This paper investigates whether social media provides an alternative protest forum minimizing bodily harm for vulnerable groups through an analysis of the “Challenge Accepted” movement on Instagram. The Instagram challenge constituted a part of the physical and online protests against the actions of the authorities and mechanisms in Turkey, especially after the Turkish government’s decision to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention, which increased women’s vulnerability. Based on Judith Butler’s writings, I propose four main properties for an effective protest: 1. Visibility of the protesters and their bodies, 2. Plural action, 3. Occupation of “public” spaces, 4. Vulnerability of the protesters. Looking into the properties and tactics that carry over from physical to virtual protests, I argue that social media offers its users an alternatively embodied political presence in public that minimizes harm and allows for plural political action, and has tangible socio-political consequences and effects on protesters’ bodies and lives. Although I ultimately argue that hybrid physical-online protests are more effective and less risky for the protesters, this paper is an attempt to re-think and imagine alternative protest platforms that reduce vulnerability and increase social and political impact, which is much needed under certain circumstances that increase protesters’ vulnerability and discourage physical participation, such as police brutality, governmental oppression and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Keywords: activism, embodiment, public space, social media, vulnerability
How to Cite:
Ustel, I., (2021) ““Challenge Accepted” Movement on Instagram: An Embodied Virtual Protest”, Iowa Journal of Cultural Studies 21(1), 27-48. doi: https://doi.org/10.17077/2168-569X.1569
Rights: Copyright © 2021 Ilayda Ustel.