We continue our inspirational interview with Soraya Chemaly, feminist writer, media critic, and activist. In this part of the interview, Soraya talks more about her joining forces with Women, Action, Media and The Everyday Sexism Project to implement the #FBRape campaign to address online abuses against women. She continues to address online misogyny and the attempts to silence women through social media.
You can read the first part of her interview here.
6. In July 2013, you, Jaclyn Friedman (Women, Action, Media) and Laura Bates (The Everyday Sexism Project) came together to spearhead the #FBRape campaign to hold Facebook to account for not treating online VAW on their site with the seriousness it deserves. What was the straw that finally broke the camel’s back to trigger that campaign?
I got a video of an actual rape in progress that stayed up in Facebook for more than three weeks. Soon after a video of a woman being beheaded was also shared thousands of times. I wrote a letter to Facebook, which resulted in an ineffective exchange of emails with senior management. Jaclyn Friedman suggested that we create a campaign to publicly address the issues and so I got in touch with Laura Bates who, almost simultaneously, had begun to tweet advertisers regarding rape jokes and similar content appearing alongside their ads. It was a perfect storm.
Check out this Google Hangout chat with Soraya, Jaclyn and Regina Yau (Founder of The Pixel Project) discussing online violence against women:
7. The #FBRape campaign has been successful in getting Facebook to take the issue of VAW on their site seriously. The last we heard, they were implementing best practices in consultation with Jaclyn, Laura and you. How is that coming along?
It is slow and steady. I think the people we continue to work with at Facebook are genuine in their desire to understand the issues at hand and to find ways to address them. However, they have a business to run and a customer base of more than a billion people. We continue to bring issues to their attention regularly and to push continuously for on-going training.
8. The internet and social media can be a double-edged sword for women and women’s rights issues. On the one hand, the misogyny and expressions of VAW have inevitably transferred into the online world and women are still, at the very least, being silenced in many online spaces and communities. On the other hand, 4th wave feminists and women’s rights activists like the #FBRape campaign team have been using all the same tools to fight back. What advice can you give women’s rights activists about using the internet and social media tools to push back against online VAW and misogyny effectively?
For effective communications, particularly online, one must understand marketing, particularly audience segmentation and targeting individuals and populations groups. Many people think that they have a great idea and if they just articulate it, people will flock to it. This is rarely the case. In order to get that great idea across to multitudes of people, one must understand exactly how technology and networks function, and in particular, how small work networks function to attract and inform people.
9. What’s coming for you this year in terms of online campaigning against VAW? What are the specific VAW issues you’ll be tackling this year in your articles and columns?
Sadly, the issues are persistently the same ones. However, personally, I am very focused on educating people earlier and earlier in life. My goal is on confronting norms that are transferred to children and later, inform their ideas about people’s rights, sexuality, bodies and violence.
10. Finally, in your considered opinion, how can we end violence against women today?
One of the most important ways we can work to end violence against women and girls is to teach boys and men to empathize. We need to teach girls and women that they have rights and that they are no longer isolated in the ways that they have been traditionally. We can actively build strong anti-violence communities. Additionally and importantly, press media to reveal gender-based injustices and to stop privileging religion in narrative.