Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Are You Female? Well guess what - Facebook Hates You.

Rape is not a funny subject, but just you try telling that to Facebook.

Earlier this week I was sent this link about Change.org's fight to make Facebook take down some so-called 'joke' pages about rape.

Left is an example of one of the arguments favoured by sexism-denyers to deflect attention away from the effects of misogyny. The facts usually do not back up their assertion that "men are equally affected by sexism". For example, official statistics indicate that, while 9% of rape victims are indeed male 99% of rape perpetrators are also male- making sexual violence a male-specific problem that disproportionately affects women.

Rape has been used as means of controlling women through fear, and as a means of punishing them for (perceived) insubservience, from the time of Boudicca Queen of the Iceni, right up to the miniskirt-wearing feminists in modern times. But, unlike other forms of violence, rape isn't a crime that a woman can avenge for herself (not without transforming herself into a man and her assailant into a woman). And with conviction rates being low, fear of reprisal does not act as much of a deterrent. Women are completely dependent on mens' ability to empathize with them for protection from rape: male sensitivity is the best defense. Quite obviously then, web pages which desensitize men about violence against women by making light of it  make women unsafer. When it comes to sexual violence, men who are not part of the solution are most definitely  a part of the problem .

Joking about rape is the equivalent of joking with a man that you would like to sodomize him violently while whacking his balls with an aluminium bat. Rape is fucking painful, and creating web pages which celebrate it is as sane as creating pages which celebrate electrocution, or other forms of torture. Such pages help to turn back the clock on social evolution, harking back to an unnatural world order in which half the world suffers unspeakably for the transient thrills of a few. Or rather, they perpetuate that world order, since it still exists.

Even in 2011, rape can hardly be seen as a done-and-dusted obstacle to women's equality. It was still classified as legal (a husband's right to his wife) until as late as 1979, which means that there are many women alive today who can remember being traumatized by rape while the system turned a blind eye. If we don't hear about this crime as often as it happens, that is because many governments worldwide are still turning a blind eye. Rape may be considered a crime in Europe but it is legal in many countries - notably Iran - where it is justified as a traditional or religious practice. In other countries, rape is concealed under euphemistic titles like 'arranged marriage' 'child slavery' or 'human trafficking'. Even here in the West there are millions of people who would try and tell you that there are some ways that a woman can 'ask for it'. It's funny how many of those same people never make such a statement about somebody who had been robbed or murdered. Not.

Rape is probably the most widespread hate crime in the world; 20-25% of women in the West alone will become a victim of rape at some point in their lives, and the numbers in less politically-stable countries are undoubtedly higher.

Despite being an epidemic problem, no across-the-board reform has ever been implemented to reduce rape rates, either in Europe or abroad. So we are nowhere near the point where women can "look back on it and laugh", if indeed we ever will be. And any material which trivializes (or worse still, sensualizes) sexual violence is adding fuel to the fire.

Rape is ranked as one of womankind's top fears, in fact it is tied with "death" for the top position. By contrast, some men still think of it as a joke-worthy subject. I can't think of any better illustration of the massive disconnect between men and women in society. As long as men occupy most positions of power and women do not, that disconnect will continue to be expressed in the form of real sexual violence against real women: mothers, sisters, wives, daughters, friends, you and I alike.

It is strange, isn't it? That such glaring injustice can exist, and persist, without so much as a Facebook campaign being raised in protest.

On second thought, I guess it's not all that strange.

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