Volume 9, Issue 1, Winter 2019
Alyson Cole, Sumru Atuk
What’s in a Hashtag?
Feminist Terms for Tweeting in Alliance
This article analyzes a crucial aspect of the #MeToo phenomenon overlooked in all the commentary: the sign under which this activism has been taking place. Our premise is that to comprehend the novel politics that #MeToo incites, we need to understand the political grammar of the sign. #MeToo hails individuals to recognize their serial collectivity and assembles them into a fluid yet cohesive group. Straddling the particular and universal, the sign allows for a range of genres of speaking out and joining in, thereby reconfiguring the possibilities of feminist political assemblage. We begin by providing an overview of the arguments summoned in opposition to #MeToo that have dominated public discourse. Next, we examine #MeToo in the context of debates within feminism, demonstrating how #MeToo addresses enduring tensions over the terms of coalitional politics. Finally, we analyze the sign itself, focusing first on the distinctive grammar #MeToo deploys, and then on the politics it facilitates. We argue that #MeToo allows feminists to grapple with the challenges of difference in innovative ways—not only contextually or with respect to the varying positionalities of individuals assembled under the sign, but also in upholding a continuum of sexual violation.