The Internet can be a terrible place, but one website is doing their part to create a safer space for women.
Fark, an online link-aggregation community launched in 1999, announced this week that they would no longer tolerate "highly misogynistic language" on their forums. In an August 18 post outlining the new guidelines, Fark founder and administrator Drew Curtis explained that moderators would consider the use of such language grounds for being banned.
"We don't want to be the He Man Woman Hater's Club," Curtis wrote. "This represents enough of a departure from pretty much how every other large internet community operates that I figure an announcement is necessary."
Per the announcement, the ban includes:
- Rape jokes
- Calling women as a group "whores" or "sluts" or similar demeaning terminology
- Jokes suggesting that a woman who suffered a crime was somehow asking for it
New York Magazine's Jessica Roy called the move a "refreshing departure" and dismisses the idea that the site will be compromised by the new guidelines: "It's hard to imagine Fark's community will suffer from the banning of easy rape jokes -- if anything, it will make the community a safer space for women and might even elevate the quality of humor."
In the announcement, Curtis alluded to the poor treatment of women on other websites, and stressed that the change would make the Fark community a "better place."
According to Curtis, the reaction to the changes has been positive overall.
"The vast majority of Farkers are fine with the changes as it turns out," he told The Huffington Post in an email. "Additionally there's been a groundswell of people who stopped reading Fark over the years due to misogyny who have returned as a result, and all in all it's been a great experience. I feel like a complete jackass for waiting so long to do this, and so will any other site that decides to make the same choice."
Twitter users were quick to congratulate Curtis and the rest of the Fark team for their decision:
— Ben Cotton (@FunnelFiasco) August 18, 2014
— Bonnie Burton (@bonniegrrl) August 19, 2014
— Erica Buist (@ericabuist) August 21, 2014
Curtis told HuffPost that users are also pushing for the rules to apply to hate speech towards men.
"The most common question we've received is 'what about misandry,'" he told HuffPost. "It's not really a stretch to extend the rules that as well so we'll probably be doing that in a bit... I don't think we've ever had a misandry complaint."
Those unhappy with Fark's new rules can still frequent plenty of other online spaces where misogyny is allowed or even encouraged. Supporters of such sites commonly argue that banning such language violates freedom of speech or is in fact "bad for women."
It's amazing that Fark is taking a stand against online misogyny -- we'd love to see other websites follow suit.