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On Thursday night, women across Twitter shot off their final tweets of the day, posted one last message about their intent to be offline all of Friday, and closed up shop.
These women have chosen to stand with Rose McGowan in response to Twitter locking her account for 12 hours after her days-long callouts of disgraced producer Harvey Weinstein and his purported enablers, including Ben Affleck. Twitter explained it took action because McGowan tweeted out a private phone number. However, sexual assault advocates pointed to the company’s hypocrisy in censoring McGowan’s account but doing little to prevent repeated harassment of women and hate speech on the platform.
So women said, enough is enough, and launched the hashtag #WomenBoycottTwitter, vowing to spend all of Friday off the website. Male allies joined, too, in a move to promote solidarity and amplify McGowan’s story.
Tomorrow I follow the Women. #WomenBoycottTwitter— Mark Ruffalo (@MarkRuffalo) October 13, 2017
However on Friday, some women were still on Twitter, explaining why they decided to forgo the boycott. Some found irony in the style of protest—Twitter had silenced McGowan’s ideas, so what use did other women have in removing their voices from the conversation to prove a point to the corporation?
I believe meaningful change comes from talking, raising our collective voices...and listening. So today I'll be boosting some voices that we should all hear MORE, in support of those participating in #womenboycottwitter. ✊️ https://t.co/GAI6taaucg— Liz Gumbinner (@Mom101) October 13, 2017
Others explained why silence, for them, was not an option. Regardless of the intent of the boycott, women expressed that they didn’t agree with the impact the boycott might have on conversations solely centered on sexual assault.
As a sexual assault survivor, I can’t participate in #womenboycottwitter & be quiet. We can’t continue to be silent. We have to be louder.— Cass (@cassi_taylor422) October 13, 2017
We will not be silenced I'm still tweeting because I as a woman as a HUMAN have a right to be heard. Break the silence. #womenboycottwitter— Paris Lane (@Sheezer96) October 13, 2017
I support women - I am one last time I checked. I don’t think voluntary silence is the way to protest forced silence. #womenboycottwitter— Some Redhead (@caponeagain) October 13, 2017
For women of color, however, critiques of the boycott were more pointed, and with good reason—where was this boycott of Twitter when the company did nothing to alleviate, if not eliminate, the years of harassment that Black women have faced on the platform?
Oh so it's #WomenBoycottTwitter day. Does that mean Black women can tweet today without our threads being stolen for article titles?— Optimus Fine (@sunnydaejones) October 13, 2017
Silence won't save us. It might work for some white women, but Black girls have to yell. Or we'll get run over & everyone will ignore it.— Mikki Kendall (@Karnythia) October 13, 2017
Now people want to boycott twitter? Always interesting where and for whom people draw the line.— roxane gay (@rgay) October 13, 2017
Read the whole thread. And as a woman of color who wants to protect the ACA, i'll be on twitter tomorrow. https://t.co/vdUy4YX7Ot— HawaiiDelilah (@HawaiiDelilah) October 13, 2017
What happened with Rose McGowan being suspended was wrong. Unequivocally wrong. But if that's what activated your awareness, I don't especially trust you.— wikipedia brown (@eveewing) October 13, 2017
I understand the calls of solidarity w/ assault victims, but women of color RARELY engender this type of solidarity and that's some B.S. https://t.co/ufJckERVmJ— Britni Danielle (@BritniDWrites) October 13, 2017
When Milo Yiannopoulos encouraged racist trolls to attack Leslie Jones‘s account last summer, where were the droves of women using their social media clout to shame Twitter into acting? Where were the protests when Fifth Harmony’s Normani Kordei also received an onslaught of racist hatred, causing her to leave the site? And most recently, as ESPN’s Jemele Hill continues to serve a two-week ESPN suspension for her tweets on boycotting advertisers, why have women not shown her the same level of solidarity given to McGowan, all while the President of the United States bashes Hill on the same platform?
I won’t be boycotting Twitter tomorrow. I support those who do. I only ask that you be honest about whether you are showing up selectively.— Blair Imani (@BlairImani) October 13, 2017
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
I am not boycotting. I am supremely pissed off with @Twitter and supremely pissed off with the selective action & anger of this boycott.— Mona Eltahawy (@monaeltahawy) October 13, 2017
Instead of ruminating on Twitter’s and its users’ longstanding inaction regarding racism, women not partaking in the boycott are actively demonstrating on the platform by using the hashtags #WOCAffirmation, #BoostWOC, and #AmplifyWomen to promote their own work and the work of women yet to be recognized.
As a queer WoC and a survivor of sexual assault, you're not gonna shut me up. You're not gonna shut any of us up. #AmplifyWomen— Alex #ForTheKids! V (@Chatvert) October 13, 2017
The hashtag I'll be using is #WOCAffirmation. Shout out sistas that are doing the damn thing. Promote them. Hit me so I can RT. Lift us up.— April (@ReignOfApril) October 13, 2017
Regardless of how women chose to demonstrate on Friday, a deeper look into the trolls celebrating the #WomenBoycottTwitter hashtag proved how necessary it is that the conversation extends beyond the day of division.
Good. Now maybe men can get a word in. #womenboycottwitter— i.trudge (@2Run26) October 13, 2017
Samantha Grasso is a former IRL staff writer for the Daily Dot with a reporting emphasis on immigration. Her work has appeared on Los Angeles Magazine, Death And Taxes, Revelist, Texts From Last Night, Austin Monthly, and she has previously contributed to Texas Monthly.