Feminism and Social Media: Helping or Hurting the Movement?
In the 1960’s, American feminists began their movement for equality. Unfortunately, the progress of women’s rights is not as fast as the growth of social media. Issues like wage gap, reproductive rights and domestic violence still exist, along with countless others. However, as a communications tool, social media has helped disseminate feminist beliefs for the better.
Access to Feminist Thought and Thinkers
Social media gives people the ability to connect and share information. Whether Twitter, Tumblr or Facebook, people can search for articles, pictures or gifs with feminist topics. The availability of feminist materials and role models on social media keeps the movement relevant. Because of a plethora of feminist materials, people on social media are exposed to feminist issues regularly (whether if they are sharing materials or seeing what friends share). For example, following Elizabeth Plank, @feministabulous, will keep followers current on interviews, conferences and articles relating to gender equality.
Discussion with Hashtag Campaigns
Numerous hashtags have collected feminist voices in spreading equality messages. For example, #AskHerMore in the 2015 Oscars emphasized sexism in interview questions. The campaign asked journalists to break the habit of asking female actors questions based on appearance (“who are you wearing”) and saving the thought provoking questions for male actors. Reese Witherspoon instagrammed the following picture and caption to show her support:
The #AskHerMore campaign showcased the effective relationship between feminism and social media. However, just weeks later, another feminist hashtag swept the Internet.
Today Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s COO and Lean In author, started the campaign #LeanInTogether in order to discuss the benefits of gender equality for both men and women. People have also used the hashtag to thank supportive, feminist men. People and organizations have included the hasthag in posts to spread the positive message.
Support from Media Outlets
Popular blogs like Buzzfeed and HuffPostWomen have worked toward disseminated feminist content to their readers. Then, when they are questioned, they show full support for gender equality. When powerful voices join the movement, especially ones considered “cool,” it can help readers stay interested and positive about feminism.
The Good and the Bad
Despite all of this good, there are still some difficulties with social media and feminism. Anyone could create a social media account and share their opinions. So while there are many supporters of feminism, there are also people who don’t understand the movement and therefore criticize it (like the troubled “menimist” movement). Ultimately, social media has helped move feminism forward. While published content may not address every concern, like how privilege affects the movement, the overreaching messages are generally positive and helpful. Rather than shying away from identifying as a “feminist,” people are declaring it with pride in tweets, posts, shares and pictures.
Are you exposed to feminist thinking on social media? What are some of your favorite accounts or posts?