Does Facebook Hate All Women—or just Feminists?

Via Trista Hendren
on Nov 10, 2012
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This photo was banned from Facebook (used with permission from Joanne Jackson).

News: German Justice Minister criticizes Facebook’s double standards: German users are struggling to understand why Facebook is quick to ban nudity, but often fails to ban posts that constitute the criminal offense of incitement to hatred. (

Update: a response from Facebook’s policy department. ~ ed.

I have been hearing rumors about Facebook’s policies towards feminist posts for quite a while now.

I will begin by saying that I have been a huge Facebook fan; I met my husband through mutual friends on Facebook, as well as partners for various women-oriented projects over the last few years. But something seems to have shifted lately—nearly everyone I spoke to regarding this article shared the same conflicted sentiment: we have enjoyed Facebook for the connections it has brought us but feel we have been unfairly censored or punished.

Sonya Renee Taylor, the page owner of The Body is Not an Apology, started a petition on last month:

“The Body Is Not An Apology, an international movement focused on radical self-love and body empowerment, account was SUSPENDED from Facebook after posting a photo of an empowered female body and tribal women in Senegal with their breasts visible. We believe this sort of cultural and gender discrimination is absolutely asking women to apologize for their bodies and is unacceptable. We want a stop to the sexist hypocrisy of suspending accounts and deleting non-sexual images posted by women! The Body Is Not An Apology has over 12,500 friends in over 25 countries who share images, articles and affirmations focused on celebrating our bodies and truly embracing self-love. As a community we are outraged by the sexism and hypocrisy of Facebook’s policies!”

What is troubling is that Facebook has allowed certain posts, which are derogatory towards women, to remain on its pages, while penalizing feminists for speaking out against them. Facebook has allowed hyper-sexualized images of women to remain, as well as comments, posts and pages that support rape culture; Soraya Chemaly wrote an excellent article several months ago about Facebook’s misogyny problem.

Rabid Feminist pointed out this particularly “fun” page on Wednesday, even after hundreds of women reported the page and many of the pictures, is still up and running. However, as The Body is Not an Apology’s petition reminds us, Facebook has censored images of:

1. Women who have beat breast cancer, including Joanne Jackson pictured above.

2. Women with children born with birth defects.

3. Women who breastfeed.

Dana Bakdounis

In researching this article, it appears there are many feminist pages, from all over the world, who feel they have been silenced by Facebook.

The uprising of women in the Arab world, a site with more than 60,000 fans from around the world, released a press release November seventh. It seems their five administrators were all reprimanded by Facebook to some degree, varying from a warning, to a 30 day block. All five women were warned they could permanently lose their accounts. They give the following explanation:

“Dana Bakdounes is one the hundreds of women and men who participated in the Uprising of Women in the Arab World campaign, holding a sign expressing the reason why they support this uprising. Dana’s slogan stated: “I am with the uprising of women in the Arab world because for 20 years I wasn’t allowed to feel the wind in my hair and on my body,” and her picture showed an unveiled woman carrying her passport with her picture when she was veiled.

Dana’s picture was initially posted on October 21, among many other photos and statements of women and men of various religious beliefs and practices (some women were veiled, some unveiled, some in niqab…), all demanding women’s rights and equally enjoying the freedom of speech, in a secular space that promotes tolerance and embraces the differences. But on October 25, Facebook chose to censor Dana’s image and to suspend for 24 hours the account of the admin who posted it. This incident provoked an outrage among the defenders of freedom of speech who started sharing Dana’s picture all over Facebook, Twitter and other media channels.” 

It is difficult to understand what Facebook’s policies are exactly; it seems that the blocking has something to do with Facebook users reporting something they find offensive. While this can be helpful in some ways, the rules don’t seem to apply the same way towards all pages—and there does not seem to be much in the way of examining whether something actually is offensive, once it is reported as such.

Icelandic feminist, Hildur Lilliendahl, was recently  temporarily blocked from posting content on Facebook, for the fourth time. The blocking began when she started collecting abusive public comments from men about women and/or feminists from around the web. Hildur published these comments on Facebook, in an album called “Men who hate women.

