Most social networking sites have similar rules about nudity in the photography its users share. Basically, however naked you’re allowed to be in public without getting in trouble with the police is how naked you’re typically allowed to be in your Facebook albums and Instagram snaps without getting in trouble with social media.
Facebook is constantly taking down pictures it deems inappropriate, but it’s only every once in a while that the site gets enough public pushback to reinstate the material it has removed. Such was the case with The University of Warwick Rowing Society’s Ladies Team. The society has an annual tradition raising thousands of British pounds for good causes (this year, the girls are raising $$$ for Macmillan Cancer Support) by putting together tasteful nude shots of their teams. The gentlemen’s team puts out one calendar, the ladies’ team another. Think rowers holding oars over their boobs and rear shots of team members in their birthday suits carrying their boats out to the lake.
This year, Facebook went ahead and shut down the women’s team’s calendar page. The thing is, the men’s team didn’t receive so much as a slap on the wrist for their calendar promotion on social media. Big sigh, it is a truth universally acknowledged that people will ALWAYS be more scandalized by naked ladies than by nude dudes.
After the charity calendar’s page was shut down, Facebook faced the wrath of Twitter because, of course. Social media was outraged that these classed up nude shots were deemed “pornographic.” Responses ranged from, “Is this really not appropriate for Facebook?” to “Girls—this is a beautiful, funny, tasteful photograph—to hell with Facebook!” to “Double standards at their very worst. The money-raising these girls do is superb and important to charities.”
Sophie Bell (who organizes the calendar) also had something to say on her team’s behalf:
“It is a charity calendar,” protested Bell. “How can it be porn?”
She added “The Facebook account for the male rowers’ charity calendar hasn’t been deleted and their page is the same as ours. It is borderline sexism.”
No, I’m pretty sure that when you take men and women doing the exact same thing and punish the women while completely turn a blind eye to the men, that crosses the borderline into actual sexism.
Once Facebook took enough heat, the site finally threw up its hands and reinstituted the calendar’s page. That’s good for the ladies—the amount of calendars they can sell (and money they can make for charity) is dependent on their ability to advertise. But there’s still a larger issue: social media sites don’t always institute their policies fairly, especially when it comes to women. (See a list of offenses here.) At least, in this case, Facebook heard the outrage and dealt with the issue. That’s a small step in the right direction.