Feminisms by hashtags: reflections on the controversies aroused by the recent Brazilian cyberfeminist practices

2019 edition

Josemira Reis

In 2015 several feminist claims came up in the Brazilian digital spaces of sociability, when millions of hashtags drew attention to issues such as feminicide, sexual harassment, abortion criminalization, among others social dilemmas that affect women in the country. According to Google Trends, campaigns such as #primeiroassedio, #meumigosecreto and #mulherescontracunha computed over eleven million seeks. And terms such as “feminism” and “female empowerment” had their searches increased about 86.7% and 354.5%, respectively. Also, official data presented at the time showed a significant increase of 40% in violence against women denunciations in that year. This work puts attention to the controversies aroused by the emergence of the main feminist hashtags campaigns that raised public attention during the year 2015 and the first semester of 2016. We are especially interested in reflecting about the opportunities and threats that challenge the consolidation of feminist movements in the contemporary sociotechnical order. The methodological procedures involved the search for the main hashtags that took visibility in six of the brazilian’s most popular news websites – three from the mainstream press and three from the main feminist media area -, followed by a thematic analysis of 19 campaigns identified in the gap of time suggested. The results present the debate about violence against women, especially sexual violence, as the central subject in the period investigated. Despite the visibility achieved by women collective action lately, two questions emerge as important to be released: is it possible that all energy of mobilization enabled by women through online social media can effectively become collective projects of resistance? Would there be feminist currents that would be more favored with that kind of digital repertoire of collective action than others?