Hashtags are used for all sorts of things on twitter. From the tweetalong telly tags such as #splash, #bbcqt and #masterchef, to marking cultural phenomena such as #metrosexual, to the personal esoteric ones like my #blueonblue and #FoucaultsDaughter. But it is in gender politics – where else? – where a hashtag war has broken out.
Funnily enough, this particular game of tag began with the twitter classic #bbcqt. The historian (and tweeter) Mary Beard appeared on the programme last month. That night and the next day she got a lot of shit on twitter from what are known in the business as ‘haterz’. From what I can see, and from my own modest status as @Notorious_QRG, I think once you have a certain number of followers on twitter, you start to get some random crap thrown at you. But Ms Beard is also a feminist, and what do feminists tend to do when they get stick? That’s right, she wrote an article about the ‘misogyny’ and ‘abuse’ she was suffering, in the Guardian.
This brave stand against her ‘abusers’ by the lowly professor and TV personality led to an expression of sisterly solidarity: the #silentnomore hashtag. Feminist women began to break their silence and tell twitter about all the misogyny and abuse they too suffer. I made some criticisms of this hashtag, and was told by one feminist to get out of their ‘space’ and stop ‘abusing’ them!
Then another hashtag popped up called #INeedMasculismBecause. Some men, including Mens Rights Activists used this hashtag to start discussing some inequalities men and boys face. But the feminists swooped down and started attacking the MRAs and men in general. Jezebel suddenly developed a hitherto non-existent sense of humour, and rubbed its hands in glee, laughing at how the feminists had ‘hijacked’ the hashtag. I couldn’t help but notice the hypocrisy of how feminists had claimed criticisms of the #silentnomore hash were ‘abusive’ and yet they were laughing in the aisles at their own take over of an opposing hashtag.
But it didn’t end there. Melissa McEwan another self-effacing, timid feminist blogger and tweeter, set up the rather obsequious tag #tellafeministThankYou. And guess what, some men and non-feminist women piled in with some ironic ‘thank yous’ to feminism for some of the wrongs it has committed against, oh, sex workers, boys, men, non-feminists, etc. And of course McEwan and her friends cried ‘abuse’ again, conveniently forgetting the Lulz value of hijacking hashtags pointed out by Jezebel only days before.
One of my comments on the #INeedMasculismbecause tag was that I needed ‘masculism’ or whatever you want to call what challenges feminism, because feminists dominate discussions of gender. I want to hear some other voices in the mix. But the whole affair has only proved my point. With feminists having the platform of the national press and high profile online publications to claim their ‘victimhood’, the views and perspectives of those of us who disagree with them get drowned out.
But I will be #silentnomore ! I think the feminists dealt with this hashtag war badly and cynically. I think they know they are the dominant force in gender politics, and any kind of democratic opening out of debate just makes them go into attack mode and try to ‘silence’ their critics.