Facebook mocked for blocking book about sexism in politics because it has word penis in title

The author says the book is about ‘toxic power relationships in schools, the media and politics’

Maroosha Muzaffar
Tuesday 09 November 2021 08:26
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Related video: Andrew Cuomo to be charged over alleged groping of former aide

Facebook has banned a book by Karen Hinton, a former aide of New York governor Andrew Cuomo and mayor Bill de Blasio, allegedly because the title has the word “penis” in it.

Penis Politics: A Memoir of Women, Men and Power, a book about sexism in the government, is set to be released on 1 December.

“At the centre of Hinton’s incredible rise to the pinnacle of success was an undercurrent of men behaving badly,” reads the book blurb. “The role that ‘penis politics’ played in Hinton’s life began in childhood with a male school employee who demanded sexual favours from her female classmates — and extended throughout her life as she bore witness to the struggles that she and her friends and colleagues have undergone to deal with sexual abuse, sexual harassment and gender discrimination.”

“Facebook banned ads for my upcoming book ‘Penis Politics’ because the company objects to the title,” Ms Hinton said, according to Page Six. “Facebook should be ashamed. My book is about toxic power relationships in schools, the media and politics. It’s not about sex.”

Facebook said in a statement: “There is nothing about the content of these ads that prevent them from running, but they do require the advertiser to complete the political ad authorisation process.”

Ms Hinton said that her memoir is about “the toxic brew of ego, entitlement, and bro-culture in politics”. She also accused disgraced former New York governor, Andrew Cuomo, of bullying and “inappropriately hugging” her 20 years ago.

She added that Facebook’s actions were not surprising. She accused the tech giant of promoting misogynistic content and sexual violence against women. “Yet they are afraid of the word ‘penis’ in a book about sexual harassment,” she said.

“Facebook also employs a double standard, which is mind-boggling in 2021. Facebook features pages and pages about the highly acclaimed play, ‘Vagina Monologues’. They embrace ‘vagina’ but appear to be scared off by a little ‘penis’,” she added.

Ms Hinton urged Facebook to take back the decision to ban the ads for her book and “stand for free speech, not banning books”.

Facebook has been accused of promoting misogyny and sexual violence in the past too.

In fact, in August, members of the US Congress and female politicians from the European Union implored Facebook “to do more to protect the ability of women to engage in democratic discourse and to foster a safe and empowering space for women”.

Last month, a BBC Panorama investigation revealed that Facebook and Instagram algorithms actively promote misogynistic content to certain users. It also found that Black and Asian public figures faced the majority of abuse on the platforms.

Peter Ajemian, Mr Cuomo’s director of communications, had denied Ms Hinton’s allegations in a statement to Fox News in March.

“This did not happen,” he said. “Karen Hinton is a known antagonist of the Governor’s who is attempting to take advantage of this moment to score cheap points with made up allegations from 21 years ago. All women have the right to come forward and tell their story — however, it’s also the responsibility of the press to consider self-motivation. This is reckless.”

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