Feminism is trending. In 2014, the hashtag proved a powerful tool for raising awareness about and organizing around feminist issues, including domestic violence, rape and street harassment. In celebration of the modern version of consciousness-raising groups, the Ms. Blog has compiled a list of the top 10 feminist hashtags of 2014.
Hollaback‘s viral catcalling video sparked outrage this year, but not all of it was the kind you’d expect. In fact, men were upset by the video, lamenting the death of genuine niceties. They wondered, what’s so wrong with giving a woman a compliment anyway? In response, social commentator and This Week In Blackness host Elon James White posed another question: If men just want to give people compliments, then why don’t they “compliment” other men? What followed was a thread of hilarious tweets tagged #DudesGreetingDudes that re-imagines the world as one in which men compliment each other as they do strange women on the street, on everything from the tone or flab of their bodies, the sexiness of their clothing and the quality of expressions on their faces. Click here for some of our favorite responses.
When #YesAllWomen set the Internet alight in the wake of Elliot Rodgers’ rampage at the University of California, Santa Barbara, sharing the universal everyday experiences of women, some men took it all a little too personally, defending themselves with tweets tagged #NotAllMen because, you know, not all men are sexist so, sexism isn’t really a problem, right? In an effort to get the conversation back on track, Mic editor Elizabeth Plank called on feminist men to share their experiences as advocates for gender equality. Men responded with gusto, suggesting ways in which #AllMenCan support women and women’s rights and proving #NotAllMen disregard the experiences of women.
Last year, The Representation Project‘s #NotBuyingIt campaign called out misogyny in Super Bowl ads to great success. This year, project founder and CEO Jennifer Siebel Newsom set her sights on the awards shows’ red carpet commentary, urging audiences at home to call out the sexism characteristic of the questions posed to women performers. While women were asked about their make-up preparation and dress selection, men fielded thoughtful inquires about their role preparation and project selection. With awards season just around the corner, let’s pledge to #AskHerMore!
When blogger Feminista Jones witnessed an African American mother pushing a stroller and enduring a barrage of catcalls by a stranger nearby, Jones intervened, inserting herself between the woman and her harasser and asked, “You OK, sis?” and derailing the harassment. To Jones, speaking up as a means of diffusing the situation struck her as particularly effective and in June, after tweeting her experience, she launched the #YouOKSis hashtag to encourage men and women in the black community to get involved and offer support to victims of street harassment.
In March, writer and activist Zerlina Maxwell created this hashtag to answer critics who dispute the existence of rape culture by building a catalogue of everyday instances of sexism and misogyny that perpetuate rape culture. The result? 1 million #RapeCultureIsWhen tweets in the first day! Though rape culture endures, the good news is, so does the hashtag. With new contributions every day, Twitter users are dismantling the culture of rape and building a stronger, more positive culture of change.
In April, 273 teenage girls were kidnapped from the Chibok Secondary School in Nigeria by terrorist organization Boko Haram, an increasingly violent militant Islamist movement in northern Nigeria. Though some of the girls have managed to escape, 230 are still missing. #BringBackOurGirls was created to increase pressure on the Nigerian government to find them by raising worldwide awareness. Despite the nearly nine months that have passed since their kidnapping, the hashtag continues and has even inspired a larger movement to protect schoolgirls around the world.
On June 30, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby, granting the company exemption from the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate on the grounds of religious beliefs. Since the highest court granted Hobby Lobby the power to control the healthcare options of their employees, Charlotte Trible wondered what other health services the corporation could provide, creating the hashtag #DrHobbyLobby and encouraging users to solicit medical advice from the popular craft store chain. Wry, witty and often deliciously dark, #DrHobbyLobby further highlights the ridiculousness of the ruling and keeps us laughing when we’d otherwise be crying.
In June, Washington Post opinion writer George Will dismissed the rape epidemic on college campuses across the United States as a bunch of hooey. Will not only disputed the statistic 1 in 5 college women will be raped, he also warned rape “victims proliferate” because victimhood is made a “coveted status that confers privileges.” #SurvivorPrivilege, the brainchild of writer and activist Wagatwe Wanjuki, invites survivors of sexual assault to disclose the “privileges” they received as a result of their rapes, which included dropping out of college, enduring rejection from friends and family and sifting through the emotional wreckage of their ordeal. Sounds fun, right? Nevertheless, #SurvivorPrivilege more brightly illuminated the dark disparities of privilege between victims of rape and the privilege of those to which rape is not even a concern.
In the wake of the Ray Rice domestic violence scandal, many blamed Rice’s then-fiancee, Janay Palmer, for choosing to remain in the relationship. Disturbed by the misunderstanding and victim-blaming running wild, Beverly Gooden, a domestic abuse survivor, tweeted her reasons for staying with an abusive partner, tagging them #WhyIStayed. Soon, more Twitter users were empowered to do the same, sharing their personal stories of fear, shame and self-blame. The hashtag even spawned an alternate narrative, #WhyILeft, offering inspiration to those victims wishing for escape. Enlightening and hopeful, #WhyIStayed and its #WhyILeft counterpart widened the conversation about domestic violence.
The day after Elliot Rodgers’ misogyny-fueled killing spree in Isla Vista, writer Annie Cardi and a friend created the hashtag #YesAllWomen in response to backlash from men who denied the role of misogyny in the murders. Featuring the shared experiences of women worldwide and tackling issues of rape, abuse and everyday sexism, the momentum building behind #YesAllWomen propelled the hashatag to 61,500 tweets in the first day alone. And it shows no sign of slowing. All-inclusive and inspiring, #YesAllWomen has become the rallying cry of feminists around the world.
Didn’t see your favorite feminist hashtag of 2014 on our list? Add it to our comments!
Ed. note: Our original list left off the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag, started by feminist activists Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi in 2013 after the Trayvon Martin verdict came down. #BlackLivesMatter swept Twitter again this year after the Ferguson, Missouri grand jury decision not to indict white police officer Darren Wilson, who shot and killed black teenager Michael Brown. #BlackLivesMatter played a significant role in the conversation around race and police brutality this year and women led the charge on Twitter and in the streets—it deserves a mention on this list.
Photo courtesy of Anna Creech via Flickr Creative Commons.
Kitty Lindsay is an editorial intern at Ms. Follow her on Twitter @KittyLindsayLA