Think Pink: Social Advocacy with #PussyHat and #PinkOut

If you’ve been wondering what happened to the pink swarm of advocates that Trump’s presidency released, then you are happy to see what Planned Parenthood’s #PinkOut campaign accomplished this week.

#PussyHat was a catalyst ignited during the Womens’ March to show unity on Womens’ rights.  Planned Parenthood’s #PinkOut campaign brought it home.

The Pussyhat Project was a nationwide effort initiated by Krista Suh and Jayna Zweiman of Los Angeles to create pink hats to be worn at the Women’s March on Washington for visual impact. “Pussy hat” refers to the resemblance of the top corners of the hats to cat ears and attempts to reclaim the derogatory term “pussy”, a play on Trump’s widely reported 2005 remarks that women would let him “grab them by the pussy”.

Kelsey Dahlager, a  St Kate’s MBA student, took a look at social media mentions of the Pussy Hat.  From the time the project launched in November, 2016, discussion gradually built until the Women’s March on January 21 — when conversations about the hat exploded.

The Washington March drew at least 500,000 people, and worldwide participation has been estimated at five million. At least 408 marches were planned in the U.S. and 168 in other countries. After the marches, officials organizing them reported that 673 marches took place worldwide, on all seven continents, including 29 in Canada, 20 in Mexico,and one in Antarctica.  In addition to advocating women’s rights, they advocated human rights, immigration reform, healthcare reform, the natural environment, LGBTQ rights, racial equality, freedom of religion, and workers’ rights.

Pussy Hat conversations dropped immediately after the Marches, with a brief bump in traffic when a yarn shop attacked the popular symbol of solidarity for women’s rights and against the newly-elected president. However, it remains a great example of the influence of how social objects can trigger action among large crowds.

Women’s Rights remain at the forefront of many minds since the March, but without a corresponding level of activity until Planned Parenthood triggered the #PinkOut campaign on March 29, 2017.

The ‘Pink Out’ campaign invited supporters to color profile pictures pink, share pink selfiles, and sign  a #IStandWithPP online petition.  According to Planned Parenthood, the effort reached over 10.5 million people on social networks. It contributed to 750,000 petition signatures, and generated thousands posted Pink Out selfies on social media.

“Together we turned the internet Planned Parenthood pink — and demonstrated our unwavering commitment to keep fighting for a future that truly values and invests in reproductive health and rights,” Cecile Richards, President
Planned Parenthood Federation of America, told supporters.”

The power of pink is undeniable as a catalyst for women’s rights advocacy and it’s encouraging to see the ownership of ‘pink’ in the hands of emerging rights’ advocates — instead of outdated brands like Victoria’s Secret.