Dear Facebook: DO SOMETHING about this Misogyny!

To the leaders and admins of Facebook,

In the previous years, your website has transformed from a small college connection website to a monolith that shrinks the size of the globe. Now people thousands of miles away can share ideas and experiences in a way that was only dreamed of by entrepreneurs and Internet users alike. People from all walks of life, with all kinds of identities, use your website to help broaden their horizons and network with like minded individuals. Some even use it to gain support when they are going through tough experience and need a little help along the way. This tool you’ve created has great potential to make the world a better place.

I have made use of this tool since 2008 and have used it for community organizing, seeking out old friends I’ve lost contact with, keeping in touch with relatives, and engaging into dynamic political discourse that has opened my mind to the wonderful ideas the world has to offer. I have been around to see the shifts, changes and successes Facebook has endured.

But along with the good experiences I’ve had using Facebook came many negative experiences. As with any other Internet site, there’s always a chance that people with malicious intent will also spend time on the site, which eventually ruins the experience for other users—sometimes causing unnecessary traumas in otherwise diplomatic settings.

While this may take the form of antagonizing, identity theft, and blatant bigotry, the focus of this letter is to make you aware of the very real presence of misogyny that exists on your page in hopes that perhaps you may address it with more fervor in the future. These pages aren’t simply fringe pages with one or two dozen followers making offensive commentary periodically. There are bigoted pages that have a commanding influence in the website, such as “Masculinist India” which has 20,000 followers and repeatedly makes commentary about women being “inferior” and rape needing to be decriminalized.

Not only that, there seems to be a very real fundamental issue with your reporting system, which in the past has permitted to continued existence of racist and sexist pages but has resulted in the removal of pages that confront this bigotry. A very recent example was the creation of a page called “The Queer, Black Feminist Must Die”, which has been reported by dozens of viewers and has sent death threats to the creator of “The Queer, Black Feminist”. Upon reporting this page for violence, I received a notification from the Facebook admins stating that this page did not violate the Facebook policy.

The page, “The Queer, Black Feminist Must Die” is by far not the only blatantly sexist and racist page Facebook has permitted to exist despite multiple reports. Groups are some of the other places where misogyny and conspiracy to harass are nurtured. Just recently, Facebook finally removed a page called “Misogynists”, which required raising awareness across multiple human rights groups and pages in order to eliminate.

May I ask, why does it have to take massive amounts of effort from the regular users of Facebook to get a clearly sexist, racist or homophobic page/group removed? And to respond to those who report these bigoted pages as “not breaking Facebook policy” when they OBVIOUSLY do? What message are you sending to your users by allowing hateful pages to prosper at their expense?

As a woman poised to undergo treatment for abuse and gender violence, the things that Facebook allows on the website are absolutely appalling to say the least. In fact, one could argue that it has become less of a safe space for all users because of the hostility, threats of violence, and harassment that have gone unpunished for so long. It’s even difficult to partake in discussions about entertainment without running into triggering misogyny.

If nothing is done about the hate speech that saturates the Facebook community and the very broken reporting system currently in place, you risk alienating a significant number of users from your site. Racist and sexist pages/groups should not be permitted to exist, and you need to listen to the reports and concerns expressed by your users when these hostile conditions exist.

I call upon you to address these problems that exists on your website. Users shouldn’t have to fear being harassed, threatened or triggered by sexism, racism, etc if they make use of your website and they should be able to trust that if such a condition arises, you will address it!

Below, I have added various pictures of misogynistic Facebook groups an posts with descriptions as proof of my claims. This includes the aforementioned groups that have been involved in internet misogyny and threats of violence.

I have left the pictures out until the end of the letter because of their hostile nature. For the other readers of this letter, these posts come with a TRIGGER WARNING for extreme misogyny and rape apologism.

This was the feed back I got from Facebook when I reported this group. It took a great effort of raising awareness to get it removed.

This was the feed back I got from Facebook when I reported this group. It took a great effort of raising awareness to get it removed.

An example of harassment of Facebook users by hostile pages.

An example of harassment of Facebook users by hostile pages.

