Last Thursday, like most mornings this year, people woke up and checked Twitter to learn about the latest disaster. But instead of being amused by the usual trending Trump witticism du jour, US politics gave us a rare good headline, as a video of a woman representative giving a polished, passionate reply to the vitriol of abuse previously spewed by her male colleague went viral.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, took to the House floor that morning to deliver a stinging rebuke against sexism to Congress and beyond in response to comments from Rep. Ted Yoho. The comment from him on the steps of the Capitol had come as a response to her views linking poverty and crime.
Her refusal to accept his poorly worded, and ill-intentioned apology resonated with women all over the world.
After all, who hasn’t been spoken to in a condescending tone, when has a passionate view expressed not met with an eye roll and being told to “just chill”. Further inquiries oft include “Are you on your period?” and “Why so emotional?”
How many times has a man’s deplorable and shifty behavior been excused by how good a husband, brother, or son he is?
And therein lies the reason for the virality of the video. The importance of a video of a woman in power calmly dissecting the meager, feeble arguments placed against her, quieting those who tried to dismiss her achievements and worth. It’s the exact example that young girls need as they prepare to compete in an already skewed race.
For it may be the 21st Century, but being a female is still a disadvantage as the glittering city of blue and gold- Turkey will testify.
If you’ve been ambushed by black and white selfies all over your Instagram with a cheeky #ChallengeAccepted then know it’s more than another lockdown fad. This challenge was started by Turkish women after years of being confronted by black and white pictures of women and girls in newspapers, killed more often than not by domestic violence. It was a grim declaration, an acknowledgment that it could just as easily be their pictures plastered in the newspapers in black and white.
The movement is a small part of a long struggle against the female femicide that is so prevalent in the country. Women’s rights activists have long since been lobbying for change, only to remain unheard.
Recently, a 20-year-old art student Ceren Ozdemir from Ordu set out for home after a ballet class. A man followed her to the door of her house, unnoticed. There he pulled out a knife and stabbed her several times. The student succumbed to her injuries in the hospital. The suspected murderer had already been convicted 12 times for offenses such as infanticide and robbery. Before he killed the young woman, he had escaped from prison.
This is a common story in a country with high femicide rates and an equally great tendency for clemency towards the attackers. Without stringent laws being enforced strictly, little can change for these women.
So share your black and white pictures, and spread the story of the struggle behind it. This isn’t an exercise in vanity; it’s a ripple in the feminist movement.
Written by Kriti Gopal
Image Credits (in order): powerfulmind.co