In a recent meeting with Goldman Sachs, Snapchat CEO and co-founder Evan Spiegel noted that more than 2/3rds of Snapchat users are women.
As the photo messaging app now joins the ranks of fellow lady user-dominated social media platforms such as Pinterest and Instagram, women’s emerging reign as chief curators of internet visual content begs the question: what role can our images play in achieving our feminist goals?
Snapchat, along with all other photo-sharing outlets, continues to be criticized as simply perpetuating a narcissistic spectacle, particularly among teenage girls. While I do agree that the gratuitous level of selfie action on the internet speaks to the shitty prioritization of women’s physical attractiveness and a desire for validation based solely on appearance, there is something to be said for meeting people where they’re at. If women persist in dominating a major portion of the social media landscape, brainstorming possibilities for utilizing this common ground for a greater good suggests a potential for innovative activism.
When considering examples of how activists are using visual social media to kickstart significant mobilizations, the glimmer of potential for taking photo sharing and messaging applications to the next level shines through. This past September, international abortion advocates used a virtual mural composed of photos and messages from all over the world expressing peoples’ demands, thoughts and feelings on abortion. The “selfie campaign” catalyzed a flash mob in Nepal, a conference for Pro-Choice doctors in Ireland, and street demonstrations in Brazil.
Although it is vital to remain critical of how photo-heavy social media acts to reinforce crappy beauty standards and the social pressures intertwined with adhering to those ideals, racking our brains for more opportunities which tap into these platforms radical uses could give feminists a political leg up.
How have you seen photo-dominated social media used for feminist purposes?