Post made on a notoriously sexist group.

Post made on a notoriously sexist group. Below is Facebook’s refusal to remove this picture.10710291_325291254308932_2037093909841617910_o

Sexist pages permitted by Facebook to exist.

Sexist pages permitted by Facebook to exist.

Another misogynistic page on Facebook.

Another misogynistic page on Facebook.

The page that's threatening the creator of "The Queer, Black Feminist" and sharing her personal information for the purpose of harassment.

The page that’s threatening the creator of “The Queer, Black Feminist” and sharing her personal information for the purpose of harassment.

Facebook's refusal to remove the page that's clearly harassing the user that reported it.

Facebook’s refusal to remove the page that’s clearly harassing the user that reported it. TQBF admin’s identity has been protected here.

Another report of the hate page, along with Facebook's response.

Another report of the hate page, along with Facebook’s response.

Examples of racism and sexism on that page.

Examples of racism and sexism on that page.

As mentioned before, while Facebook will refuse to remove content that is clearly sexist and threatening, below is a picture from a page dedicated to raising awareness about the bigotry in the Men’s Rights Movement, which in 2012 was declared a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (source posted below). Facebook has removed multiple pages that are designed to raise awareness about this hate group, and has removed many photos from our page called Exposing Men’s Rights Activism.

http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/intelligence-report/browse-all-issues/2012/spring/myths-of-the-manosphere-lying-about-women

This photo was meant to serve as an example of how bigoted the MRM is.

This photo was meant to serve as an example of how bigoted the MRM is. Facebook will remove a photo designed to raise awareness about hate groups but they won’t remove the pages that breed this kind of hatred.

Here is an example of the kind of Men’s Rights Activist commentary that appears on Facebook.

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Brief Intro to the Men’s Rights Movement

In the previous months since the mass murder in Isla Vista, CA by the shooter Elliot Rodger on May 24th , many feminist and mainstream media outlets have begun to use a term many of us have yet to see in print—Men’s Rights Activism. At first glance, this looks like a joke invented by a satirical paper to make a mockery of sexism in conservative sources.

However, this is a real phenomenon with very reactionary politics and roots planted in multiple countries across the Western World. A 2013 article from the Daily Beast claims the Men’s Rights Movement (MRM) is “one of the quirkiest, fastest-growing, and most frustrating civil-rights movements in the Western world today.” (1). Groups have been making many claims that men have allegedly been at the receiving end of most gender based violence since the 1970s.

AVFM anti-feminist poster

This reactionary movement came into the spot light just days after the Isla Vista shooting, when many journalists and investigators found that Elliot Rodger had various connections to “Pick Up Artist” forums, which served to “train” men to seduce women (many of these forums even suggested utilization of date rape drugs). He was also part of “PUAhate”, which was a congregation of those who attempted PUA “techniques”, failed, and wanted vengeance on those they believed had cheated them out of time and money.

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Author Anne Theriault of the Huffington Post claims:

“He was an active member of the “PUAhate,” an online forum (which has been down since the shootings) dedicated to “revealing the scams, deception and misleading marketing techniques used by dating gurus and the seduction community to mislead men and profit from them.” And just to clarify, they’re not revealing these scams because of how vile and misogynistic they are, but rather because these men have tried these techniques and still failed to trick women into sleeping with them.

These are men who both feel entitled to have sex with women and also blame all women everywhere for not fucking them. See, they want to have sex with a woman because that’s what they deserve just for being dudes, but they also hate women for withholding what they view as rightfully theirs. And I mean, boy do they ever hate women. The PUAhate forum has, according to an article on The Hairpin, threads with titles like “Are ugly women completely useless to society?” and “Have any hot women ever committed suicide?”

