Whether it’s on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, conversations surrounding feminism are expanding widely on social media. Starting from organic discussion around feminist issues or hashtag campaigns for solidarity with causes – social media has become a space where feminism is being rapidly catalyzed. Insights from Crimson Hexagon’s social media monitoring platform ForSight show that recent celebrity incidents, such as Emma Watson’s viral UN speech on feminism and Jennifer Lawrence’s leaked nude photographs, have significantly prompted further online discussion on feminism. This has not only led to a widespread social movement, but has also enhanced the role of feminism in marketing and advertising.
An opinion analysis powered by the BrightView algorithm on the ForSight platform shows that general trends in Twitter conversations on feminism are largely positive, with people self-identifying as feminists and expressing strong support for gender equality. However, the analysis also highlights that a significant portion of the conversation revolves around negative connotations of the word ‘feminism’, and general backlash against feminist movements.
On 20th September 2014, actress and UN Women Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson delivered a powerful speech on feminism at the UN headquarters in New York – a remarkable speech that resonated with feminists and activists around the world. During her speech, she also launched the #HeforShe campaign, calling for both men and women to come together to advocate for gender equality. The campaign became viral in a matter of hours – leading to an outpouring of support for #HeforShe on Twitter and Instagram – not only among the public but also among other celebrities. Male celebrities like Russell Crowe, Tom Hiddleston and Simon Pegg posted pictures proclaiming support for #HeforShe on social media. The campaign was followed by a major surge in conversation around feminism, as captured in the opinion analysis below.
— Tom Hiddleston (@twhiddleston) September 24, 2014
One interesting aspect of online conversation on feminism derived by this analysis is that the proportion of men engaging in the discussion has increased significantly since the beginning of this year. Another incident which sparked debate online was Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s comment at the Grace Hopper Celebration for Women in Computing, saying that women should not ask for raises. Nadella suggested that women who do not ask for raises are ultimately rewarded in the long-run by their employers – referring to this as ‘good karma’. This comment was followed by an immediate backlash on Twitter, as captured in the analysis below. Around 90% of the conversation surrounding this instance was found to be negative, even after Satya Nadella retracting his statement by clarifying his stance on Twitter.
Major brands have also entered this dynamic sphere of dialogue on feminism by expressing their support for gender equality. Gap, Inc. is only one example of the many such brands that have integrated feminism into their online campaigns and corporate social responsibility projects. Gap Inc. has consistently cultivated feminist messages such as advocating for equal pay and progressive values in the workplace through their various social media channels including their Twitter and Instagram accounts. Following Emma Watson’s speech, Gap Inc. openly proclaimed support for the #HeforShe campaign.
At the center of Gap, Inc.’s advocacy is the #letsdomore hashtag, which the brand has utilized to promote social messages online. The #letsdomore hashtag’s popularity is captured through the following visual which showcases the top words mentioned on Twitter by people mentioning Gap Inc. Interestingly, #letsdomore and the brand’s commitment to women’s rights contributes to most of the online conversation around the Gap brand.
The incredible spread of other feminism-centric hashtags such as #YesAllWomen and #LikeAGirl also demonstrate the reach of online conversations surrounding feminism. As “networked feminism” expands online, analyzing these trends and identifying emerging patterns become incredibly important.