|Image Credit to RamboWiki|
A couple years ago there was a Facebook page dedicated to jokes about rape and domestic violence. This caused a huge uproar and a massive petition to get these pages taken down. Women, Action, and Media,(A.K.A. WAM!) was the main organization that opposed these pages and anyone who believed domestic violence to be a joking matter. These posts were allowed until May 2013 when Facebook edited its policies to restrict hate speech, particularly gender based hate speech. These jokes were on Facebook publicly, so any person could have seen them. A domestic abuser could see this and think, “Oh, it’s ok. It’s funny when I beat women!” The posts were encouraging them as well as teenagers who could view this. The teens would think that domestic violence is not serious and not an issue. On the other hand, there is also the issue of restricting the freedom of speech.
|Image Credit to Glen Canning|
The owners of the Facebook pages were frustrated that their pages could be taken down in a matter of weeks because some people did not enjoy their content. First, the content was not forced onto the women’s activist group. They did not have to view the content if they did not want to. If a member of the Facebook page is your friend then you can just unfriend them or have a serious conversation with them.Regarding children, a parent can easily apply a filter that does not allow certain content, such as the jokes, to be viewed. This also felt like a major violation of the freedom of speech. The jokes were not physically harming anyone, and the owners were not condoning violence. This argument can be refuted by another right of US citizens and the world.
Under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, everybody on earth is entitled to a life free of violence and security of person. Freedom of speech cannot and does not override this right. If a person feels as if they are being subject to speech that threatens them then they are fully entitled to try and have that material removed. Really, these Facebook rape jokes were not the object of WAM!’s fight. WAM! is really fighting against the social norm of gender based hate speech, and trying to raise awareness that domestic violence is not okay. Today, children have an amazing grasp of technology that no generation has ever had before. Children are using iPads at the age of three and learning to type in the second grade. These children will have no problem going into a browser’s or website’s settings and changing the filter to allow everything. It is reported that children begin watching porn as early as six years old(CharismaNews.) The teens of today are exposed to so much media. There is a new study that says teens are exposed to 31 hours a week(TheTelegraph.) This prolonged screen time will affect a teen greatly by influencing much of the way they think.
When a teen grows up with almost all free time consumed by technology then there is a huge impact on them from social media. If one teen grows up to abuse their spouse, then their children will witness the fighting. According to CaringUnlimited, whenever a teen witnesses an act of abuse then they begin to absorb that into their mind. They begin to show increased signs of aggression, lack of feeling, and replaying the act of violence along with many other problems. Restricting what is posted on the internet can decrease the amount of stigmas that teens receive; therefore, lowering the amount of domestic violence. There are many organizations out there that are dedicated to preventing domestic violence, but the question I propose to you is, what are you doing to prevent the spread of harmful stereotypes and domestic violence?
Conclusion, updated March 5, 2014
Social media showing how the "perfect" man and woman should be has a great impact, especially on children, because boys feel the need to be the strong one while girls are told to be quiet and listen to their spouse. Restrictions should be put in place because if a child stumbles upon inappropriate content, or content that perpetuates harmful stereotypes, they will be influenced negatively and the cycle of violence will continue. The companies that create these gender stereotypes need to seriously consider taking a class like digital citizenship in order to learn how to be a good citizen online. Most of the comments left on my blog were not that helpful, but there were a couple that seemed to be written with thought and intelligence. Jim Raynor helped to clarify my point, when he explained how technology has evolved to become the primary link to the outside world. Unfortunately, the stereotypes and negative messages within the media therefore become more accepted and less shocking to those who are frequently exposed to it. He also showed how it is human nature to want to follow the group, no matter what the consequences might be. However, this can be used for good by having more and more people standing up to help bring more and more popularity against these stereotypes and jokes about causing harm to another individual because of their gender, race, religion, or ethnicity. Blogging is a very interesting way to share news and current events, and I feel like it is much more personal and intimate. Blogging allows you to respond to your readers and interact in ways you normally can’t. Overall, blogging has been a great experience.