Tag Archives: lesbian erasure

Manitoba lesbians report homophobia in health-care system, study says

More than 40 women were interviewed for the study and the vast majority of them reported experiencing homophobia and transphobia in Manitoba's health-care system.

“Many people talked about how health-care practitioners would not look them in the eye, seemed flustered by them or just generally communicated through body language that they were uncomfortable,” McPhail said.

Continue reading at: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/lgbt-lesbian-queer-trans-manitoba-winnipeg-health-care-1.3445825 (Source)

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Help lesbian group’s initiative to commemorate lesbian victims of Nazi women’s concentration camp, Ravensbruck

Ravensbrück_Tor2

Since the 80ies there have been several initiatives from lesbian groups and -organisations as well as from feminist historians, feminist archives and activists to create a place where to commemorate the lesbian women who have been persecuted and murdered in the women’s concentration camp of Ravensbrück.  In three consecutive years we – a group of feminist women and lesbians from Germany and Austria, have organised debates and meeting on  “Persecution of lesbian women in Nazism – Information, exchange and remembrance” at the Memorial Ravensbrück.2015, at the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the women’s concentration camp Ravensbrück, we laid a memorial stone for the lesbians persecuted and murdered in Ravensbrück.

2016 we have decided that we will apply officially for the commemorative orb to remain. We applied for a memorial plaque that is a sign of remembrance, with the inscription as follows:

In memory for all lesbian women and girls in the women’s concentration camp Ravensbrück and Uckermark.

Lesbian women were considered “abnormal” and were persecuted and murdered for being “antisocial”, rebellious, crazy and for other reasons.

You are not forgotten!

Continue reading at: “Gedenkkugel” – Lesbian commemorative orb (Ravensbrück) « European Lesbian* Conference 6. – 8. October 2017 (Source)

Dear sisters, friends, supporters,
Chers soeurs, amies, supporteur
Care amice, compagne, sostenitore
Liebe Schwestern, Freundinnen und Untersützerinnen
We send you  the informations about the initiative for a commemoration orb for lesbian women being persecuted and murdered in the former women’s concentration camp Ravensbrück in Germany. As there is a very controversal discussion going on and no decision was taken until now, the campaign is still open and you can sign and support the action.
We need your support till 5th of November 2017.
Please send these informations to others who might be although interested to support.
If you have questions, contact us
feminist lesbian greetings in solidarity
Initaitve “Autonome feministische FrauenLesben aus Deutschland und Österreich”
English
We apply for a memorial plaque, that is a sign of rememberance, with the inscription as follows:
In memory for all lesbian women and girls in the women’s concentration camp Ravensbrück and Uckermark.
Lesbian women were considered “abnormal” and were persecuted and murdered for being “antisocial”, rebellious, crazy and for other reasons. You are not forgotten!
The International Ravensbrück Committee (IRK)  support our application for establishing the memorial and 590 people and organisations in 27 countries have signed our petition!
A decision was deferred: The committee of the foundation for Memorial Sites in Brandenburg have deferred a decision.  There were very controversial discussions both in the meeting of the International Advisory Council on 14th November 2016 and the Committee of Experts on 6th December 2016.
A decision is deferred until 24th of November 2017.
————————————————————————————————————-
Please support our initiative with your signature and write an e-mail – till 5th of November 2017 – to: Gedenkkugel@gmx.de
I support /we support the initiative for a permanent installation of a commemorative orb for the lesbian women persecuted and murdered in the former concentration camp Ravensbrück
personal Name:
Activity:
or: Organisation:
Name/Function:
City:
Country:
I /we agree, that my/our support /signature is published
—————————————————————————————————————–
Français
Voilà une partie du texte: “À la mémoire de toutes les femmes, filles et lesbiennes dans le Camp de concentration de femmes Ravensbrück et Uckermark. Les lesbiennes étaient considérées comme “entartet” (dégénérées). Elles étaient persécutées car considérées comme “asociales”ou folles. Nous ne vous oublions pas.
Le Comité international de Ravensbrück avait décidé de supporter notre initiative de déposer une boule de commémoration et 590 personnes et organisations venantes de 27 pays ont signé.
Une décision a été reportée. Durant la réunion du Comité consultatif du 14.11.16 et du Comité des expert-e-s le 6.12.16 il y a eu des discussions controversées. Nous allons nous engager pour que la demande soit accepté lors de la prochaine réeunion du Conseil consultative le 24 Novembre 2017.
——————————————————————————————————————
Si tu / vous voulez soutenir notre démarche, signez le texte suivant – jusqu’au 5 novembre 2017 – :
Gedenkkugel @gmx.de
Je soutiens /nous soutenons la demande d’installer une pierre commémorative pour les femmes lesbiennes persécutées et assassinées dans l’ancien comp de concentration de femmes Ravensbrück
Nom personell:
Activité:
ou/et – Organisation:
Nom/Fonction:
Ville:
Pays:
Je suis /nous sommes d’accord que la signature soit publié
——————————————————————————————————————
Italiano

Chiediamo l’installazione di una tavola commemorativa con la seguente scritta: In ricordo di tutte le donne e ragazze lesbiche rinchiuse nei campi  di concentramento diRavensbrück e Uckermark. Le donne lesbiche erano considerate degenerate e in quanto “asociali”, resistenti e pazzefurono perseguitate e uccise. Non sarete dimenticate.

l’IRK, il comitato internazionale di Ravensbrück, ha appoggiato la nostra proposta e 590 persone e organizzazioni da 27 paesi hanno sottoscritto il nostro appello.

La decisione è stata rinviata: Gli organismi della Fondazione “Memoriali del Brandeburgo” hanno rinviato la decisione. Sia nella seduta del consiglio nazionale del 14 novembre del 2016, sia nella commissione del 6 dicembre del 2016 ci sono state discussioni molto accese. La decisione finale sarà presa il 24 novembre 2017.

—————————————————————————————————————————

Se sei interessata a sostenere anche tu questa iniziativa, invia una mail con la tua firma del testo in giu al seguente indirizzo – fino al 5 novembre 2017 – :  Gedenkkugel@gmx.de
Nome personale:
Activita:
o/e – Organisazione:
Nome/Funzione:
Cita:
Paese:
Sono d’accordo che il mio firma e publicata
—————————————————————————————————————————
Deutsch

Auszug aus dem offiziellen Antrag mit der Inschrift:

“In Gedenken aller lesbischen Frauen und Mädchen im Frauen-KZ Ravensbrück und Uckermark.

