Tik Tok, the app that has given girls a voice and power

Tik Tok is being used by teenage girls to fight patriarchy
Tik Tok is being used by teenage girls to fight patriarchy
Image: 123RF

For decades, graffiti has been the most accessible form of art, at times a very rebellious one that you can find anywhere.

Its themes, artists and locations supersede race, social class and gender.

Much like one of its leading artists, Banksy, who has made fortunes through his own graffiti as well as his critique of capitalist society and its oppressive systems.

In one of his most brazen stunts, he bought a scenic vintage artwork, pimped it out with the image of Adolf Hitler and gave all the proceeds to charity.

This is subversive art, one which seeks to dismantle existing or established systems.

While Banksy has found a way to capitalise on the movement, it can also be said that he is now part of the system he critiques.

His pieces have been swallowed up by the system and are often cut from the walls where he tags them or protected with plexiglass.

In retaliation, Banksy created a piece titled Love is in the Bin and when it was auctioned to the highest bidder it was immediately shredded inside its frame.

While this allowed him the subversive critique he is known for, it immediately turned into another piece for the art world as its value sky rocketed from $1.4m to well over $2.8m.

While many artists who have critiqued their oppressors are now involuntarily part of the scene, there is a new crop of rebels who are fighting back.

In case you are well beyond the age of a boomer, you are probably unfamiliar with Tik Tok, a new app where users upload short clips of no more than a minute as a form of entertainment. At the helm of this obscure and odd app that can be compared to Snapchat, are Gen Z teens.

Breeding subcultures like e-boys, Tik Tok and its 1.5billion users are an antithesis to the carefully curated and perfect worlds of Instagram, the contentions of Twitter and all the dinosaurs who are still keeping up with fellow fossils on Facebook.

With a majority of tweens and teens on the app, Tik Tok has an odd flair for the bizarre, particularly a celebration of one's adversities. You are more likely to follow users who celebrate their ugliness, not as a beautiful thing but as the painstakingly anti-glam thing that it is.

One of the other ways that they have done so is to fight back at the abuse they often face. Take a particular trend, which saw young girls dancing to voice messages left by angry boyfriends, which range from slut shaming, violence and manipulation - the perfect recipe for an abusive relationship.

Tik Tok has offered young girls a backbone that doesn't come from inaccessible dissertations, boring news reports or archaic scriptwriting that offers very little modern resolution to the problem of navigating a consuming world of abusive men.

Instead, through dry, obscure humour, young women are turning the critique towards men.

Unlike Banksy's art, which has been swallowed by his millions, going viral is exactly the commodity these young girls need not only to empower themselves but empower other women as well.

It has to be said, however, that Tik Tok is still a growing hybrid baby of Musical.ly and its Chinese buyer ByteDance.

While girls ranging as young as nine dominate on Tik Tok with a new way of celebrating womanhood, there are still toxic men who harass them. A majority of these users, as reported by the BBC in the past, were older men who often harass viral stars on the app.

Even with 16 Days of Activism, we have taken strides to empower women (and children) but the one problem that remains unsolved is the violator - often men.

More and more women are finding ways to voice the trash status of manhood and its systems but how many of these men are actually learning anything? If we are to keep teaching boys to respect woman and not be abusers, we need to teach old dogs new tricks as well.

We cannot expect women to keep dismantling patriarchy and we certainly cannot expect 13-year-olds who are of legal Tik Tok age to continue the same fight.

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