Photo: Páll Hilmarsson (used with permission of Hildur Lilliendahl)

The material Facebook termed “abusive” were screenshots of hateful, misogynist comments. Hildur was  reported for re-posting other people’s comments, most recently resulting in a 30-day block. Facebook warned her that she must “stop violating the community standards of Facebook.” Keep in mind, this was after she re-posted a public status from a man with these kind words about her:

If I ‘accidentally’ ran over Hildur, she is probably the only person on earth that I would back up over and leave the car on top of her with the hand brake on!!!) Put this in your ‘men who hate Hildur’ folder, Hildur Lilliendahl.”

The resulting petition on states; “I want to draw attention to the drawbacks of this platform, the Facebook and how easy it’s “community standards” make it to silence our voices.”

When I confirmed the story with Hildur yesterday, she gave this statement:

“I could have gone around the rules, I could have published the screenshots elsewhere and linked to them on Facebook, but I refuse to be silenced. I will not abide to rules that offend me. Neither will I allow corporate mass media to control my behavior.”

What seems unfair about Facebook’s blocking policies is that it is almost impossible to get in touch with a live person or even defend yourself. Thus, other than comparing stories, it is hard to know what Facebook’s actual policies are and how to best deal with them.

According to Facebook’s community standards page, there are nine types of content that may be deemed offensive and removed: Violence and Threats, Self-Harm, Bullying and Harassment, Hate Speech, Graphic Violence, Nudity and Pornography, Identity and Privacy, Intellectual Property and Phishing and Spam. If that is the case, why are sites such as It’s NOT rape, simply free sex allowed to exist, while women who are fighting back against violence and threats are punished?

Rabid Feminist, a popular feminist page with nearly 12,000 fans, shared a similar story a few weeks ago:

“I was locked out of my account for three days because someone complained that I called him a misogynist and a mansplainer (he was). They also removed an anti-rape poster, which I can only find an outline of a nipple beneath a full blouse. I was unable to get anything from Facebook explaining their actions”

In response, Rabid Feminist has set up a blog separate from their Facebook page, so that they can keep in touch with their fans.

Painting by Elisabeth Slettnes (Image used with permission from the artist)

A girl’s guide to taking over the world has experienced similar censorship on their page, which has more than 150,000 fans. One admin was blocked for sharing this image from my page, The Girl God, because the artwork shows a nipple. In response, A girl’s guide has created a ‘banned by facebook’ section in a gallery on their website, which is worth looking at. Wherein they state:

“Facebook is happy to have images of breasts for the purpose of male entertainment but breastfeeding is obscene and must be removed. The oyster image was deemed so offensive that the admin responsible was banned for seven days for posting it!”

The oyster image, is literally, a picture of an oyster.

Admins from A girl’s guide have been banned for every image posted there—and they still have more to add. One admin is currently on a 30 day ban because of an image that is a parody of a model image, copied by the Jackass Boys.

I have been blocked by Facebook, numerous times, to various degrees. Thankfully, my page has not been shut down yet but I have already formulated a Plan B. I am seeing stories all over Facebook about being blocked for three days or more. I am currently blocked for 60 days from making comments on other pages, although I was not given a specific reason why.

I am also blocked from making friend requests for 30 days.

I have many liberal-minded friends who have been blocked from making friend requests; it begs the question, What is wrong with adding friends? In a world that is becoming increasingly global, where we are coming together more and more on ideas alone, is adding friends so dangerous?

On a sliding scale, I have to say that rape culture scares the shit out of me, whereas adding a few friends seems way down at the bottom of the danger list.

If you are not angry yet, here are a few more pictures to fuel the fire from It’s NOT rape, simply free sex. As of publication, all but three of these pictures were still up, while feminists from around the world worried about the fate of their pages.

I can attest that owning a page takes a great deal of effort. Aside from finding good posts throughout the day, you also must respond to people on your page and delete comments that may be offensive to others to keep it a safe space.

Furthermore, it has been suggested that the Facebook algorism takes people off your feeds if they do not  regularly “like” your posts. Thus, losing control over your page for a few days or up to a month effectively cancels out your previous hard work.

