Women Lead Pendidikan Seks
February 27, 2016

What I Learned from Fighting Facebook while Defending Women in History

Within hours after she posted historical photos of bare breasted Indonesian women on Facebook, she was blocked. This is what she has learned from fighting back to get reactivated.

by Dea Safira Basori

My personal account on Facebook has been blocked after several reports to Facebook that it contained nudity and sexually explicit content, though they were all historical pictures of Indonesian women. Since then I had to find a way to get my account back.
Facebook itself works on algorithm (possibly algorithm that detects female breasts and nipples) and auto bans everything that is being reported without having its personal staff check. So in order to capture attention of Facebook’s staff (and not robots), I needed to grab the world’s attention and highlight the fact that Facebook’s algorithm was way too messy when it comes to banning people with historical pictures of bare-breasted women.
It took a lot of work: from tweeting, receiving calls from journalists, reaching out for help from friends, writing statements, starting a petition and so on. Yes it was exhausting but it did not break me. My heart and mind stand in defending this issue.
At the same time I’ve also learned a few things, and they are:

  1. Be vocal and tell the truth. It took a lot of courage for me to tweet to feminist journalist Mona Eltahawy and tell her that I got suspended for posting historical photos of 'Indonesian Women in History'. I had to keep tweeting her and telling her what’s going on. If you are telling the truth, it will be heard. In less than 10 tweets, she finally stormed twitterland. I was tweeting to more than one person, even to feminists around the world. But it was hard and Mona was kind enough to make this an issue to everyone. I had to keep tweeting and tweeting and tweeting until a journalist finally called me. Be vocal until they listen.
  1. Contemplate. When I posted the Facebook album of 'Indonesian Women in History' I knew it would spark controversies and I knew it would lead to a Facebook ban, but the fact is that an institutional oversexualization of women’s body parts need to stop. Therefore I took the stand to educate the public. I had to find a way to make them think about what was truly the traditional Indonesian culture. So I googled, compiled the results and shared. I don’t regret ever taking this decision, as it spiked a lot of conversations and highlighted a lot of facts.
  1. People in power can do anything, including oversexualizing women’s bodies. How can you blur cleavage, thighs and legs, but allow TV ads of bare chested men flaunting their six packs? It is unfair. If the blurring of women’s body parts is to avoid men getting aroused, then why not blur men’s body parts to prevent sexually arousing women? Doesn’t the so-called majority want their precious girls to stay virgin? Don’t you think that women also have sexual desire? I guess not. Women are not seen as human beings with sexual desires, but as a tool to fulfill men’s desire.
  1. If you are right, the world is on your side. A small amount of arrogance and intolerance is just a step to make the world more tolerant. If it weren’t for the intolerance of the individuals who reported me, this would not have become an issue. I have received a lot of supports coming from everywhere, inside and outside of the country. Since the petition was made, I have had a lot of comments why our society values are degrading. People realized that they feel the society is changing in a very degrading way and that religious radicalism is increasingly policing and questioning everyone’s morals. This leads to people voicing out their thoughts.
  1. Sexist algorithms exist. They have an algorithm that detects women’s breast and nipples. A friend of mine was sharing more documentation of historical women that were bare breasted through Facebook Messenger and he got suspended for doing so. They have an algorithm to detect women’s breasts, but not men’s chest. Neither does the algorithm detect penises. Well done, Facebook!
  1. Be kind and humble. There are people who will be on your side and there are people who will disagree with you. The people who disagree with you will keep pushing you, but if you know you are right, just be kind to them. If your aim is to spread peace and mutual understanding, don’t force them to agree with you, but show and educate them in a peaceful way. Give out positive vibe. Embrace the ones who have supported you. And greet them.
  1. Educate, educate, educate! When you see society slowly declining, educate them. As my friend would say about my actions: “You are holding a mirror towards them.” When we educate, people are enlightened. It’s your right and their rights to get this information. Because when we educate, we contemplate and we reflect on what’s happening in the society. It gives them the stimulation to think. They might disagree, but what’s important is that this information gets passed on.
  1. It’s about Basic Freedom and Human Rights. The world is getting more progressive and open. Therefore, it is important to set our value, which is to provide a safe space for people to share information in line with our freedom as human beings and our right to obtain information. Because when it comes to history, these are facts, real facts, and not made up. And we should make sure that the world gets informed.
  1. PROCLAIM YOUR WOMANHOOD! Have you ever thought how normal it is for women to be bare breasted back in the day? I don’t suggest that you go all bare chested, no. It’s your own right to dress whatever you feel like, but what we can learn from women in those days is that they have the power to own their bodies. So learn from them and take the power. Own your body in every way you can. Own it. Proclaim it. Embrace it and take Pride in it.

Dea Safira Basori is a Javanese feminist beating all odds to find her true passion, life and love. Her Facebook account has been reactivated (at least for the moment).