Facebook bans an entire page for posting a cartoon about how to use a female condom

Women exerting control over their own sexuality is, apparently, in violation of the site's community guidelines

Published September 12, 2014 9:28PM (EDT)

  (<a href='http://www.shutterstock.com/gallery-774346p1.html'>Guzel Studio</a> via <a href='http://www.shutterstock.com/'>Shutterstock</a>)
(Guzel Studio via Shutterstock)

In 2012, the University of Chicago organization Tea Time and Sex Chats created a Facebook page to promote their group, as many college clubs are wont to do. The group, which promotes sex education and healthy sexuality, reportedly used the page to link to other helpful pages or to make announcements about events. Sometimes, Tea Time and Sex Chats would post fun videos that also provided useful tips. In 2014, the group posted one fun video, in particular, which showed a cartoon depiction of a woman inserting a female condom. Shortly after the post went up, the group's admins received an email saying that the post and their page violated Facebook's terms of use, and that it would be banned. Then it was.

As Jezebel notes, the video could understandably be viewed to be in violation of the site's community guidelines. But it's key to note that Facebook's community guidelines are influenced by the community. The site itself can't monitor each of the billions and billions of posts that circulate on Facebook directly; instead, it has to rely on community response -- and therein lies the problem:

The issue is not that Facebook employs some fuddy duddy set of Druid anti-sex elders who wring their hands over each and every thing that gets posted on it's billion or so user pages. That's actually not the case at all. The issue is that sites such as Facebook rely on community policing, meaning they pretty much only take action such as this when enough people click the "report" button on posts, photos, videos, etc. If you've ever wondered why so many photos of women showing their mastectomy scars or mothers breastfeeding got banned in the blink of an eye but shitty pages that actually promoted prostitution took FOREVER to get removed look no further than that as your answer.

And let's be completely honest about what the issue is, really. It's not the NSFW nature of a cartoon instructional video showing a woman inserting a female condom that "offends" people—it's the idea that women would dare take ownership of their sexuality and flaunt it in a unabashed and giddy way that just pisses people off to no end. This issue that sites like Facebook don't want to address.

This is the same issue that has come up before with regard to depictions of breastfeeding online, the guidelines for which Facebook recently loosened. The fact that the site was able to change their standards is an indication of how weak the "community standards" excuse is in the first place. Jezebel points out that "one faction of the community disproportionately holds all the power in determining who or what gets censored," and that's entirely true -- which is why it's up to the company to then review what gets reported in the first place and then determine if it's actually in violation of set standards. If Facebook were, in fact, directly shutting down expressions of autonomous female sexuality on its own, that would be a problem. But it's still a problem that it shuts down expressions of autonomous female sexuality simply because users direct them to.

By Jenny Kutner

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Facebook Female Condoms Female Sexuality Sex Sex Education Sexuality Social Media