Rodger also subscribed to several YouTube channels on how to be a ‘pick up artist,’ including The Player Supreme Show and RSDfreetour as well as multiple MRA channels.”(2)

What’s more, Rodger authored a 140 page manifesto and published a 7 minute video on YouTube outlining his severe contempt for women and “all of society” that he believed withheld sex from him, which he felt he was entitled to. He swore that he would punish the women who denied him, stating, “I’ll take great pleasure in slaughtering all of you. You will finally see that I am, in truth, the superior one. The true alpha male …”

An entire variety of mainstream media outlets high lighted the allegations that Rodger had ties with the MRM, including Time Magazine(4), which has historically been a factory of bourgeois traditionalist ideology, especially when it comes to civil rights issues. When questioned with these allegations, John Hembling of the MRA site “A Voice For Men” stated,

“This is the part not yet mentioned by any MRA. Elliot Rodger was as conventional, mainstream and blue-pill in his self-identity as the most devout of male feminists. He took his personal identity from the consensus of the women around him rather than rejecting a publicly conferred male identity.

Elliot Rodger, to his detriment, was not his own man. He did not go his own way. He went the way of gynocentric culture and became, almost literally, the poster-boy for mainstream, pathological gender ideology.

So, for all you bleating feminists figuratively rending their clothes over this tragedy – if you want fewer Elliot Rodgers in the world, then you want more MRAs.” (5)

The response of MRAs concerning this tragedy was unequivocally repulsive. Either there was complete denial of ever having associated with Rodger and the PUA sites, or they revered Rodger as a hero of the “manosphere”. Shortly in the aftermath, multiple pro-Elliot Rodger Facebook pages were erected to commemorate his “sacrifice” for the “greater good”. In fact, one of these pages created controversy over the fact that Facebook seemed to be unwilling to unpublish the page. According to the Independent:

“Facebook has removed a page calling Isla Vista killer Elliot Rodger an ‘American Hero’, after resisting doing so despite requests from swathes of users.

The page had called Rodger an “American hero who made the ultimate sacrifice in the struggle against feminazi ideology”, and asked users to “pay tribute to him”.” (3)

The Men’s Rights Movement is known to be established in many of the first world countries globally, including the UK, US, Australia, and Canada, where contributors for AVFM are established. More recently, MRA notables have been hosting conferences in many of these areas and have raised controversy in the US and Canada with provocative posters that state, “Just because you regret a one night stand doesn’t mean it wasn’t consensual. Don’t be that girl”. These were MRA responses to anti-rape posters that, Canadian police claimed, lowered rapes by 10 percent within 2012-2013. (6)

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One of the more prominent Men’s Rights outlets in the US is A Voice For Men (avoiceformen.com) which was founded by Paul Elam in 2009, boasts 14,000 followers on Facebook, and has Erin Pizzey (founder of one of some of the first domestic violence shelters in modern day, with the leading organization known as “Refuge”), Dean Esmay and John Hembling as the main contributors to the website material. Other contributors to AVFM include Warren Farrell, who used to be on the board for National Organization of Women (NOW), Barbara Kay, and Helen Smith.

Photo Courtesy of NPR

Photo Courtesy of NPR

As a previous SW article (7) notes, Elam and his colleagues hosted an event in Detroit titled “First International Conference on Men’s Issues” which was driven out of a Double Tree hotel by protestors and a petition that called on the hotel management to cancel Elam’s event.

Elam, however, chose a different venue and held the conference despite the protests. AVFM chose Veterans of Foreign Wars post in St. Clair Shores, stating that the reason they moved was because they needed more room to accommodate the attendees, which in the end turned out to be a little over 100 people. (8) Speakers at the conference included Erin Pizzey, Paul Elam, National Post columnist Barbara Kay, Mike Buchanan, psychiatrist Tara Palmatier, and libertarian spokesperson and YouTube vlogger Stefan Molyneoux.

The message of the AVFM at this conference? Women and feminism are the root causes of all of men’s suffering since the dawn of civilization and “the matriarchy” must be dismantled. The writers for AVFM assert that the court systems are skewed in favor of women, that feminism is chipping away at the masculinity of the male population and causing male suicide rates to grow, that “rape culture” and circumcision are inventions by feminists to oppress men, etc.

The majority of the conference was spent dwelling on feminism and the role of women in society with very little time spent discussing oppressions that men (especially men of color and transmen) face in society. In fact, a large portion of the anti-woman, anti-feminist rhetoric came from the female speakers.

