Social networking: the collective term used for online communities with individuals of common interest can share ideas, conversations, debates, and information. In terms of retaliating against sexual and social expectations, it is one of the easiest tools available, and women are taking advantage. Comscore says women are the majority of users of social networking sites and spend 30% more time on these sites than men, controlling websites such as Facebook, Twitter, Blogger, and LinkedIn.
Echo Zen, guest blogger on Feministe.us, explains it like this:
“That’s how social media has changed feminism since a decade ago. Social media is how SlutWalk satellites across the world have organised themselves from the grassroots up, without visible leadership or top-down direction. It is how we make ourselves heard when traditional media outlets ignore our voices. And it gives us a common vernacular for discussing the countless attacks on women’s bodies taking place across America as we speak. So when friends joke to us about taking their whore pills and dedicating them to Rush Limbaugh, we know exactly what they’re talking about.”
Twitter is the most efficient way to spread information via social networking. Though tweets must be short and sweet (140 character maximum), they can concisely express a thought, post a link to an article or website, hold a conversation by way of hashtag. Retweeting gives the power to exponentially multiply the number of users who see the message, and attracting popular twitter handles to follow your own ultimately and inevitably expands your own influence. Jezebel boasts a whopping 71,656 followers, while Feministing maintains about 43,953.
On Facebook, feminists can coordinate by forming exclusive or public groups. They can post status updates, links to other websites, videos (on YouTube or elsewhere), and create pages for specific causes and events. By “liking” or “subscribing” to a page, Currently, it’s the most popular social website in America, with an age range of users from pre-teens to geriatrics. It’s an all-encompassing network that unites all other social sites, groups, and goals together.
Since blogs appeared on the feminist radar in 2003, they have become more than an individual stream of consciousness. Feminist blogs such as Feministing, BitchMedia, and Jezebel have developed into a multi-faceted online location for discussing current events, hosting conversation, sharing information, and liberating women from the stifling expectations of their surroundings. They are a public forum for private thoughts, questions, concerns – something that could not exist without the internet.
Some examples of using social media to empower women: