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Esther Choo MD MPH @choo_ek
, 15 tweets, 6 min read Read on Twitter
Tweetorial on what otters have to do with feminism and social movements. If you don’t like these things, scroll on by (and also we prolly can’t be frenz).
For background, advocating for women and fighting misogyny means entering treacherous turf. A couple of years ago, I started to stick my neck out and make some noise about gender inequity. But oof- the trolls. And the defenders of status quo. It can be discouraging.
Around the same time, coincidentally, I moved to the Pacific NW, home of otters, and realized what a cool, resilient, fun loving animal it is. Visiting the otters at the @OregonZoo is like therapy. *highly recommend*
One day I was being bullied by a condescending troll and just had it. So I posted a picture of a otter - just thinking, what’s the exact opposite of this asshat? - and blocked the guy.
So that became my standard response to bullies & misogynists. And I told my girlfriends to do the same. We use the otter to signal to each other, too, so everyone knows a sister is getting harassed and can jump in and help or block en masse. #ottertime
But it turned out otters were much more than a good foil. They have all these qualities that are appropriate analogies for strong women and/or suggest how women can succeed.
Otters look harmless, but are incredibly fierce, w powerful jaws, teeth, & claws. They have the thickest fur of any mammal, making them resilient to frigid environs. They’re smart: they use rocks as tools to break open shells & tuck the rocks away in pockets of skin for later use
As my friend @darakass almost *immediately* pointed out, female otters are called “bitches.” 😭 She also noted, IMPORTANTLY, that female otters join hands with other female otters in groups called “rafts” to keep from drifting out to sea while resting.
These rafts* are typically 10-100 otters large but can be composed of THOUSANDS of otters.

*footnote: alt term for “raft” is “romp,” which sounds even more fun
btw- @darakass has eloquently described how the otter has come to embody women in the workplace - feminem.org/2018/11/05/bui… - and has even written a children’s book about it (proceeds go to support gender equity research)!
But you can see why the otter analogy works so well, right? ... we may have our toughness, and our resilience, and our sea smarts, but ultimately we survive and thrive with networks of women supporting women.
That’s how we face off against the seemingly immovable patriarchal structures.

That’s how we weather the misogyny here on social media & elsewhere.

That’s how we keep advancing the fight for equity, when many forces try to pull us backwards or off course.
These networks start with a few “bitches” at a time... but we have been growing them to thousands across the country. In healthcare, some of these women’s groups are becoming truly formidable.
So even though it’s evident that the problems of sexism and harassment in healthcare remain entrenched (sites.nationalacademies.org/shstudy/index.…), I’m optimistic. The fight feels different when you’re enveloped by a raft/romp. Change feels possible.
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