Women use the #ManicureMonday Twitter hashtag to educate people about hand and nail care, share their nail art and expertise, and look at various hands. Beginning in 2013, the scientist Hope Jahren organized a hashtag hijacking in which scientists who were not in control of or associated with #ManicureMonday disrupted individuals' collaborative conversations about manicures, tried to educate participants, and expressed the scientists' values and interests. The scientists argued that what women's hands do is more important than how they look and that women and their manicured hands are constructed as passive objects on the Twitter feed. Jahren and these other scientists have identified Twitter as useful for their conversations about science and extended their own social capital by microblogging. They also use Twitter as a way to instruct women about objectification and other feminist issues and to intervene in women's interest in their nails, which these scientists believe is frivolous and disempowering. In this article, I address the diverse ways in which these ideas of usefulness, useful media, instruction, and social capital are articulated through #ManicureMonday by performing a close textual analysis of the manicure tweets and the hashtag hijacking. My reading is based on the relationship among feminist inquiries about viewing positions and objectification, the literature on useful media, and conceptions of social capital. I argue that we need to attend to the ways the #ManicureMonday hijacking and other instances of media education may not be useful for all participants.
How “your hands look” and “what they can do”: #ManicureMonday, Twitter, and Useful Media
Michele White is associate professor of Internet studies in the Department of Communication at Tulane University. Her books include Buy It Now: Lessons from eBay (Duke, 2012) and Producing Women: The Internet, Traditional Femininity, Queerness, and Creativity (Routledge, 2015), and her articles include “Dirty Brides and Internet Settings: The Affective Pleasures and Troubles with Trash the Dress Photography Sessions,” South Atlantic Quarterly 110, no. 3 (2011): 645–72; and “Concerns about Being Visible and Expressions of Pleasure: Women's Internet Wedding Forum Considerations of Boudoir Photography Sessions,” Interstitial: A Journal of Modern Culture and Events 1, no. 1 (2013), http://interstitialjournal.com/articles.
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Michele White; How “your hands look” and “what they can do”: #ManicureMonday, Twitter, and Useful Media. Feminist Media Histories 1 April 2015; 1 (2): 4–36. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/fmh.2015.1.2.004
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