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A Protest Seeking a Point

The angry and horrified reaction to the Harvey Weinstein scandal is taking some unexpected turns. Actress Rose McGowan had her Twitter account temporarily suspended; Twitter said this was because one of her Tweets included someone’s non-public phone number. Quite a few Twitter users noticed the company seems to have an exceptionally arbitrary and unclear policy on suspending accounts. The company will yank a pro-life ad from Rep. Marsha Blackburn quick, while plenty of people keep getting vile, hateful and threatening messages. (I wrote about Twitter’s arbitrary account suspensions and the ”Trust and Safety Council” here.) 

Today, some women are forsaking Twitter in protest of the McGowan suspension; before signing off, they’ve used the hashtag #WomenBoycottTwitter. (It’s like a much, much less consequential version of Lysistrata.)

As model/television personality Christine Tiegen puts it, “No secret timeline checking, no tweets, no clicking the bluebird square. They need to see we matter. I’m boycotting for many reasons. To stand with the victims of sexual assault, online threats and abuse. And…to boycott the fact our demented, p**** grabbing president can tweet nuclear threats of war I can’t even see.”

It’s a free country, and Tiegen can protest as she sees fit. But groups of women voluntarily silencing themselves seems like a counterintuitive method of protesting exploitation and abuse that is largely protected by a “code of silence.” One would think that if anything, women need the opposite, to be louder and more widely heard.

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