So Shutting Up is the New Resistance? Tell that to the Suffragettes.

by Katie on August 4, 2013


I’m breaking the #twittersilence, fundamentally because I think it’s an innately silly concept.

Did the Suffragettes take a vow of silence? Or the Jarrow Hunger Marchers? Or the Anti-Apartheid movement or, indeed, those (still) fighting the case for the Gay Pride movement and homosexual equality in Russia? Every single voice raised against injustice, terror and threats is one more person willing to stand against those who would seek to deny rights, to subjugate and to terrorise. Taking a vow of silence is perhaps the most contra-method of naming and shaming and turning the tables on trolls who stalk and threaten either sex. All it does is put (mainly) women back in their metaphorical box of silence and acquiescence.

Social history has been littered with anti-feminist ideas of ‘put up and shut up’, ‘the little woman’ and ‘good girls being seen and not heard’. Well, I fight with every inch of my being against this restrictive ideology and have done so my entire life. So why stop now? To take a vow of silence like a good social media tweeter, one-day Carmelite nun to stop what exactly? Trolls from thinking they’ve won? Encourage the all-powerful Twitter (or others like Google) to take responsibility and action (they’re not just the medium that allows for the exchange of views) ? Or merely to show support for the journalistic in-crowd who, being high-profile with thousands of followers and influence have instigated this alternative as a fight-back and show of support with those attacked?  Notably, even Caroline Criedo-Perez (one of those attacked) choose not to take part in #twittersilence – “While I appreciate the act of solidarity, I didn’t instigate it and I’m not taking part. It is how I choose to react. I choose 2 remain on Twitter. I choose 2 #shoutback. And I choose not 2 stop even 4 a day.”

#twittersilence may be seen as a token one-day action and has certainly shone the light worldwide on troll abuse and how this must be stopped. A good thing indeed. But I tend to agree with Mic Wright at The Telegraph. This is far greater than a technological problem and is a societal one; An issue that highlights the powerlessness and the disenfranchisement as well as the anger of trolls, hiding behind a keyboard in typical keyboard warrior repose, willing to hit out at either men or women as an act of vengeance, to render those they subconsciously consider their superiors and instill fear. Personally, I laugh in their face. I find that would smart the most. And that’s why I support #Shoutback and #inspirationalwomen.  I respect the act and solidarity of #twittersilence, just not the method. We have fought long and hard for a voice. Use it.



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