Today I’m blogging as part of “Blog day of action 2012” on the theme “the Power of We. As a scholar of social movements the “power of we” has obvious appeal for me. I initially moved into social media as a means to connect the “me” to the larger “we.” I found however, a serendipitous overlap between the “me” researcher and the “we” I study. Today I’m writing about projects that use the “we” of social media to address issues of violence against women. I begin with #shameendshere, which grows out of two F2F activists programs I’ve written about before, the art activist Suzanne Lacy and the anti-war group @CodePink.  Although I’ve yet to writeextensively about it, I’m fascinated by the transformations and continuity in Lacy’s activism as she harnesses the power of social media to make her community of activists ever larger. #shameendshereis Lacy’s work created for the @Biennal in Liverpool and both documents, and continues, in a sense, the project Lacy did this January in Los Angeles, a revival of her 1977 Three Weeks In May.

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While the project has been only marginally successful in leveraging twitter (only 619 tweets, 241 followers) there are a wealth of similar efforts, born digital that are reading a far bigger audience @WomenUndrSiege for example has 9000 followers, links to an active FB community, website, and blog and with the expertise of the Women’s Media Center behind it does an amazing job connecting people around the globe.  It’s organization of a live  crowd map of sexualized violence in Syria is a fabulous potential model for social media activism. 

However the project that most singularly reflects the power of “we” on social media has to be @everydaysexism, UK based, which in the brief time it has been on twitter has garnered not only considerable media attention, but even more crucially has given space, voice and affirmation.  From a grassroots feminist perspective @everydaysexism functions as the world’s largest c-r session.  It remains to be seen if they can mobilize their over 11,000 followers into action.

In terms of action @ihollaback started in the U.S. is an amazing example.  People who experience street harassment, gender based or LGBTQ are encouraged not only to HOLLER BACK but post their stories to a map.  Solidarity is encouraged via the “I’ve got your back” campaign that exhorts bystanders to get involved when they witness street harassment.  Hollaback takes an activist approach, training leaders in many cities to work on the ground to address street harassment.

With all the talk of slactivism denigrating arm chair activists, I find these examples to a strong rejoinder to the notion that social media isn’t central to activism in the 21st century.  I can think of no better way to harness the power of we.