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Reddit, a social media platform with 330 million users, banned the area used by "gender critical" people which had 65,000 members. The ban was also applied to 2,000 other areas of the site, with a range of political views and interests.
Administrators at Reddit announced the sudden changes to their content policy at the same time as executing the bans on the gender critical area, and others, leaving moderators no time to apply the new standards to their content.
The new policy says that "Communities and users that incite violence or that promote hate based on identity or vulnerability will be banned."
The company goes on to define "identity or vulnerability." It says "Marginalized or vulnerable groups include, but are not limited to, groups based on their actual and perceived race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, immigration status, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, pregnancy, or disability. These include victims of a major violent event and their families."
Conspicuously missing from the list is the category of sex, which stands in for women's rights in policy and law. Sex-based rights are afforded to women because, globally, they are among the most vulnerable people due to their reproductive biology, and the claims male dominated cultures make upon their reproductive potential.
Reddit said "While the rule on hate protects such groups, it does not protect all groups or all forms of identity. For example, the rule does not protect groups of people who are in the majority or who promote such attacks of hate." As a critic of gender, one becomes aware that, in the terms of "woke" power play, women are somehow capable of oppressing men—hence the label "cis" which renders a woman more privileged than a male who is trans-identified in the hierarchy.
The gender critical area of Reddit was devoted to cataloguing and analyzing the harms caused to women and girls by trans ideology, namely the bizarre belief that sex is unimportant and that people can be "born in the wrong body." Women and girls are marginalized in countless ways, globally, on a sliding scale from allowing males like Cece Tefler to compete against girls in athletics, or child "brides" and female infanticide at the other extreme. The erasure of females in male dominated cultures is a very real, very live issue.
On the gender critical area of Reddit, members used tags such as "misogyny", "female erasure", "sexual violence/exploitation", "censorship", and "need support/advice". Members shared lists of resources and organizations that women could access to learn more or get involved in the movement for women's liberation from patriarchal oppression.
In the days prior to executing the ban, top posts on the Gender Critical area included commentary on the misogynistic backlash against Harry Potter author JK Rowling after she published an essay critical of trans activism, discussions of male sexual harassment of women in the workplace, and complaints about male athletes competing in women's sports. All of these areas for discussion were categorized as "hateful" by Reddit, begging several questions.
First, if women do, in fact, hate being oppressed on the basis of our sex, and need to talk about that, why shouldn't we? Secondly, if social media companies are unwilling to allow women to discuss the sex-based oppression which we hate, where are we to discuss it when these issues intersect with our homes and children?
Reddit seems to want to banish women from the public square of political discussion to which even men with the most horrifying and illegal interests are considered entitled.
The evidence for the women on the gender critical area of Reddit expressing themselves in a manner which is "hateful" to transgender people is absent.
Moderators set clear rules, for example "Don't Use Dehumanizing Language or Promote Bigotry or Violence". The company did not publicly indicate which, if any, content they deemed "hateful," neither did they notify the moderators.
The gender critical area moderators said, on Twitter "The subreddit's history shows that the moderators always complied with the Reddit admins, and that the standards of moderation were consistently excellent. Reddit admins never communicated with us that they had a problem with our community or our moderation."
The same moderators went on to point out the incongruity of Reddit banning a feminist area devoted to the topic of female erasure, while allowing areas focused on the promotion of violence against women, including pornography, to remain on the site. Notably, a gender critical area for men, which covered similar content, was not banned either, suggesting that the social media platform has a problem with women talking about the social conditions we live in.
This latest chapter in the ongoing censorship of feminist women by proprietary software-owning companies is part of a pattern of silencing women's voices, and engaging in unethical censorship which skews public debate. All of the big name tech and social media platforms have engaged in silencing feminist voices, from Twitter, to Medium, Wordpress, Google, Change.org, and, most recently, CrowdJustice.
In response to this ongoing wave of censorship and exclusion from the public square, some feminists and gender critical women are turning to woman-run platforms such as Spinster.xyz. Others are carefully self-censoring on mainstream platforms in an attempt to say their piece without falling foul of ever-changing rules which stymie free speech, for example the rule against "misgendering" on Twitter which was notoriously retroactively applied to ban Meghan Murphy when she called a predatory man "him." Sometimes, women give up on trying to speaking publicly online, an outcome which would doubtless please the censors.
The pattern of censorship of women who speak out in support of women and girl's rights needs to be broken by better regulation of tech platforms, by agencies which take into account the fact that female erasure is the way male power sustains itself. Of course, this would require regulators and governments to view female emancipation as a good thing for everyone, instead of a threat to be continually suppressed. That work could take some time yet.