Conceived by Timmy Linetsky and Steven Prieto
#ProWomensHealth is a social media campaign that focuses on raising awareness for Planned Parenthood and other women’s health services in a way that aims to subvert the pro-choice/pro-life division and focus on community services that help women from all different backgrounds. The campaign will the take the form of short videos that describe the specific health challenges women from all over the country are facing, and how Planned Parenthood gave them the help they needed regardless of economic, social, or political background. After releasing an initial batch of ten to fifteen videos, viewers will be encouraged to make their own #ProWomensHealth videos, so that they can share their story with the world too. This gives the movement the potential to become a viral phenomenon, similar to the Ice Bucket Challenge or other campaigns that play to social media’s strengths of inclusivity and transparency. Once we have reached a substantial number of videos from supporters, we will publicly exhibit these videos in cities all across the United States. The movement would also be a vocal presence during existing social events like the Day Without Women demonstrations scheduled for this coming March. This kind of real-life exposure would add a level of legitimacy and presence to movement that could not be accomplished by social media alone. While the videos would exist mostly to raise awareness, each would end with a link to contact your local representative so that lasting political change can be enacted. In sum, #ProWomensHealth aims to combat the divisive political rhetoric in regards to abortion and women’s rights to bring women of all backgrounds together under a public health good that benefits all of us.
Keywords: health, women, Planned Parenthood, video, public, pro-life, pro-choice, viral.
Plans for Production and Potential Impact
The beauty of the #ProWomensHealth initiative can be found in its simplicity and its accessibility. Drawing from movements and trends like the Water Bucket Challenge and the Mannequin Challenge, the #ProWomensHealth movement will have its biggest presence on social media. The #ProWomensHealth movement will be initiated with the release of several dozen videos that all share the same simple stylistic format. Over a black screen the plights, troubles, and dilemmas of women around the country will be described by those who face them. Health concerns ranging from, “When I was a teenager, I experienced unbearable menstrual pain due to endometriosis” to “My family history has a lot of cancer…Several years ago, when I was 23, I found a lump in my breast” will be anonymously put forth for the world to consider. Then, we transition to the second part of each video. From the black screen we’ll fade in on each brave soul that is courageous enough to share their own personal story. Only until after we’ve had ample time to take in their image, their presence, their individuality, will they continue: “When I was 18, I decided to visit a Planned Parenthood health center and my provider there confirmed that indeed I was suffering from endometriosis. It was the first time I was taken seriously. My name is Shannon, I am from Washington, and I am pro-women’s health.” “I immediately called my gynecologist at Planned Parenthood. I have currently passed the five-year survival rate, and the cancer is in complete remission. My name is Natasha, I’m from New York, and I am pro-women’s health.” “I’m a Cleveland native and a fashioner designer. I’m also a 23-year-old black gay man who is HIV positive. My name is Marquis, I am from Ohio, and I am pro-women’s health.” Once again each individual is allowed to dominate the frame until we again fade to black. Then three separate title cards fade in and out: “Pro-life”, “Pro-choice”, and finally the most most important of all, “Pro-women’s health”. Following that would simply be title cards that advertised the websites for various resources such as the Planned Parenthood website, local avenues to connect with representatives, as well as the #ProWomensHealth own domain.
Along with the social media video campaign we will launch a hashtag, #ProWomensHealth, that will accompany every video post. Viewers will be encouraged to make their own #ProWomensHealth videos, which allows the movement to take on a viral component similar to the Ice Bucket Challenge. This plays on social media’s strengths and allows the movement to gain momentum very quickly. Once we have reached a substantial number of contributions from supporters, we will publicly exhibit these videos in cities all across the United States. The movement would also piggy back off the progress and presence of existing social events like the Day Without Women demonstrations scheduled for this coming March. Pro-choice and pro-life rallies would also be heavily considered as avenues for the initiative as we could not only reach a massive audience, but also demonstrate the fundamental belief that both sides are in the end working for same goal of Women’s reproductive and sexual health. This kind of exposure would add legitimacy and a real-life component to a primarily online movement. While the campaign focuses on issues around Planned Parenthood, it can also be used to raise awareness for countries around the world who do not have the same health centers that our country possesses. The campaign could work to strengthen and bring in Planned Parenthood support from people around the globe while also inspiring other countries to adopt their own measures for providing reproductive and sexual healthcare for their citizens.
Recent political rhetoric has been especially divisive in regards to abortion and women’s health. For too long the American public has been fed a binary of pro-choice being a Democratic movement, while pro-life represents a Republican one. Too often people are more concerned with the labels attached to them rather than giving everyone the resources to stay healthy. Our movement aims to get rid of these labels and to bring people together under a common good. With #ProWomensHealth we want to transcend racial, political, and socioeconomic boundaries in order the ensure the health of every gender identity. But by specifically naming ourselves the #ProWomensHealth movement, we begin to evoke the power, strength, grace, and compassion of all women. By allowing the movement to highlight those that have been discriminated and ridiculed for far to long, we empower them to take their own health, mind, body, and soul back. #ProWomensHealth gives strength back to the individuals who without them, nothing would be possible. And when we give them strength, we can finally become stronger as a whole.
