“It took me quite a long time to develop a voice, and now that I have it, I am not going to be silent” –Madeleine K. Albright
As you probably already know, today (October 13), is #WomenBoycottTwitter day in solidarity of Rose McGowan, whose Twitter account was suspended on Wednesday following her allegations of Harvey Weinstein committing sexual assault against her (and countless others).
On Thursday, the Twitter Safety account made a statement, alleging that the tweet that lead to McGowan’s suspension included a private phone number, which they state is against its policies:
Yet, somehow US President Donald Trump tweeting about a literal nuclear war with North Korea doesn’t violate Twitter’s terms of services:
Just heard Foreign Minister of North Korea speak at U.N. If he echoes thoughts of Little Rocket Man, they won’t be around much longer!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 24, 2017
So, here we are, on #WomenBoyCottTwitter day, an idea conceived by Kelly Ellis for women, and allies of women, to not tweet for the entire day to show support for McGowan, and to the countless other voices that get silenced who speak up about harassment, sexual assault, rape, or any kind of violence committed against by men against women.
— Kelly Ellis (@justkelly_ok) October 12, 2017
When I woke up Friday morning and scrolled through my Twitter timeline, it was the first I’d read of the boycott; the night before I’d been too enamoured with the Cubs/Nationals NLDS game 5 and hadn’t really been on social media that much.
Throughout the day on Friday, I read a lot of tweets about #WomeBoycottTwitter day–particularly from WoC–making good points, like how protesting silence by being silenced doesn’t do anything, or how when WoC speak about about being harassed, abused, or if their Twitter accounts are suspended, there’s been no similar ally from white women.
Calling white women allies to recognize conflict of #WomenBoycottTwitter for women of color who haven’t received support on similar issues.
— Ava DuVernay (@ava) October 13, 2017
I read because I wanted to understand where these women are coming from, because white feminism is a problem and that’s exactly what #WomenBoycottTwitter has been a display of.
Coincidently enough, today is also #WoCAffirmation to make the voices of WoC heard–a time when white women especially should make themselves an ally instead of taking a step back. Because the voices of WoC are more often silenced than those of white women, and don’t get nearly the same kind of support when it comes to similar issues, like Ava DuVernay points out in her tweet above.
Plenty of others before me have spoken up about this, and most assuredly have better insight than me, but the more voices the better, especially during times like this. Putting it simply, #WomenBoycottTwitter is just demonstration of white women slacktivisim.
By itself slacktivism is defined as: “actions performed via the Internet in support of a political or social cause but regarded as requiring little time or involvement.”
Think of when a national tragedy happens, such as the Las Vegas mass shooting that killed roughly 60 people and injured hundreds more, and then taking to Twitter to tweet something as futile as “thoughts and prayers are with the victims of Las Vegas.” It doesn’t do anything. Sending thoughts and prayers doesn’t magically bring back the lives of people who were murdered or make the injuries of those who were hurt go away, and it doesn’t change gun control regulations. In the famous words of Anthony Jeselnik when it comes to people saying “thoughts and prayers”:
Do you know what that’s worth? Fucking nothing. Fucking less than nothing. Less than nothing. You are not giving any of your time, your money or even your compassion. All you are doing, all you are doing, is saying, “Don’t forget about me today.” “Don’t forget about me.” “Lots of crazy distractions in the news, but don’t forget how sads I am.” Those people are worthless and they deserve to be made fun of. They’re like a wedding photographer who only takes selfies. You understand?
For the full effect, it’s probably best to just watch the clip:
Which leads me to the entire reason why I’m writing this. Going silent on Twitter doesn’t do anything to prevent sexual harassment, abuse, or any kinds of violence. For those whom the message is meant to target, for those that need to listen, #WomenBoycottTwitter has just become a joke . I’ve seen degrading tweets about how much more quiet Twitter is without all the “angry feminists.” I don’t need to embed the tweets, you can search them for yourself.
While a mass shooting is certainly different than #WomenBoycottTwitter, the sentiment of “thoughts and prayers” and going silent are the same: they don’t do anything to change the situations at hand.
This doesn’t mean that I think that Rose McGowan deserves what happened to her this week; it simply means that this is just another situation where if the same thing where to happen to a WoC, it wouldn’t get the same recognition.
If you’ve decided to boycott Twitter today, that’s your prerogative. My only hope is that if those that did, and for those that didn’t boycott Twitter, that you listen when someone speaks up and uses their voice; that you believe victims when they speak up against sexual assault, death threats, rape threats, or any other male violence against women instead of shutting them down.
It is not easy to speak up about sexual assault, and it’s even harder when someone doesn’t believe you; when someone asks what you were wearing, that you shouldn’t have been out that late at night. All that is reinforcing is that it was deserved, that you brought it on yourself. From a very young age, girls are taught to watch their backs, to carry their keys in their hands, to not go out at night alone, to not wear something so revealing. Instead, boys need to be taught that women aren’t there for their sexual gratification.
Donald Trump was elected US president nearly a year ago, who has a famous history of committing sexual assault against women. Coincidentally enough, it was just last October tapes were leaked where he bragged about grabbing women by the pussy. He was still elected president after this, so you can’t tell me that sexual assault allegations hurt a man’s career.
All in all, I hope that women keep speaking up about sexual assault. Just as importantly, white women need to be allies to WoC. We all need to be allies to WoC, to PoC. Instead, #WomenBoyCottTwitter silenced those voices when all of us need to be louder, now more than ever