Twitter is a media outlet which provides individuals with a platform to publicize their voice. Whether your tweets concern your personal perspective on politics or a viral video, individuals hold the potential to start movements and unify an entire online community in just 140 characters or less. Twitter established itself as a medium “without barriers,” but when Rose McGowan’s account was suspended in the midst of speaking against sexual harassment within the entertainment industry, feminists on the platform came together to protest.
Rose McGowan was one of the many women who shared her story on being raped by Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein in 1997. As one of the leading voices in entertainment, Weinstein adds another chapter to the old tale of sexual harassment in the workplace, playing the classic boss who abuses his power in order to secretly strip women of their self-worth. Too often, these stories go untold because women are embarrassed or afraid to tell their stories in fear of losing their jobs. In an effort to rid these feelings of shame and fear, McGowan uses her own voice to support other actresses who have fallen subject to Weinstein’s sexual abuse.
McGowan sparked major momentum among feminists by encouraged them to rise above degradation in the workplace. After her important tweet, however, she found herself unexpectedly locked out of her account. Seeing the act as another patriarchal effort to silence women, feminists on twitter decided to collectively boycott the platform on October 13th. To spread the movement, they created the hashtag #WomenBoycottTwitter
On October 12th, Twitter released a statement explaining its decision to lock Rose McGowan’s account indicating that it was due to an old Tweet of hers that included a “private phone number” which violates their Terms of Service. After the Tweet was removed, McGowan was able to continue her support for other women and Twitter reinforced their mission, stating that “Twitter is proud to empower and support the voices on our platform, especially those that speak truth to power. We stand with the brave women and men who use Twitter to share their stories, and will work hard every day to improve our processes to protect those voices.”
There are times like these when Twitter becomes a form of resistance where individuals are able to cultivate a community in order to lead a movement that will disrupt “the norm.” Harvey Weinstein is not the first abuser of power and certainly not the last. But with the influence of social media, women are able to break the silence and finally share their stories.