The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

#WomenBoycottTwitter revives post-election conversations about the lack of solidarity among women

Actress Rose McGowan was temporarily suspended from Twitter for violating its service terms. In response, some Twitter users used the hashtag #WomenBoycottTwitter to stand in solidarity with McGowan and boycotted the social media platform. (Video: Victoria Walker/The Washington Post)

For some women, blocking Rose McGowan was the last straw.

Twitter said it banned the actress best known for her role on “Charmed” on Thursday because she tweeted a private phone number, a practice that violates its service terms.

But after significant criticism, the social media platform lifted the suspension and said it would “be clearer about these policies and decisions in the future.”

Women across the Twitterverse expressed their frustration at the McGowan incident, a chapter in the saga involving allegations of sexual assault against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein. Some said Twitter's treatment of McGowan was the latest example of women — and particular rape survivors — being silenced when they attempt to bring attention to the issues affecting their gender most.

When Twitter returned McGowan's access, she continued to bring attention to the topic of sexual assault in Hollywood, specifically involving Weinstein.

“HW raped me,” she tweeted.

“HW” is Weinstein, the embattled former Weinstein Co. co-chairman who is now in Europe seeking rehabilitation.

Women responded to Twitter's crackdown on McGowan by vowing to leave Twitter all day Friday to show their solidarity with the actress, using the hashtag #WomenBoycottTwitter.

The campaign to boycott appears to have begun with Kelly Ellis, a software engineer.

Many high-profile individuals joined in, including musicians, authors and journalists.

But for some, the outpouring of support for McGowan rings hollow, especially because a majority of white women voted for Donald Trump and Republican policies that are seen as harmful to minorities and women.

Others see it as a double standard, in which women of color are expected to support the mistreatment of famous, wealthy and white women, but the same levels of support aren't reciprocated.

Despite Hillary Clinton being the first woman in American history to become a major party's presidential nominee, large percentages of women voted against her. The majority — 61 percent — of white women without a college degree supported Trump, as did sizable percentages — 44 percent — of white college-educated women, according to exit polls.

In the wake of the election, women took to social media and op-eds to express their frustration with these pro-Trump women.

“After all the supposed progress we’ve made, painstakingly trying to change a white feminist movement into an intersectional one (and for that we have only the hard work of women of color to thank), white women didn’t show up to fight back against a man whose rhetoric and policies directly attack women of color, immigrant women, Muslim women, LGBTQ women and more,” Sarah Ruiz-Grossman wrote for the Huffington Post on Nov. 9, 2016.

Social media — and Twitter in particular — has emerged as one of the most influential platforms to champion issues and causes, including those relevant to groups who are underrepresented in positions of power and influence. But not all issues and voices grab headlines, said activist April Reign, who got #WOCAffirmation trending on Twitter to highlight the voices of women of color.

Admittedly, many of the #WomenBoycottTwitter group are critics of the president and his policies. But the backlash is aimed at those who remain silent when women of color speak about the same issues, or on police brutality, the pay gap and a lack of inclusivity in the feminist movement.

In response to the hashtag that trended all Friday morning, Ava DuVernay, an award-winning filmmaker, called on the white women leading the #WomenBoycottTwitter to pay attention to issues of importance to women who don't have the opportunity to work with major Hollywood execs.