Black women school Twitter on misogynoir with #WOCAffirmation

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Thanks to dueling hashtags on Friday the 13th, Twitter users got a front row seat to a course on intersectionality. In light of the numerous sexual assault and harassment allegations against Hollywood big wig Harvey Weinstein and actress Rose McGowan’s subsequent Twitter suspension after days of railing against Hollywood sexism and Weinstein in particular, some women vowed to boycott Twitter. In particular, they used the hashtag #WomenBoycottTwitter to publicize the online show of solidarity.

Celebrities and everyday women alike shared tales of sexual harassment and assault and posted the hashtag before shutting down their timelines for the day. Some men latched on to the hashtag as well to show their support. On the surface, it seemed like a fairly typical Twitter show of force for a topic that was dominating headlines.

Some women of color, particularly Black women, however, saw the #WomenBoycottTwitter hashtag as yet another example of white so-called feminists only advocating on issues when the victims are mostly white women. Where was all the outrage from these chest-thumping, Twitter critiquing “feminists” when journalist Jemele Hill was under fire for her tweets or when comedic actress Leslie Jones was drowning in racist drivel or the countless times that Twitter and real life trolls have threatened, harassed, and assaulted black women with little to no consequences?  

The biggest advocates for Black women and girls have historically always Black women and girls. When little Black girls go missing, when Black women are the targets of sexual predators, when Black women only get the “clean-up” roles after a company is killing itself in a flame pit of sexism and racism, Black women are the most vocal and sometimes the only voice. On top of that, these courageous everyday acts often go unheralded. For those reasons, April Reign (creator of #OscarsSoWhite) introduced the #WOCAffirmation hashtag to the world.

Reign’s call to action  with #WOCAffirmation resulted in a boisterous and buoyant display of love for women of color on the same day that some thought it wise for women to ironically stay silent to protest the reasons that women stay silent about sexual assault and harassment.

While decidedly non-woke white feminists took the day off of Twitter, women of color had a bountiful day affirming themselves and their sisters.

Some people needed more than 140 characters to express their thoughts on the boycott and women of color. Writer and social media strategist Shana Pinnock explained her reasoning for Fuse. “The boycott is a stark reminder that solidarity is applied only to white women—something that many, if not all, WOC painfully know. We are tired of being expected to rally with our white counterparts while turning a blind eye to the reality that feminism and the protection of womanhood, is exclusive to white women until they need WOC to stand on the frontlines,” wrote Pinnock.

Ashley C. Ford reiterated the point on Refinery29:“The women who are boycotting Twitter today are not bad or wrong. The women who have decided not to boycott Twitter today are not bad or wrong. This isn’t a moment to make accusations of divisiveness or maliciousness. This is a moment to recognize when the women with the most power forget or choose not to organize with those who have the least.”

Ford is right that there is no need for maliciousness between groups of people who are ostensibly all seeking the goal of equality. However, it is impossible to reach equality if there is no acknowledgment of the various obstacles that prevent goal attainment. This seemingly endless feminist conversation loop is a large part of why womanism exists and it is also why women of color need to be in positions of power to prevent hurtful and dangerous exclusions that leave behind the most vulnerable populations.

Follow Demetria Irwin on Twitter at @Love_Is_Dope and connect with her on Facebook.