social media

Why I’m Supporting the #FBrape Campaign

Facebook users are asking advertisers whether they really want their logos to be seen alongside jokes and threats about beating and raping women

Facebook users are asking advertisers whether they really want their logos to be seen alongside jokes and threats about beating and raping women

by Jarrah Hodge

Trigger-Warning for rape jokes, rape threats, misogyny

Over the past week there’s been a lot of buzz around the campaign launched by WAM! (Women, Action, & the Media) to call on prominent companies like Dove and to pull ads from Facebook until the social networking site implements new policies and enforcement to ban gender-based hate speech. If you weren’t aware just how big the problem is, WAM! has cataloged some examples of what kind of content Facebook lets slide (serious trigger-warning for this link). When I posted the link to examples on Facebook most people commented that they were shocked and couldn’t even make it through reading all the horrible examples. The sad thing is that they were not hard to find.

But there is hope, and if we keep pushing, together we can show we are stronger than Facebook. In the first three days of the campaign over 22,000 tweets (using the #FBrape hashtag) and almost 2000 emails were sent to advertisers and the message is getting through. I’m feeling so motivated and inspired by this campaign and have been tweeting up a storm myself because I am so tired of having to try and keep reporting these types of posts individually, with often limited success. They offend me deeply but they also frighten me. The fact that anyone thought it was okay to create a Facebook page called “This is Why Indian Girls are Raped” or joke about “roundhouse kick[ing]” and “chokeslamm[ing]” a little girl is just horrifying. The fact that Facebook leaps all over requests to ban pictures of breastfeeding mothers but somehow thinks rape jokes don’t violate their community standards is appalling.

For me, though, this campaign is also personal.

Earlier this year someone on Twitter alerted me to the fact that a practically-professional Facebook troll was using my headshot as the profile picture for a really stupid and unsophisticated attempt at satire: a page supposedly created by a “Christian grad student” (represented by my picture) warning people against marijuana. The page owner, who had at least 10 accounts I could find under different fake names, had made my picture a target by posting incendiary information and graphics on the page.

When I found my picture on that page, there were more than 100 vicious, misogynistic comments on it. Here is just a small selection of the gems: Read more

Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in Feminism, Pop Culture 5 Comments

No Homophobes Project Launches PSA

nohomophobesby Jarrah Hodge

Back in December I interviewed Dr. Kristopher Wells of the University of Alberta’s project, which uses a website tracking homophobic language on Twitter to act as a “social mirror” drawing attention to everyday homophobia.

This week the campaign started a new phase by launching a PSA that asks why homophobic language is still widely used and often accepted. The language could be considered NSFW, so fair warning:

Global TV donated the PSA production and the clip was created by No Homophobes partner Calder Bateman. Jeff McLean of Calder Bateman told Global News: “We thought the PSA or the TV spot would be a visual representation of the tweets that are coming in on the website…Hearing it from these people is quite shocking.”

In a statement Wells said, “We no longer tolerate racist language, weʼre getting better at dealing with sexist language, but sadly we still see and hear homophobic and transphobic language in our society. While this language might not always be meant to be hurtful, we must not forget that words like “faggot” contribute greatly to the continued alienation and isolation of sexual and gender (LGBTQ) people, especially our youth.”

The PSA has already started getting international attention and will hopefully contribute to raising awareness and increasing constructive dialogue about homophobic language use in Canada and around the world.

Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in Can-Con, LGBT Leave a comment

U of A’s “No Homophobes” Project Confronts Casual Homophobia

nohomophobesby Jarrah Hodge

The first time I visited it was an emotional experience. The site acts as a “social mirror”, capturing real-time use of homophobic slurs on Twitter, and it quickly becomes clear just how staggering a problem casual homophobia is.

I spoke to Dr. Kristopher Wells, Associate Director of the University of Alberta Institute for Sexual Minority Studies and Services, which started the project earlier this year, about how this relatively simple Canadian idea has had such a wide impact.

