Why I'm participating in the #challengeaccepted movement and still consider myself a feminist.

Tina Garforth
Posted July 30, 2020 from United Kingdom
#challengeaccepted, #womensupportingwomen

#challengeaccepted is more than a vapid exercise in narcissism with an empty call to action, it is consciousness raising and feminism at its very best. 

 

In the past two days, a growing number of articles have denigrated the recent #challengeaccepted trend of women supporting women with black and white pictures of themselves on Instagram as vapid slactivism. The Guardian asked if #challengeaccepted was simply a Miss Instagram Pageant and The New York Times used questionable and leading wording to introduce their article on the subject stating, “a campaign that purports to be about women supporting women is posting black and white selfies.” An article from Indy100 on the Independent even went so far as to urge women to , “Stop saying #ChallengeAccepted is 'empowering'. Posting a selfie isn't feminism.”Everywhere I looked I found writers misunderstanding the movement and questioning its integrity from the outset. 

Yet, the truth is, #challengeaccepted is about far more than posting a flattering picture of oneself looking hot, sexy or beautiful in order to receive love, likes and complimentary feedback from our peers on social media. #challengeaccepted is a consciousness raising exercise that is actively uniting women across nations, racial divides and social classes to stand up against growing femicide in Turkey, violence against women, and in support of BlackLivesMatter and one another. This simple act of publicly recognizing women for their private support and friendship creates a circle. 

 

And violence against women only occurs when there is a break in the circle of women. 

 

Time and again, women, particularly if they are wearing lipstick and looking “pretty” are called out for their lack of sincerity with regard to feminism. Wolfe in her 1991 book, The Beauty Myth, argues that beauty is a social construct of men. Western Feminists in the Seventies threw away their bras and broke out of their domesticity to forge new paths in the workplace and break down glass ceilings everywhere. Yet by the eighties it was clear that in order to be successful in a “man’s world,” most women felt they had to emulate men in the workplace; or at least the male notion of power over another, exuding strength and self-confidence, doing whatever it takes to “win” at goodness knows what in order to get ahead. I never bought into this notion that to be a feminist meant I should not be feminine. Femininity to me was never equated with oppression or domesticity, it always meant standing in my own power as my whole self, body, mind and spirit, safe and free to be, me.

 

The #metoo movement suffered much the same fate. Men and women alike were quick to dismantle the efficacy of the movement and/or the legitimacy of the stories of women being told, sadly perpetuating the long held belief that what a woman has to say is irrelevant, untrue, overblown on the one hand or not expressed strongly enough or powerfully enough on the other: as if women standing up together without direct action is automatically equated with meaningless action that does not effect real change. Yet we have forgotten that the simple act of raising awareness on an issue is a necessary first step in effecting positive and lasting social change. 

 

Domestic Violence has been on the rise during the global pandemic, as jobs are lost, household incomes rapidly decrease, and women are forced in lockdown with their abusers with no means of escape. The Black and White Selfie is a nod to all the women who have lost their lives during this tumultuous time to a world that still equates power with oppressing another - and being a man, or a person of note, with being powerful in this way. Since the dawn of man, sexual violence against women has historically occurred as acts of war and aggression and a sign of power over another. The #metoo movement began to raise awareness for the need to change power systems that continue to promote, permit and perpetuate sexual violence. The #challengeaccepted movement is focusing on all violence against women and the need for women to support women.

 

In most cases of domestic violence, the victim is isolated from their friends and family, and a case built against them by their abuser, that they are the ones to blame, that their word is meaningless. If the victim maintains a close connection to their circle, the others around them will inevitably notice the signs long before the victim is able to see how their world has changed around them, and are more likely to get those suffering the help they need as they need it.

 

In a time of food and water shortages, climate emergency and Black Lives Matter, simply standing up for other women with a hashtag and/or selfie may seem inconsequential at first glance. But this selfie movement is not just for the selfish benefit of a woman, with women supporting women against the slightest indiscretions of men. No, this is creating a strong circle of solidarity.

 

A few days ago, I read a story about a group of grandmothers who stood silently in their local park to “save the world.” They were laughed at, and largely ignored. How could a group of women standing silently in a park save the world? Yet it was not long before they were joined by other women, of all ages and races and backgrounds simply standing there, silently. They could not be evicted from the park because they were not officially protesting anything. They did not need a permit to be there, because all they were doing was gathering together, silently. The news spread and people asked, but what is it that they are actually trying to do? What are they standing for or against? What is their agenda? Yet, their agenda was simple, they wanted peace.

 

We are so busy fighting for air, for change, for peace that we have forgotten the only way to effect change is to be it. If we want peace and unity, be peace and unity and stand in solidarity with our global family. During this tumultuous time in history, social media affords us the opportunity to gather together and hold hands across borders by naming our greatest supporters and friends and creating a chain that cannot and should not be broken.

And frankly, it really should not matter how I dress or whether or not I am wearing lipstick while I’m doing that.

 

Comments 19

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Chi8629
Jul 30
Jul 30

Thank you for sharing .

Tina Garforth
Jul 31
Jul 31

Thank you for reading and commenting, Chi.

Hello, Tina,

Welcome back on World Pulse! How are you doing, dear?

Thank you for shedding light on the #challengeaccepted movement. I am not aware of it since I’m not active on social media. Uploading selfies to participate is a good way to show women’s diversity.

I like the idea of grandmas going to the park. We cannot truly underestimate the power of movements women initiate.

Thank you for sharing, dear. Please keep on writing. Looking forward to reading your future posts!

Tina Garforth
Jul 31
Jul 31

Thank you so much, Karen. Yes, I have not written much of anything for quite some time but am slowly getting back into it.
Thank you for taking the time to read my writing.

