By: Samahara Hernández
Picture by Chez Negrete @cheznegrete “Malabar”
The continuous compulsion of assuming cyber-political movements into so-called “online trending”, diminishes social uprisings and rests power to socio-political movements themselves. During the past weeks, women around the virtual world have been posting selfies filtered in black & white; this, in an attempt to show support and admiration to women. The message chain transmitted in social media platforms depicts the following lines: “…among women there are several criticisms, instead, we should care of each other. We are beautiful the way we are. Post a photo in black and white alone, mention my name and write “challenge accepted”, then identify a certain number of women to do so in private… Let’s love each other”. As a matter of fact, this “challenge” has had different manifestations since 2016 (Lorenz, 2020), promoting women support and empowerment by posting black and white selfies in social media; however, this “#challenge” has no concrete objective or project behind targeting a specific feminist matter.
Hence, the concept itself has been replicated into different cyber-movements, with concrete objectives and an advocacy project behind. The latest, “a mark of protest against femicides in Turkey” (Singh, 2020). The murder of Pinar Gütelkin, a 27-year-old Kurdish woman from southeast Turkey, triggered this movement in the past days. This situation of a woman being murdered by her boyfriend depicts a scenario of a violent system that does not legally protect women. Every year, the problem worsens up in the entire world, only by 2019 in Turkey, 474 women were murdered mostly by their partners or relatives (McKernan, 2020); in Mexico for instance, from 2015 to 2019 at least 3,080 women were murdered (Tenz, 2019); in Spain, around 50 women were murdered by 2019 (Jones, 2019); and currently, the COVID-19 pandemic, aggravated gender-based violence in all of its forms (IACHR, 2020)around the world. Unquestionably, the very core of the #challengeaccepted trend has nothing to do to the roots of the hashtag but with the movements acquiring the optics to make it a cyber-movement.
There shouldn’t be a power struggle to whom gets the baton on where or when this hashtag emerged; indisputably, this is a #challengenotaccepted if it’s perceived on whom is right or wrong on the origins of it. Given the situation in which life has turned out to be merely electronic, there is a huge danger of relying on one-sided stories and denying movements around the world, regardless their imagery or the “online trending” pursued.
We have seen how #BlackLivesMatter have continued to advocate towards a more inclusive and antiracial society, why can’t #ChallengeAccepted can also be part of a movement in solidarity with femicides around the world?
In a digitalized word, there is no greater power than the one language provides through social media platforms; instead of oppressing movements by trying to guess its roots, one shall empathize and unite through the discourse.
Hence, one could create different dynamics on advocacy itself, creating channels of respectful communication, to advocate against injustices, to take-action from our privilege, to support associations working towards gender equality justice… and the list goes one for us to #AcceptTheChallenge to take-action from home and make a discursive statement.
About the author:
Sam is an International Relations professional, passionate believer od innovative development projects, Feminist and Art lover. She has outstanding experience in women and gender studies, social projects, research and global development. Currently studying a Master on Innovation for Development at the Institute of Technology and Higher Education Monterrey México. She had previously studied Development Studies at L’école Supérieure de Commerce et Développement in Lyon France. Samahara has worked for the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights for the Women’s Rights Rapporteurship in DC; collaborated for the Mexican government in the Women’s Institute of Querétaro and for Save the Children in the Dominican Republic in a project on Human Trafficking. She currently works for the World Bank Group Caribbean. You can find more of gender information @genderpost, IG account managed by Sam or through her Twitter @samaharaha.
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