10 Viral Twitter Movements Women Created to Engage Other Women

Twitter's been around for 10 years (feel like mortality's staring you in the face? Us too), and we can honestly say it's been a wild ride. The first-ever tweet was pretty useless, but at some point after that, women got their hands on Twitter handles, discovered the power of a hashtag, and changed everything for the better.


"Hashtag activism" is not the same as storming streets and burning bras, but it has its place. Among other things, hashtag campaigns put numbers to causes, develop a complex conversation around issues large and small, and bring much-needed media attention to our problems. They're the modern-day petition, and we need them just as much as they need us.

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So, instead of celebrating Twitter's birthday, we want to celebrate the 10 hashtags that were -- and are -- the most important to women, along with (where we can) the women who created them.

  1. #YesAllWomen

    After a particularly awful misogynist murdered six people in California in 2014 because of his deep-seated hatred for women, the men of Twitter started the #NotAllMen hashtag to prove that -- you guessed it -- #NotAllMen are murderous misogynists. Female Twitter fired back with the #YesAllWomen campaign to say that no, not all men murder women they don't like, but yes, all women are forced to live in a world dictated by the men who are.

  2. #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen

    In 2013, Twitter's women of color started #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen to redraw the lines of the #Feminism conversation to (rightfully) include them. It looked at feminism's history of prioritizing white women over women of color and brought some much-deserved attention to the far more difficult battles they face.

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  3. #AskHerMore

    On the 2015 Oscars red carpet, the #AskHerMore campaign took off after years and years and years of women answering questions about the dresses and men answering questions about acting practices. It's not that we want to stop hearing about designers, we just want to hear about ... more.

    We have Imran Siddiquee and The Representation Project to thank for this one. We also have to thank everyone who listened -- as Chris Rock so insensitively pointed out, we heard way more from women at the 2016 Oscars, and it wasn't all about their shoes.

  4. #YouOkSis

    If it seems like the conversation about street harassment is never-ending, it's because street harassment is a never-ending issue. But hashtags like #YouOkSis prove that at least now we're talking about the right things. 

    @FeministaJones and @BlackGirlDanger started the conversation in the summer of 2014 after Jones thought to stop and ask the victim of harassment if she was okay. She was, but it's still a worthy question -- what if the next person you ask isn't?

  5. #WhyIStayed

    After the NFL's Ray Rice was caught abusing his then-fiancé on camera, and after that was spread around the Internet in 2014, there was a lot of blame going around. Sadly, a lot of that blame was for Rice's fiancé, Janay Palmer, for staying with Rice after the incident.

    But Beverly Gooden saw an issue with that and started the #WhyIStayed hashtag to stand up for Palmer -- and for the rest of the women who have had to deal with abusive relationships. Why they stay is often complicated and emotional, as Gooden's hashtag proves:

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  6. #EverydaySexism

    You know it, we know it, and Everyday Sexism founder Laura Bates knows it. She created the organization (and the hashtag) to designate a place to talk, vent, scheme, and solve it. 

  7. #StandWithPP

    If there's one organization that all feminists can stand with as unfailingly good, it's Planned Parenthood and the women's health goddesses it blesses us with. So naturally, in 2015, just before the US Senate was going to vote on a bill that could have defunded the organization, feminist Twitter started #StandWithPP to prove just how useful the organization is.

  8. #FreeTheNipple

    In the ongoing fight to desexualize women's breasts, the #FreeTheNipple campaign has been instrumental. Lina Esco coined the term in her 2014 film by the same name, and started the viral campaign shortly after.

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  9.  #62MillionGirls

    Michelle Obama's viral hashtag was created for the #62MillionGirls who don't have access to education. The campaign encouraged people to tweet something they learned in school as a way to highlight all the lessons these girls aren't learning. 

  10. #LeanIn

    Sheryl Sandber's iconic 2010 Ted Talk about women in the workplace led to a book, an organization, and a hashtag -- all of which aimed to help men understand how difficult it can be to be a working woman, and to encourage women to take power back in their professional relationships.


Image via FLOTUS/Twitter

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