Feminism of hashtags: how to catch ’em all?

Feminism is gaining popularity every year in lots of countries. Many celebrities with high visibility have been involved in the feminist cause and we can say that is becoming a trend, with brands like Zara including feminist messages in t-shirts. #GirlPower, the #MeToo campaign and slogans of #TheFutureIsFemale are almost everywhere now and social media has a lot of responsibility about it.

But, what real effect does it have in society? Does proliferation through social media contribute to change patriarchal social structures? What effect does it have in the concept of feminism itself?

Nowadays there are countless texts, facebook groups, videos… talking about feminism at the distance of a click. Social transformation in the digital space is moreover accompanied by offline actions, through laws and the creation of institutions, as well as the growing work of women’s associations.

Feminism is becoming a mainstream idea, promoted by online networks. But what it can be seen as something positive to visibilize the cause, could lead to empty the word “feminism” of political and theoretical meaning, taking the risk of becoming a superficial concept that has not a big effect in social change.

Despite of this risk, social media provides women with spaces for communication that did not exist before. Women throughout history did not have easy access to joint communication mechanisms, therefore, having a space where it is easy to communicate with other women generates gender consciousness.

The last online campaigns for the rights of women are a great example of the power of communication for social change. This campaigns are performing as mechanisms of identification to build a joint story. Women recognize each other in these stories and create solidarity movements.  

Women’s March 2017 by Aura Lewis, auralewis.com

These communication processes put in common different stories, different perspectives, which have the power to break with the idea of the feminism of classes. Until some years ago, feminism was something tied to intellectualism, to debates of privileged people discussing Simone de Beauvoir texts and to very reduced spaces with few participants. The popularization of social media networks has allowed feminism to reach all types of collectives and social classes.

Patriarchal oppressions show a greater effect on the working class and on marginal collectives. Just as an example, in cases of physical and psychological violence, not having sufficient means makes it much harder to emancipate from the aggressor.

This intersectionality of feminism is vital to promote a real change but not all points of view are easily represented or visibilized. Last March 8th, coinciding with the International Women’s Day, a huge number of associations, political parties, and media, called a strike of all women in Spain. Hundreds of thousands of people occupied the streets in 120 cities for demonstrations, with a participation that was never seen before.

Nevertheless, groups like Afrófeminas, an online community of afro descendant/black women, did not join the demonstrations since they considered they had not the necessary spaces to be represented.

Feminism should have into account these differences of class and race to be able to create an inclusive and lasting social change. Social media has the power to provide tools to share different realities and different ways of understanding feminism, avoiding telling an unique story and promoting the joint creation of an inclusive feminism.

Social media provides the communication channels to start a debate about the meaning of feminism itself that it is important to create a stronger movement that reach all aspects of society. Once these debates are generated where to continue them is something that still has to be discussed.

What do you think? Leave us your thoughts in the comments section below!