Twitter can be both a blessing and a curse for feminists. On the one hand, it's a great gathering space and battleground for people to hash out the true meaning of feminism and what it means to them — witness the #HeForShe account created by UN Women, where people are talking about what role men can play in women's equality. (Hint: a big one.) But it can also be a cesspool full of angry, violent abuse against prominent feminist campaigners, many of whom speak vocally about what it's like to be a feminist on social media. Jessica Valenti, Anita Sarkeesian, and many others are brutally targeted by trolls daily, and it can make you wonder: is social media-broadcast feminism worth the horrific consequences?
The answer is yes — because it means we can't be silenced. Making feminism easily accessible and easily explained (it may seem pretty simple, but there are a lot of misconceptions out there) is a big priority for modern-day feminists, and places like Twitter are a fantastic venue to sum things up, snappily, caustically, and often hilariously. Just 140 characters can, it turns out, hold a lot of truth, whether it's about the daily realities of life as a woman (sexism sucks), bigger-picture information about gender inequality worldwide, or presenting feminism's core beliefs with clarity and conviction. It's an asset, if one that can turn violently nasty.
Get your retweeting action on: these 12 tweets sum up aspects of feminism so quickly you could fit the whole dozen of them on one T-shirt, and dazzle your way through your next sexist encounter.
1. The One That Exhibits Double Standards
What This Gets So Right: This famous account skewers the horrendous double standards and nonsense cliches thrown at working mothers all around the world. "Can we have it all?" Oh my god can we stop talking about this now. The Man Who Has It All highlights the ridiculousness of the pressures we place on these women (be beautiful, sexy, immaculate, a good wife, an excellent worker, have you done your nails yet) by doing the obvious: placing them onto men instead.
2. The One That Points Out Everyday Issues
What This Gets So Right: The Everyday Sexism Project is one of the most stand-out parts of feminist Twitter, purely because reading examples from its litany of real everyday misogyny will make you want to kick a chair. From harassment in the street to on-the-job misogyny to gems like this, it's all the evidence you need that rampant sexism is alive, well, and horrible.
3. The One That Keeps It Focused
What This Gets So Right: The concept at the heart of feminism can sometimes be clouded by on-trend ideas, and the nature of its fight — against serious, institutionalized sexism — can get lost. This series of tweets sums up, powerfully and succinctly, what feminism really is: personal, political, and in concert with every other woman.
4. The One That Breaks Down The Economics
What This Gets So Right: Feminism is as much an economic issue as it is a social one. Discussions of gender equality need to take into account the real, dollars-and-cents cost of an unequal workforce and discrimination against women. Check out this simple chart and you'll see how much we stand to gain, as a world, by letting women participate in the workforce equally — which means the same good jobs, pay rate and productivity. India alone could boost the worth of its economy by 50 percent a year. Come on, everybody, we're all losing out because of this sh*t.
5. The One That Showcases Kids
What This Gets So Right: Feminism starts with girls — and celebrities can be seriously powerful role models. The He For She Campaign is all about fostering feminism the world over, and this amazing tweet is all about how the right messages early on in life, from the right ass-kicking inspirations, can set girls on the path to be equality-fighters.
6. The One That Calls Out Economic Inequality
What This Gets So Right: Remember what I said about gender inequality and economic difficulty? Yeah, the gender pay gap matters — but you also have to keep track of the fact that pay gaps don't stay static. This stuff changes all the time, and often, as this tweet explains, the result isn't good news for women.
7. The One That Reminds Us We Earn Less Than Men Every Day
What This Gets So Right: A really witty, upsetting summary of what it's like to know your work is valued at only 85 percent of your male counterpart's? Hello, dream tweet. Gender-unequal pay is still a problem, it's still affecting our economic power, and it's the same story around the world. Even if this tweet's currency is solely British, the lesson isn't.
8. The One That Explains Why Feminism Isn't Your Problem
What This Gets So Right: There's a nasty propensity among certain people to assume that "feminism" is to blame for women not being receptive to advances, refusing to be available for sex 24-7, not sitting down, and taking normalized misogyny, and so on. In a sense, they're right — but blaming a societal movement for your own personal failings? Yeah, not happening.
9. The One That Acknowledges The Issues
What This Gets So Right: Feminism does have its problems — for instance, how can it include every woman's viewpoint, from the disabled to the queer to the women of color, and give them equal weighting and visibility? But acknowledging those problems and attempting, as a group, to solve them doesn't mean the whole concept is inherently flawed.
10. The One That Highlights Choice
What This Gets So Right: Feminists hear this one a lot. Being a feminist does not mean that you have to go into the workforce instead of being a stay-at-home mom. It means that nobody can tell you what to do with your life except you. Freedom of choice, guys. And this tweet brings it home.
11. The One That Gets Historical On Us
What This Gets So Right: I just think it's amazing. (Also, it's a pertinent reminder that calling people "feminists" as a way to bring them down was what people did to the suffragettes fighting for women's right to vote. Way to be on the wrong side of history, guys.)
12. The One That Sums It Up
What This Gets So Right: It's the most basic primer we've got. And we all need to know, occasionally, what feminism is not — it's not just for some people over others, it's not about hating dudes, it's not designed to exclude anybody. Share this one like wildfire, because it clears up some pretty spectacular misunderstandings in one simple graphic. Gotta love it.