Social media — and Twitter in particular — has emerged as one of the most influential platforms to champion issues and causes. If the voices behind an issue are big enough to grab headlines, you can expect a hashtag.
That’s exactly what happened after Twitter suspended actress Rose McGowan for tweeting a private phone number, a practice that violates its service terms. Prior to her suspension, McGowan had been vocal on Twitter about allegations of sexual assault against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein.
Women responded to Twitter’s crackdown on McGowan by vowing to leave Twitter all day Friday to show their solidarity with the actress, using the hashtag #WomenBoycottTwitter.
The campaign to boycott appears to have begun with Kelly Ellis, a software engineer.
Some said Twitter’s treatment of McGowan was the latest example of women — and particular rape survivors — being silenced when they attempt to bring attention to the issues impacting their gender most.
When Twitter returned McGowan’s access, she continued to bring attention to the topic of sexual assault in Hollywood, specifically involving Weinstein.
“HW raped me,” she tweeted.
“HW” is Weinstein, the embattled former Weinstein Co. co-chairman who is now in Europe seeking rehabilitation.
For some, the outpouring of support for McGowan rings hollow, especially because a majority of white women voted for Donald Trump and Republican policies that are seen as harmful to minorities and women. Sixty-one percent of white women without a college degree supported Trump, as did sizable percentages — 44 percent — of white college-educated women, according to exit polls.
Others see it as a double standard, in which women of color are expected to support the mistreatment of famous, wealthy and white women, but the same levels of support aren’t reciprocated.
Admittedly, many of the #WomenBoycottTwitter group are critics of the president and his policies. But the backlash is aimed at those who remain silent when women of color speak about the same issues, or on police brutality, the pay gap and a lack of inclusivity in the feminist movement.
Not all issues and voices grab headlines, said activist April Reign, who got #WOCAffirmation trending on Twitter to highlight the voices of women of color.
In response to #WomenBoycottTwitter, which trended all Friday morning, Ava DuVernay, an award-winning filmmaker, called on the white women to pay attention to issues of importance to women who don’t have the opportunity to work with major Hollywood execs.