Lesbische Frauen galten als „entartet“ und wurden als „asozial“, als widerständig und

ver-rückt und aus anderen Gründen verfolgt und ermordet.

Ihr seid nicht vergessen!”

 

Das Internationale Ravensbrück Komitee (IRK) unterstützt unseren Antrag auf Niederlegung der Gedenkkugel und es haben mittlerweile 590 Personen und Organisationen aus 27 Ländern den Aufruf unterschrieben!

 

Eine Entscheidung wurde verschoben: Sowohl in der Sitzung des Internationalen Beirats am 14. November 2016 als auch in der Fachkommission am 6.12. 2016 gab es sehr kontroverse Diskussionen.

Eine endgültige Entscheidung wurde auf den 24. November 2017 verschoben.

 

——————————————————————————————————-
Bitte unterstützt unsere Initiative mit eurer Unterschrift mit unten folgendem Text und schickt diese Email – bis 5. November 2017 – an: Gedenkkugel@gmx.de
Ich / wir unterstütze(n) den Antrag, die Gedenkkugel für die verfolgten und ermordeten lesbischen Frauen im ehemaligen Frauenkonzentrationslager Ravensbrück dauerhaft zu verankern.
persönlich-Name:
Tätigkeit:
oder/und – Organisation:
Name/Funktion:
Stadt:
Land:
Mit der Veröffentlichung meiner Unterzeichnung bin ich/wir einverstanden.

‘A Lot Of Girls Would Probably Rather Die’: In Russia’s Chechnya, Lesbians Tell Of Suffocating Existence

The young woman was riding in a taxi to the airport when she decided to make the call. She had just left her home in Russia’s southern Chechnya region — for good, she thought, first on a flight to Moscow to pick up emigration documents and then on a plane out of the country.

But the taxi driver was eavesdropping. And when the woman told her friend she had run away, he locked the car doors and drove her back home, fearing potential consequences for his role in her planned escape.

The 22-year-old woman was a lesbian who claimed that her relatives had beaten and threatened her with death after learning of her sexual orientation. Within a week of the fateful taxi ride, she was dead.

Continue reading at: ‘A Lot Of Girls Would Probably Rather Die’: In Russia’s Chechnya, Lesbians Tell Of Suffocating Existence (Source)

Tajikistan: 48 lesbians added to new gay and lesbian citizens register for “safety” and prevention of STD’s

Zakonnost reported the government created the list after two state ‘operations’ last year called ‘Morality’ and ‘Purge. It did not elaborate on what that meant.

It is not known what kind of checks the gay and lesbian people will undergo, but said were ‘put on a register due to their vulnerability in society and for their safety and to prevent the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases’.

Continue reading at: Tajikistan has made a gay and lesbian register of its citizens (Source)

Chechnya: Reports of high domestic violence, “honor killings” of lesbians

chechnya_ramzan_kadyrov

‘Gay men who are taken to prisons, it was a kind of massive attack against those homosexual people. Homosexual women are treated differently.

‘So it’s considered that families should take responsibility for them, so there is a lot of domestic violence and we’ve heard there are a lot of honor killings of those lesbian women.’

Continue reading at: Chechnya: Lesbians, bi and trans people now in firing line (Source)

The Vanishing Point: A Reflection Upon Lesbian Erasure

Claire Heuchan
Sister Outrider

“In a time when acknowledging biological sex is treated as an act of bigotry, homosexuality is automatically problematised – the unforeseen consequences of queer identity politics are wide and far-reaching. Or rather, it would be more accurate to say, lesbian sexuality is made problematic: the idea of women exclusively directing our desires and energies towards one another remains suspect. Somehow, the pattern of men centring men in their lives never receives the same backlash. Lesbians are a threat to the status quo, whether it’s part of heteropatriarchy or queer culture. When lesbians dismiss the idea of taking on a partner with a penis, we are branded “vagina fetishists” and “gynephiles” – given that lesbian sexuality is routinely pathologised in queer discourse, just as lesbian sexuality is pathologised by social conservatism, it’s no surprise to me that so many young women succumb to social pressure and drop lesbian in favour of queer. Self-erasure is the price of acceptance.”

Continue reading more of Claire Heuchan at: The Vanishing Point: A Reflection Upon Lesbian Erasure | Sister Outrider (Source)

As Taiwan legalized gay marriage, China shut down its most iconic lesbian social media platform

Homosexuality has been legal in China since 1997, and the first proposal to legalize same-sex marriage in the country was submitted to the National People’s Congress meeting in 2003. Even though the proposal failed to pass on three occasions, the fight for marriage equality continues to be carried out by other activists.

While many were still rejoicing about the news from across the Taiwan Strait, the country’s most iconic lesbian social media platform Rela (热拉) was shut down on May 26. No official explanation for the shutdown has been given by Chinese authorities.

Continue reading at: China has shut down one of its most iconic LGBTQ social media platforms — Quartz (Source)

Dykes on Bikes Queensland & Listening 2 Lesbians Take on Facebook Dyke Bans on The Informer-JOY 94.9 Melbourne

The Infomer FB

Is ‘dyke’ a dirty word? Facebook seems to think so and keeps banning lesbians from using it, including Dykes On Bikes Queensland & Listening 2 Lesbians.  Listen to Listening 2 Lesbians’ own Liz Waterhouse discuss Dyke is a Dirty Word. (START AT 09:35)

***Facebook was supposed to show up for the conversation, but told Shannon Power “We’ll get back to you on that”***

TRANSCRIPT:

Participants:
Shannon Power, “The Informer”, Joy FM (SP)
Jules Raven, Dykes on Bikes Queensland (JR)
Liz Waterhouse, Listening2Lesbian.com (LW)

 

<sounds of cheering and motorbikes>

SP: That’s the sound that almost anyone who has been to an LGBTI pride march has heard. It’s the distinct tones of the Dykes on Bikes opening this year’s Sydney gay and lesbian Mardi Gras. Every year the Dykes on Bikes have the honour of opening Pride parades to crowds of excited onlookers. Dykes on bikes are an international lesbian motorcycle club with chapters worldwide but a number of those chapters are at war with social networking site Facebook about whether or not dyke is a dirty word.

