Julia went on to H&M Sweden’s Facebook page and left a comment about clothing she found offensive: the Tupac Shakur hoodies they were selling (he was charged with sexual abuse in 1993). She wrote, ‘Hello H&M, Yesterday, I walked into H&M and discovered that a shirt you carry, with a convicted rapist printed on it, was marketed as cool. Would you sell a T-shirt with Hagamannen on it equally swiftly?’ (Note that ‘Hagamannen’ is the nickname of a convicted Swedish serial rapist, Kurt Niklas Lindgren.)
A few days after her comment, over 2 000 people had replied to her query – many of them with anger and threats of murder and rape.
Facebook did nothing about these death and rape threats. They were left to accumulate like rats in a sewer.
Then, as Jen Thorpe discovered, groups that condone rape like, ‘You know she’s playing hard to get when you’re chasing her down the alleyway’ and ‘riding her softly (so she doesn’t wake up)’ are allowed to exist. Meanwhile groups, such as the one Thorpe was trying to start: ‘Rape Crisis Cape Town’ are banned. As Thorpe wrote, ‘How can you choose to block an organisation like Rape Crisis Cape Town Trust from starting a page, when you allow pages like these to persist? Pages that incite violence should be against your policy. Pages that condone rape should be against your policy.’
Unfortunately, just being a woman on the internet opens you up to criticisms of your gender and to threats of violent sexual assault.
Ask Anita Sarkeesian, who started a conversation about sexism in gaming and was then drowned out by the volume of misogynistic comments directed at her.
As Jezebel writes in ‘The online culture of niceness doesn’t extend to the ladies’: ‘Women are edged out of practically every popular internet forum that isn’t specifically “for women”, from Reddit to the skeptic community. High-school girls kill themselves because of cyber-bullying. Facebook refuses to delete photos glorifying rape culture even though they’ll censor, say, tribal women in Senegal or breastfeeding moms.’
In short, Facebook has a misogyny problem.