I am a feminist. I am all for women empowerment and women liberation. In a patriarchy where women are treated as second and third class citizens, I will support every just cause towards liberation.
Sadly a new crop of so-called women feminists I like to call “social media feminists” have made me question what feminism is – an evaluation process for me.
The advent of social media has changed and taken communication and activism to a whole new level. It is amazing and great the results social media gets. It has its negatives depending on the kind of experience you have had but in my opinion the positives outnumber the negatives. What I am saying is social media activism is great and I am all for it.
A typical example of the power of social media is what Brandon Stanton’s Humans of New York does. Lives have been transformed and people have been mobilized to support others through his activism which started by telling the stories of ordinary people on the streets of New York but now it has gone global and stories of people in Syria and other places are told.
While I am not the one to tell the “social media feminists” how to do their activism, I think there are some who are just in for the cheap popularity. They enjoy the thrill of jumping on what is trending, spew a couple of invectives, fight with people who disagree with them and get hailed by others for their boldness to insult people. After a couple of days, they go back into their holes and wait for the next viral thing to jump on.
Let me give this to them, I like the fact that they get people talking about whatever issue is being discussed. But after jumping on Hamamat Montia’s viral red carpet "situation" by telling all women to get naked and do whatever they want with their bodies any day any time anywhere, how do you measure results?
How do you measure results after branding all men as chauvinists and women who disagree with you and your methods as anti-feminists?
The truth is some of you don’t even practice what you preach on social media, after all what? No one is watching you beyond what you display on social media. On social media you are this bold, untamed, brave and unconventional lioness. You are the one who breaks all societal rules because you are so enlightened to know that some of those rules are not only useless but restrictive.
But who you truly are and how selective your activism is, only you and your conscience can answer that.
True activism goes beyond social media rants.
Amie Ferris-Rotman, founder of Sahar Speaks, left London for Afghanistan where she trains women journalists. It was her way of standing up against gender inequality in journalism. She didn’t just complain she acted. Now Sahar Speaks is hosted on the Huffington Post website.
When Julia Roberts walked the red carpet barefoot at the Cannes Film Festival she wasn’t doing it for the popularity, she did it to make a strong statement to the organizers of the event who had turned some women away a year ago for not wearing high heels. She didn’t have to call the organizers who made the rules 'stupid' or 'airheads'. Like the popular saying goes, “action speaks louder than words”.
When Anita Hill made the sexual harassment claim against Clearance Thomas in 1991, it was not to get attention as some alleged at the time. It was uncomfortable and painful. But the law professor knew speaking up and enduring the subsequent humiliation was not just for her but for the many other women who may be in similar situations.
The list goes on of feminists who have changed the course of the struggle in diverse ways. In many cases it cost them their jobs, they were disgraced and mocked.
For those making “noise” on social media as if you are more feminist than anyone else I wish you can stand tall and not hide behind social media and speak for the women who are being maltreated by their men bosses in your offices.
Heck I wish you will have the courage to shut your boss up or quit your own job and publicly name and shame your sexist boss whose sexism you endure because you want to keep your job and maintain your pay check.
Did you have the courage to stand for that young woman who sits next to you in your office or who lives in your community who was fired from her job not because she is bad at it but because she refused to warm the bed of her boss?
You don’t pick and choose instances where you want to be a feminist neither do you pick and choose who you want to fight for.
The struggle is real so enough of the cowardice!
Don’t hide behind social media while others do the real hard and “dirty“ work which produces golden results of women leaving abusive relationships, women getting livelihoods so they don't have to depend on any man, setting support systems for rape victims etc.
The activism in the feminism struggle is not an easy one. You better get on your feet and do the hard and uncomfortable stuff.