#YesAllWomen (have a collective story to tell): Feminist hashtags and the intersection of personal narratives, networked publics, and intimate citizenship

Jacqueline Ryan Vickery

Abstract


This paper analyzes feminist hashtags on Twitter as a way to consider how personal experiences function as political and collective within networked publics. My research contributes to a growing body of work analyzing the potential for participatory activist practices within networked publics (Harris, 2008; Jenkins, Ito, & boyd, 2016; Rheingold, 2009). And this paper fits with the conference theme by examining the discourses – or “rules” – that shape women’s participation and collective activism in networked publics.

Specifically, I analyze how the socio-technical affordances of Twitter – as a networked public – provides opportunities for girls and women to share intimate stories alongside and within the context of collective hashtags. Twitter hashtags invite women to participate in a more temporal, ephemeral, contextual manner – that is, to articulate a particular subjectivity – which is made visible in that moment, both individually and collectively.Through an analysis of several feminist hashtags, I argue that girls’ and women’s participation in networked publics is paradoxically and simultaneously private and public, personal and political; and that through the creation of new subjectivities collective feminist storytelling functions as part of “intimate citizenship” (Plummer, 2003). The use of the hashtags – and the stories attached to them – can shape public discourse, media narratives and representations, and effectuate social change. The goal is not to claim victimhood or merely highlight individual experiences, but rather is to challenge and change systems of power and representation vis-à-vis the collective sharing of personal stories within networked publics.

Keywords


feminism, twitter, networked public, activism, women

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