The Power of Social Media and Feminism

#WhyIStayed. Women tweeting about why they remained in abusive relationships.

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#AskHerMore. Encouraging reporters not to ask sexist questions to female stars.

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#EverydaySexism. Shared stories of everyday harassment.

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Feminism and feminist reporting has come a long way from Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique,  even farther from our Suffragette sisters fighting for our right to vote in 1893, and farther still from the first appearance of the word (all the way back in 1937!)

What the internet and social media has done is forged online communities. Now you can connect and share your story with people all around the world. You can read my opinions on feminism and agree or disagree with me, wherever you are! Years ago, when someone felt their rights being limited or suppressed, there wasn’t a lot that could be done. A woman, especially any woman who wasn’t heterosexual and white, could protest to injustice (putting her in danger) but not much else .

Women weren’t being heard in the capacity that they are today. Women were limited to  talking face to face, telephone chains, and  flyers. With Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Facebook, and other social media platforms today, an individual’s struggle can go viral within hours or days.

With the internet, we have resources for those dealing with domestic abuse, gender counseling, and other issues. There are a multitude of online support groups and information. Women can privately seek what they need.

Social media hosts a number of feminist crusades raising awareness for all kinds of issues. Calls for body hair acceptance,for the ending of female genital mutilation (FGM),  and for women to speak out about their abortion stories are just a handful of examples.

Social media has also brought us closer to celebrities than ever before. Platforms like Twitter and Instagram let us interact with stars in a way we never have before. Many celebrities such as Amy Poehler, Anne Hathaway, and of course, Beyonce, are loud and proud on their hopes for gender equality. Seeing strong and successful women not afraid to use the word “feminist” is healthy, especially for young women bombarded with sexual objectification and outdated gender roles.

Love you, Amy!

Love you, Amy!

The progression of social media and the internet has also had negative impacts on the feminist movement. Interaction with commenters goes both ways, and people with misogynist views and self titled “meninists” bring unwarranted hatred and misguided aggression to feminist discussions.

People in general are subject to the cruelty of others online. Every piece of their appearance is picked apart, scrutinized, ridiculed. This is an unfortunate truth for every woman working in the media. By making yourself and your work public, others feel they have the right to sexualize, objectify, and harass you.

 

Hopefully, for every jerk that writes a sexist comment, there will be ten more feminists telling them what an asshole they are. After all, social media does go both ways.

 

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