We must create better networks of feminist pages so that we better can support each other; Facebook cannot shut us all down. If one sister page is down, the rest of us must spread the word about the injustice and keep the page going. Words of Women from the Egyptian Revolution was a great example of this after The uprising of women in the Arab world experienced problems; they staged a worldwide online protest on their page.

It is also important to note that there are other social media platforms available and that Facebook may not be the best way to share our message now that they have begun charging to promote posts. One such page, World Wide We, sounds promising:

“A new world is possible! Recent global events have given us a taste of the untapped potential of people coming together in new and exciting ways using social media. The vision of World Wide We (WWWe) is to help further realise that potential by moving beyond Facebook with a website that is designed specifically for people across the world to connect, share and act for positive change, easy to use with fresh, new tools, owned by the people, for the people (i.e. a Community Interest Company… that means no billionaire owners!)”

ZSocial is another: “ZSocial is the social network for  individuals and groups striving to win a better world.

My Digital Notebook is yet another site that is just coming together now—their slogan is, “The New Social Network For Self Expression.”

Obviously, there are many social media platforms available to us; it is important for us, as women, to stay connected, however that may be.

As Adrienne Rich said,

“The connections between and among women are the most feared, the most problematic, and the most potentially transforming force on the planet.“

The censorship of women on Facebook must stop; it is only when we speak up that we will truly know how widespread this problem is and change it. Please share your stories in the comments section below—we need a platform to discuss and change Facebook’s policies as they affect women. Then, we can organize and fight for change.

“Today more than ever we want to say to the world that our voices will not be silenced, not by Facebook, nor by patriarchy, dictatorships, military rule and/or religious extremism. They may be temporarily denied, overlooked, censored or whitewashed, but only to be uttered once again. We will continue to write on the dividing walls of fear, submission and defamation, if not tear them down.”

~ The Uprising of Women in the Arab World



Ed: Bryonie Wise

Like elephant enlightened society on Facebook.


About Trista Hendren

Trista Hendren is the author of The Girl God. The second book in this series, Mother Earth, will be published in December. You can read more about her project with Elisabeth Slettnes at


133 Responses to “Does Facebook Hate All Women—or just Feminists?”

  1. I've been blocked – for from three days to a whole month – and have been bewildered about the reason. My pages contain primarily feminist material, other political and environmental material, and horses and dogs. I now intend, after reading this article, to explore the other social media you suggest. Many, many thanks for this. It's vital that women connect and communicate now.

  2. Trista says:

    Thank you for sharing your story Esther.

  3. dpasko says:

    After hearing about all the blocks of "feminist" posts I started thinking just over the last few days about why we just don't leave FB behind and start another way of meeting and communicating. Hell, there must be many women out there in the big wide world who could create a new area of comminication similar to FB and give them a run for their money, where "blocking" would be fairly done and for the right reasons, and a feminist or ecoist or evironmentalist could speak freely and connect with other like-minded people; where the power wouldn't be in the hands of a rich, white, heterosexual male dominated executive! Lo and behold – great minds think alike – you have a list here of new areas where we can meet and share ideas and offer support. Thank you all you wonderful people out there. You have proven, where there is a will there is a way. Human nature is unstoppable!

  4. dpasko says:

    In case I wasn't clear – haha – I don't need FB! There are other ways of connecting. Let's all leave FB enmasse, and watch the devils' stocks plummet. There are enough of us!

  5. FeistyAmazon says:

    I've never been blocked, thank goodness or unable to add friends, HOWEVER I sent in complaints about a woman in England who seemed like some kind of celebrity and/or singer at a SlutWalk there, and she had outrageous red hair, and a BIG Black Swastika on one of her arms…very prominent. When I looked at more of her photographs, she had a stylized swastika, not so easily detectable on the other arm. It had people in it…but the big very obvious black one constantly seen in picture after picture of her, really, really bothered me. I reported it as hate speech, and asked that photo be taken down. Facebook supposedly reviewed it, and DID NOTHING. Then the woman herself wrote me giving me all kinds of excuses of the long history of the Swastika(as one raised Jewish, I have done my research myself around this symbol). I told her even the Native Americans distanced themselves from the symbol, since the Nazis took over, and they fought in WW2(the Native Americans), and that no Westerner should be wearing this symbol openly on their flesh, unless of course they want to be associated with White Power!