Sanjali
Jul 30
Jul 30

Hi Tina,

Very well expressed, true & powerful words. Thanks . Love & Peace from India.

Tina Garforth
Jul 31
Jul 31

Thank you for taking the time to read my writing, Sanjali,
Love & blessings from New York

Nini Mappo
Jul 31
Jul 31

Hi Tinna,
Your write up is a good explanation about what the challenge is about. I saw it around the internet and thought it was feminist, so when I read your title I had to laugh at myself:) I now feel enlightened.

I was also drawn to your reference to the circle of women, which got me wondering about women on the margins, who do not have a circle to begin with, and how they might participate in a version of this for instance. (not looking for feedback, just thinking is all)

Thank you for sharing your perspective and yay to creating a chain that cannot be broken!
Nini

Tina Garforth
Jul 31
Jul 31

Hi Nini,

Thank you for thinking more on this issue. You pose a very important question about women on the margins who may be further marginalized by the nature of this campaign. I agree, that there will be many women, who are isolated and disconnected from supportive circles of women, which is why we must continue to reach out in as many ways as possible to support women who are on the margins.
I recently learned that a Turkish writer (referred to in a recent article posted on vox) stated that, "Western countries do not care about Eastern women’s issues... women from Muslim or Asian countries tend to be exoticized or ignored by Western society. "
This #challengeaccepted campaign has enabled western women to show their support and build each other up in a circle of solidarity with our global family that hopefully has somehow reached enough women in Turkey that they no longer feel ignored by Western women. (https://www.vox.com/the-goods/2020/7/30/21348162/instagram-challenge-acc...)
I acknowledge that this is not enough, but I hope it goes some way towards amplifying the voices of our sisters in Turkey and in all other areas of the world where violence against women continues to grow unchecked.

Nini Mappo
Jul 31
Jul 31

Thank you Tina for taking up my wonderings and expounding on what the #challengeaccepted campaign is looking to achieve. Which is primarily expanding the circle of women that you reference in your story to include women who have felt invisible and excluded from the circle for so long.

Please be assured that raising your voice is certainly amplifying the voices of women in Turkey, because I would not know how oppressive patriarchy is for Turkish women, but for this article.

Good on you for being part of widening that circle, and, for caring.

maeann
Jul 31
Jul 31

Hi Tina :) How are you? "I like what you said and I quote: it really should not matter how I dress or whether or not I wear lipstick" I agree :) and yes your post on #challengeaccepted is actually bringing together women of solidarity! Women empowerment :) Thank you for sharing. Looking forward to reading more of your thoughts.

Busayo Obisakin
Jul 31
Jul 31

Dear Tina
WAO! Good to see you here again Tina! Great job taking the challenge Tina
Thanks for sharing
Love
Busayo

ARREY- ECHI
Jul 31
Jul 31

Dear Tina,
Thank you so much for this detailed write up. The title caught my attention because, I have read some of these articles trying to discredit the #ChallengeAccepted movement. I actually enjoyed reading and couldn't agree more with how you developed the theme.
These words : 'I never bought into this notion that to be a feminist meant I should not be feminine. Femininity to me was never equated with oppression or domesticity, it always meant standing in my own power as my whole self, body, mind and spirit, safe and free to be, me.' Caught my attention. I so agree.
Thank you.
Love,

Fanka
Aug 01
Aug 01

Hello Tina,
Thank you for introducing the #challengeaccepted movement to us. It is a brilliant initiative. Women need to work and stick together in order to fight against domestic violence especially this time of Covid 19 pandemic.

Marie Abanga
Aug 01
Aug 01

Dear Tina,

This excerpt from your excellent write up hit the cord with me so deep: "I never bought into this notion that to be a feminist meant I should not be feminine. Femininity to me was never equated with oppression or domesticity, it always meant standing in my own power as my whole self, body, mind and spirit, safe and free to be, me". And this is why I don't let my decision to be a feminist and to join the challenge be affected by what men or even some other women think feminism or such challenges look like etc...
Thank you so much for this excellent post once more

Tamarack Verrall
Aug 01
Aug 01

Hi Tina,
I am so glad to read your post. No matter what we do as women, we are criticized, especially if we use the word feminist. It is so important to me that our voices continue to be raised in support of a movement that is specifically focussed on the way women are treated. We are accused of being selfish and biased to even name the reality of this violence, and mocked when we put our faces together to show any form of standing with each other. You have uncovered the basis of these public attacks and named them so beautifully and completely. Thank you for honouring the grandmothers in the park, and thank you for demystifying and reclaiming the word feminist. This is our sisterhood.

Isata Kabia
Aug 03
Aug 03

Thank you for the write up Tina and for giving permission to reluctant feminists or those who may have had difficulty reconciling advocacy and posing (Lol). And as you rightly say, there is no contradiction. How we look has no bearing on our feminist stance and it should not matter. Usually we judge ourselves even more heavily than the men do, but the self deprecation has to stop. Thanks to the #challengeaccepted , we were all able to pose and post, as a collective support for oppressed women. And there is nothing more feminist than that!

Metiege Noel Eve
Aug 03
Aug 03

Thanks for this impressive explanation to this trend of Challenge accepted on social media now I can accept this Challenge knowing I am supporting a genuine cause

Kirthi Jayakumar
Aug 05
Aug 05

Thank you for sharing. I hear you, sister! <3

Vanora.Lee
Aug 07
Aug 07

Thanks for sharing. I agree that every successful movement starts with some seems-to-be inconsequential small group initiatives just like grandmas group in the park, LOVE IT and Bless you.