Jules Raven heads up Dykes on Bikes Queensland.

Jules thanks so much for joining us. Now I’ve noticed that the Dykes on Bikes Queensland chapter has some interesting spelling on its Facebook page. There’s a space between the D Y and the K E S of Dykes. What’s going on there?

 

JR: about five years ago we originally set the page up with the official Dykes on Bikes Queensland all spelled correctly and looking lovely and probably about four years ago I woke up to an email from Facebook and they had actually removed our name completely. So we originally changed it to, we were only able to get Dyes on Bikes so we had D Y E S and then probably about six months ago after further investigation we were able to put the D K and then the space and then Y E S so it’s been a bit of a battle between us and Facebook. They haven’t given us a reason as to why other than the fact that they felt that it was offensive.

SP: so when you spell dykes the correct way what happens?

JR: it just comes up saying this is offensive and unacceptable for Facebook.

SP: and so you’ve been trying for 4 years and you’ve never had a real reason from Facebook other than the word is offensive?

JR: we’ve never had any contact from Facebook.

SP: right

JR: other than an automated email coming back to us from all of their contact points. I actually got to the point where I wrote them a letter and posted it to their headquarters in silicon valley and we still had no response.

SP: Yeah right, okay

JR: it’s been very frustrating.

SP: yeah so I mean for yourselves Dykes on Bikes we all know in this community and out side of the community. Is this a big deal? Why is it important to have your name spelt correctly on a Facebook page?

JR: it’s a huge deal given that Dykes on Bikes is actually a big international group. Now back in about the 80s, early 90s, the San Francisco club, because it was quite popular, had a bloke came around and started trying to sell T-shirts that had Dykes on Bikes written on it so the American chapters thought they’d better trademark that name. Now what happened from there is to trade mark it they put the trademark application form in and it was rejected because the name dykes was offensive. So they actually fought in the High Court in America and went all the way to the Supreme Court in the USA and won that case. So it’s a bit ironic that an American company of Facebook is the company that’s not allowing us to use that particular word and that name. That’s why we’re fighting for it. That’s why we want to get it right, to be on Facebook. It’s quite stunning to think that a group that has a trademark within their own country is not able to use the name. It’s been very disappointing.

SP: yeah

JR: if we didn’t need to use Facebook we wouldn’t but obviously it’s such a big media hub for us it’s worth us trying to fight and trying to make it right not just for our group but for any other gay and lesbian groups that want to put their own stamp on it and trans groups. We need to be able to, within reason, I do understand that there has to be some barriers but within reason I think you know them not allowing us to use it because they find it offensive isn’t really an excuse any more.

SP: Liz Waterhouse runs the listening2lesbians blog with her partner lisa mallett. They’ve both noticed an increase in censorship of queer women using the word Dyke on Facebook. Liz has been banned, and is in fact currently banned, from using Facebook over her use of the word Dyke.

LW: Women being banned for saying I love dykes, for saying that they are going for a walk with friends who are Dykes, for talking about lesbians politically, socially, just you know really casually we just see post after post being removed, We see woman after woman being banned and it’s a very concerning pattern because for centuries lesbians have been silenced, and erased, and discriminated against and harassed and you know subject to corrective rape and death and we see that around the world still. At listening to lesbians we blog about women’s experiences of discrimination and harassment around the world. We use Facebook to reach out to women around the world, we’ve got a following in you know Africa talking about you know the experiences of African lesbians because of this platform and it’s very concerning that what we are seeing is something which is going to stop us being able to reach those women.

SP: liz and lisa have published numerous posts on the issue on their blog and have reached out to Facebook multiple times for guidance on why people that post the word dyke keep getting into trouble while other hate speech slips through the cracks. Liz explains to The informer why it is so important for persecuted communities to reclaim language that was historically used against them as a slur.

LW: it sounds like it’s just about a word and what can it possibly matter and just stop saying it but either we end up being self censoring, and I was self censoring when I got reported and removed the last time actually. I’d stopped using the word dyke which upset me but I was still reported and removed because it was in the link in my comments, I could see it. But more than just a sort of a social thing and isn’t it a first world problem, which is a question I’ve had, it’s actually something which is going to inhibit us reaching out and forming community around the world, and it’s going to stop us being able to collate information about our collective experiences. And if we can’t collect our experiences together and see a picture, we can’t agitate for change.

SP: the word was once used against them. Can you tell me why dyke is such an important word in terms of reclamation?

LW: so a lot of people have words to reclaim, the word dyke, like in other groups the slurs that are used against us. Some of them are able to be reclaimed, some I’m not so sure about. Dyke is quite a strong word. It has a strong, evocative feeling, and it’s been taken over by women for you know decades as a symbol of strength and pride and resistance. It really is to me a symbol of women taking up space, like Dykes on Bikes. Everybody loves Dykes on Bikes. It’s about noise, it’s about women unapologetically asserting their existence in the world. That’s not something we see lesbians being able to do very often so I think that dyke is quite significant because of its guttural nature, you know linguistically it’s quite strong, because of its social connotations. And it’s not even a word that some women we were thinking about too deeply when they were using it more recently, It’s just become part of how we talk about ourselves. So, from the personal to the political, it’s quite a strong and important word and to see it removed, to see our capacity to use it removed is very concerning.

SP: the informer reached out to Facebook who did get back to us and let us know that they’re doing a preliminary investigation into the particular cases brought up by the Dykes on bikes Queensland and Liz and Lisa from listening to lesbians blog. They’ve told us early on that dyke is considered a slur word and they do need to take into consideration their audience of 2 billion people but will continue looking into the matter and will get back to The Informer at a later date, so we look forward to having Facebook come back on joy to let us know exactly why they think dyke is a dirty word.

 

When Queerness Is Cultural Capital, Lesbians Go Broke.

Jocelyn Macdonald
AfterEllen.com

“When Mike Pence advocated for conversion therapy as a Congressman, he wasn’t targeting those people who like to be ball-gagged or beaten during sex. He and his cronies are coming for those of us who want to live that gay lifestyle (with and without ball gags). Theresa Butz didn’t get to explain the infinitesimal nuance of her identity to the man who raped and murdered her for having the audacity to live with her girlfriend. The violence that lesbians experience is specific to being lesbian, and the culture that lesbians enjoy is specific to being lesbian. Both ends of this, the good and the bad, are the stuff a movement is based on. Queer identity and queer culture both stop short of speaking to this lesbian experience.”

