Twitter’s Boisterous Emergence of the E-feminist and Her Invisible Yet Vital Work
Feminism has been regarded the major perpetuator of gender wars on Nigerian Twitter; women who identify with the infamous word have suffered quite a reputation as war-hungry, scorned and men-hating scoundrels propagating their agenda under the guise of feminist discourse. Due to her colonial past and patriarchal structure, there have been staggering reports on Nigeria about, the feminisation of inequalities, especially pertaining to poverty. Nigerian Twitter wouldn’t be a true representation of this society if it didn’t attempt to project ill intentions regarding the place of women. If you have a Twitter account, more often than not, you will participate in combative discussions that may end up in virtual-wig-snatching matches.
Social media has played a vital role in empowering marginalised groups with online forums and specially curated events surrounding the feminist discourse. Networked feminism is a phenomenon that can be described as the online mobilisation and coordination of feminists in response to perceived sexist, misogynistic, racist and other discriminatory acts against minority groups. Twitter has been particularly responsible for enabling grass root feminists with the necessary tools needed to navigate an unequal system. An interesting case study to look at is the #beingfemaleinnigeria conversation, which revealed the shocking disparity of privilege between men and women in Nigeria.
The generally debated con of mainstream feminism is the claim it accommodates more white women than minorities. The West’s version of feminism may be due to this backlash quite common amongst Nigerian women who insist their struggles are way colossal from #freethenipple and #metoo. Mainstream feminism is perhaps a depiction of a developed society that has since pummelled demons of the ‘developing’ brand, which in turn cripples its motivations in this part of the world. For starters, Nigerian women’s approach to #metoo may not be as loud as their American counterparts because the infrastructure isn’t as liberal and will incur certain repercussions.
Despite Twitter’s progressivism, it is often tagged a toxic platform with online users as bullies. The constructed ‘gender wars’ confirm the interesting gap between the struggles of everyday men and women; its revelations are usually strenuous, extremely sensitive but mostly riveting. It exposes the ways patriarchy reinforces itself through normalcies in capitalism, marriages and the status quo at large. What both genders have revealed over time is the system’s unfavourableness for either party; as women who are crippled in careers with an unfair wage gap often over depend on men who are unable to express emotions hurled in toxic masculinity. Feminism’s other superpower is its proposal that if men and women were treated equally in all spheres of life, certain pressures will be inexistent for men especially.
When ‘war’ strikes on Nigerian Twitter, men usually complain about the website’s toxicity as they yearn for earlier days with lighter conversations. What they fail to grasp is the ever-changing cosmos we occupy; perhaps a group of women who have become aware of a society that isn’t favourable to them. What we therefore cannot deny is Twitter’s most redeeming feature – its democratic possibility. Perhaps we should be more concerned with the injustices within society that enable this cycle to curb these often misunderstood tweets by E-feminists. There wouldn’t be toxic conversations on the timeline if our society was peaceful and harmonious in its dealings towards women. And maybe what it takes to be heard sometimes is a bit of stubbornness, and that too is uncomfortable.
The most important point to note from this wave of feminism isn’t just the exhaustion from deconstructing gender roles but it’s accessibility to every woman in all parts of the world. The E-feminist tag is a by-product of ‘gender wars’ used majorly by patriarchal machineries to silence feminist motivations. It is a way of dehumanising the women behind digital activism, which is perhaps the most relevant component of activism in contemporary times. Twitter’s design template; “What’s happening?” is distinguished from other social media sites as it attempts to engage the user’s mind by providing an outlet to vent, comment and share information.
The advent of this phenomenon is the emergence of citizen journalism, which has inspired inclusivity in the media. It has birthed a form of journalism that has allowed more stories from marginalised communities because Twitter as we know it, is a microcosm of the real world. The E-feminist through Twitter threads; launches GoFundMe campaigns on sanitary towels for less privileged girls; organises seminars on domestic violence and consent; and continues to inspire a community of women to never settle for, but demand for the life they want. It is an interesting time to be a woman as the world exceptionally changes. Like Nisha Chittal would say, “a new wave of feminism is here, and its most powerful weapon is the hashtag”.
Somehow, despite the backlash against mainstream feminism, Twitter maintains a vital role by embracing the unique struggles of women from all parts of the world through critical conversations that gradually transform the world. It is an equalising force, a tool used to demand change and should be attended to vigorously, with movements like #notbuyingit #solidarityisforwhitewomen #survivorpriveledge #blackgirlmagic #metoo #nastywoman #everydaysexism #sayhername #rapeculture #notokay #askhermore #whyistayed, and of course, the most painful #bringbackourgirls.
April 13, 2021