    So, this crap doesn't surprise me at all, and there has to be better forums for us than Facebook.

  6. JVK says:

    Tell that to the 1.3 billion Hindus & Buddhists in the world who still find that symbol sacred.

  7. Trista says:

    hmmm…class action? Any attorneys want to weigh in on that…not sure since it is a free network….

  8. Couldnt all these pages get together and sue FB for discrimination? I have tried to get rape sites taken down from FB and they said there was nothing wrong with these sites. Now I hear how feminist sites are being blocked. I say sexual discrimination.

  9. Mag A says:

    Note that she said white westerners.

  10. cmkneipp says:

    As a guy I'm horrified that in this day and age we still have blind institutions that treat one gender as less than another. My wish for the future is that all people can see each other, not as divided into two groups, (The us and them mentality) but can see the world is filled with an infinitely diverse collection of individuals who should respect and in turn be respected. The misogynistic, abhorrent pages that are referred to here and their ilk should be torn down while those that promote equality should be held up and praised.
    There is no place for discrimination in today's world, nor should there have ever been.
    Just my thoughts on the subject. Great post BTW.

  11. Alba Vienna says:

    Facebook hate women,sure
    Italian pages on Fb created by men,not censored:
    -Culi perfetti
    -I culi piu belli
    -culi bellissimi

  12. Shreya Sen says:

    I wrote an article on this subject. I really it's time for feminist trolls to take over the *virtual* world!

  13. Johnson says:

    Sorry but no one wants to see a photo of your vagina./

  14. Erica Wagner says:

    I think this is because Facebook has an automated system for tallying and responding to complaints. They feel it would be too costly to have real human beings doing this, which makes sense, but it seems like they should at least have real people “spot checking” to see if certain types of sites generate use complaints without actually crossing lines reasonable people think are offensive.

    Sadly, there are still a lot of unreasonable people out there–people who will complain about things like breastfeeding moms, women who have had mastectomies, and even women speaking out on issues related to gender or culture.

    Facebook is a private venue, and so free speech rights do not apply here. They can have policies and conditions for use of their site. But I agree it would be nice if they could find a way to enforce their them bit more consistently, or at least have a way of assessing why a complaint is being lodged and having a real human being second check to see if something really is a violation of their stated policies before they use the ban hammer.

    It would also be nice if there was some sort of reciprocal ban they could levy on people who abuse the complaint system in order to get other members who are not really violating site policies banned themselves.

  15. […] Does Facebook Hate All Women—or just Feminists? | elephant journal. Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. Flokkar Uncategorized […]

  16. @sindriz says:

    Note that there are Hindus and Buddhists in the world that are white westerners.

  17. @sindriz says:

    Does the Men who hate women page promote equality? I don't think so. I think that women could also write extremely hurtful comments and that those comments are no better than what men write.

    Other than that, good comment and I agree with your general message

  18. Karen says: has been blocked from posting to other pages. The content they complained about was a simple graphic comparing the GOP and Democrats Platforms prior to the election. I complained to no avail. We sense there are people on the right who target certain pages and just start reporting things. Facebook needs to actually evaluate what's being reported and not simply the number of reports they receive.

  19. Trista says:

    Thank you! My husband is Norwegian so he can help me!! Please connect with me Jens!

  20. sylvia hikins says:

    We are half the sky. Give us space to move in whatever way we cherish. Images of women breastfeedng babies, images of women smiling in spite of surgery…this is our womanly space, our womanly sky. Time to shine. Time to fly.

  21. Kari says:

    No it does NOT! The difference is when a woman accuses RANDOM men of being rapists just because they say “innocent until proven guilty” there is something wrong, You are standing up for women who put up personal information online about RANDOM MALE Individuals and called them Sexist Rapists without ZERO evidence and Not a single one of them has been convicted of ANY CRIME! All they did was CRITICIZE her when she said “ALL MEN ARE RAPISTS”

  22. Kari it seems like this article covers a lot of ground so I find it interesting that you have minimized it to " standing up for women who put up personal information online about RANDOM MALE Individuals and called them Sexist Rapists without ZERO evidence". Significantly greater issues seem to be at play here.

