Since Twitter was born 10 years ago today, the platform has gone through many different eras, from a website that was highly confusing to use, to one that has become a vital social platforms for memes, discussion -- and especially activism.
Twitter "hashtivism" has its critics, but there's no denying that hashtag culture has changed the way we talk about some of the most pressing social issues of our time. And in the last decade, the way Twitter has shaped conversations about women's issues and feminism has had an unprecedented impact.
Tara L. Conley, founder of the website Hashtag Feminism, says that she first began to notice the power of feminist hashtags on Twitter in 2013.
"Over the years, I have witnessed feminist hashtags activate folks in both online and offline contexts," Conley told The Huffington Post.
"Twitter has been a contentious and transformative space for feminist discourse. There are still folks out there whose day job it is to demonize feminists/feminism -- most of whom hide behind Twitter eggs. But I also know that if it weren't for hashtags like #YouOkSis, #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen, #WhyIStayed, #RapeCultureIsWhen, #FreeMarissa, all of the #IStandWith tags, and tags that called attention to the deaths of black women like #RenishaMcBride and #SandraBland, and all those under the #SayHerName tag -- we would likely be having very different public conversations, or worse, no conversations."
From the furor over the #HobbyLobby, to the conversation about intersectionality through #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen, to the honest and sometimes heartbreaking confessions of #RapeCultureIsWhen, there have been countless hashtags on Twitter that have not only empowered women, but have raised awareness about the issues that affect us all.
Below are 21 hashtag movements from the last ten years that have changed the way we talk about feminism online. Let us know what other hashtags you'd include in the comments!
hashtag is one of the earliest feminist hashtags to gain popularity on Twitter. Meaning "feminism 2.0," it's generally been used to tag interesting articles or conversations about the future of feminism. According to HashtagFeminism.com
, the hashtag was first used in 2008 by Twitter user @blogdiva
, and later popularized by Niambi Jarvis (@hiyaahpower
The #MooreAndMe hashtag campaign was probably one of the earliest examples of hashtag feminism starting a discussion that went far beyond the bounds of the Internet. In December 2012, writer Sady Doyle wrote an essay on Tiger Beatdown
calling out filmmaker Michael Moore and journalist Keith Olbermann for suggesting that the women accusing WikiLeaks creator Julian Assange of rape
were lying in an MSNBC segment.
In addition to criticizing Moore's victim-blaming, Doyle urged her online followers to tweet Moore using the hashtag #Mooreandme until "we have an explanation from Michael Moore, and preferably an apology, and preferably $20,000, donated to an anti-sexual-assault organization of his choice."
The campaign was succesful: not only did it force liberal men to question the ways in which the contribute to rape culture, but Moore later issued an apology (of sorts) in a subsequent appearance on "The Rachel Maddow Show."
Author, activist, and media personality Janet Mock launched
campaign in 2012 in an effort to bring awareness
to the issues that affect trans women. But in addition to bringing awareness, the hashtag has become a safe place for trans women to stand in solidarity with one another, and celebrate their achievements.
Mitt Romney famously said in a 2012 debate that his staffers "brought me binders full of women,” and Twitter history was made. #Bindersfullofwomen
began trending on the website almost immediately, with users sharing an equal measure of snark and sober criticism over the lack of women in politics and beyond.
Activist Mikki Kendall (@Karynthia
) created the #Solidarityisforwhitewomen
hashtag in August 2013, prompting a vigorous discussion across social media about the importance of intersectionality in feminism, and challenge the ways in which women of color are sometimes excluded from conversations about feminist issues online. The tweet above is the first to use the hashtag, which has since gone onto inspire similar hashtag movements including #SolidarityIsForBlackMen
On December 16, 2013 (in a since deleted tweet), Internet activist Suey Park told her followers about a new hashtag campaign she was starting: #NotYourAsianSideKick
. "Be warned," Park wrote. "Tomorrow morning we will be have [sic] a convo about Asian American Feminism with hashtag #NotYourAsianSidekick. Spread the word!!!!!!!" The hashtag sparked a fascinating conversation
about Asian-American women and stereotypes, generalizations that have been passed down about them through the media.
