During the Academy Awards, Twitter aired a television ad featuring a poem written and performed by Denice Frohman, a New York City-born poet.
“I heard a woman becomes herself the first time she speaks without permission,” Frohman says, later imploring women to “Say ‘brave’ and wear your skin like a gown, or a suit. Say ‘hero,’ and cast yourself in the lead role.”
Frohman’s poem appeared word-by-word over short black-and-white video and static clips of women, including filmmakers Ava DuVernay and Julie Dash, documentarian Jennifer Brea and the “Insecure” director and actress Issa Rae. Twitter had previously used the poem in 2017 for its digital-only #SheInspiresMe campaign featuring actresses Alicia Silverstone and Mena Suvari.
The commercial ended with the hashtag #HereWeAre, which first appeared last December when Twitter CMO Leslie Berland announced that a group of female leaders would be appearing during’s Twitter’s event at the CES technology show.
But others found Twitter’s message of female empowerment – and its nod to the #MeToo movement – hypocritical. Many accuse Twitter of being slow to police the rampant harassment of women on its platform.
Last year, thousands of women promised to boycott Twitter after it temporarily suspended actress Rose McGowan — one of the loudest voices of the #MeToo movement who accused Weinstein of raping her — for tweeting “a private phone number.”
For some, the commercial represented a platform that does not actually exist. One where women and people of color feel they can safely express themselves without finding hate speech in their mentions.
Author Luvvie Ajayi praised the ad’s contents but noted that Twitter still has work left to do.
Author Jessica Valenti and Ted Talks social media editor Ella Dawson echoed Ajayi.