Continue reading more of Jocelyn Macdonald at: When Queerness Is Cultural Capital, Lesbians Go Broke. – AfterEllen (Source)

Listening 2 Lesbians Asks Facebook the Hard Questions About “Dyke” Bans

Banned Dykes

From: Listening 2 Lesbians

To: Facebook Press and Hard Questions at Facebook (hardquestions@fb.com, press@fb.com)

Dear Facebook Press:

Listening 2 Lesbians is a blog with a mission to report on discrimination and violence against lesbians.  You may not be aware, but discrimination and violence against lesbians, because of our sexual orientation and because of our female bodies, is rampant in today’s world.  From no-platforming to corrective rape, to job discrimination, to murder, we are constantly aware of the silencing of our community and the attempts to control and harm our bodies because we are lesbians.  Because of this, we have been deeply disturbed to learn that there have been a rash of post deletions and bans by your company for women that post status updates with the word “dyke” in their posts.

Perhaps you are not aware of the history of the word “dyke”, or of lesbian culture, or of the act of reclaiming slurs from the oppressor to be used as acts of self-empowerment and identity by minorities.  Dyke has been and can be used as a derogatory term (hate speech) to attack same-sex attracted females.  We hope at Facebook you acknowledge that all such speech should be banned from public spaces.  However, dyke is also a word that has been reclaimed by the lesbian community to represent our lesbian pride, sisterhood and power as female loving females.

We are deeply disturbed that lesbians and women showing support for our community, are being banned for expressing their love and respect for our culture.  We are also deeply disturbed that women are being silenced when they express their views on what it means to be a dyke.  This is a conversation for lesbians only and should not be controlled or manipulated by anyone outside of our community.

Here are examples of posts that have been deleted and women who have been banned for using the word dyke in a post.  Be aware that we are not convinced you will accept emails with images attached, so we will simply quote the text.  Please read our blog, Facebook Has a Problem With Dykes, at https://listening2lesbians.com/2017/06/24/facebook-has-a-problem-with-dykes/ for full images and information on the situation.

Quotes from women that were deleted by Facebook and/or caused the woman to be blocked/banned:

“I love that there’s a band of dykes that plays at the local farmer’s market.  Like, how perfect is that??  It’s total perfect.”

“I LOVE DYKES!!!!”

“Only lesbians are dykes.  Only females can be lesbians.  We are still here.”

“When dyke marches were still for dykes.” (With historical image of a dyke march)

 “People need to quit rewriting history. Dykes do things. #visibilitymatters” (With historical image of Storme DeLaverie, the lesbian who started the Stonewall riots.)

“Does self identifying as a DYKE get you banned on Facebook experiment.” (It did)

Again, this is just a small set of examples.  Please visit our blog for more information.

In an NPR article entitled, From Hate Speech To Fake News: The Content Crisis Facing Mark Zuckerberg, a spokesperson for your company told NPR:

“It’s OK to use racial slurs when being self-referential. A black person can say things like “my niggers.” But no one can use a slur to attack an individual or group. That’s prohibited. A white person cannot use the word “nigger” to mock or attack blacks. Blacks can’t use “crakkker” (in whatever spelling) to offend whites.” (http://www.npr.org/sections/alltechconsidered/2016/11/17/495827410/from-hate-speech-to-fake-news-the-content-crisis-facing-mark-zuckerberg)

Clearly, there has been at the very least, a misuse of the Community Standards at Facebook, and at worse, a misuse of power and position by Facebook employees.  This is why we have some hard questions for management at Facebook:

  1. If a Community Operations Team employee is responsible for banning and deleting all reported posts, can FB monitor if an employee, or group of employees is showing political or social biases in their decision making? For example, is it possible for an employee to get away with targeting a select group of people for deletion or banning, even if their posts don’t violate Community Standard?
  2. What groups or organizations are influencing the content and wording of Community Standards? Have they demonstrated lesbophobic and/or misogynistic language or tendencies?
  3. It appears as if certain women who are part of certain Facebook groups have been targeted more than others. Is the new AI you are using to fight terrorism and hate-speech (The Online Civil Courage Initiative) also capturing feminist and lesbian-only groups in its net and considering them a cluster?
  4. If the new AI that you are using has algorithms that can understand context, and you are using this AI on Facebook users in lesbian and women’s communities, why is it unable to differentiate between a pro-lesbian dyke post and a post where dyke is being used as hate speech?
  5. If all AI flagged posts are also seen and evaluated by a Community Operations Team employee, why are they also not able to read context?
  6. Will Facebook investigate the issues we have brought forth to you today?
  7. If you find that an individual employee, or group of employees, has been abusing their position at Facebook to target and silence lesbians and other women they do not agree with, will Facebook tell the communities affected and issue a public apology?

Thank you for your time.

Liz & Lisa

Listening 2 Lesbians

www.listening2lesbians.com

Facebook Has a Problem With Dykes

By Lisa A. Mallett and Liz Waterhouse @ www.listening2lesbians.com

Banned Dykes

For years many of us have repeatedly reported revenge porn, child exploitation material, harassment and misogyny, rape and death threats, and been told that what we have reported, “doesn’t contravene Facebook’s community standards.”

We are now seeing an ever-increasing number of women, lesbians and our allies, having posts deleted and being banned for using the word dyke.

While it has been wonderful to see women clustering informally around this issue in defense of lesbians, the Facebook control mechanisms, as illuminated by this wave of removal and banning, are alarming.

“Dyke” a banned word?

I started hearing about women banned for using the word dyke in early 2017.

Prompted by an irate post in a lesbian group in June 2017, I went to look at the San Francisco Dyke March page, having been advised the event page included anti-lesbian content.  This is far from the first such occurrence, with the recent Chicago Dyke March 2017 explicitly telling female only, same-sex attracted lesbians to keep their bigoted selves away.

In response to the comments I had read on the SF Dyke March, I made this comment:

2017-06-23_LI.jpg

(It should not be controversial that women’s sexual boundaries should be respected and that our sexual orientation should be supported within the broader LGBT community.)

Then a woman in my group told me about this happening;

No automatic alt text available.

It had been posted on the very same page.

