Cases of sexual assault against a powerful man surface, there’s media backlash and furious waves of shock. Other women who’d previously been silenced find the courage to speak up against him and then they are silenced by mediums that allow free speech. Sounds familiar? Silencing women has been the oldest trick in the room and the Harvey Weinstein furore has only proven that. Actress Rose McGowan’s account on Twitter has been suspended after she spoke up against Weinstein, and against Ben Affleck, who allegedly lied about not knowing that Weinstein had harassed women. McGowan had pointed out that she had confided in Affleck years ago when Weinstein was trying to set up private meetings with her that she was uncomfortable with.
According to a report, Twitter found her language in her recent tweets surrounding the Weinstein issue, including her tweet about Ben Affleck (she’d said ‘fuck you Ben Affleck’) offensive and has temporarily suspended her account. Silencing a woman who’s trying to fight being silenced? Classic, right?
But women on Twitter are not having any of it. A hashtag, #WomenBoycottTwitter, to protest the silencing of McGowan is trending worldwide. Women tweeting with this hashtag are boycotting Twitter for a day on October 13th. The message is loud and clear – you don’t want our voices? Here, have our silence. Somehow it feels sharper and angrier than a babble of words, the silent online protest is more deafening and symbolic than yelling and angry words.
— Rega Jha (@RegaJha) October 13, 2017
— Lady Nyx (@thenydster) October 13, 2017
I’m boycotting twitter tomorrow because women are consistently harassed by accounts who in turn face no consequences. #WomenBoycottTwitter
— Bindas Ladki (@bindasladki) October 13, 2017
Every day, I’m called a whore, stripper, unemployed, a bot, & worse for opposing Trump & misogyny. I proudly stand with #WomenBoycottTwitter
— Angela Belcamino (@AngelaBelcamino) October 13, 2017
— Karima Ladhani (@karima1211) October 13, 2017
Even men and feminist allies have joined the protest and have tweeted their support before going silent on Twitter.
— Mohamed Salih (@MohamedMOSalih) October 13, 2017
— Charles Clymer🏳️🌈 (@cmclymer) October 13, 2017
Tomorrow I follow the Women. #WomenBoycottTwitter
— Mark Ruffalo (@MarkRuffalo) October 13, 2017
Even men in India have joined the protest, including former Chief Minister of Jammu & Kashmir, Omar Abdullah.
In support of all those ladies who are boycotting @twitter for 24 hours for a better anti-harassment policy. I’ll be back tomorrow.
— Omar Abdullah (@OmarAbdullah) October 13, 2017
Twitter has been under fire for the way it has treated McGowan and women before this. Remember when The News Minute editor Dhanya Rajendran was attacked online by trolls and fans of Tamil actor Vijay for criticising his film? Twitter took no action till the trolling took a surmounting toll on Rajendran. But it’s disgusting how easy it is to jump the gun on women like McGowan who speak up against abusers like Weinstein. Many may argue what this silent protest is even going to achieve. If you’re protesting being silenced then why go silent, they may say. But the ironic nature of the protest is it’s very point. Maybe this one day protest won’t change anything on Twitter or affect the way it treats harassment online, but it’s still a start. Sometimes, silence does speak louder than words.