By Zinhle Geluk
This article is exclusive to the Online Edition 8 of VARSITY News.
With Womxn’s Month currently happening during a year of a pandemic, in a South African
context with the dual scourge of Covid-19 and GBV (Gender-Based Violence), social media
has seen a range of movements and hashtags arise as a result. Many are wondering what the
purpose is behind them and how effective they are in advancing a revolutionary stance.
One such movement stems from the current social media trend, #ChallengeAccepted, also
known as the Challenge Accepted campaign. It is a trend with the intention to celebrate
strength, spread love as well as remind womxn of the power in supporting each other. The
trend involves people taking part on social media. Womxn are posting photos of themselves
in black and white on platforms such as Instagram, along with an accompanying message or
hashtag and subsequently nominating another to repeat the action. The challenge has been
taken up by famous female celebrities and ordinary citizens, garnering support and
participation from womxn from all walks of life, with the purpose of creating a light-hearted
platform to appreciate each other. It is reported that over 3 million photos have been posted
under the #challengeaccepted or #womensupportingwomen hashtags. However, the
movement has also seen critique, receiving some backlash from other social media users and
Some have scorned the challenge as another form of performative activism that offers no real
substance, further questioning how the act of taking a selfie is in any way involved in the
empowerment of womxn.
The trend itself is reported to have begun in Turkey. Womxn took to social media to clarify
the context behind the movement and how it was originally framed in protest against the
ongoing atrocities against womxn in the country. The use of black and white is reportedly a symbolic choice, reflecting how the pictures of victims of GBV ended up in black and white
in the newspapers. The recent trending of the social media challenge was triggered by the
murder of 27-year-old student, Pinar Gutlekin, allegedly killed by her ex-boyfriend.
After the original meaning of the campaign came to light, Chef Nigella Lawson updated her
original #challengeaccepted post with an apology:
“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 that I didn’t know [sic]
when I posted. It seems inappropriate now, and hardly fitting for the serious and terrible issue
of femicide. I apologise,” said Lawson in an Instagram post.
Another movement in a similar vein to the #ChallengeAccepted is the Instagram account
dubbed #KeepTheEnergy, a movement which gained notoriety from outrage on social media
due to the rapidly increasing GBV rates in South Africa. With a social media following of
61k, the movement’s aim is to fight gender-based violence against womxn, children and the
LGBTQIA+ community consistently, and not only purely when it makes huge headlines and
hashtags that circulate for a week on social media.
These movements, though not without criticism, are deemed necessary by many. They are
proponents in the fight to achieve goals of gender equality, a society free from gender-based
violence and the unification of womxn to support each other in all these aspects.