With the current political climate and the horrific events occurring across the world, it is very easy to feel powerless, a person with little control. However, through the vessel of campaigning and protesting, social media can be a catalyst for social change with the rise of hashtag protests.
Advances in technology have changed our understanding of politics; issues are becoming decentralised since our only source of news is no longer from the mass media. Indeed, social media has provided not only a tool for resistance but the ability for citizens to tell their own stories, helping to prevent ‘erasure’.
From reactions to Trump’s tyrannical tweets to protests such as #BlackLivesMatter, #TakeAKnee and #IStandWithMonroe millions can share their voice in matters that would typically be told with an elitist narrative. Recently, after a woman was stalked and almost kidnapped in India, an Indian politician claimed that she should not have been “out so late at night”; proving that the regressive mentality of women as victims who are merely ‘asking for it’ is sadly still alive.
“Social media creates a sense of solidarity, raises awareness of events and allows voices to be heard but don’t just say something, do something.”
In reaction, the internet became the vehicle for activism. And so, women across India created a campaign posting selfies past midnight with the hashtag: #AintNoCinderella as a mighty mockery of the statement. The witty campaign highlights the flaw in the politician’s concern being placed on why a woman is alone at night rather than the actions of the two men that had stalked her.
Varnika Kundu from Chandigarh wrote on the frightening incident in a Facebook post stating that the men had used physical force to attempt to break into her car after chasing her and cutting her off. She also expressed that she felt lucky she was “not lying raped and murdered in a ditch somewhere”. Hence in having Facebook to share her honest account, the politician’s view on the matter was then placed in correct context.
So far, hundreds of women have contributed to the Twitter campaign, not only increasing awareness of the wrong in victim-blaming but also displaying a collective resilience. However, arguably the most significant achievement of the immense success of #AintNoCinderella and social media hashtag protests alike, is that they create democracy. Yes, a person of political power may release a misogynistic statement, but undoubtedly, that it is through the many that greater impact is created.
It is to be reminded, to create and sustain change efficiently, action must follow the words typed online. To tweet the repeated expression of helplessness that person is ‘praying for…’ or that their ‘thoughts are with…’ isn’t enough to better a horrific incident. Yes, social media creates a sense of solidarity, raises awareness of events and allows voices to be heard but don’t just say something, do something.