6 Feminist Hashtag Movements To Watch In 2016

by Maitri Suhas

Social media detractors should be forever cowed by the fact that hashtag activism really works. In 2015, Instagram, Facebook, and especially Twitter were vital in providing spaces for women and minorities to share their personal stories and stand in solidarity on issues ranging from racism, sexism, classicism, wage gaps, assault, education, motherhood, and beyond. The successes of 2015 included #WithMalala, #FreeTheNipple, #LoveYourLines, and #RedMyLips, following in the footsteps of other sweeping hashtag movements that have changed the conversation in the past, like #YesAllWomen.

Already this year #OscarsSoWhite dominated the timeline during awards season to call attention to the lack of recognition for people of color in Hollywood. #BlackGirlMagic is celebrating black women and girls on the timeline every day. Not only are Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook (and any other platform that uses hashtags) great places to start conversations, it's where activists can educate, connect, and spread their message instantly, as well as organize to take their protests to the streets. Hashtag activism is a reflection of the problems oppressed groups, especially women and minorities, face every day, in real time.

Here are some feminist hashtag movements to follow in 2016:

1. #BlackLivesMatter

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#BlackLivesMatter started in 2013 after the acquittal of George Zimmerman to call for justice against anti-black brutality. But did you know that the movement, which has since become one of the most powerful and potent protest movements in the United States, was started by three women?

Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi created BLM, and in 2014, Garza herself wrote in a piece on Empathy Educates, "[#BlackLivesMatter] is an acknowledgment that Black women continue to bear the burden of a relentless assault on our children and our families and that assault is an act of state violence."

It's crucial to follow #BLM this election season.

2. #NotYourMule

During awards season when #OscarsSoWhite was dominating the Twitter feed, another important hashtag was revived: #NotYourMule. Not Your Mule calls for attention and credit to be given for the work that black activists have continually done. Activist Mikki Kendall wrote in a series of tweets about the problem with anti-blackness from other people of color.

#NotYourMule is about recognizing black activism and civil rights labor, which has benefited all minorities. As for how it ties into feminism, feminism must be an intersectional practice, and not only that, but black women must be recognized for their labor and activism by all women.

3. #FreeKesha

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Using the hashtag #FreeKesha, fans have taken their support from the internet to the real world, with several petitions and even protests in support of Kesha after she made claims that producer Dr. Luke (real name: Lukasz Gottwald) sexually and emotionally abused her. (Dr. Luke has adamantly denied these claims and sued Kesha for defamation.) Many women have used the hashtag to share their own stories of survival and to thank Kesha for voicing her claims.

4. #PinkTax

#PinkTax and #GenderPricing are calling attention to the higher cost of "female" products, including everything from razors and shaving cream to children's toys. A study by the New York City Department Of Consumer Affairs shows that women pay more for the same product 42 percent of the time, and are also victim to the "shrink it and pink it" mantra, when manufacturers charge more for less product when it has been put into "female-friendly" packaging. It's time to #SinkThePinkTax.

5. #62MillionGirls

Started by Michelle Obama in September 2015, #62MillionGirls is a movement to call attention to the 62 million girls around the world who are not getting the education that they need and deserve. Speaking to the audience at the Global Citizen Festival, Obama asked people to tweet what they learned in school with the hashtag #62MillionGirls. According to the organization's website, their mission is to globally "encourage and support community-led solutions to reduce barriers that prevent adolescent girls from completing their education."

6. #BlackGirlMagic

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#BlackGirlMagic is hard to define, like most magic is. According to the Huffington Post, "Black Girl Magic is a term used to illustrate the universal awesomeness of black women. It’s about celebrating anything we deem particularly dope, inspiring, or mind-blowing about ourselves." Coolest cool teen Amandla Stenberg did an amazing #BlackGirlMagic video series with Teen Vogue, both celebrating amazing black women and girls and dispelling stereotypes and microagressions against them. Check it out on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, because it really is magical.

Be sure to keep an eye out for more hashtag activism in 2016, because it's proven that social media is the perfect place to grow a movement and effect real change.