These two experiences, as well as reports I had been hearing since early 2017, prompted me to make a public post calling for screen caps of the word dyke being banned. Sometime later, I could not access the SF Dyke March thread or my comment, even through notifications, and assumed it had been deleted. Furious, I posted a screen cap of my comment to my page saying;

“The San Francisco dyke march deleted this comment from their wall. The lesbophobia is staggering.”

I didn’t tag the event, or broadcast it beyond my friends list, but soon afterwards discovered that the post had been deleted.

 

LW deleted comment_LI

I’m not sure if the post was reported or auto-removed by Facebook.

And then it turned out that I was banned from Facebook, for calling a dyke march lesbophobic.

LW blocked

I took from this that it was socially acceptable to:

  • tell lesbians that lesbian includes anyone who identifies as lesbian;
  • tell lesbians that dyke includes anyone who identifies as a dyke;
  • tell lesbians to stay away from lesbian originating events;
  • prioritise absolutely everyone over lesbians, even at nominally lesbian events.

As my 24-hour ban began, I started receiving screen caps and stories from women everywhere:

You say dyke like it's a bad thing.jpg

I love dykes!!! breaches standards_LI (2)

And these are just a small sample.  Please scroll to the bottom to see the Hall of Shame for more images and stories of banned, blocked and deleted dykes.

So this is only words and who cares about the identities of others, I hear you say?

Why do we care?

Well, words matter. If every single term used to describe us (female, woman, female-only same-sex attracted, lesbian, dyke) is redefined to either include others, or explicitly exclude us, how do we describe ourselves, and analyse what happens to the group of women who form their primary focus around women? And in a male-centered society, the (attempted) removal of that capacity has strong political meaning.

Even if you don’t agree with where we draw the lines, it shouldn’t be forbidden for lesbians to defend the language we need to discuss ourselves. We certainly shouldn’t be told we are not allowed to reclaim our own word and declare them with pride.  In an age of endlessly touted freedom of speech, it is telling who is told to shut up and who does the telling.  It is becoming increasingly obvious that dykes are on the losing end and are experiencing systematic erasure from public spaces.

 

So what IS Facebook’s problem with dykes?

Facebook has always logistically, socially and ethically, had issues with censorship.  It has managed to dig itself deeper and deeper with every new algorithm, AI, program, corporate/NGO cooperative, and office it creates, to deal with the over 1 billion users using its platform.  As many have noted over the years, transparency at Facebook has been lacking with regards to many of the company’s functions, but perhaps most importantly, how it decides what content we are allowed to post and see.  This lack of transparency makes it extremely difficult to determine how and why dyke content is being censored, as well as why we believe there has been a very recent increase in the number of women experiencing post deletion and bans or blocks, by Facebook.  What we are left with is reporting on what we do know and asking questions on the rest.  At Listening2Lesbians.com, we believe we may be witnessing a perfect storm brewing.  The convergence of programs, politics, social discord, hate speech, censorship and Dyke Pride, that Facebook management understand very little about and show very little regard for, allowing unchecked erasure of lesbian content, interaction, movement and cooperation.

Here are the old and new storms heading towards a dyke post near you.

The Community Operations Team

The Community Operations Team is actually a bunch of teams located in California, USA, Texas, USA, Dublin, Ireland and Hyderabad, India that uses Facebook’s Community Standards to evaluate posts for, among other things, terrorism and hate speech.  Time and again, Facebook has declared that the team relies mostly on users reporting questionable posts (Sherr, 2016) and that every post that is reported is looked at and acted upon by a member of the team, for content and context (Green, 2015).  Julie de Bailliencourt, Facebook’s Safety Policy Manager for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, has stated that it is a myth that the more a post is reported, the more likely it will be deleted and that, “one report is enough” (Green, 2015).  Monika Bickert, Facebook’s Head of Global Policy Management has also confirmed that they rely on user reports, that all reports are viewed by an actual human being, but added in 2015 that Facebook had no plans to automatically scan for and remove content, otherwise known as an algorithm (Goel, 2015).  However, we now know that Facebook is indeed using algorithmic tools to scan news content and now, user posts.  It’s just unclear to what extent it is being utilized and how.  More on that later.

There have been few insights into the inner workings of the Community Operations Team, but what we have been able to learn is truly disturbing and has potentially huge consequences for dykes on Facebook and all of Facebook’s other platforms.  That interview with Julie de Bailliencourt took place at Facebook’s largest headquarters in Dublin, where it was reported that the team is under immense pressure and often has heated arguments about what content meets community standards.  “We don’t hire people to just press the same button X amount of times per hour,” says de Bailliencourt. “We hire people with very different backgrounds, and they sometimes disagree. It feels almost like the UN sometimes” (Green, 2015).

However, there are hints that the troubles run much deeper.  In 2016, NPR was given rare access to employees working on the Community Operations Team and found that many feel they are in way over their heads.  Sources told NPR in 2010 that Facebook found it needed more workers fast to carry the immense load the team was under.  At first they tried crowdsourcing solutions like CrowdFlower, but eventually turned to Accenture who made a team of subcontractors consisting of several thousand people in offices located in the Philippines and Poland (Shahani, 2016).  If these locations scare you, they should.  Poland was ranked the third worst country to be LGBTI in Europe, according to a 2016 report (Sheftalovich, 2016) and although the Philippines has shown tolerance for LGB people, it is generally viewed as a country that does not really understand homosexuality, or support it.

Adding to the climate of these countries with regards to lesbian rights, are further reports that these subcontractors are worked extremely hard, are expected to make a decision on a piece of content in 10 seconds and often are not able to view the entire post for content and context.  This has led NPR to conclude that Facebook’s Community Operations Team may be, “the biggest editing — aka censorship — operation in the history of media” (Shahani, 2016).

In order to grasp the potential consequences of the functionality of Facebook’s Community Operations Team on the lesbian community, consider this example.  In the same NPR article, it was reported that when India first opened its office, employees interpreted French kissing as inappropriate sexual content and senior management was floored.  They had not anticipated such a cultural influence on interpretations of Community Standards.  Seriously, what was Facebook thinking? It appears they weren’t.  So the questions are: “Who is sitting in the cubicle judging your dyke post?”, “Did they even see your post?” and “What exactly do they believe about dykes”?