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  25. Donna says:

    Vote with your feet. Organize to dump FB and move to one of the other social media platforms Trista listed. I don't understand why people are so hell bent on sticking with Facebook. These are strong, powerful, self-assured women Trista is describing, and yet when confronted with the problems of Facebook, everyone seems to act like a victim of domestic violence: "I would leave but…" If it were a local business treating women this way, you would not stand for it and you would most likely boycott. FB should be no different.

  26. jms says:

    There has always been an inside joke among my friends around my breats (they are rather lovely, and not on the small side), and one friend jokingly said that one day they should have their own faebook page. I thought it was a funny idea, and if it was me controling the page and making sure I was comfortable with the exposue there shold be absolutely nothing wrong with it. Aftter all, the human body should be celebrated. All of the photos had my face cropped out and I was fully clothed in all of the images. There was absolutely no nudity, nothing over sexualized, or anything that could be even remotely offensive (half of them came directly from my profile pictures). It was all in good fun. It got removed in less than three days and I got a warning stating that if I posted these images again I would be banned. Type "boobs" into Facebook search and you will find hundreds of pages with thousands of followers where the women are in very suggestive poses, and you can tell the images come from Google searches. There is no consent from the women in these photos, and yet these are allowed to remain. That is what really got me. My page had 30 of my friends 'like' it, and that got enough attention to be removed, but all the other ones somehow slip through the cracks?

  27. Tet Gallardo says:

    If I'm correct, I know the group to whom FB has outsourced the process of screening content. I already contacted the manager. But I'm sure they are only following FB policy, I just want to make sure the outsourcing guys are the not ones at fault.

  28. ella says:

    The problem is that there are so many women rights groups but they are not connected…
    We need an internet webside where all feminist's blogs and women rights groups are coming together from all over the world.

  29. Minnie says:

    FB are criminals. There are pages on FB promoting child pornography or openly sharing hardcore porn and they don't get removed for days or weeks after being reported. FB has refused to remove a child porn promotion page where images of barely clothed children in their bedrooms or taken from indiscrete angles are posted along with admirers discussions of what they want to do to those children. Nominate a new network and I'll be there with bells on.

  30. Bill Critchlow says:

    I'm a conflicted male. I'm a feminist and understand the meaning and the power behind it. I recognized some time ago the need for womens education and empowerment, yet I retain my male chauvenisim to a certain degree-guess I'm working to change the blueprint.
    I don't understand how fb can block a person selectively, predominantly women from expressing their view or make judgement about them based on content yet allow online cyber bullying to continue and in some casers to be expanded. The case that comes to mind is Amanda Todd, a beautiful young teenager who took her own life last month due to bullying. On many of the support pages for this girl were listed many hate posts yet fb said they were powewerless to suppress them or remove them. I see that they are not as powerless as they claim if they can remove pics and posts of women in their natural state because they are 'offensive'.
    I'm thinking women should start their own social network for their own support and they can post what ever they want

  31. Alexandra says:

    I understand how the image might upset you, but before Nazis took the symbol it was one of with a meaning of eternity and peace.
    Don't be so quick to let something as personal as the Holocaust cloud your judgement on the symbol, otherwise you end up becoming like other small minded people who also force issues based on what they believe to be right without further information.

  32. Cheers from Denmark!

    We know all about it. We write about right wing extremists and have experienced beeing blocked from Facebook several times. Once just for linking to our blog!

  33. Laura says:

    I’ve never been officially blocked by Facebook but there have been times when I’ve mysteriously been unable to post anything or even ‘like’ other people’s posts. There are some feminist posts I’ve made that received no response, so I’m not sure whether my friends just chose to ignore them … or never got to see them.

    Facebook was created by a bunch of guys who were frustrated because when they met a girl in person they had no way of knowing whether she was ‘already taken.’ It’s disgusting but not particularly surprising that such a social network would censor feminists.

