The “Challenge Accepted” movement is surging through Instagram, prompting users to share black-and-white selfies and celebrate the women in their lives. If you’ve been tagged, it probably means someone thinks you’re a legend. Relish it.
However, questions have been raised about where the campaign kicked off, and what it’s actually promoting.
In its simplest form, the ‘challenge’ involves posting a monochrome photo of yourself and nominating other women to give it a go, too. Celebs like Khloé Kardashian, Reese Witherspoon, and Ruby Rose have contributed, encouraging many, many other social media users to get involved. At time of writing, the #ChallengeAccepted hashtag has been used more than 5 million times on Instagram.
Like many other social media challenges, Challenge Accepted uses an avalanche of photos and tags to promote an important message – but there’s debate over what that message is, exactly.
Many challengers, including the celebs mentioned above, used their captions to promote women in general. “Thank you to all the magical women in my life for the endless love and support,” Witherspoon wrote, while Rose referenced “Women appreciating and uplifting women.”
Writing for the New York Times, Taylor Lorenz argues this “vague” promotion of female empowerment allows users to feel as if they’re “taking a stand while saying almost nothing.”
Lorenz writes the challenge doesn’t “require actual advocacy” from celebrities, who could step on toes for taking more definitive action. From this perspective, Challenge Accepted could be seen as a crowdsourced version of Gal Gadot‘s infamous Imagine singalong, a well-intentioned but ultimately ineffective display of solidarity with fellow women.
For suggesting the challenge may be an excuse for folks to share an attractive selfie and remind their friends of their importance (like there’s anything inherently wrong with that!), Lorenz faced a considerable backlash from some Instagram users.
The exact origins of the recent Challenge Accepted wave are a little murky, too.
While variations of the Challenge Accepted trend have popped up over the years, an Instagram spokesperson told the Times this round kicked off when Brazilian journalist Ana Paula Padrão posted a photo and the #WomenSupportingWomen hashtag on July 18.
That piccie was likely the starting point for the posts which have recently swamped your feed.
That’s not all you need to know, mind you. At roughly the same time, halfway across the world, another social media campaign was gaining recognition.
Lorenz’ Times colleague Tariro Mzezewa writes that Turkish social media users spread the hashtag #kadınaşiddetehayır, which roughly translates to “No violence to women,” after the murder of 27-year-old university student Pınar Gültekin.
Gültekin’s body was discovered on Tuesday, July 21, Al Jazeera reports. Her former partner, Cemal Metin Avci, has reportedly confessed to the killing.
Al Jazeera states 474 women were murdered in Turkey in 2019, marking a sharp and tragic rise in femicide – the killing of women – in the nation over the past decade. Many of those women were killed by their former partners.
Mass protests against the conservative government’s handling of violence against women kicked off across the nation. Around the same time, users began posting black-and-white photos of Gültekin with the hashtag #kadınaşiddetehayır.
Citing Instagram spokespeople, Lorenz states that movement in Turkey didn’t actually kick off the broader “Women supporting women” trend.
Nevertheless, the movement has now adopted direct references to Gültekin and the women’s rights movement in Turkey, and many posts captioned with #ChallengeAccepted now bear the #kadınaşiddetehayır hashtag, regardless of whether the user is Turkish or not.
With that added context, the new torrent of black-and-white photos feels like a demonstration that any woman, anywhere, could lose their life to gendered violence.
But, like the black square campaign before it, #ChallengeAccepted raises some big questions about the methods used to champion valid causes – and what information gets lost when social media movements go viral.
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