If you’re on social media, surely you’ve seen photos of friends or celebs with the hashtag “Challenge Accepted.” The murkiness of the wording can’t help but prompt the question, “What challenge?” If you’re like us, you probably scanned the other hashtags for a clue to what the challenge is about. You might think it’s for some specific cause, like that summer people were dumping ice buckets on themselves to raise awareness for ALS. But you would be wrong.
It turns out this hashtag, which has been used by more than 6 million people on Instagram, is meant to show support for women’s empowerment. The rules of the game are to post a black-and-white photo of yourself and then tag 10 friends who presumably share your commitment to raising the profile of women.
Big names like Jennifer Anniston, J. Lo, Cindy Crawford, Jessica Biel, and Reese Witherspoon have weighed in with their Challenge Accepted sentiments (basically some “Yeah us” lines), so the meme has a feeling of a real happening.
We’re big believers in female empowerment, but we have to ask: why so vague?
Let’s Get Serious
If we as women really wanted to flex our muscles, couldn’t we be using some hashtag like: #WomensRightsAreHumanRights or #NeverthelessWePersist or #EqualityForAll. Or, if we wanted to be really daring, #FuckThePatriarchy. Or why not make the challenge be that you get 10 women to promise to vote, or promise to send $10 to an organization to help domestic violence victims.
The #ChallengeAccepted meme grew out of Turkey, where women started posted black-and-white photos of themselves to express solidarity with women who had been murdered, whose photos usually appear in the newspapers in stark black and white. At least there is a compelling reason behind this movement.
But bland meaninglessness of the effort in the U.S. is disappointing. All that wasted viral-ness. All that misplaced earnestness. There’s nothing difficult about posting a pretty photo of yourself. The events of the summer show us that we’re going to have to do more, commit more for real change to happen.
Let’s put more on the line and expect more from each other. And if nothing else, let’s give some specific encouragement. We would be more than happy to lend our #AgeBoldly hashtag to the cause.