Wells told me that the idea for No Homophobes came out of research on casual homophobia and how it manifests in our public education system. EGALE Canada’s national national climate survey on homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia in Canadian schools, for example, found that 70% of LGBTQ youth hear phrases like “That’s so gay” every day in their schools. 10% of the time the phrases are actually coming from teachers.

“Sadly, for many LGBTQ youth this kind of casual homophobia is part of their daily reality,” said Wells.

The challenge was to put something together to bring public awareness to the issue of casual homophobia – not just in schools, but also in our society as a whole. The idea was to create a website that compiles tweets, using our four key words (“faggot”, “so gay”, “no homo”, and “dyke”), in real time, from all over English-speaking world. Wells and the iSMSS turned to their community partners, getting help from Calder Bateman in Edmonton and Burnkit in Vancouver to set up the website graphics and technical aspects.

Wells explained: “We wanted to do something different that was actually going to target and speak not only to youth, but also to the broader community – and we figured out pretty quickly that we needed to do something with social media, which is where most youth seem to live.” Read more

Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in Can-Con, LGBT 2 Comments

The Ups and Downs of Being a Feminist on Pinterest

by Jarrah Hodge

Confession: I’m a feminist and I’m on Pinterest.

I thought it was time for me to weigh in on the discussion that’s been going on about feminism and Pinterest. A BuzzFeed article that was making the rounds back in October argued that Pinterest was “killing feminism”, saying:

“Pinterest’s user-generated content, which overwhelmingly emphasizes recipes, home decor, and fitness and fashion tips, feels like a reminder that women still seek out the retrograde, materialistic content that women’s magazines have been hawking for decades — and that the internet was supposed to help overcome.”

Amelia McDonell-Parry at The Frisky was one of several feminists who called the BuzzFeed post an overreaction:

“How users experience Pinterest varies from person to person. I, for one, rarely see a diet recipe or a fitness tip come across my dashboard, because I don’t pin that type of content and I don’t seem to follow users that do. But I don’t knock users that do; what’s wrong with wanting to get in shape, lose weight, and eat healthy? Is there something explicitly anti-feminist about that and thus anti-feminist about a platform that allows users to link to that type of content? Give me a break.”

I think it’s fair to recognize, as Terri Ciccone at the Jane Dough does, that there is problematic content on Pinterest, but that “Pinterest didn’t put it there; it’s not a monolith. Women did.”

It’s important to look at what’s on Pinterest because it can tell us something about what its users (60% women, although some estimates go as high as 79%) are looking at and sharing online. We can talk about the potentially problematic messages being shared just like we do with Facebook pages, Twitter hashtags, and Tumblr posts, by looking at what it means that so many people participate in spreading those messages. But we also need the perspective of recognizing that Pinterest is only part of many users’ social media engagement, so looking at it probably doesn’t give us quite the whole story.

So I’ve been on Pinterest now for 8 months and I wanted to talk about what I see as the potential ups and downs are for feminists on Pinterest. When you add my craft and recipe boards to the tens of millions of other Pinterest users out there, does it start to seem to an average user that women are more interested in traditionally feminine pursuits than, say, politics or the pursuit of equality? It might, and that’s something worth discussing. Are there ways to make Pinterest more of a feminist tool? I want to talk about that, too. If you’re a feminist already on Pinterest, let me know if you agree, disagree, or have anything to add.   Read more

Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in Feminism, Pop Culture 21 Comments

New Twitter Guide for Feminists

by Jarrah Hodge

It’s been more than a year since I posted my first Twitter guide for feminists and back then I think I was still under 1,000 followers and even less immersed in Twitter than I am now. I wanted to do an updated version to fit in a few of the folks I missed last time and some new tweeps who have made a big impact on feminist Twitter activity.

This is not an exhaustive list but I hope it highlights some people who are using Twitter really effectively. One change to this list is some new categories: Violence Against Women, Feminist Moms, Allied Men and Gender Focus Contributors. I also split up Feminist News from Media Creation and Analysis.

