sites. Twitter, which is usually restrictive, recognised the photos as part of a genuine political protest and allowed them. Facebook, on the other hand, reacted heavy-handedly, either removing individual photos or deleting user accounts altogether. The action was defended by referring to clauses in their "Community Standards" policy, but that was just an excuse. The truth of the matter is that Facebook is a company ruled by men which intends to suppress women's rights at all costs.
A lot of the protesters say that female nipples are just the same as male nipples. Male nipples aren't sexual objects, so female nipples shouldn't be sexual objects either. I have to disagree on this. There's a big difference between male and female nipples. Female nipples are part of the breasts, and breasts do have a sexual effect on men. But all the other arguments of the feminists are valid. For centuries men have decided when women are allowed to show their breasts and when they aren't. Men are afraid of the power that women's breasts have and the effects that they have on men. For this reason men restrict the times and places where women are allowed to expose their breasts. Women are allowed to show their breasts in strip clubs, men's magazines and pornographic films, but they aren't allowed to reveal their breasts at the workplace or on the street. That would scare men, so men forbid it.
But why should men have the exclusive right over women's bodies, to say when they can and can't reveal their breasts? (I realise that I'm talking about breasts, not nipples, but that's the real issue here). Women should have a free choice. If a woman wants to cover her body, that's her choice. But if she wants to expose her breasts, or even walk completely naked, that should also be her own choice. No man should dictate to her what she can and can't do. If men feel threatened by naked breasts, they should learn to deal with it, either by looking away or by avoiding them altogether. For instance, imagine an office where one or more of the female employees sit at their desk with naked breasts. This might make it difficult for some men to concentrate on their work. The traditional patriarchal solution is to tell the women to cover themselves up. The correct way to deal with it would be to tell the men to look for another job.
A small example from my own life. A few years ago I was at a funeral wake. We were sitting in a restaurant having a meal. At some point the woman opposite me decided that her baby needed breast feeding and opened her top. This was extremely embarrassing for me. The shock of seeing a young woman bare her breasts at a funeral wake, of all places, was too much for me. But I didn't complain. I knew it was my problem, not hers. I just sat silent, blushing furiously and trying my best to look in other directions. It would have been immoral if I had told the woman to stop, as if she were to blame for my personal problems.
But this is exactly what Facebook is doing. On one day there were hundreds of photos of schoolgirls exposing their breasts. Out of embarrassment they decided to stop them. They made feeble excuses about it being illegal to show topless pictures of young girls, who were definitely under the age of 18, and maybe even younger than 16 in some cases. This wasn't about paedophiles exploiting girls by publishing under-age photos. This was about young girls exposing their nipples and saying, "This is my body. Deal with it".
This is girl power on display on the streets of Iceland's capital city, Reykjavik. Do you accept it? Then stand and support the girls. Are you afraid? Then crawl back into your house and let the girls take over your country. The one thing you shouldn't do is try to suppress the female revolution by using your patriarchal position of authority to suppress the girls. That's what Facebook is doing. Facebook's bans are undermining women's rights in the vilest of ways.
Addendum on Wednesday, 8th April 2015
Nobody has commented on my post, unfortunately, but I've read comments on this topic on the web sites of news companies. One thing that many people say in criticism of the Icelandic campaign is that by revealing their breasts in public girls are inviting themselves to be raped. People who say this don't know what rape is about. Rape is primarily an act of aggression, not a sexual act. A man rapes a woman because he wants to hurt her. But more importantly, rapists are men who feel inadequate. They are unable to have sex with a woman by normal means, so they take women by force. They are scared of approaching women under other circumstances. For this reason, rapists target women that they think are weak. If a rapist is looking for a victim he will avoid women who are walking confidently and select a woman who looks nervous. Do the girls in the pictures above look nervous? No way! They look strong and self-confident. They would scare potential rapists away. A rapist will look for a woman who is walking along the road covered up and repeatedly adjusting her skirt because she thinks it is riding up and revealing too much flesh.