Despite what the recent toppling of some entertainment industry giants might suggest, it remains difficult for women to speak out against misogyny, whether it’s an accusation of sexual assault or harassment, or just some venting in your social media feeds about shitty men.
Even comments made in our cozy little niches within the cyberspace void about men being scum are subject to strict scrutiny from moderators of social-media platforms, which, as The Daily Beast reports, can lead to swift and punitive action that’s otherwise absent in the ongoing battle against online harassment. In October, comic Marcia Belsky fired off a “men are scum” rejoinder to a friend’s Facebook post, which led to a 30-day ban from the site. Belsky was taken aback by Facebook’s treatment, and she’s not the only one. Dozens of women writers, comedians, and artists have begun compiling their stories of being FacebookJailed as a result of bland and broad comments like “men ain’t shit.”
The current cultural moment factors in because so many of these women are posting such comments and statuses as “ban men” or “men are the WORST” in response to near-daily revelations of sexual assault and harassment, as well as ongoing victim shaming and gaslighting. Victims are criticized for being afraid to come forward, then condemned for disrupting an otherwise favorable public image of this or that celebrity. The situation is beyond frustrating, so sometimes, you just fire off a “can we send all men on a one-way trip to the sun?” after reading about a certain alleged predator trying to secure a $30 million golden parachute.
But Facebook’s moderators don’t take anyone’s emotional state, profile, or even the pertinent thread or status into account when responding to content flags. Instead, they delete posts and comments alluding to the garbage-ness of men and/or ban users for posting them. Comedian Alison Klemp tells The Daily Beast she “personally posted men are scum in November and I received a seven day ban. It’s still ongoing. Two days and 23 hours left.” And Kayla Avery, a Boston comic, says she’s almost routinely banned from Facebook for making statements like “men continue to be the worst” in response to having her public page inundated with sexist trolls.
Now, Facebook has ruled that white men are a protected class, so it’s not all that surprising that it would also look after the fee-fees of men in general. But the social media giant can’t pretend this is solely about keeping online discourse civil, since it doesn’t act nearly as decisively against users who post racial slurs and rape or death threats. TV writer and comedian Rae Sunni shared her own harrowing experience, in which she learned that she’d violated Facebook’s terms of service for writing that “men are scum,” but the men who wrote the n-word and “ugly cunt” on her timeline had not.
Facebook maintains that it just has to refine the process of responding to complaints, but the comedians and writers who have submitted to the FacebookJailed site think the site is “absolutely silencing women,” especially when many of the purportedly offensive remarks are part of the resurgent #MeToo movement.