By Delaney Hoffman – Within my school’s online community, Twitter has become the land of bros and roasts, mixed with clever one-liners and small profundities. This is the harrowing tale of my own experience with the land of Twitter Bros.
My own social standing is low key. I stick to my small group of friends. I don’t go to parties. It is the Thursday before Thanksgiving break of my junior year. I get home from work and hear that President Barack Obama has given his executive order on immigration. I’m so excited about this, I watch it three times. My phone is buzzing with texts telling me to check Twitter, but I am hesitant. I know that Twitter is a dark place where the white and upper-class suburban kids at my school air microaggressions, slurs, general xenophobia, 140 characters at a time. I can’t help myself. I read their tweets. I get angry.
My fingers buzz with adrenaline. I type furiously. The @s are flying, and I consider myself a small hero as the call-out begins. Every tweet I write back at these small-minded boys defies the rigid high school social structure that I have come to accept. These boys are much more popular than I am; they play baseball. I tackle one dumb tweet and then another one. Suddenly I am involved in many different arguments taking place at the same time. I begin to falter. I almost concede and let the boys dominate the conversation. I am shaking in my bed and am having trouble telling the difference between anger at institutional social evils manifesting in tweet-form and total fear of the inevitable social consequences of my actions. Just as this happens, others begin to rally behind me. They are agreeing with me and cheering me on. I rebound and my furious typing continues late into the night.
The next day people either congratulate me or glare at me. Statements that define this day include: “Thank you for standing up to them, I didn’t think anybody would,” and, “Liberal feminist bitch.” I have made enemies out of the baseball boys. They talk shit about me in their group messages. My entire AP Chemistry class applauds when I walk into the room. This is a social upset. I have ostracized myself from the greater conservative population of my class of 300. This is something that I do not mind at the time; nobody has ever done this before. I have taken action. I have flaunted my feminism and taken an intersectional stance on an issue that I was not expected to. Twitter is for boys. Opinions are for boys.
Now I am a senior. I see the baseball boys at a party after women’s soccer takes home the gold, and they say, “We respect you. You’re not like, a feminist bitch like…” and they name other girls I am friends with. I say, “Oh, I am that feminist bitch though.” They laugh and give me side hugs before starting their next game of beer pong. It is interesting that my directness with my viewpoints (which are inherently feminist) seem to give the baseball boys grounds to both dismiss me and respect me. I realize the importance of dialogue, I realize that our Twitter beef was the only dialogue that those boys have ever had with a “feminist bitch.” I text the friends the boys diss, writing, “Friendly reminder – the baseball boys are awful, you’re smart and beautiful,” with no context. A boy’s validation of my speech does not mean anything to me.
My best friend’s little sister gets into a Twitter beef with a boy who says he’s a meninist. She wins, senior feminists help the freshman feminist who slaughters the freshman meninists (figuratively). She tells me that she’s worried to come to school the next day, because she knows that the boys will give her dirty looks and talk shit about her in their group messages. I tell her that Twitter is not just for boys, and she looks down and smiles. I give her a hug. She goes to school and revels in affirmation. Opinions are not just for boys.
About the contributor
Delaney Hoffman is a senior at San Ramon Valley High School in Danville, California.
This story previously ran on Women’s eNews and is part of Teen Voices at Women’s eNews. Teen Voices at Women’s eNews provides online stories and commentary about issues directly affecting female teens around the world. This piece came from its partnership with the Jewish Women’s Archive.
Lead image via Jhaymesisviphotography on Flickr, under Creative Commons