Why 'Women Are Trash' trended on a day celebrating girls

UN photo of girls making a carpet Image copyright UN Photo

It was supposed to be a day promoting the rights of the 1.1 billion girls around the world. So why did the hashtag #WomenAreTrash trend in South Africa?

The majority of tweets for the UN's International Day of the Girl Child spoke about the worrying global statistics concerning child marriages and the necessity for a level playing field when it comes to education opportunities.

And then, there were tweets like this:

Image copyright @JustKholii_ / Twitter

Many that signed on to Twitter this morning were surprised by the hashtag #WomenAreTrash.

Image copyright @KonkeMax / Twitter
Image copyright @Angelita8S / Twitter

The origin of #WomenAreTrash

It all began, seemingly spontaneously, on Monday with the hashtag #MenAreTrash, where some listed why men treat women poorly.

One Twitter user whose thread led to much discussion is Sadie Torquato from Johannesburg.

Image copyright @SadieWiggles / Twitter

So if it's not a personal vendetta concerning relationships, what was the point of Torquato's thread?

Speaking to us, Torquato explained that this was more than a personal rant, and the issues centred around "sexual violence and patriarchal capitalism", and the need to value women as equal.

"I wanted to expand people's thinking beyond that women are simply 'bitter' about personal experiences. I wanted to show men that being a good person doesn't make you any less of an 'oppressive centre'. I want to remind them that as long as they don't fight to dismantle inequality they will always be trash".

'Ignorant women'

However, Torquato's desire to bring attention to existing inequality between the sexes in South Africa, ruffled a few Tweeter's virtual feathers. One was Tweeter Kholisa Skweyiya from Cape Town, who responded using a counter tag #WomenAreTrash.

Image copyright @JustKholii_ / Twitter

Skweyiya told us: "It isn't about how terrible women are, but how ignorant they are when it comes to them always being right and never wanting to be wrong.

"Some, not all, look for errors and faults in men instead of being willing to accept that they're wrong".

Skweyiya said there's a double standard at play.

"Some women feel like because men are 'men' they should be able to take the slack and criticism from them without receiving it back. Once a man insults or gives their view on how they feel about how the woman treats herself or the people around her, it is considered abuse and unfair treatment in my country".

Skweyiya says that he recognises that Torquato's thread highlights how some women are controlled by men. He told us that "abuse on boys" doesn't receive equal focus, and often goes unreported due to worry that victims may not be seen as "masculine" if they report it.

Wider reaction

Others felt that the tags had deflected conversation and that there had been a missed opportunity to have a respectful discussion.

Image copyright @Tebz__ / Twitter
Image copyright @suis_incroyable / Twitter

However, some on social media said that the tags confirmed the issues of inequality raised by International Day of the Girl.

Image copyright @MPILLIONAIR1 / Twitter

So how does Torquato, whose thread triggered much of the debate, feel about the debate meted out at her words?

"I'm not surprised by the reaction because the feeling of the hegemony always takes priority," says Torquato.

"It's only a pity that many of the people responding this way don't see the irony of how they're supporting the theory".

Blog by Jess Fenton, UGC and Social News team

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