Yesterday, some of the Twitter users began calling for a 24-hour boycott of the platform to show support for victims of sexual assault. The hashtag #WomenBoycottTwitter is trending right now, as the boycott is ongoing. But with its supporter’s offline, the hashtag is mostly being used by users who disagree with the boycott as an effective unity tactic.
The boycott is a response to Twitter’s current suspension of actress Rose McGowan, following a New York Times report a week before that complete decades of sexual assault and harassment by Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. McGowan was mostly vocal on Twitter, accusing Weinstein and calling out actors like Matt Damon and Ben Affleck for protecting him. Yesterday, McGowan’s official Twitter account was temporarily blocked for “violating the Twitter Rules.”
Individuals opting out doesn’t seem to make a dent. What if #WomenBoycottTwitter for one day (along with men who stand with us?)
— Kelly Ellis (@justkelly_ok) October 12, 2017
The boycott was first anticipated by software engineer Kelly Ellis, according to The New York Times. A number of celebrities have since agreed to take action, including Alyssa Milano, John Cusack, Kerry Washington, and McGowan herself.
But thereafter #WomenBoycottTwitter started to pick up steam; some users argued that silence is not really an effective or essential strategy, especially for women of color, who often face immense harassment on social platforms like Twitter. A number of people have also pointed out that this move was provoked by the Twitter ban of a wealthy white woman, and these calls for unity don’t seem to extend to black women like ESPN anchor Jemele Hill, who was recently suspended from her job for tweeting about the NFL player protests.
Calling white women allies to recognize conflict of #WomenBoycottTwitter for women of color who haven’t received support on similar issues.
— Ava DuVernay (@ava) October 13, 2017
Dorothy Charles, a medical student and an organizer said, she felt “a bit of wariness” after hearing about the boycott. “As a Black woman, the boycott reminded me a lot of the Women’s March, where nice, liberal white women are reacting to the sorts of misogyny that Black, brown, and Native women have been protesting for years,” she said. “And they’re undertaking it because white women are now affected.”
“The aim of harassers is to make women shut up. I don’t see how giving them what they want is an effective protest,” writer Mikki Kendall. “I think it is important for us to keep interpolation and to move the pointer away from this idea that bad things only matter when white women are impacted.”
You still don’t understand #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen
It’s got to be embarrassing to fight for rights you’re not willing to grant others.
— Lexi Alexander (@Lexialex) October 13, 2017
Ellis, the initiator of the boycott, addressed the criticism on Twitter yesterday, saying the boycott was a reaction to “a rough week.” “We can do better than that. It’s not okay for solidarity to only be for white women. I regret the timing,” she tweeted.
She also apologized for the hashtag’s omission of non-binary people.