I was very excited to discover the articles on Feminist Media Studies, with titles like:
- ”Your a Ugly, Whorish, Slut”: Understanding E-bile.
- (Mis)Perceptions Around Intimate Partner Violence in the Music Video and Lyrics for “Love the Way You Lie”
It was brilliant to see these issues addressed in researched articles that built up a body of knowledge. They did a call out for short articles on twitter hashtags and feminist activism, which I wrote a short piece in response to. It’s not going to be in their published issue which will have many other articles on this, so I thought I’d put it up here for interest!
Hashtag Narratives and Shouting Back: Jada’s Pose
The stories we hear on social media are the stories humankind has always dealt with, but now, a larger, louder platform has been provided. It feels like we are hearing these stories for the first time. And there’s nowhere better to be heard than on twitter, using 140 characters to sum up what you’re thinking, producing your own narrative. If you add #(phrase/word), you can take part in an online conversation and archive, the tweeter’s grand narrative.
Twitter is spoken of by Gay, Adelman, Kaba, Smith (2014) as democratic, a fishbowl, a tool. Hashtags are ways of tagging your twitter post, they are a way of showing solidarity and arguing back.
If you were to search #Jadapose on twitter, you would find a trial waiting to happen. #Jadapose was used to tag posts showing a photo of a young girl, naked, unconscious, posted online in June 2014. People tagged mocking posts, arranging their bodies into the same position as Jada. Jada herself knew nothing of what had happened to her till she saw the photo, with her alleged rapist also mocking her on this public forum.
This initial photo and hashtag went viral, the media world turned to look. This in itself is one of the ways social media challenges dominant discourses, interjecting narratives that have been silenced and shut down. An old example that childhood sexual abuse was originally studied as a family’s dysfunction which allowed abuse to happen, rather than the wider view of society’s construction within which this behaviour existed (Krane, 2000). The reaction of people was horror at the joke attitude of the tweets, which tipped over into ‘‘e-bile’’ (Jane, 2012). People used language such as, ‘’hit that’’, around her vulnerable state.
Jada waived her right to anonymity and gave an interview to KHOU news (2014), ‘‘everybody has already seen…my body’’. She goes onto claim back ownership of herself, ‘‘that’s not what I am and who I am’’.
Narrative produces knowledge, and Jada has added her story. This adds to our knowledge of how we might redesign these narratives. She says, ‘’reputation, that’s over’’, but I would hope rather that her reputation has added to a strong cohort of survivors who are beginning to speak out. In a society where media coverage by women is still underrepresented (Harp, Bachmann, Loke, 2013) and an estimated 90% of rape survivors never report (Burrowes, 2013), her choice to speak out is important.
Jada has created her own pose #IamJada with one arm raised in a fist, a position of strength. This has linked into campaigns to speak out against sexual violence. There are a string of hashtags that express solidarity with Jada: #StandWithJada, #JusticeforJada and #Jadacounterpose.
There are many issues with hashtag activism and narratives that #Jadapose illustrates, the role it plays in creating awareness and publicity being useful to both feminism and empowerment, but the use of e-bile to silence and shut down is also acknowledged.
Adelman. L., Gay. R., Kaba. M., Smith. A., April 17th, 2014. What role should the social platform play as the feminist movement continues to grow? http://www.thenation.com/article/178883/where-twitter-and-feminism-meet
Jane. A. E., online 19th December 2012. “Your a Ugly, Whorish, Slut” Understanding E-bile. Feminist Media Studies. 14, (4): 531-546. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14680777.2012.741073#.U-0E9vldXEw
Burrowes, N., 2013. Responding to the challenge of rape myths in court. NB Research: London. [Online]. Available: http://www.nb-research.co.uk/index.php/projects-2/
Harp, D., Bachmann. I., Loke. J., June 2014. Where Are the Women? The Presence of Female Columnists in U.S. Opinion Pages. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly. 91: 2289-307.
Krane. J., 2000. child sexual abuse. p.82 in Encyclopedia of Feminist Theories Ed. by Code. L (2000) Routledge: London.
Online article: 16-year-old girl says her rape went viral: ‘I’m just angry’. Accessed: 4:12 p.m. August 3rd , 2014. KHOU Staff, KHOU.com. http://www.khou.com/story/news/crime/2014/07/29/12664610/