There are a lot of things which the radical Ukranian women’s movement Femen could be criticised for. Their protests are often aggressive. Their stance against sharia law often appears to take a wider ‘anti-Islam’ approach. They are certainly a very controversial group. However, if there is one thing which Femen definitely do not do, it is promoting prostitution. Yet this was the reason given for the termination of its major accounts on Facebook.
On Monday, Facebook had terminated the account for French Femen, Tuesday it’s blocked Femen’s main page also. In total, these pages were liked by about 170,000 people and network of Femen’s pages was one of the biggest women’s communities on Facebook.
The formal reason for the closure of the platforms is “they are accusing us of spreading pornography and promoting prostitution”.
Femen activists claim that “This fact is a logical continuation of the internet war waged against Femen from a host of different reactive groups: the Nazis from European and post-Soviet dictatorships to Islamic fundamentalists.” The Femen pages on Facebook were one of the main information platforms for the campaign for the release of political prisoners, in particular activists from Tunisian prisons.
Activists have appealed the closing of the pages of Facebook and asked them to reverse their decision.
The topless protests by Femen are certainly provocative. They sometimes use the objectification of women to make a point, but that point is very strongly against the exploitation of women. It is certainly not pro-prostitution. The sex industry is one of the things that Femen are active in protesting against.
Why then was their site banned by facebook?
Sadly the answer is quite obvious. The moderators of facebook consider and images containing female breasts to be pornography. A similar outcry against facebook was heard when they banned pictures of women breast feeding. Sites providing instructions on how to test for the signs of breast cancer were shut down for showing breasts. And yet facebook allows thousands of lingerie clad models to post their provocative pictures without a word. Facebook is not against pornography. It is against nudity.
Femen was targeted because of their high profile and their controversy. However any group could face the same punishment. The WNBR groups often feature photos from the rides and could therefore be shut down for promoting pornography. As too could naturist groups, if the members fail to comply with Facebook’s ban on the naked form. I don’t know if there is a formal term for a fear of nipples; (Mammillophobia sounds about right) but it seems that Mark Zuckerberg probably has it.
There are lots of reasons written into Facebook’s terms and conditions which allow them to shut down sites.
Femen protests might be viewed by some as promoting hate and violence towards particular individuals. Their raid on the home of Belarusian dictator Lukashenka in Kiev with flaming torches was certainly not a peaceful protest.
Yesterday, June 25th, Femen protestors attacked the car of Tunisia’s Prime Minister, to protest against the arrest of three Femen protestors for baring their breasts in an earlier Femen protest.
These acts were definitely aggressive and potentially quite violent, but nobody was hurt by the protestors.
The stance on Islam is often against the influence which islamic Sharia law has over Islamic countries, but is not really against the religion. Instead they often try to point out the religious contradictions that are inherent in the oppression of women within Islamic states.
Femen are seeking liberty and empowerment for women. They are not a hate group. They are not advocating violence. They are most definitely not advocating prostitution and promoting pornography.
Once again anything naked is written off by Facebook as pornographic. We should not sit by and accept this. This censorship of any non-sexual nudity just serves to promote the view that all nudity is sexual. By preventing people from being familiar with the naked human form and making it something forbidden and pornographic, Facebook are only encouraging people to seek out images which are forbidden, erotic and pornographic. It is their censorship laws which promote pornography.