Fark has put its foot down. You can no longer make rape jokes in the comment section. You can no longer try to shut down a conversation by calling a woman a slut. You can no longer state that a woman deserved to be violated because of what she was wearing or what she was doing. In other words, women can expect to be treated like human beings instead of garbage when it comes to the comment section of Fark.
The Mary Sue points out that the task may be more Herculean than the editors of Fark realize. It's not just the sheer volume of misogynistic comments that will land in a moderator's lap; it's discerning misogyny in grey language that is not outright hate but certainly impacts women. It's having moderators also deal with the complaints about free speech as well as the backlash that usually accompanies people being told that they can't act like assholes.
Moderators should expect a lot of people telling them that they can't take a joke, that free speech is more important than people feeling safe, and that they better have an anti-misandry policy. Because... you know... they don't get it. Hence why Fark established the anti-misogyny policy in the first place.
But here's the thing: Fark banning certain comments doesn't impact anyone else's right to free speech. They are still allowed to say what they want to say; they just need to say it in another space.
All community sites should have a commenting policy. (And really, personal blogs should have one, too.) It sets an expectation for readers: this is what we allow said on our site, and this is what you can expect to read (or not read). It's similar to the rules that govern any private establishment or home. Restaurants can deny you service if you're not wearing shoes. I can ask you to remove your shoes when you walk into my home. And neither policy impacts YOUR decision to wear or not wear shoes. It only impacts where you can go if you choose to wear or not wear shoes.
There are still plenty of sites on the Internet that allow misogynistic comments; plenty of places for women-haters to go if they need to vent their spleen. But for now, Fark is a safe space to dive into if you like your morning read to be free of rape jokes.
What are your thoughts?
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