movement and website rose to popularity in 2014, started by the scholar and activist Dr. Yaba Blay
(a relation of mine). A perusal of the hashtag on Twitter brings up thousands of empowering photos of beautiful, dark skinned black women -- a reminder that they are not "Pretty, for a dark girl" but just pretty, period
This powerful hashtag was first used by writer Beverly Gooden (@bevtgooden
), who, over a series of tweets, told her own harrowing personal story of domestic abuse and survival. Gooden was inspired to share her story, with the hashtag #WhyIStayed
, after the media reactions to Ray Rice's fiancée Janay Palmer choosing to still marry him after he violently attacked her in early 2014. Gooden's tweets inspired other women on Twitter to share their stories and bring awareness to the complexities of domestic violence, also inspiring the hashtag #WhyILeft
hashtag campaign surfaced in 2014, in response to the kidnapping of 276 young Nigerian girls by the terrorist organization Boko Haram. The hashtag finds its origins in the efforts of Nigerian activists, and was first used on Twitter
on April 23 by Ibrahim M. Abdullahi, quoting feminist Nigerian activist Obiageli Ezekwesili
. In addition to bringing global attention to the cause, the #BringBackOurGirls campaign also started discussions about the ways in which the West reacts to and reports on stories involving girls and women of color.
Writer and political analyst Zerlina Maxwell created #rapecultureiswhen on March 25, 2014, in order to draw attention to the ways in which society blames victims of assault and rape. Maxwell was inspired to start the hashtag after Time published an essay titled: “It’s Time to End ‘Rape Culture’ Hysteria.”
A survivor of assault herself, Maxwell candidly shared a series of tweets about her own experiences with rape culture, including being asked "what she was wearing?" after reporting her rape. From Maxwell's story came thousands of others from women all over the world, using the hashtag as a safe space to share their truths and call out the status quo.
arose in the wake of the Santa Barbara mass shooting
, where a man named Elliot Rodger murdered six people in an act of misogynistic rage against women. A play on the conversation-derailing #NotAllMen
hashtag, #YesAllWomen was created by Twitter user @Gildedspine
as a way for women to share all the ways in which their lives are impacted by violence and misogyny.
Thousands of women used the #HobbyLobby hashtag on Twitter in June 2014 to voice their righteous anger at the Supreme Court's ruling
that commercial enterprises can refuse to provide contraception coverage for employees in the name of religion.
was created by feminist thinker, blogger, and social worker @FeministaJones
in August 2014. The hashtag was inspired by an incident in which Jones witnessed the street harassment
of a woman that was so disturbing, she felt the need to approach the woman afterward and ask, "You OK, sis?" From a simple hashtag came a vigorous online discussion about street harassment, what makes it not OK ever, and how it specifically affects women of color.
, like similar hashtags #WomeninSTEM
, was created in an effort to highlight the need for more women to be included in the worlds of tech, engineering, science, and math. The American Association of University Women started the #AddWomen hashtag in March 2015, spearheading a conversation about the need for more diversity.
Author Courtney Summers popularized #ToTheGirls in April 2015, starting the hashtag as a way for older women to share words of wisdom and encouragement to teenage girls grappling with the sometimes harmful, sexist messaging they receive everyday. The hashtag resulted in thousands of inspiring tweets and messages hinging on confidence, body image, and self-love.
#EverydaySexism began trending on Twitter in April 2015, after author Laura Bates, founder of the The Everyday Sexism Project
, encouraged people on social media to share their stories of the daily, subtle, sexist microaggressions in honor of the project's third anniversary
. Thousands of people participated, and have continued to share their stories using the tag, highlighting the ways sexism affects all of us.
In February 2015, plus-size model Tess Holliday started an online movement for body positivity
. #EffYourBeautyStandards took off across Twitter and Instagram, with fat women from all over the world proudly sharing selfies celebrating their curves and defiantly challenging the idea that being skinny is the only way to be beautiful.