Here we take a look at some of the 21st-century movements that were as dominant on social media as on the streets.
By Reya Mehrotra
Several movements in recent times have made huge impact through social media, sometimes even more than physical protests. Here we take a look at some of the 21st-century movements that were as dominant on social media as on the streets. Some largely only spread on social media.
Black Lives Matter
The #BlackLivesMatter movement might have accelerated globally with the murder of George Floyd, the African-American man killed in May this year during his arrest by two white Minneapolis police officers, but the movement dates back to 2013. The movement advocates non-violent civil disobedience against incidents of police brutality and racially motivated violence against the black community.
Though not a movement in itself, #LoveWins and #LoveisLove became a strong figure of the gay pride movement. In 2015, when the Supreme Court of the US ruled in favour of gay marriages, then US president Barack Obama tweeted: “Today is a big step in our march toward equality. Gay and lesbian couples now have the right to marry, just like anyone else #LoveWins”. The hashtag has since been used to ask for equality of genders and to celebrate gay pride. In 2018, when section 377 of the constitution, which criminalised gay sex, was scrapped in India, everyone celebrated on social media using the hashtag.
American activist Tarana Burke first used the phrase ‘me too’ in 2006 to help women stand up for themselves. The purpose of the movement was to empower women by voicing out their harassment, especially sexual harassment at the workplace. The #MeToo movement began to spread globally with several sexual abuse allegations against Harvey Weinstein in 2017. The movement got widespread media coverage with several celebrities speaking up.
Free the Nipple
The #FreeTheNipple campaign started in 2012 as a precursor to the 2014 movie of the same name. The campaign asks for gender quality—while men can appear topless in public without any shame, women are not supposed to do the same. Topless women are viewed as sexual, indecent or vulgar. The campaign argues that it should be legally and culturally acceptable to have topless women in public. Filmmaker Lina Esco ran on New York City streets topless and filmed herself to start the campaign. Several stars like Miley Cyrus, Rihanna, Chrissy Teigen, Lena Dunham, as well as hundreds of other women joined the protests later.
Dress Like a Woman
The #DressLikeAWoman movement took social media by storm with images of powerful women in 2017. It came up after an article claimed that US President Donald Trump wants women that work for him to dress in a certain way. The social media movement had photos of hundreds of women—like Serena Williams, women pilots, firefighters, soldiers and astronauts—being shared largely on Twitter. Current Vice-Presidential candidate Kamala Harris, too, took to Twitter to participate in the movement. It was aimed at rejecting the idea of a stereotypical and feminine way that a woman is supposed to
He For She
Initiated by the United Nations, the #HeForShe campaign calls for men and people of all other genders to stand in solidarity with women and create a united force for gender equality. It was kickstarted in 2014 and hosted by UN women goodwill ambassador Emma Watson. The movement got around 1.1 million tweets with the hashtag #HeForShe in its first two weeks. The logo of the movement represents the union of men and women working together for equality. To share the burden of women while at home during the pandemic, He For She launched the #HeForSheAtHome campaign this year.
Stop Funding Hate
The social media campaign #StopFundingHate was started in 2016 by Richard Wilson, a former corporate fundraising officer at Amnesty International. It called on large corporates to stop advertising in newspapers that use misleading reports or “fear and division” to sell more. By 2017, the campaign was widely trending on social media. Several businesses like The Body Shop and Specsavers withdrew their ads from newspapers like Daily Express and The Sun to show solidarity with the campaign.
ASL Ice Bucket Challenge
The 2014 #IceBucketChallenge turned out to be a fun online movement where people poured ice and water on themselves and uploaded their videos on social media. It was done to promote awareness of the disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ASL) and encourage donations for the same. Several celebrities all around the world took up the challenge.