Facebook’s Network of Support (NOS)

In 2010, Facebook responded to bullying, harassment, hate speech and increasing suicides in LBGT youth by forming a consultation group of LGBT advocacy organizations to offer guidance on what, how and who to monitor for hate speech against LGBT youth.  The organizations are GLAAD (formerly known as the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) , GLSEN (formerly known as the Gay, Lesbian and Staright Education Network), The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), The National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE), PFLAG (formerly known as Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays), and The Trevor Project (Facebook, 2017).  Although we don’t have enough information on the extent of their influence seven years later, we do know that several of these organizations have taken adversarial stances against lesbians, including changing definitions of lesbian and woman and working against protections for women and girls.  Many in the feminist community know that members of the radical feminist community do not support these new definitions.  Regardless of how someone feels about this, it is crucial to understand the impact that organizations can have on influencing what can be seen by the public, and that someday, these organizations might just decide to come after you through mediums like Facebook.  At this time, that focus is on limiting the voices of lesbians and their allies and it appears a lot of people are okay with that.  More on the NOS later (and algorithms!).

Facebook’s Online Civil Courage Initiative

In January of 2016, Facebook was experiencing extreme pressure from European countries, led by Germany, to combat online hate speech.  The result was a pilot program called the Online Civil Courage Initiative, which focused its efforts in France, Germany and the UK.  By September 2016, they had decided to expand their program by offering advertising credits and marketing advice to NGOs and other groups willing to work online to “counteract extremist messaging” (Toor, 2016).  On June 23, 2017, Facebook announced that it had officially launched this program in the UK to “curb the spread of hate speech and extremist material online,’ by offering “funding and training to help local organizations track and counteract hate speech and terrorist propaganda” (Toor, 2017).

Just a week earlier, on June 15th  2017, Facebook announced new measures it was taking to combat terrorist propaganda and violent material.  Organizations that participate in this program will be able to communicate to Facebook via a “dedicated support desk” (Toor, 2017).  They also announced a new series of blogs, to be released over time that Facebook will use to convey to its users information about how it works behind-the-scenes, especially in the area of controlling its content.  The first blog, entitled, “Hard Questions: How We Counter Terrorism”, was written by By Monika Bickert (see above) and Brian Fishman, Counterterrorism Policy Manager.  In the first section labeled “Artificial Intelligence”, they lay out the following methods Facebook will be using.  I will add Facebook’s own description of each, but in abbreviated form.

They are:

  • Image matching: When someone tries to upload a terrorist photo or video, our systems look for whether the image matches a known terrorism photo or video.
  • Language understanding: We have also recently started to experiment with using AI to understand text that might be advocating for terrorism. That analysis goes into an algorithm that is in the early stages of learning how to detect similar posts. The machine learning algorithms work on a feedback loop and get better over time.
  • Removing terrorist clusters: [When] we identify Pages, groups, posts or profiles as supporting terrorism, we also use algorithms to “fan out” to try to identify related material that may also support terrorism. We use signals like whether an account is friends with a high number of accounts that have been disabled for terrorism, or whether an account shares the same attributes as a disabled account.
  • Recidivism: We’ve also gotten much faster at detecting new fake accounts created by repeat offenders.
  • Cross-platform collaboration: [We] have begun work on systems to enable us to take action against terrorist accounts across all our platforms, including WhatsApp and Instagram (Bickert & Fishman, 2017).

They also acknowledge their use of “human expertise” through the Community Operations Team, as well as their partnerships with governments and organizations to run these initiatives.  Finally, they mention something called “counterspeech training,’ in which they have partnered with NGOs and community groups to “empower the voices that matter most”.  Even in a counter-terrorism context, this sent shivers down my dyke spine.  And now we see that there is an AI actually running amok on Facebook looking for those voices that don’t “matter most”, partnering with organizations that are dictating what those important voices are saying (I’m thinking here about Network of Safety!) and being judged by an underpaid and overworked Community Operations employee from I-don’t-know-where, who thinks I-don’t-know-what about lesbians and our right to exist anywhere, let alone Facebook.

Remember, algorithms are not neutral and an AI is a bunch of algorithms written by people with a mess of biases and prejudices.  We all know that logically, none of these entities at play here are chock-full of dykes and dyke influence.  In fact, if history holds, it’s quite the opposite.  So if you’ve been seeing your dyke posts getting removed faster and faster, and your bans getting longer and longer, look at what policies, procedures, programs and personnel Facebook has been bringing to their platform over the last seven years, and especially over the last year and a half.  And if you have seen, like we have, a huge increase in anti-dyke activity by Facebook in June 2017, look at what Facebook has introduced in this month alone.

But wait…

The perfect storm continues…

US Pride and Dyke March

So we know Facebook relies heavily on its community members sending in reports of material they deem inappropriate and those hard working Community Operations employees get to work putting our posts into context and pushing the red button or the green button.  They see lovely posts that say “I LOVE DYKES!!!”, laugh, and hit the green button and they see “DYKES BURN IN HELL!!!”, get very angry, and hit the red button.

Yeah, right. We wish.

As we explored earlier, it just doesn’t work that way at Facebook HQs around the world and we’re all smart enough to know that any algorithms are going to struggle with having to make a distinction between nice dyke posts and hate speech.  We also have no idea who is actually influencing the Online Civil Courage Initiative, or the guidelines for “counterspeech’ measures.  So, into this Facebook created hell we bring US Pride Month and Dyke March!

Yesss!

Oh no.

You would have to be living under a rock (or not be a dyke) to know that the L is having issues with the GBT.  Whatever side you are on, we are where we are.  Dykes are being told to stay away from Dyke Marches if they won’t accept dick into their life and Pride has become a practice in extreme queer theory with a tendency to alienate and shame lesbians for being all about each other.  Again, believe what you want, but June has been an intense month for lesbians.

What I am suggesting here, and I’m sure many of you have guessed already, is that trolls are abound this June and any dyke-positive group or individual is at greater risk for being reported, even if we are just a bunch of dykes going out for a walk.  However, this is only a piece of the perfect storm that is converging on June.

Victoria Brownworth wrote:

Lesbians are being no-platformed out of our very existence, whether through the insidiousness of silencing or the oppressive demands of compulsory heterosexuality or through violence that at best leaves us shattered and at worst, dead. Lesbians deserve the same level of autonomy as any other group, be it minority or majority. If you aren’t supporting that autonomy, then you are inadvertently or directly a participant in the erasure that is perhaps slowly but very definitely steadily, wiping us off the face of the earth. (Brownworth, 2015)

Here’s What We Can Do

Join Listening2Lesbians in asking Facebook the hard questions.  On June 15th 2017,  Facebook said, “the decisions we make at Facebook affect the way people find out about the world and communicate with their loved ones” (Bickert & Fishman, 2017).  They also said, “we take seriously our responsibility — and accountability — for our impact and influence.  We want to broaden that conversation” (Schrage, 2017).

