#NotOk – American social movement

dolcegabbanaThe leaked recording of Donald Trump in the Access Hollywood (Fahrenthold) bus in 2005 started a movement. The term rape culture has been around for years (the term was coined in the 70s by the feminist movement in the USA) and awareness is slowly growing. The understanding that there are actions and views in our society that we take for granted and see as normal but that are in fact promote sexual assault (WAVAW). These include everything from the way women are portrayed in advertising (Walkman) to the culture of victim blaming. When someone gets assaulted one of the first questions is “what was she wearing?” or “how drunk was she?”

The fact that a presidential candidate brushed aside his statements of sexual assault as “locker room banter” (Fahrenthold) assuming he had done nothing wrong created a social media revolt. Many people started to ask themselves how this kind of behavior is considered ok and normal? Author and social media personality Kelly Oxford (CBS) shared her own story of sexual assault as a 12 year old under #NotOK and asked others to share. The results were horrifying. Tweets came pouring in. 9.7 million women shared their stories #NotOK in the first 24 hours. The hash tag is now also shared on Facebook and talked about in news media.


Pennsylvania liquor board pulled ad

By women sharing their stories in a few sentences two things have happened. Firstly it has given these women the opportunity to let go of the guilt that they have kept with them (Heldman). Within a rape culture the guilt is most often experienced by the victim rather than the perpetrator. Through talking about their experiences the women can start to understand that they are not alone and that this is #NotOK. The second result of this social media storm is that people are now talking about rape culture again. We get stuck in our daily life and often need a reminder that there are many things in our surroundings that need to change. Social media trends such as #NotOK or #RefugeesWelcome help remind us that our society still has a long way to go until we can see each others as equals.




CBS (2016) Kelly Oxford starts social media movement of women sharing sexual assault stories

Fahrenthold, D (2016) Trump recorded having extremely lewd conversation about women in 2005 http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-recorded-having-extremely-lewd-conversation-about-women-in-2005/2016/10/07/3b9ce776-8cb4-11e6-bf8a-3d26847eeed4_story.html

Heldman, C (2013) Pennsylvania public service announcement blames rape victims https://thesocietypages.org/socimages/2013/03/21/pennsylvania-public-service-announcement-blames-rape-victims

WAVAW (2016) What is rape culture http://www.wavaw.ca/what-is-rape-culture

UCLA Medical center (2016) http://www.911rape.org/impact-of-rape/self-blame-and-shame

Walkman, E (2016) How advertising promotes rape culture https://medium.com/digital-workshop/how-advertising-promotes-rape-culture-1645d0a885ae#.np7wlfrxc




  1. Very important view on (social) development. I’d love to add to your last sentence: “….that our society still has a long way to go until we can see each others as equals AND take the right to ‘educate’ others on how to emancipate their societies.” In German, there is a saying that implies that, before pointing towards others and their mistakes one should “sweep one’s own doorstep”. I feel your post is highlighting one of many areas in which no society can ever stand as a prime example.

  2. Dear Angelica,

    Thank you for shedding the light on this important subject. In so many instances, when talking about development, we see that discourse is somewhat localized on the Global South. Your insights are a perfect example that countries called highly developed have issues on different levels. Development of society’s perceptions on everything what happens in everyday life and questioning whether manifestations of what is conventionally accepted as ”OK” are really so OK should be an extremely complicated but a greatly important object to analyse for social scientists and those working or researching in the field of development.

    Your post also emphasizes how social media is actually employed to communicate particular issue. Interestingly, this article does not necessarily only shows how media enables women to communicate their concerns and raise awareness, but also how sensitivity of the content actually connects the supporters through a state of emotion, through possibility to empathize. I mean, it’s not social networking tool that connects people. they are already connected through this aspect of empathy. Social media is just a kind of accelerator.

    This was a few days ago posted on “GOOD” a media and information website that I follow: https://www.good.is/articles/intermission-what-if-gender-roles-in-advertising-were-reversed. It is about how it would look if men were portrayed in advertising the way how women are. In other words, if men were sexualized the way women are.I think representation of women in advertisement has a lot to do with society thinking Trump’s talk about women was OK, like you write about it.

    This topic of representations discomposes me so deeply. I think Dogra (2012) and Scott (2014) [references below] that I also cite in my post about women’s representations in Beijing’s metro (http://wpmu.mah.se/nmict162group1/2016/10/28/media-is-using-women-beijing-subways-media-as-an-embodiment-of-persistent-discourses-of-womans-value-in-chinese-society/) very accurately explain how particular discourses are reproduced in societies by practices that look very innocent, from first glance.
    I think the #NotOK movement is also a paragon of what Meyerhoff & Ruby (1982) called a reflexive practice that allows individuals to detect the workings of dominant discourses in societies they live in.

    Dogra, N. (2012). Representations of Global Poverty: Aid, Development and International NGOs. London: I.B. Tauris.
    Scott, M. (2014). Media and Development: Development Matters. London: Zed Books.
    Myerhoff, B. & Ruby, J. (1982). Introduction, in A Crack in the Mirror: Reflexive Perspectives in Anthropology. Philadelphia; University of Pennsylvania Press.

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