Tweetfest: Feminists Rise on Twitter!

Curious to know how the Tweetfest turned out yesterday? Bell Bajao, ASAP and TARSHI had a blast with some really enthusiastic tweeters – men and women, young an old. But there was also a lesson I learned — misogyny is everywhere, and there is enough of it to make everyone sick!

But wait, I am getting a little ahead of myself. Let me give you a quick summary of the event first. Bell Bajao began the tweetathon with questions about women’s mobility and the need for secure spaces. The conversation immediately grew to encompass sexual violence and the fear of rape, and then quite naturally turned to sexual freedom and reproductive choices.

feminism_definitionThen ASAP took the helm to talk about the right to choose if and when to become a mother. It was particularly empowering to hear young women and men talk about a woman’s right NOT to become a mother, and all the more incredible to hear tweeters draw connections between the legal and cultural barriers to abortion. I would like to share some of the best tweets in a separate post, but here’s one that was tweeted 14 times, and came out as the most popular tweet of the fest!

Bell Bajao said:

A woman is not always a mother-in-the-making!  Is she entitled to a life between the poles of celibacy and motherhood? #WhoInControl

TARSHI took the wheel for the third part of our tweetfest, and talked about the need for comprehensive sex education for both men and women as a means to curb violence. It was wonderful to talk about how sex needs to be discussed as a source for pleasure and power, and how pregnancy and abortion have to be discussed as reproductive choices.

We had incredible support and every single tweeter who helped the conversation grow, provided insightful comments, pointed out the pitfalls in the argument, deserves an APPLAUSE! I want to specially mention Samsara — our partner in Indonesia — who not only helped us promote the tweetfest, and but supported our prochoice comments with insightful tweets on invisible forms of violence and restrictive laws. Thanks also to WGNRR and Maternity Worldwide who joined us with great facts on abortion, and to Indian Sexism and Why Loiter who discussed the impact of gender constructs on violence and autonomy.

Do follow the hashtag #WhosInControl on Twitter for some incredible feminist conversation.

But now, on to the trolls and the misogyny! (If you do follow the hashtag, you’ll see this too) I guess we should have expected some trouble in a tweetfest about violence and control. But it was a bit sad to hear comments that not only trivialized the implications of rape and the absence of sexual and reproductive freedom, but also stood firmly in support of patriarchal institutions which in the first place pave the way for a culture of violence and control. TARSHI made it very clear several times that this tweetathon was in no way against men, and one of the tweeters also bravely pointed out that men were as much victims of patriarchy as women were! Yet, it was pretty sad to see some “men’s rights activists” invest their energy in diluting our discussions by actually tweeting meaningless phrases, which did not in the first place even attempt to make an engaging debate.

But there was a Tsunami of feminist voices to drown this out, and we had an incredible conversation on the whole! Wait for the sequel to this post, because it is really worth sharing some of the wonderful tweets that were shared!

In the meantime, rise on the streets tomorrow and join the dance!

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About Shweta Krishnan

Shweta Krishnan was the Communication and Networking Officer For the Asia Safe Abortion Partnership between June 2012 and March 2014. She is a feminist writer with a background in medicine, and has a strong commitment to promoting sexual and reproductive rights for all.
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