As people on Twitter may have discovered, “Happy Women’s Day” is trending. On the whole, I have no real problem with this trend, it seems to be bringing people together around the world in a form of brief solidarity which is so rare in the modern world and it is promoting something which is positive.
Although the trend is misleading many avid twitter users into believing it is International Women’s Day (which is actually not until Sunday the 8th of March) that isn’t especially a problem, people are very often misled and confused by internet trends and jump onto the band wagon of something which they aren’t a hundred percent sure about. Take for example the recent #FeministsAreUgly hashtag which trended earlier this week. If you were to look at the stream of content on Twitter (which, when I looked, was incredibly fast) you’d find a variety of misinformed and foolish Tweets. The trend, which supposedly started as a misogynist attack on Feminists (something I highly doubt; that sort of Hashtag very rarely gains any kind of momentum) ended up becoming a stream of image obsessed women taking photos to prove that actually feminists don’t look bad at all. Of course, many of these women were indeed beautiful but they kind of missed the point that being so worried about appearances for the sake of gaining the approval of men is hardly in keeping with the principles of Feminism. Many news articles claimed that women “won” this particular Twitter face off, when in fact all the people who tweeted a selfie with the hope of people praising their looks lost the “battle” as soon as the shutter clicked on their phone.
But back to Women’s Day. Today is actually National Women’s Day in South Africa which is where the trend originates. On this day in 1956, fifty thousand women marched to counter the Pass Laws of the apartheid era. During apartheid anyone defined as “Black” was required to carry a pass designating them as such in order to live work and travel. If they were found without a pass then they were arrested on the spot. Although the march itself succeeded in doing very little to slow Apartheid, it succeeded in showing a solidarity of 50 000 people standing up for what they believe in. To this day, South Africans – and now the world – honour this.
The history of the day is fantastically interesting and has spawned many phrases which have entered modern Feminist vernacular; for instance, the song the marchers composed “You strike a woman, You strike a rock” is now symbolic the strength of South African Women.
But, of course, most of the Trendsetters on Twitter don’t care about this at all. As with the Feminists Are Ugly hashtag, most users simply want to comment on whatever is trending with a selfish desire to either publicise themselves, to feel involved or to comment on something “worthy”. I see no one praising the women who marched against apartheid 58 years ago, nor anyone even recognising South Africa’s relevance to it. I see people shamelessly launching their Twitter accounts to the masses by joining in with something they don’t understand or don’t care about. The kind of solidarity I praised at the beginning of this piece is all well and good, but I miss the solidarity which has purpose and meaning.
Where has that gone?