Dr. Tara Palmatier opted to use her time on the panel to psycho-analyze the female population with some misogynistic remarks. Adam Serwer of MSNBC writes, “She diagnosed some women with what she called “golden uterus syndrome,” which she explained as what happens when a mother will “fleece your ex-husband in divorce court and take assets you didn’t earn, you deserve it, take that bastard to the cleaners, force a man into fatherhood with an accidental pregnancy, hey, if he wouldn’t commit, sometimes you gotta push him into it.”

The conference was also saturated in rape apologist puns and complete dismissal of sexual assault as an issue. A slide in one of the presentations had Miley Cyrus with the caption “Stop objectifying me. You’re being rapey” and one speaker opened his discussion by making rape jokes about his son.

This type of language is not a new concept to the MRM, however. AVFM frequently publishes articles that demean women, slam campus anti-sexual assault efforts as “rape culture hysteria”, and refers to anti-sexual assault state laws as “attacks” on men’s rights.

AVFM Facebook page

AVFM Facebook page

One popular claim MRAs tend to make is that women have historically taken “easy” jobs and have left men with the manual labor. Despite there being numerous sources indicating that working class women contribute billions of dollars in revenue for the capitalist economy, including forced labor in human trafficking circles in which women make up 60% of the labor force (9), MRAs are convinced that the female populous generate no capital for the global economy. This is usually followed by some sort of statement about “coal mines versus domestic labor” or “women shouldn’t be in the military” within their anti-feminist tirades.

One thing MRAs are known for among feminists and the mainstream media is their inability to feel any sort of empathy for women who become victims of sex crimes. The rape apology of Paul Elam knows no bounds. In fact, one of the more infamous statements Paul Elam made was a statement that women who are assaulted while inebriated are “begging for it”. (10)

In the aftermath of the domestic violence scandal involving MMA fighter Jonathan “War Machine” Koppenhaver, who was arrested after beating his ex-fiancée Christy Mack, prominent spokesperson of the Indian Men’s Rights Movement Rajesh Kumar endorsed the behavior of the MMA fighter. Kumar approved of the statement made by Koppenhaver regarding men’s rights, which Koppenhaver stated that men’s oppression was worse than Nazi oppression of the Jews and white oppression of black slaves. (11)

A supporter of the MRM that recently emerged is the “Amazing Atheist”, who has access to 80,000 followers on Facebook and rakes in thousands of viewers on Youtube. The majority of his blogging consists of vilifying feminists and making attempts to expose what he deems as a broad “feminazi conspiracy”. He spends a large portion of his time harassing users on reddit and attacking women for calling him out on his rape jokes. In fact, he more recently made headlines in “We Hunted the Mammoth” for attempting to trigger a user for discussing her sexual assault experience. (12)

The Men’s Rights Movement, while claiming to stand for the human rights of men, appears to serve only one mission: to viciously attack and vilify women and feminists in an effort to reassert the rigid patriarchal capitalist gender norms. It is nothing more than another reactionary cause fabricated by social conservatives seeking to silence women. Like other reactionary forces, it has the potential to further divide the working class by pitting one group of workers against another.

The Men’s Rights Movement must be confronted and challenged by feminists, revolutionaries, activists and community organizers wherever these MRAs may appear. We need to send a message that their sexist ideology will not be tolerated in our communities or online.

Sources

1-http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/10/20/the-masculine-mystique-inside-the-men-s-rights-movement-mrm.html

2-http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/anne-theriault-/elliot-rodger-shooting_b_5386818.html

3-http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/facebook-relents-to-remove-page-glorifying-isla-vista-killer-elliot-rodger-9435875.html

4- http://time.com/134152/the-toxic-appeal-of-the-mens-rights-movement/

5- http://www.avoiceformen.com/gynocentrism/elliot-rodger-and-the-big-blue-pill/

6- http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/10/20/the-masculine-mystique-inside-the-men-s-rights-movement-mrm.html

7-http://socialistworker.org/2014/06/12/bigots-not-welcome-in-detroit

8- http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/mens-rights-conference-feminism

