Some women are also writing a short message by way of caption, declaring their love and appreciation of the Sisterhood. “So grateful to all you Wonderful Women. Couldn’t do any of it without you” reads one – decorated with pink bows and praying emojis to boot. “I’m all in for women supporting women” says another. And here’s a goodie (abbreviated): “I am mega lucky with the women in my life, they are brilliant and kind and supportive and inspiring and make me laugh every day”. And on it goes.
474 women were murdered last year in Turkey – the majority of which was at the hand of partners or relatives – and the record this year stands at 120. – Constance Watson
So what’s it all about? This “challenge” may have been accepted by celebrities such as actresses Eva Longoria and Jennifer Anniston and President Trump’s daughter Ivanka. But this doesn’t get us any closer to discovering the meaning behind the “challenge” whereby women post attractive photographs of themselves alongside gushy messages purporting to endorse female empowerment.
Not that you’d know it, but the current #womensupportingwomen #challengeaccepted movement is a demonstration of solidarity with women who are murdered in Turkey, which has the highest rate of femicide in the 37 OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries. 474 women were murdered last year in Turkey – the majority of them at the hand of their partners or relatives – and the record this year stands at 120 (known). The effects of lockdown are expected to increase the number of killings in 2020 dramatically.
Fidan Ataselim, the general secretary of the We Will Stop Femicide campaign group told the British press that “every day, after the death of one of our sisters, we share black and white photographs to keep their memory alive”. She added “The Istanbul convention keeps Turkish women alive. We call on women from all over the world to spread this message and stand side by side with us against inequality.”
Yet the #womensupportingwomen #challengeaccepted is so far detached from femicide in Turkey that well-known faces such as chef Nigella Lawson and comedian Miranda Hart have, following their involvement, issued apologies that they did not know the purpose of the posting. “I have only just found out that this challenge was originally meant to draw attention to the growing number of murders of women in Turkey, and am mortified didn’t know [sic] when I posted. It seems inappropriate now, and hardly fitting for the serious and terrible issue of femicide. I apologise,” Lawson wrote. How was she to know? There is very little to indicate that the attractive Instagram posts are anything to do with the atrocious killings in Turkey.
We call on women from all over the world to spread this message and stand side by side with us against inequality. – Fidan Ataselim
It isn’t the first time in recent years that users of social media platforms Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have felt moved to accept the so-called challenge of posting attractive photographs (and on occasion, videos) of themselves for campaigns or causes. Who can forget the Ice Bucket challenge in 2014? It involved pouring a bucket of ice and water over your own head to raise awareness for the Motor Neurone Disease Association. Fairly successful, it raised vast fortunes – but created a fanfare and encouraged a hideous form of self-exhibitionism that, it might be argued, conflicts with the silent and humble essence of charity. Earlier in lockdown, the “challenge” de temps was #MeAt20. Yes, that is correct: the “challenge” was for social media users to publish a photograph of themselves at 20, in the halcyon days of youth. Where is the challenge there?
In all this hysteria and self-publicity, we dilute impetus and tend to neglect the meaning behind the movements. Raising awareness is crucially important – particularly of countries where citizens are maltreated and their human rights are violated. Surely there are more effective means of campaigning and demonstrating than self-exhibitionism and insipid photo captions?
Constance Watson is the Assistant Editor of the Catholic Herald.
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