This sounds really good to me!  Dykes are awesome at conversation!

Send your dyke concerns, screencaps, stories, experiences and more to hardquestions@fb.com. Listening2Lesbians will also be sending a version of this piece.  Let’s try to find out what is going on and raise a stink.  Speaking out about the silencing of dykes needs to happen now, because we really don’t know what it’s going to look like for us once this storm passes.

UPDATE:
Here is what we wrote to Facebook Press and Hard Questions at Facebook (hardquestions@fb.com, press@fb.com): https://listening2lesbians.com/2017/06/27/listening-2-lesbians-asks-facebook-the-hard-questions-about-dyke-bans/.

They have not responded yet.

Thanks

We would like to thank all the dykes out there for coming together and helping us see what has been happening to us on Facebook these days.  We would also like to thank our bisexual and straight women allies who also threw themselves in front of the Facebook bus to test out this theory.  Their love of dykes got them the ban hammer too.  Looking back at the last couple of days, we actually created women’s space on the very ground of the oppressor.  We did that.   We can do it again.

 

EDITOR’S NOTE:

Less than 3 days after posting this story I was banned again after posting this article with this commentary:

banned again postbanned again

HALL OF SHAME

Women who have had their posts removed or been banned for a pro-lesbian use of the word dyke:

 

  • On the same SF dyke march thread, another lesbian had this comment removed by Facebook for apparently breaching the Facebook Community Standards:
    No automatic alt text available.

 

  • This lesbian was had her post removed and was banned for 30 days for enjoying a dyke band at a farmer’s market.

 

  • This lesbian was banned three times for posting this picture – once in January 2017 for 24 hours, once in early March 2017 for 3 days and once in late march for 30 days.
    You say dyke like it's a bad thing.jpg
  • This was also removed in March 2017 but without a Facebook ban.

    Enter a caption

Other comments removed for breaching the standards:

  • Another post removed in the context of identity and US dyke marches
    Dykes are lesbian
  • A telling example is the woman, a lesbian ally, who posted “I love dykes!!!!” to test for us all if dyke really was a banned word. This post does nothing but support lesbians and still she had the post removed and she was banned from Facebook for 7 days.I love dykes!!! breaches standards_LI (2)Banned for I love dykes!!!!
  • This young lesbian posted this video of the lesbian avengers starting dyke marches with the comment “When dyke marches were still for dykes ❤ “.
    Her post was removed.
    She was banned.
  • An older dyke, well known in international lesbian circles, had a post inviting friends to go for a walk in nature (with dyke in the text) removed three times for breaching Facebook Community Standards. She was later banned.
  • Kate Hansen, also lesbian, was banned for 30 days after posting that lesbians were getting banned for using the word dyke.
  • Another woman posted, on a rainbow background, “I love dykes! Dykes for Dykes!” Her post was removed for breaching community standards and she was banned from Facebook for 24 hours.
  • The post of this tweet was removed on June 10, presumably for the comment about dyke action and visibility. The poster was banned for 24 hours, banned for another 24 after that and threatened with a permanent ban after 9 years on Facebook without any warnings. She submitted an appeal which Facebook did not respond to. Others reposted the original tweet without the comment and were not banned.
  •  Another woman posted about dykes on bikes, with hearts, and the post was removed. This ocurred in Pride Month.
  • Another woman had a photo of her and her partner, captioned dyke pride, removed, again still in Pride Month.

Other women have been banned by Facebook for using the word dyke but we haven’t been able to contact them due to their ban, which speaks to the power of banning and consequently isolating women.

Removal and ban photos and stories sent to us after this was posted:

  • This lesbian had her post removed and banned after sharing the video of the Lesbian Avengers starting dyke marches and was banned for 3 days. Facebook has not responded to her appeal.
  • This woman has had yet another dyke post removed (her 5th that we know about).
  • Yet more removal and blocking for self determination 
  • Dyke removal and block experimentation

    Post 3 remains up so far…
  • Max Dashu, legendary lesbian herstorian of the Suppressed Histories Archives, had her post removed and was banned for 7 days for using dyke in a post introduction. The article she posted was apparently this one: “Facebook “censoring feminism” with ban on mentioning women, say activists“. Women who shared her post have also been banned.
  • Some of these are plain ironic
    weird dyke ban
  • Not lesbians
  • A lesbian was banned for posting “The debutching of Alison Bechdel”
    What is dyke

If you have more screen caps of lesbians being banned or having posts removed for using the word dyke or pro-lesbian statements please:

References

Bickert, M., & Fishman, B. (2017, June 15). Hard Questions: How We Counter Terrorism. Retrieved from Facebook Newsroom: https://newsroom.fb.com/news/2017/06/how-we-counter-terrorism/

Brownworth, V. (2015, March 5). ERASURE: THE NEW NORMAL FOR LESBIANS BY @VABVOX. Retrieved from A Room of Our Own: http://www.aroomofourown.org/erasure-the-new-normal-for-lesbians-by-vabvoc/2015

Facebook. (2017). What is the Facebook Network of Support (NOS) and what NOS resources are available for LGBTQ people? Retrieved from Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/help/202924156415780

Goel, V. (2015, March 16). Facebook Clarifies Rules on What It Bans and Why. Retrieved from The New York Times: https://mobile.nytimes.com/blogs/bits/2015/03/16/facebook-explains-what-it-bans-and-why/?referer=

Green, C. (2015, February 13). What Happens When You ‘Report Abuse’? The Secretive Facebook Censors Who Decide What Is-and What Isn’t Abuse. Retrieved from Independent: http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/features/what-happens-when-you-report-abuse-the-secretive-facebook-censors-who-decide-what-is-and-what-isnt-10045437.html

Schrage, E. (2017, June 15). Hard Questions. Retrieved from Facebook Newsroom: https://newsroom.fb.com/news/2017/06/hard-questions/

