While using Google+, it's been apparent that there are two types of posters. There are the people who post thoughtful, serious posts about everything from tech to dealing with cancer. And then there are the meme propagators, the people who decide to rick roll others (ahem, +Bryan Crow), and constantly put up animated gifs. Sometimes they are the same people, and this is where it gets a little controversial.
Over the weekend, +Robert Scoble decided to post a picture of a woman's t-shirt, centered on her chest area. He was basically having "a little bit of fun", but +Christa Laser protested, saying that "This isn't the way to get women on Google+". She later wrote a post outlining her full position:
"It's demeaning, and it is precisely the gateway to harassment that drives women away from online communities. We have a responsibility as early adopters to create a respectful, caring community where everyone feels welcome. If it is acceptable in a community to post a photograph of cleavage, it becomes okay to comment on it with sexual jokes, then to comment on a photograph of a woman in the G+ community with a sexual joke, and then with sexual comments that are not jokes. If left unchecked, an online community that tolerates harassment against women can become dangerous for women, professionally and physically."
Unsurprisingly, she got a lot of defensive responses from Google+ users. Many told her to lighten up, and others told her that by showing off depictions of women's breasts, they were supporting breast cancer. There's a meme called "booberday" which tells people to show off female breast pictures to raise awareness of breast cancer. The page lists several cancer organizations you can donate to.
However, Christa also got support, from people like +Mohamed Mansour. He came up with the Filter Stream for Google+ extension, which solved the main problem that a lot of people didn't want to see certain content in their streams, whether it be check-ins, boobs, or Caturday pictures. The extension, which I covered yesterday, was updated to include support for filtering out animated gifs.
"The frustrating thing about the 'Save the Boobies' campaign and similar things (like the "Booberday" meme going around G+) is that they get it exactly backward. Often, the point of breast cancer treatment is to destroy some or all of the boobies in order to save the woman.
Saying that we should work to cure this disease because it threatens breasts is really upsetting. For starters, it suggests that women are worth saving because they're attached to breasts, rather than the other way around. But worse, it tells any woman who's had a mastectomy to try to save her life that she's lost the thing that made people care about her survival. What a punch in the stomach."
The Google+ content policy states that for sexually explicit material:
"Do not distribute content that contains nudity, graphic sex acts, or sexually explicit material. Do not drive traffic to commercial pornography sites.
Your Profile Picture cannot include mature or offensive content. For example, do not use a photo that is a close-up of a person's buttocks or cleavage."
It goes on to say that exceptions may be made for artistic or educational purposes. Memes have been on the Internet since before ICanHasCheezburger, and they're not likely to die out any time soon. But do you think they belong on Google+? Do you believe, as Christa and Randall do, that the "booberday" meme is harmful and demeaning to women? Or do you think that they should just lighten up and accept that boob pictures are just going to be something they have to deal with, whether it's Google+ or elsewhere?
Picture from Cute Overload.
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