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Women are addressing systemic inequalities by using #WasteHisTime2016

13 Jan 2016

Twitter is a breeding ground for empty threats and over-hyped proclamations, especially during the tail-end of December, when vows to adopt new philosophies (and hashtags) in preparation for the new year, swamp social media.

2016 was no exception. Merely a week into January, Twitter users whipped social media hungry publications into a frenzy with a slew of doctrines new and old, among those being: #ShootYourShot2k16, the annual #NewYearNewMe hashtag and my personal favourite, #WasteHisTime2016.

The hashtag, a pithy response to #wastehertime2016, a vow that a great deal of men had taken in honour of the continuum of using women and their bodies as fodder for their egos, was instantly polarising.

Predictably, articles condemning the unfeminist-ness of the hashtag began to spring up, preaching that eye for an eye activism, even in the form of lighthearted hashtags, is never the right path to take. “There’s a difference between taking a feminist stance and just being downright mean, ladies,” was a VH1 opinion piece’s stance on the matter.

This is a sentiment which, unsurprisingly, seems to be echoed by a great deal of men on Twitter who, at the mere thought of being treated the way that they treat women, are revolting online.

The key issue here however, isn’t whether or not this tongue-in-cheek mantra is a definitive representation of “true feminism”, but rather, why it is that attempts to subvert patriarchal authority inspire the levels of unease that misogyny constantly avoids.

Wading through the hashtag, the very people condemning the mean-spirited nature of #WasteHisTime2016, simultaneously demonstrate the disrespectful attitudes that women who contributed to the hashtag, were mocking in the first place.

The “reactionary man” response:

The “if the shoe were on the other foot” response (I mean… The shoe is and has been on the other foot for quite some time):

The “refers to single (bogus) article in order to expose imaginary injustice” response:

And the “Valentines Day is around the corner ladies, be nice to us or you’ll wind up alone” response:

For the sake of argument, the concept of using sexual and/or romantic partners for personal gain, is upsetting for anyone who’s on the receiving end of such treatment. Generally speaking, it’s well-known that people should treat others with the same respect that they’re afforded, but as countless human rights movements continue to show the world time and again, fair treatment is a privilege too often reserved for those in positions of power.

Deflecting necessary conversations about the damaging ways in which umanifest interpersonally, on the back of feeling personally targeted, is far from helpful during discussions in which the privilege of a group to which you belong is being challenged. It’s the same approach that fuels statements like “all lives matter” in response to #BlackLivesMatter, or backlash against the reminder that all black lives matter, whenever gender, sexuality and disability-specific racism is brought up.

The truth, whether or not those opposed to the hashtag are willing to accept it, is that respect is often a one-sided effort for a lot of women who find themselves in relationships with men. And the use of humour, which is at the root of #WasteHisTime2016, can be cathartic for those who bear the brunt of constant mistreatment.

But if qualifiers are an absolute must in order to appease the fragility of masculinity, what we can all do, is to try to avoid being crappy to each other in general this year, and beyond.