Women and men across the world are boycotting Twitter today as a result of the accusations of sexual assault and harassment recently levied against movie studio mogul Harvey Weinstein, marked by the hashtag #WomenBoycottTwitter.
Rose McGowan has been one of the most vocal accusers, tweeting that Weinstein had raped her in 1997 and calling out other actors and studio execs she told about the experience who stayed silent, including Ben Affleck and Amazon CEO Jeff Price. The actress was briefly suspended from Twitter yesterday after she violated the social media platform’s terms of service by posting a phone number, according to a statement from the social media giant. But her supporters were quick to criticize Twitter for singling out McGowan when so many abusive comments and tweets directed toward women go unpunished.
A number of male and female celebrities have joined in the boycott, including Joss Whedon, Mark Ruffalo, Alyssa Milano, Chrissy Teigen, John Cusack, Kathy Griffin, and more:
Of course, the boycott has plenty of detractors, and they generally fall into two camps. First, people who are pointing out that if #WomenBoycottTwitter is trending because people are tweeting their support, is that really a boycott?
The second group of critics includes a number of prominent journalists and public figures, who have a more academic argument. Since Weinstein was able to perpetrate his abuse of young actresses due to a culture of silence that convinced him his actions were without consequences, they argue that voluntarily silencing yourself for the day runs counterproductive to the spirit of bringing truth to light.
Jess Phoenix, a Democratic candidate in California’s 25th congressional district, tweeted, “For years after I experienced sexual assault, I was silent. My attackers went unpunished. I will never be silent again.”
Senior Assistant Editor for the Times of India Aarti Tikoo Singh also wrote that she would not participate in the boycott, urging women instead to use their voices to “speak up”: “I am not boycotting @twitter Self-gagging is counter-productive if the objective is equal freedom of speech.
#WomenBoycottTwitter speak up.”
A large number of Indian women have joined in the boycott; India is also currently in the midst of a national debate about rape culture after a several violent cases have rocked the country, sparking protests.
But comedian Kathy Griffin, often a subject of censure herself, has a message for the critics. She says the boycott is not about raising awareness for women, but rather an attempt to hit Twitter where it hurts: in the money.
Others shared Griffin’s viewpoint, calling out the social media platform for failing to enforce its policies against abuse and harassment.
And, of course, no Twitter trend would be complete without someone taking home the crown for best joke. Here’s our nominee: