I am evangelical about Twitter. Twitter has hooked me up with jobs and commissions. It's helped me discover new and exciting places to eat, drink and make a nuisance of myself. It's got me laid. Memorably, it made me go on a night out in which I saw a movie about Moon Nazis, bumped into the actor Stephen Mangan, scaled Nelson's Column, fell off Nelson's Column and finished up in the St Thomas's recuss ward at 4am. But the absolute best thing about Twitter is that it has introduced me to a coterie of awesome ladies.
Some time in the Autumn, @ashleyfryer thought "I'm always talking to cool girls on Twitter that I'd like to hang out with. I'm going to get them all together." Ashley set up a Twitter account for AWOT, or the Awesome Women of Twitter, and the women flocked. About 100 women turned up to the Liberty Lounge in Spitalfields to drink cocktails and meet strangers off the Internet. Some were single, some were married, some were in finance, some were in IT (to be honest, quite a few were journos and PRs). All were awesome. There is also a community blog that anyone can contribute to – there are some pretty great gentlemen writers on it too.
If that sounds ridiculously simple, it's because it is. Throw a big bunch of chatty broads into a bar and they will get on. Some will retire to a quiet corner and swap pet pictures and some will meet for filth fuelled brunches every Sunday until the end of forever.
We all have a few big things in common. We all love Twitter, which means that we love pictures of shadows that look like cocks, having shouty conversations about politics with people we have never met, mid to late nineties hip hop (to be quoted at each other in CAPITAL LETTERS), recipes, Pinterest, jokes about Pinterest, rude signs, books, movies and Event Telly. We're all ladies. And we're all, in word or deed or both, feminists.
In the AWOT world, to be a feminist is to be an ardent Moran fangirl. We're still contending with what our Mums told us about the movement, and they didn't grow up with a Caitlin Moran. They had Andrea Dworkin and Germaine Greer - awesome ladies in their own right, but still ladies who were keen to get people to subscribe to an idea of what a feminist lady "should" be like, whilst rejecting old ideas of what a patriarchy approved lady "should" be like.
The AWOT ladies are relaxed in their feminism. They know that there's no point getting het up about being called a girl or a chick when there are still countries in which women can't vote. That some of us wish to grow our body hair and some of us wish to apply hot wax to everything but our heads, and one side isn't going to close ranks and oust the other. Your fashion icon might be Kim Kardashian or Kim Jong-un. You might arrange flowers for your local Women's Institute for LOLs, or make petrol in your shed. If you want women and men to enjoy the same lovely, fair opportunities and be allowed to exist independently and together, the AWOT brand of feminism is for you! And there is no 'should'. It's not like the Brownies where you're going to get chucked out for forgetting to embroider your pocket handkerchief.
But isn't this all common sense? Why do we call ourselves "feminists" and not "equalists"? And why, in Britain, in 2012, do a load of girls need to meet up and talk about being girls?
It's not like the Brownies where you're going to get chucked out for forgetting to embroider your pocket handkerchief.
Because there is still work to be done. There are still streets in Zone 1 of London that a lady cannot walk down in the middle of the day without being made to feel uncomfortable. There is the fact that lots of us do the same jobs as guys and get paid a lot less for them and that some people think that's ok. There are still smart, funny, fabulous women who say "I can't be a feminist, I like flirting and books that have pink glitter on the cover." There's a lot of shit that goes down in our world - and if we've got a safe place to talk about it, we've got a chance to start fixing it.
Also, AWOT proves emphatically that girls not liking other girls is BULLSHIT. Women are not all going to befriend each other just because they have responsive nipples and get cramps every month. That would be like everybody in the chiropractor's waiting room buddying up and building life long friendships based on the comparison of muscle strain. But we're not all endlessly competing for cake and cock and attention. (I for one am far too lazy.) We bond - over boys and other girls and catcalling and menstruating and making temporary moustaches by borrowing strands of each other's hair. We're good at listening to each other, being excited for each other's successes and being supportive when things don't work out. To paraphrase Jay Z, we ladies need the space to say whatever we like and at the moment, AWOT UK is giving us that space on the internet.