9- http://www.polarisproject.org/resources/hotline-statistics/human-trafficking-trends-in-the-united-states

10- http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/29/mens-rights-conference_n_5405300.html

11- http://wehuntedthemammoth.com/2014/08/23/mma-fighter-and-accused-woman-beater-war-machine-gets-an-endorsement-from-a-prominent-mens-rights-activist/

12-http://wehuntedthemammoth.com/2012/02/08/theamazingatheists-misogynist-meltdown/

Masculinists: The Worst of the Worst

TRIGGER WARNING for extreme misogyny

So in the previous post, we touched a little bit on what Facebook tolerates when it comes to misogyny and harassment online. But the group of men’s rights activists that tops all of the groups in existence when it comes to male supremacism and misogyny are the Masculinists.

Masculinists, unlike those who associate themselves with the broader “Men’s Rights Movement” or “Men’s Human Rights Movement”, are unapologetically anti-gender equality and are outspoken with their sexist ideologies. They hold no pretense about being “humanists”, like many notable MRAs claim to be. Masculinists strive to establish a world that revolves around male needs and aspirations with women being used as nothing more than sex slaves and domesticated servants.

Essentially, “masculinism” is another term for supremacism, just like other reactionary ideologies that championed the plights of certain races and ethnic groups over other groups. The fanaticism of masculinism is difficult to ignore since the behaviors of the masculinist leadership mirror that of a cult.

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Many of these Masculinist groups have been flourishing on Facebook. One prominent one, Masculinist India, boasts 19K likes and frequently posts calling for abuse and torture of women.

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Masculinism is marked with many contradictions and confusions when their stances are called into question. Usually their rants are accompanied with a laundry list of slurs and the absence of credible sources to back their claims. The next two photos will illustrate this phenomenon. The first asserting that being a male supremacist doesn’t inhibit one from also being an equalist, with an explanation that makes it obvious that this Facebook user has a tenuous grasp on the definition of “equalism”. The following post is a rant that claims single mothers couldn’t keep their partners because their behavior is “undisciplined”.

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Whatever the topic is, however, one thing is clear. Women are always at fault for the ills of society in the eyes of masculinists, and they will find a round-a-bout way to “prove” this point with the use of ferocious typing and little source-linking.

Samples of Facebook Misogyny

Sexism online has become a great obstacle for women looking to partake in cyber dialogue, but becomes much worse when one explores the corners of the web that specifically call for attacks against feminism. The purpose of our blog is to raise awareness about this issue so that it can be addressed appropriately by the cyber community. One way we accomplish this is through screenshots.

This array of screenshots came from various groups on Facebook (which Facebook allows to exist, BTW, despite many reports from myself and my comrades). The following pictures were taken from the Women Against Feminism group, the Anti-Feminism group, and the Exposing Feminism page. These come from a slew of topics, but essentially boil down to one common theme: the belief that women are inferior to men and should be policed.

This should give you a small taste of what Facebook tolerates as far as blatant misogyny goes. Obviously we will be posting new photos of misogynistic rants periodically, most with a focus on a discussion about MRA “theory”.

These pictures come with a trigger warning, since much of the content is extremely misogynistic and bigoted in nature.

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The picture above was floating around on many of these Facebook groups.

What follows are posts found on “Women’s Rights News”, which has become notorious for allowing MRA and anti-feminist trolls to make very threatening statements to women and feminist commenters, and the Anti-Feminism group.

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The next couple of photos came from “Women Against Feminism”, which has a following of 20K people.

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Next we have sample troll posts made to our page. These comments are homophobic, transphobic, and sexist in nature.photo

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Another page to look out for is one called “Female Sex Predators: A Crime Epidemic”, which is known to spread lies including alterations of feminist memes with the logo of the “Ad Council” stamped onto the posters. Here is a sample of their lunacy, which claims that false rape accusations are more traumatizing than being raped.

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Something Men’s Rights Activists do online, other than troll the hell out of feminist commentary, is make threats of stealing and publishing personal info of feminists onto anti-feminist websites for the purpose of harassment.

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Stay tuned for more exposés of online sexism.