For the Uninitiated: #QuestionsForMen

#QuestionsForMen was a popular twitter hashtag thread started by Australian columnist Clementine Ford in early February 2015.

Ford regularly writes ‘unapologetically about feminist issues’ and noted that as a consequence she seemed to attract a ‘particular kind of vitriol‘.  She took to twitter to enquire if other writers have similar experiences or if the problem was particular to women. Her conclusion was that such vitrol is unique to women and yet another example of something that they are expected to just put up with.

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Ford then began to tweet questions with the #questionsformen hashtag in an attempt to highlight the many sexist double standards she has observed between men and women, stating that ‘some were intended as genuine enquiries while others were designed to highlight what I knew to be hypocritical approaches to gendered behaviour.’

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In some cases, I wanted to know if men felt subjected to the same physical and emotional social standards inflicted on women. In others, I wanted to highlight the ways patriarchy affects the men both privileged and disenfranchised by its strict codes.  Clementine Ford – Daily Life

The tag very quickly began trending as other women started adding their own questions, taking in experiences such as unequal pay, walking home safely and abortion rights.

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Within days various media outlets in Australia, United States of America, the  United KingdomFrance and Germany began highlighting the trend and generally praising Ford and other contributors for holding a mirror up to the everyday examples of sexism that women have to put up with.

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In her own article discussing the phenomenon Ford noted that one of the positive outcomes of the feed was that men also began engaging and expressing their own frustrations about patriarchal conditioning in their answers.

…this is one of the enormous strengths of social media. A hashtag alone might not have the power to change the world. But it does have the power to start a conversation. And the instantaneous reach of Twitter has made it possible for women to have these conversations in ways that can no longer be discounted or silenced.                     Clementine Ford – Daily Life

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Somewhat bizarrely almost all media accounts completely ignored the fact that very quickly the majority of contributions to the thread began to post questions highlighting examples of sexism and double standards experienced by men or injecting some humour into proceedings or even turning the spotlight back on feminists asking rhetorical questions.

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