So go ahead and click on the categories you’re interested in or scroll through the whole list below.


If there’s someone on Twitter who’s not on this list who you think is a feminist must-follow, please do comment below!

Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in Can-Con, Feminism, Politics, Pop Culture 10 Comments

How Twitter Reflects the Themes of Our Society

This was originally posted at A Nerdy Feminist. Cross-posted with permission of the author.

Let me set this all out from the get-go: I love social media. I’m an early adopter and heavy user of the biggest platforms. I was Facebooking it back in late 2004 when you had to request your college to be added to the network and I’ve been a regular tweeter since 2008. In fact, I’ve racked up almost 6000 tweets. I’m even into Tumbling now. All of this is just to demonstrate that the following is not me hating on social media or fearing progress. (We know how I feel about that.)

Besides, Twitter has been proven to be hugely influential in some really big things, like the Arab Spring, as well as many other grassroots, activist movements including Occupy. It also regularly allows me to connect with feminists from all over the country and world, making the theory feel united, my thoughts more widely informed, and allowing me to be supported and lend support.

But the fact of the matter is that for all the good Twitter can do, it is still is a direct reflection of the “-isms” that still exist in our society. A vast majority of its users are not necessarily engaging in activism, but rather sharing “funny” quips or personal thoughts. Unfortunately, racist, heterosexist, classist, and sexist hashtags often are amongst the top trending topics. So much so, that as a self-preservation tactic (read: I don’t want to get pissed off all the time) I’ve stopped regularly looking at them…which is a damn shame, since it could keep me from knowing about the great stuff I just referenced.

Despite my recent decision to ignore trending topics, I took a little glance last night and, of course, one of them was problematic.


But more on that particular trending topic in a moment. Read more

Posted on by A Lynn in Feminism Leave a comment

Facebook’s No-Nudity Policy & Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding Facebook logo

Controversy is brewing between Facebook and women who want the right to post photos of themselves breastfeeding online.

According to Facebook’s terms, the site supports breastfeeding. However, breastfeeding photos posted onto Facebook where the breast is fully exposed and the child is not actively engaged in nursing violate terms and are considered sexually explicit content.

If reported, Facebook’s first response is to delete the pictures and/or block users from accessing their accounts.

The controversy here stems from the fact that breastfeeding in public is a protected right and an exposed breast within the context of breastfeeding is not sexually explicit content. I understand that in our society we are very conditioned to seeing women’s bodies sexualized everywhere we turn, but we need to be able to recognize when something falls outside of this norm – like a woman exposing her breast(s) within the context of feeding her child.

I learned of this issue after seeing one mother in Vancouver, Emma Kwasnica, make headlines with her story. A breastfeeding advocate and instructor, Kwasnica posted pictures on Facebook of herself breastfeeding to help other mothers; they were then deleted by facebook claiming they violated terms.

Kwasnica is calling for facebook to amend its policies and exempt all breastfeeding images from being considered nudity. In addition, she is also calling for a change to the way Facebook responds when photos of breastfeeding women are reported and brought to their attention. They should do an investigation before deleting, not the other way around as is the current practice.

Over 5,000 have joined a Facebook group called FB! Stop harassing Emma Kwasnica over her breastfeeding pics. There, I learned that Facebook has since apologized to Kwasnica saying her photos were removed in error and encouraged her to re-upload them. There was also a conference call set up with Kwasnica and Facebook to discuss policies on breastfeeding. But so far there have been no major changes in policy.

For those who are interested, nurse-in protests are currently being organized at Facebook HQs around the world. See the list here.

-E. Cain

Editor’s Note: An organizer from the Nepal Mother Foundation contacted me to let me know that the logo people are using for the Facebook breastfeeding campaign is very similar to their organization’s logo. I did some background research and it looks like both groups created their logo out of the same stock photo. However, I said I would share a link to their organization for readers who are interested in their work.

Posted on by E. Cain in Can-Con, Feminism, Politics, Pop Culture 6 Comments