‘SOCIAL MEDIA HAS GIVEN US SOLIDARITY IN NUMBERS’
Author and podcaster Emma Gannon says the rise of social media means that all voices are now being heard
Icame to feminism quite late, compared with a lot of teens now. I was 21 and I bought How To Be A Woman by Caitlin Moran on a whim in the airport and took it with me on holiday. That book has been called the ‘gateway drug to feminism’ – it’s a starting point. ‘Oh yeah,’ you think to yourself, ‘Thongs are uncomfortable, heels are painful, why does everyone prod you about having a baby?’ The word patriarchy entered my vocabulary and I was never the same again.
My relationship with my body changed (I was kinder to it, realising how much I had been brainwashed), I cut my hair (I don’t need to be Rapunzel to be loved!) and I found a sense of confidence in being the person I want to be, not the person who constantly tried to appease men, stayed small in the workplace and ate less to confine to social norms.
Social media, specifically Twitter, introduced me to some incredible women. Young feminists, such as the activists June Eric-udorie, Rowan Blanchard, Reni Eddo-lodge and Laura Bates. I was introduced to intersectional feminism: the fact that as women, we have different layers to us that affect us in different ways, such as race, gender, class, ability, and ethnicity. Feminism cannot just be about white, middle-class
women writing only about their specific issues. There is no one-size-fits-all type of feminism, I realised, and my feminism shifted from a concern with my personal emotional issues to the broader problems facing women.
In my 20s, I found ageism and subtle sexism in the workplace. Aged 22, I started giving talks on blogging and digital culture all over Europe, and the male speakers would either think I was there to serve them (one asked me for extra sugar in his tea) or would simply just speak over me on panels as I tried to make my point. I realised I wouldn’t get a word in unless I really spoke up. Social media has enabled millennial women to find like-minded people and to feel as though we have some sort of safety and solidarity in numbers.
When I went to see the film Suffragette in 2015, I was incredibly moved by what I saw. Women died for us to have the vote. It is important to be reminded of the sacrifices that they made. But there was valid criticism of that film that stayed with me: the fact it only included white faces. Was the film whitewashing the movement? I think my generation has a keen sense that all women need to be seen, heard and represented fairly. Feminism is not feminism unless it’s for every woman, everywhere.
There is no one-sizefits-all type of feminism