Instead of Disappearing


I’m honestly a bit shocked that so many women I know and respect are suggesting this. Rather than responding to each private message I’ve received, here are some thoughts,  beginning with just a few of the reasons this idea is problematic:

  1. How many women who’ve been assaulted and raped have been blacked out at the time — then had this used against them or given them cause not to report, knowing it would be thrown in their faces. They should’ve known better than to have been drinking. Or maybe they were drugged unknowingly. It doesn’t matter how. The cause of rape is rapists. Period.
  2. The men who are running this show, those who apologize for and defend misogyny and misogynoir, will not bat an eyelid no matter how many women “go dark” for a day. In fact, they’d probably say, “Oh good, they finally shut the fuck up for once.”
  3. Facebook thrives on this kind of thing — just as it was quick to make a “Believe Women” temporary profile picture frame. Maybe it’s paranoid on my part, but sometimes I think social media keeps us myopic in ways that are ultimately self-defeating.

These are just a few of the many reasons a “black out” to make a statement is so problematic.

This is not the way.

Instead, in addition to fiercely brave story-sharing, we need to look to economic and political action.

We need to learn from our sisters and mothers in countries like Iceland, where on October 24, 1975, 90% of that nation’s women showed that everything — ev-er-y-thing — would come to a halt without their labor.

Now, I realize the United States is no Iceland. Its population is half that of our smallest state, nor is racial inequality woven into its every system.

My point is this: I love us. I get that changing your profile picture may lend a momentary sense of connectedness.

In this case, however, it’s missing the mark completely, suggesting further silencing and erasure of a population plenty of men would be happy never to hear from at all.

Why would we give them that?

As an alternative to erasing your face, what if you took this as an opportunity to show up?

Show up in whatever ways make sense for you. We need to see you and hear from you, not have you disappear.

And if you choose to be quiet as a form of self-preservation, know that you are surrounded by folks who believe you. Who see you in an absence you never would have chosen for yourself.

Think about it.

10 thoughts on “Instead of Disappearing

  1. Leah says:

    This is the first I’d heard of the suggestion to black-out our profiles. I’m glad I heard it here, first, as I appreciate your thoughts on the idea. I appreciate the reminder to let this be our message: We’re not going anywhere.


  2. Nancy Howe says:

    Thank you so much for this! The feeling of connectedness is true but, I don’t want to hide either. We need to be seen and heard! Thank you!


  3. L Cueva says:

    It makes sense to me. It’s just social media not real life. I support you and all my sisters however they feel good. For me, This feels good. I think it’s important to be inclusive of all women now….those in the sex trade, those working for slave wages, and those who can’t get out of the house and want to participate this way.. This is something that we could all do. You noticed and started dialogue. I’m still here, and facecrack is just a muse. Let’s get serious and get out the vote, gather and create viable change for all women not just the privileged who have iPads like me. Let’s really be sisters and agree to disagree but commune in the grocery line and create real change. I’m never disappearing, and I support you sister girl. Please do not dismiss my efforts. I’m here, and I’m mad as hell.


  4. j maylee says:

    The campaign behind today’s blackout is awkwardly phrased and done. Still, I choose to visibly stand in solidarity with the protest against rape and sexual assault. I support yours and everyone else’s choice to respond or not in a way that feels good and right to you.


    • Jena Schwartz says:

      At the end of the day, it’s what we DO, how we communicate, learn from each other, respect each other’s choices, and remain willing to listen that matters.


      • Jena Schwartz says:

        The part I find difficult is that women of color — including survivors — did not necessarily experience this “action” as solidarity, but rather as further erasure and silencing. I am listening to them.


      • daniel boylan says:

        This strikes me as a solid response—women of color, native women, especially survivors—all struggle with showing up at all and being acknowledged. I support my women allies in any way that will express their freedom, but want the place left for all to be included.



Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s