It also encourages people who previously did not have a voice or political platform to speak up about their fight for women’s health. A perfect example of this would be Amanda, who went to Planned Parenthood after her ex left when she was fifteen weeks pregnant. Amanda was not comfortable getting an abortion and needed help making a decision that was right for her. The counselor there, contrary to popular belief, actually encouraged her not to get an abortion. Instead she gave Amanda resources for single mothers, support groups, and information about adoption if she so chose. The key takeaway from this story is that Planned Parenthood and #ProWomensHealth both do not exist to further any political agenda: they exist simply as community resources for gender identities of all backgrounds.
While it will be effective in raising awareness, we recognize that #ProWomensHealth will not be enough to create lasting political change. At the end of each video, we will include information as to how to contact your local representative to ensure that Planned Parenthood remains a viable option for so many that need it. Our website will consist simply of a looping video with every individual who a submitted a story with the #ProWomensHealth hashtag. Underneath the video we will have a link to government websites that assist in contacting your local representative directly. Additionally, we will feature a donation button with 100% of the proceeds going to Planned Parenthood services of all kinds.
The ultimate goal of the #ProWomensHealth movement is to not only shed light on the many services that Planned Parenthood has to offer but to create a peace between sides that have been at war for far too long. For too long there has been a rigid binary system on issues such as abortion that have only served to further divide us. By bringing attention to the experiences of people from all walks of life we can highlight the importance of Planned Parenthood for countless individuals. We emphasize the fact that Planned Parenthood exists only to provide assistance with sexual and reproductive health to any who are willing to receive it, regardless of sex, color, or creed. In doing this we will continue to ensure the security of Planned Parenthood and thus the health of women in this country. And when we do that, we begin to realize the potential of us a progressive and equal country.
“When I was a teenager, I experienced unbearable menstrual menstrual pain. My healthcare provider at the time said I was too young to have endometriosis, and told me that what I was experiencing was normal.
When I was 18, I decided to visit a Planned Parenthood health center, and my provider there confirmed that indeed I was suffering from endometriosis. It was the first time I was taken seriously.”
“My family history has a lot of cancer. Needless to say, I try to stay on top of my screenings to keep myself safe. Several years ago, when I was 23, I found a lump in my breast.
I have been a patient of my local Planned Parenthood in Fayetteville for three years now. I made an appointment at Planned Parenthood. The nurse practitioner found the lump and arranged for my first mammogram. Planned Parenthood even put me in contact with a group to help me pay for the procedure. If it weren’t for Planned Parenthood, I would not have been able to get the procedure and keep myself healthy.”
“I was raised by two immigrant parents who were busy ensuring that my sister and I had food on the table, went to school, and stayed safe. They didn’t have the tools to explain to us about safe sex and birth control and sexual health.
I knew I could get correct information from Planned Parenthood, and then I shared that information with my friends. Planned Parenthood has really cracked the code with reaching out to young people. When a young person talks to his or her peers and provides them with information that could save their lives, it builds trust and creates a safety net.”
“I was 33 years old when I felt two lumps during my monthly self-exam.
I immediately called my gynecologist at Planned Parenthood. I have currently passed the five-year survival rate, and the cancer is in complete remission. Planned Parenthood offers affordable breast exams (and other preventative services) with a serving of care and compassion.”
-Natarsha, New York
“When I was 16, I joined a friend who was going to a Planned Parenthood appointment. While I was in the waiting room, I noticed that the health center was offering free STD testing, so I decided to get tested.
I’m a Cleveland native and a fashion designer. I’m also a 23-year-old black gay man who is HIV-positive.”
“When I was 16, my mother died of ovarian cancer, and I had to become a mother figure for my little sister. I was the one who had to take responsibility for taking care of her, and it was daunting. Then at age 17, I became pregnant.
I went to Planned Parenthood, and the staff confirmed my pregnancy. I decided to terminate the pregnancy…It was a difficult decision, but I already was a parent to my sister, and I couldn’t financially or emotionally provide for another child.”
“I went to Planned Parenthood when my ex left me. I was 15 weeks pregnant and he was pressuring me to get an abortion. I knew in my heart that I didn’t want to, but I went, mostly yo talk to someone. I was lost and confused and I needed help gathering my thoughts so I could make the decision that would be right for me.
I explained my story, I talked to a counselor and told her everything that was going on and everything I was feeling. she told me not to get an abortion. She gave me information on groups for single mothers, resources for support groups and therapists, and resources for adoption if I so chose…They helped me decide to keep my son. My name is Amanda and I am pro-health.”