#Feminism: 10 Hashtags That Empowered Women in 2015

Women took to Twitter to tell Donald Trump they were on their periods and to school sexist scientists.
(Photo: Leland Bobbe/Getty Images)
Dec 28, 2015· 2 MIN READ
Samantha Cowan is an associate editor for culture.

Thanks to sexist trolls, social media can sometimes be a treacherous place for women. But with the help of some clever Twitter hashtags, in 2015, women smashed stereotypes about race, their menstrual cycles, and the ability to excel in tech careers.

Through the hashtags, which connect all the tweets on a specific topic, women and girls created virtual support systems for one another, cheering on expert takedowns of gender norms and raising awareness about sexual assault.

Check out some of the most popular feminist hashtags of 2015.


As part of her Everyday Sexism Project, British feminist writer Laura Bates extends a standing invitation for women to send her examples of sexism they encounter in the workplace, on the street, and at home any day of the week. In April, Bates invited the public to share on social media how instances of sexism impact their everyday lives, from office slights to daily catcalls.


What started out as a nostalgic hashtag—with social media users recalling wearing puffy socks and playing with Barbies—turned into a flood of tweets about daily battles for young women. Teens wrote about double standards in school dress codes, being afraid to walk alone at night, and being asked if it was “that time of the month” every time they voiced a conflicting opinion.


After adding a hashtag to a tweet about how the media negatively portrays Latinos, Joyce Santeliz started a movement of women and girls detailing their own fraught experiences, such as seeing white celebrities celebrated for fashion trends that have their roots in Latina culture.


Women filled in the blank to knock down assumptions that all black women are the same, noting differences in skin tone and body type. Women also tweeted about how they didn’t want be pigeonholed as “angry black women” for voicing their opinions or told they “talk white” for using proper grammar.


Donald Trump has elicited all kinds of outrage ever since he announced his presidential run and called Mexican immigrants drug lords and rapists. During the first Republican primary debate in August, Trump wasn’t too pleased with a line of questioning from one of the moderators, Fox News host Megyn Kelly. In postshow remarks, Trump told CNN that Kelly had “blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever.” While Trump denied that he was referring to her menstrual cycle, women on social media certainly seemed to think so and were quick to let the GOP candidate know that they are still fully functional human beings when they are menstruating.


As conservative politicians attempted to defund Planned Parenthood, feminist writer Lindy West and activist Amelia Bonow started #ShoutYourAbortion in an effort to destigmatize the procedure. “A shout is not a celebration or a value judgment; it’s the opposite of a whisper, of silence,” Bonow told The New York Times. “Even women who support abortion rights have been silent and told they were supposed to feel bad about having an abortion.” Using the hashtag, women shared experiences detailing reasons for terminating pregnancies, from fetal defects to abusive relationships to failed birth control.


Thirty-five women who accused Bill Cosby of sexual assault were on the cover of New York magazine in July. Among the rows of women, one chair sat empty to symbolize those who did not come forward. More than two-thirds of sexual assault cases go unreported, according to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network. Women and men used the hashtag to voice their support for victims of sexual assault who fear backlash from their assailants or that no one will believe their stories.


A photo of a female platform engineer in a recruitment ad on public transportation in San Francisco caused a stir as social media users said the woman was too young and pretty to be an engineer. Women responded to the claim that beauty and intelligence were mutually exclusive by posting selfies along with their work credentials.


After a professor from the California Institute of Technology referred to scientists as “boys with toys” during an interview with NPR in May, some women working in STEM industries offered up a rebuttal with photos of themselves working with robots, telescopes, and dark matter detectors.


Nobel-winning scientist Sir Tim Hunt set off a firestorm when he said women were “distracting” to work alongside. He described three scenarios of women he encountered in the lab at the World Conference of Science Journalists in June: “You fall in love with them, they fall in love with you, and when you criticize them, they cry.” Women shared pictures of themselves working in the field, sorting through animal excrement or completely covered in protective gear to indicate the absurdity of Hunt’s remarks. Hunt resigned from his position as an honorary professor at University College of London in light of his comments about women, CNN reports.