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Sunday, 26 May 2013

Focus, Feminism Foils, Facebook, and Freedom of Speech

I use a lot of F-words in my blog's alliterative titles apparently. Things like Feminism, Friendzoning, Fallacies, Facts, and possibly the occasional F**k, but I think I've actually kept things pretty clean. I'm not sure why that letter works so well for me, but let's get the "F" on with it!

I just had a conversation on Facebook a little while ago that I found intriguing enough to turn into a portion of my blog post for today. It wasn't a bad conversation, or rude. It was respectful and accepting, which is rare enough that it caught my attention based on that alone. Two women and two men discussing sexism and objectification in advertising - or that's how it started out anyway. We ended up elsewhere, as is often the case. Or, maybe the elsewhere was just in my own head. The destination ended up focusing on focus, I guess you could say. One of the men questioned why women weren't commenting on sexism in advertising if it was a problem, and why they weren't publishing things about it. I found that a little bit shocking, but then realized something vital about the whole focus issue. If it's not something that bothers you, and isn't a part of your daily existence, you really don't notice it.

Thousands of women are complaining, if not millions. Thousands of women, at the very least, are writing about it and publishing. I would know since I'm one of them. Mainstream media is a joke, and many of us are starting to see the punchline, but alternative media is still being missed. As I commented on the above-mentioned thread, people only see what they look for, and if you're a feminist you find feminist stuff. Further illustrating the point I mentioned being pregnant many years ago and suddenly seeing a whole bunch of pregnant women around me. There was no massive increase in the number of pregnancies. I just happened to notice them a lot more.

Millions of people go through their daily lives not seeing the vast chasm between men and women. They don't know that women make 7% to 18% less money for the same hours and same jobs. They don't know that 85% of domestic violence victims are women. It isn't a part of their routine, so it gets tuned out. Human beings miss a very large part of what is going on around them. And before anyone gets cranky and starts thinking I feel like my eyes are wide open, I'm no exception. I miss things all the time. I usually have no idea what the weather is like outside. I have absolutely no interest in it, unless it's a thunderstorm. There could be a tornado brewing and I'd have no clue. (Yes, we get them in Canada, too.) I have very little knowledge regarding what goes on in the city I live in - and I believe there's a good reason for that. I don't want to get involved or attached to Hamilton. I don't plan to remain here, so there's little point.

The damage, however, comes from people who don't see the damage being done, because they've never had it happen to them. This is where we find a lot of the women that work against feminism. Of course, there's often no way of knowing if this is actually done unintentionally, or if they're sell-outs to women everywhere. We're seeing it all the time, though, and it's beyond dangerous to women. In a recent broadcast Dana Perino stated that female victims of domestic violence should "make better decisions."

Now, that statement makes for a great meme on Facebook for feminists everywhere, and seems to make the case for her being anti-feminist. Admittedly, it's taken out of context. It might well have been a simple error, and merely shows thoughtlessness on her part. However, she sounds privileged, and it's clear she has no idea what she's talking about when it comes to domestic violence. In case you're wondering, she was referring to a situation where a woman was shot several times (fatally) by her NFL-player boyfriend, who then drove to another location and killed himself.

Then there are the Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann debacles. I could write books on both of their foibles, but I'm not going to get into a lot of detail here. Suffice it to say that they're not giving women a very good name. They both come off as, well, I can't think of another word besides 'moronic' even though I would like to be polite. I wouldn't care what their opinions were, except for the fact that they are very much in the public eye and are fanning the hate and making problems even worse.

One woman that seems to be despised by every feminist I've ever spoken to is Phyllis Schlafly. Now here's a rich vein to mine when talking about women who are against women. She has basically led the movement against women. She fought against the ERA, for crying out loud! The worst part is, she's a total hypocrite of the worst sort. Here's a woman who is literally an advocate against feminism. Of course, she also has a law degree. Hmm. How does she think law degrees became available to women? Seriously. Does she think that feminism had no hand in that, and that men just suddenly said it was okay for women to become lawyers? That's not the way it happened. I'm not saying there weren't men that were sympathetic once women started complaining, because without their help it might not have happened when it did. However, without the first waves of feminism none of the men would have worried about the issue as it didn't affect them. She wouldn't be where she is today, mouthing off against women, had it not been for the women who came before her. On a side note, she did take her husband's name when she married, but she also kept her own. But she's against feminism. You have to shake your head.

Of course, getting back to Facebook, feminists are now dealing with policies that ban pictures of women breastfeeding, and post-mastectomy pictures, but allow pictures that graphically depict violence against women. There are hate pages on Facebook that post absolutely brutal content. I know, because I've seen them. There's a picture of a man holding a female child's head in a toilet bowl, and the picture comes from a house of prostitution's Facebook page. The man is not 'helping her' throw up. Her head is shoved right into the toilet. That's violence against a child who is most likely a slave and underage prostitute. Apparently it doesn't violate Facebook policy, however. Neither, apparently, does the picture of the woman with the black eye that's captioned, "She only burned the bacon once," or the picture of the woman at the base of a staircase that's captioned, "Next time, don't get pregnant."

So, there's a movement going on right now to put an end to that. WAM! is a group that has an open letter to Facebook users, among other strategies, to combat this issue. They're appealing to advertiser by showing them pictures of their ad placement, where the ads have shown up alongside these horrific memes. Some advertisers are looking into it, some are pulling their ads, and some don't care. There's a list on their site of these companies, and where they stand. An open letter to Facebook was also published on HuffPost recently. The movement is gaining momentum, thankfully, and Facebook's complaints that they simply don't have enough people to keep up with the demand sounds ridiculous. How much money do they make again? They can't hire more people for this? The phrase, "Liar, liar, pants on fire," comes to mind.

People can yammer all they want about their First Amendment rights, but despite the fact that Facebook is a social media platform, it is not owned or controlled by the public or the government. First amendment rights don't apply to anyone except Facebook when it comes to the site. They are entitled to make whatever policies they want with respect to these issues. People are also entitled to decide whether or not they even want to use Facebook, and advertisers are entitled to decide where their ads are being shown. Most companies aren't going to care unless it starts affecting their bottom line, so this is where the armchair activists and boycotting public come in handy. If you don`t want to see women portrayed as punching bags and pieces of meat to be raped at will, have your say. There are many ways to do it, and this is one of mine.