We'd never met, this friend and I, but I felt as though I knew her through our interactions on Facebook, and Twitter. I'd read the articles that she would link to, and somehow feel that much closer to her. Her struggles growing up were the same as my struggles growing up, and yet she overcame them and turned out to be an amazing role model for women of all ages, races, shapes and sizes... and ultimately is someone that I like to think that in another time, another place, I could see myself hanging out with.
That friend was April Flores, and her account with Facebook was deleted because it "violated Facebook's Statement of Rights and Responsibilities." You know, that big long-winded thing that no one ever reads before they click "I agree" whenever they join something online? You might want to start looking closer at it, because it could happen to you, too.
Did I mention that April is, by her own definition, a "Muse * Model * Erotic Performer"? If you think that had nothing to do with it, then I would love to see the rock you live under, because given the way Facebook treats its users, I am not surprised.
The best I can figure is that someone out there with way too much time on their hands decided that April's profile must have violated Section 3-7 of the statement, which states, "You will not post content that: is hateful, threatening, or pornographic; incites violence; or contains nudity or graphic or gratuitous violence" and reported her to the powers that be. Having been to her profile many times, I can honestly say there was nothing there that was hateful, or threatening or pornographic or violent. If anything, it was threatening to people who are afraid to see women who are comfortable with their sexuality. I mean, there's no way that women - especially plus-sized women - enjoy sex, and if they do, then they must have been abused as a child or something.
Hey, Facebook - what the fuck?
I hear you've not only deleted April's account but a myriad of other women-run groups and accounts as well for other arbitrary "violations", with nary an explanation, including breastfeeding pages. Do you think that by doing this you're going to get back at the girl who wouldn't go to prom with you, because let me tell ya, she's probably not even using Facebook. Ha. Rumour has it that there have been some groups with some deep pockets that have been targeting women and female-oriented pages and pressuring you to delete them. I'm not mentioning any names, but I think you probably know them well.
Are you pissed off at April because she refuses to hide in a corner and wear baggy clothing and be ashamed of her body because she doesn't look like the models you feature in all those annoying diet ads that are constantly showing up the side of my page every time I log in? Or, in her own words,
"I now know that confidence and being a happy, positive person plays a more important role in attraction than body size alone. My main motivation for doing erotic work is to make the statement that fat women can express their sexuality and be sexual beings. I am challenge the norms of what is considered beautiful and sexy. I want people to examine their own ideas of what they consider appealing. For many people beauty does not just come in a size 0."
Oooh....scary stuff. An attractive, confident woman who doesn't take your shit..no wonder you had to get rid of her. What if there were more like her out there? What would have happened then? You might have had to deal with women openly discussing their feelings about their bodies, their love lives, their social lives....anything, really. That would have been horrible. How dare people use a social network to try to be social. What are they thinking?
I'm the first to admit that as a feminist, I have my own issues with porn, but what I don't have issues with is sexuality. Porn is what it is, and it makes no apologies for it. It's a bunch of beautiful people having fake sex so that we, the viewer can be turned on for whatever reason we wanted to be turned on (we're bored, we're lonely, we're trying to spice up a night with our lover..whatever), but it also creates highly unrealistic views about sex and sexuality and sex positivity so that women are sort of stuck in these roles where they're almost expected to be the whore who wants to take on five guys at the same time and like it.
It's performers like April who are doing their best to turn things around and occasionally mention their achievements on Facebook. She won Heartthrob Of The Year at the 2010 Feminist Porn Awards and was rightfully thrilled about it. I'm sorry - does the word "heartthrob" incite violence in you? Perhaps that was another reason that Facebook deleted her profile.
Fortunately for me, April Flores, and her presence in my life, even though it's only through cyberland, is priceless.