The Supreme Court eliminated the nearly 50-year-old precedent protecting the constitutional right to abortion in the US on Friday 24 June. The reversal of the abortion protections established under the landmark 1973 case means individual states are now able to decide whether to restrict or ban abortion.
The reversal has sparked widespread anger across the country, and around the world, as millions have taken to the streets and social media to protest the decision.
On TikTok, where users living in states where abortion will remain legal have already begun offering their homes as safe spaces for women seeking abortions, some women have suggested protesting the Supreme Court decision in the form of a buying strike or boycott.
A user named Audrey, who goes by the username @based_audrey on TikTok, suggested the idea of a strike on Friday. In a video that has since been viewed more than 906,000 times, the TikTok user informed her followers about Roe being overturned before claiming that it has become “glaringly obvious that screaming on social media, fighting in the streets, and basically everything that we’ve tried isn’t f**king working”.
“So I want to hit these motherf**kers where it hurts,” Audrey continued. “Spread this message like wildfire, I want to organise the biggest strike this country has ever seen. I mean, we women and uterus-bearing people, make up over 50 per cent of this country’s f**king population. If we strike, and we cripple the economy, they have to f**king listen to us.”
In the video, Audrey then suggested that women across the country avoid buying anything, and spread the word.
“If we collectively refuse to participate in their economy and their class systems, and therefore cripple it, they will have no choice but to hear us out,” she said, before suggesting in a follow-up video the idea of a no-buy July.
According to one woman named Kristina, who goes by the username @everday.kristina on the app, the proposed strike would take place from 3 July to 5 July and apply to “everything”.
“Women contribute 83 per cent of all consumption in the US. [If you can], spend ZERO DOLLARS (no grocery store, Target runs, gas buying, online buying, everything) between 3-5 July,” she wrote in a text caption on a video of herself. “Biggest protest is disrupting the economy.”
In the background of her video, Kristina chose to use audio of Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s viral speech on the House floor about the insults directed at her by Representative Ted Yoho.
TikTok users even shared their dedication to the proposed strike in the comments of Kristina’s video, which has been viewed more than 266,000 times.
“I’m starting now. Unless it’s ESSENTIAL, I won’t buy it. The economy doesn’t deserve our money!” one person wrote.
Another said: “I’m already on it. Cancelled Netflix, HBO, Amazon, Spotify, Planet Fitness. Getting out of the beast system as much as possible.”
Others noted that the strike would be more impactful if it didn’t have an end date, with many revealing that they planned to continue the spending strike for as long as possible.
“Point is to have no end date. Yes, not everyone will be able to do it [but] the longer we go, the more they hurt,” one person wrote.
In a video created by Kelly, who goes by the username @kelsokru, she agreed that the strike will only have an impact if individuals fully commit to boycotting everything but essentials needs.
“Three days of not spending money, that’s all we can commit to this fight? That’s not a strike. A strike is indefinite, until demands are met. But in order for something like this to be indefinite, it has to be sustainable,” Kelly said. “How do we do that? You go to work, you pay your bills, you get your groceries, and that’s where it ends.”
The TikTok user then claimed that a successful boycott would mean “no longer joy shopping at Target and stopping at Starbucks on the way, until those companies begin to stand up for us”.
She also suggested cancelling streaming subscriptions until those companies “stand up for us”. “No more restaurants, bars, movies, and I know you’re not going to vacation to any of those states,” she continued. “We all either go all the way in or don’t bother at all.”
The videos have also prompted some women to suggest shopping only at women-owned businesses or at farmer’s markets during the strike.
“NO BUY JULY. All July buy from small businesses and women-owned,” one user urged, while others suggested using sites such as Progressive Shopper, which uses data from the Federal Election Commission to inform consumers about the corporations funding political candidates and their committees. The website also allows consumers to search by issue, with users able to see which companies fund anti-abortion politicians.
Reyna, who goes by the username @heyyyrey on the app, also shared a video promoting the strike. In the video, which used The Chainsmokers’ song Paris, which has become an anthem of sorts for the pro-choice movement due to its line: “If we go down, then we go down together,” she urged fellow TikTok users to avoid spending money during the proposed period in July.
Hit them where it hurts. Make sure you’re safely stocked up by the 2nd. Reach out to local mutual aid if you need help. Spread the word- we only make an impact if we make it together. #tiktok #fyp #roevwade #consumerstrike #julystrike #horace #trending #challenge #healthadepopit #fuckfilters #ifwegodown #fourthofjuly #fourthofjulymeals #share
♬ What would you do - Bitch
“They don’t care about our rights, our bodies, or our lives. We know what they do care about. If money talks, let yours say something,” she wrote.
According to global nonprofit Catalyst, an organisation dedicated to building workplaces that “work for women,” women in the US performed an estimated consumer spending of $6.4 trillion in 2019. Statistics show that, on average, women are far more likely than men to be responsible for household spending.
The nonprofit’s analysis of buying power also referenced data that states women direct 83 per cent of all consumption in the US, in buying power and influence.
While many women, and men, have expressed their support and commitment to the suggested buying strike, the methods of protest have had varying degrees of success in the past, as major companies can typically withstand a boycott’s impact on its revenues. However, according to Northwestern University’s Institute for Policy Research, boycotts can be effective when they threaten a company’s reputation, such as through negative media coverage.
“The number one predictor of what makes a boycott effective is how much media attention it creates, not how many people sign onto a petition or how many consumers it mobilises,” Brayden King, an IPR associate and professor of management and organisations, said.
Strikes and boycotts have historically made an impact, as evidenced by the Montgomery bus boycott in 1955, which resulted in the Supreme Court declaring segregation laws unconstitutional, and the Women’s Strike for Equality in 1970, which Time noted in 1970 “won new support and undoubtedly new awareness among both men and women of the case for female rights”.