Shahani, A. (2016, November 17). From Hate Speech To Fake News: The Content Crisis Facing Mark Zuckerberg. Retrieved from NPR: http://www.npr.org/sections/alltechconsidered/2016/11/17/495827410/from-hate-speech-to-fake-news-the-content-crisis-facing-mark-zuckerberg

Sheftalovich, Z. (2016, May 11). Latvia, Lithuania and Poland worst countries to be gay in EU. Retrieved from Politico: http://www.politico.eu/article/latvia-lithuania-and-poland-worst-countries-to-be-gay-in-eu/

Sherr, I. (2016, September 9). How Facebook censors your posts (FAQ). Retrieved from CNET: https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.cnet.com/google-amp/news/how-zuckerberg-facebook-censors-korryn-gaines-philando-castile-dallas-police-your-posts-faq/

Toor, A. (2016, September 22). Facebook is expanding its campaign to combat hate speech. Retrieved from The Verge: https://www.theverge.com/2016/9/22/13013440/facebook-hate-speech-campaign-expansion

Toor, A. (2017, June 23). Facebook launches program to combat hate speech and terrorist propaganda in the UK. Retrieved from The Verge: https://www.theverge.com/2017/6/23/15860868/facebook-hate-speech-terrorism-uk-online-civil-courage-initiative?yptr=yahoo

Banned Dykes

 

ERASURE: THE NEW NORMAL FOR LESBIANS BY @VABVOX

A Room of Our Own
A Feminist/Womanist Network

Victoria Brownworth
Daily Disquisitions

“Lesbian sexual identity and choice is being eroded, erased and elided. This is being done by the literal obliteration of lesbians by state-sponsored violence, by the “corrective rape of lesbians” (imagine the 12 year old Pearl Mali being given the worst sort of reparative therapy by her very own mother), by the harassment and violence, by the firings (lesbians face more job discrimination than any other group within the LGBT alliance), by the enforced and compulsory heterosexuality of every society on earth. Aderonke Apata has been forced, by men, to provide not just spoken testimony and a pending marriage license, but also a sex tape of her having sexual relations with her partner to “prove” her lesbianism to the men who want to erase that aspect of her identity–the very identity that puts her and millions of other lesbians at risk of imprisonment and/or death.”

Continue reading Victoria Brownworth and other contributors to A Room of Our Own at: Erasure: The New Normal for Lesbians by @VABVOX – A Room of Our Own (Source)

AND MORE Victoria Brownworth at: https://www.victoriabrownworth.com/

Response to Julia Serano: Detransition, Desistance, and Disinformation

cari
detransitioned, lesbian, just trying to help

“I can’t speak to the response of people who have never transitioned, or again, to detransitioned men, but, I can tell you I’ve never heard a detransitioned woman say we should be using reparative therapy. Most of us did transition due to gender non-conformity, either in whole or in part. A lot of us are lesbians.”

“When I was transitioning nobody in the medical or psychological field ever tried to dissuade me, to offer other options, to really do anything to try and stop me except say I should wait until I’m 18.”

“Detransition is not about re-training ourselves to conform. It’s about accepting our non-conformity as part of our womanhood rather than taking it as a sign that we were meant to be men.”

Continue reading more from cari at: http://guideonragingstars.tumblr.com/ (Source)

Chicago Dyke March tells lesbians to stay away if they don’t like dick

dyke-march-2017dyke-march-1

The homophobic “queer” community doesn’t think that lesbians belong at a Dyke March.

Continue reading at: https://purplesagefem.wordpress.com/2017/06/15/happy-pride/Purple Sage | Lesbian, feminist, gender abolitionist. (Source)

Print Thrives in the Lesbian Community

Harmon also feels Lesbian Connection also has a hand in stopping lesbian erasure.

“Well I believe that’s one of the things we’re trying to do. We are Lesbian Connection and then we’ll always remain that,” Harmon said. “Many readers have said that this is one of the last places that they have found to be connected to lesbians with the disappearing of spaces.”

Continue reading at: PrideSource – Print Thrives in the Lesbian Community (Source)

For a woman with internalized homophobia

Purple Sage
Lesbian, feminist, gender abolitionist.

“You are reluctant to believe that you could be a lesbian and that is because you don’t think that having a lesbian orientation is okay. I hope you will take some time to ask yourself why loving another woman would be wrong. I understand you have a religious faith and this is informing your beliefs. Why do you think your church opposes homosexuality?”

Continue reading Purple Sage at: For a woman with internalized homophobia | Purple Sage (Source)

“Ass”uming Butches Into Extinction

BigBooButch
Memoirs of a Butch Lesbian

“This doctor decided that the butch lesbian in front of her was not actually a butch lesbian but a trans man in denial. In the chart, she writes that this butch is a 48 year old trans man but adds that the “chart will say female.” There was no conversation, there were no questions about whether or not this woman believed she was trans, there was nothing but an assumption; and that assumption was based on this butch woman’s appearance.”

Continue reading BigBooButch at: “Ass”uming Butches Into Extinction « BigBooButch (Source)

Chinese lesbian dating app randomly shut down, leaving 6.5 million users clueless

One possible reason for the mysterious shut down may lie a protest gone wrong. Rela participated in a controversial protest at Shanghai’s popular ‘marriage market’ at People’s Park, Shanghaiist reports.  The ‘marriage market’ is an event where elderly parents search for suitable partners for their unwed sons or daughters.  Rela was one of the groups to send mothers of LGBTI children to the event to raise awareness for gay rights.

Continue reading at: Chinese lesbian dating app randomly shut down, leaving 6.5 million users clueless (Source)

Why a harassed Indian lesbian couple going missing does not make news

What is most saddening is, thanks to social stigma, a story like this is more often than not swept the under the carpet. It is because of such entrenched stigma that a couple — who merely sought to give their relationship a name — has been missing for more than two months, and it hasn’t received any mainstream media attention.

Continue reading at: Why a harassed Indian lesbian couple going missing does not make news (Source)

It’s Lesbian Visibility Day! Stop the erasure of lesbians (today and every day)

Today is Lesbian Visibility Day, a good day to remember that the “L” in “LGBTQ” is probably the least celebrated and visible of all those ever-expanding letters. The reason for that isn’t hard to identify: lesbians are women. They challenge the root of patriarchy, heterosexist notions of “family,” and porn culture, simply by existing.  How much more threatening does it get?

Continue reading at: It’s Lesbian Visibility Day! Stop the erasure of lesbians (today and every day) (Source)