    Thanks for the information about other social networks that are more accepting of feminism.

  34. Jim says:

    A large amount of people on the internet are males under the age of 25 who hate and rather resent feminists

    Its not just facebook that hates you its the entire internet…prepare for a raid.

  35. Jim says:

    no they just dont want you blasting your man hating crap on there

  36. cey35 says:

    So, you would throw away over three thousand years of history because of twenty or so years of misappropriation? You're about as bright as a burned out light bulb!

  37. Jim says:

    “I want to see a man beaten to a bloody pulp with a high-heel shoved in his mouth, like an apple in the mouth of a pig.” — Andrea Dworkin

    “In a patriarchal society, all heterosexual intercourse is rape because women, as a group, are not strong enough to give meaningful consent.” — Catherine MacKinnon

    “Men who are unjustly accused of rape can sometimes gain from the experience.” – Catherine Comins

    “Probably the only place where a man can feel really secure is in a maximum security prison, except for the imminent threat of release.” — Germaine Greer

    “I feel that ‘man-hating’ is an honourable and viable political act, that the oppressed have a right to class-hatred against the class that is oppressing them.” – Robin Morgan, Ms. Magazine Editor

    “To call a man an animal is to flatter him; he’s a machine, a walking dildo.” -– Valerie Solanas

    Your average feminist leader.

    straight from the horses mouth.

  38. Lost me at "hypersexualized." People that are extremely anti-porn should cancel their internet. It's out there, waiting to get you, run!!
    Facebook sucks.
    Nonstop, one-track "feminists" that go overboard with it suck.
    People that bash feminists too much suck.
    For god's sake, can we all try maybe just not sucking so much for awhile? Maybe use some common sense and decency? Please?

  39. Glaurung says:

    I guess you haven't seen this article ( ) about how Facebook outsources their content moderation to poor countries (the article specifically mentions Morocco, Turkey, the Philippines, Mexico, and India) where moderators are paid a tiny amount to inspect content that has been reported as offensive.

    So on the one hand you have a silicon valley company (ie, very white and very male) writing up guidelines, and on the other hand you have enforcement of those guidelines outsourced to countries where awareness/acceptance of feminism and women's equality is not anywhere near as advanced as it is in North America/Western Europe. Is it any wonder that rape jokes are deemed OK while outspoken feminists get slapped down?

  40. Andrew says:

    Try Google+

  41. @Ravan_A says:

    Boycott. Tell FB to take it's double standards and put them where the sun doesn't shine. Go to G+, Twitter, DreamWidth. Seriously, FB is such a wasteland of insignificant junk that I maybe log in every 6 months. If you are active, they count you in their numbers, and use it to sell ads.

  42. Thank you for this! I also experienced discrimination by Facebook for trying to draw attention to Sexism in Mainstream Media – I was going after VICE Magazine for its Sexist content and was banned! This has got to stop!

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  44. Nckc says:

    Another social network to check out would be Diaspora. Their open source and not for profit (for now). The place could use some more community their. It has a fb/twitter feel to it for layout. I haven’t checked what the terms of use are inregards to offensive content and take down requests but anything would be better then Facebook.

  45. Lydia Scofield says:

    Thank you for writing this beautiful and interesting article, I am so disgusted with Facebook “supposely” security system, a few weeks ago hundreds of people were reporting pictures and pages that were so hurtful, mean and offensive and nothing was done. They were about a young teenager who committed suicide, a few pages were “created” by teens to make fun of her (after her death). The pictures, comments and content were horrible, and we kept reporting and reporting and absolutely NOTHING was done. Facebook has serious problems, something needs to change. When we try to address this issue with them all we receive is an automatic answer , it cannot continue like this. Mean hateful and hurtful pages ate still there while helpful, hopeful and kind pictures are being removed (breast cancer survivors for example) This is completely unacceptable coming from a multi millionaire company like Facebook.

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  47. JimSeam says:

    Fortunately this is still up:

  48. Trista says:

    A page has been started on Facebook to report problem pages and to organize women/feminists to report them. Please "like" Rapebook.….