"Women on the Web: A Study in the Solidarity Struggles of Feminist Digital Collectives"



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This project is a feminist historiography that chronicles the emergence of feminist digital collectives over the last decade. Feminist digital collectives are spontaneous, leaderless, and affect-driven online groups with women-centric concerns. By analyzing the discursive spaces of these groups, I unearth how the feminist movement’s struggles over solidarity engendered powerful, highly-visible digital group coalescence around feminist concerns such as rape culture and sexual harassment. I argue that these collectives should not be dismissed as mere extensions of ‘armchair activism’ or slacktivism. Rather, I point to their progression as informed not only by past feminist histories and struggles, but also by one another, producing capacious movement that some might consider an alternative feminist form. With #YesAllWomen, I demonstrate how this hashtag’s proliferation engendered the foundational structure of the feminist digital collective through its application of historical feminist organizational strategies like consciousness-raising (and narrative sharing), emotion work, and intersectionality. The Women’s March of 2017 explores how these digital discourses translate offline, vivifying the feminist digital collective as capable of material, on-the-ground action. Regarding #MeToo, I consider how historical feminist schisms around issues such as white liberal feminism and intersectionality, victim feminism and power feminism, and feminist politics of redress produce what Clare Hemmings refers to as ‘affective solidarity.’ While this constructive discord prevents #MeToo from being fully aligned with any one feminist approach, I find evidence of notable networked consensus around priorities that center sexual assault survivors as community leaders as well as demands for individual and organizational accountability, tenants of the transformative justice movement. My research does not ignore these collectives’ complicity in platform capitalist, white supremacist, and patriarchal systems; rather, it is my hope that through this work, feminist, new media and social movement scholars alike will more urgently address the perpetuation of violence(s) that abound online.



Collectivity, Consciousness-raising, Digital, Feminist, Intersectionality, Solidarity