How has social media shaped the ideas of feminism in the 21st century?

How has social media shaped the ideas of feminism in the 21st century? Well without it, I probably wouldn’t be calling myself a feminist. I think social media has not only made the concept of feminism accessible to so many more people than before, but is also a great tool in educating people about feminism.

Feminists like Marina Watanabe, who posts informative videos about feminism and current feminist issues, have taught me so much about the movement, and what role I want to have in it. Amandla Stenberg, an amazing actress who appeared as Rue in The Hunger Games, speaks passionately about the need for intersectional feminism and Laverne Cox has been instrumental in challenging stereotypes and encouraging education and acceptance for trans women. I would not have discovered these feminists without social media. In fact, so many news stories that involve feminism have originated on social media.  

Hashtags like #ShoutYourAbortion and #YesAllWomen have provided women with a platform to speak about their experiences and tell their stories, and as such have sparked massive conversations about the issue in question, with many feminist news stories that ended up on mainstream news media having originated on Twitter.

Social media is also a place that challenges people when they get it wrong. Take the recent Nicki Minaj and Taylor Swift feud. If you’ve forgotten, it all started when Nicki Minaj didn’t get a nomination for video of the year, insinuating that ‘If your video celebrates women with very slim bodies, you will be nominated for vid of the year’. Taylor Swift took this as a snub towards her music video for ‘Bad Blood’ and replied: ‘I’ve done nothing but love & support you. It’s unlike you to pit women against each other. Maybe one of the men took your slot.’

Social and traditional media immediately erupted after the so called ‘feud’. But it was social media that really called Taylor out on her response that ignored the struggles of women of colour versus white women. Eventually Taylor apologised to Nicki. But would this whole exchange have happened without social media? I don’t think so.

Social media has given a voice to those who are often rendered voiceless by our society; women who are a minority, disabled, transgender or disadvantaged in other ways. These amazing women share their stories so selflessly, educate on problematic behaviour and suggest ways in which we can help.

Social media has shaped feminism in countless ways, but I think it is truly incredible how much information about feminism is contained on sites like Youtube, Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. It allows those who may not have had access to such information to learn about feminism and this, I think, is incredible.

Let us know your favourite feminist social media accounts in the comments below and if you would like to submit a question for our Ask a Feminist feature, or get involved by answering one, please email women@kettlemag.co.uk.