Abortion Laws and Texas: How Gen Z Is Reacting to the News and Using Social Media as a Tool to Educate and Protest
The news of the new abortion laws in Texas have been hitting the headlines recently, and Gen Z has reacted to the news in a way that is, in line with their character, bold and defiant, but also engaging. They’re a generation of activists and are progressive, and with abortion covering everything from feminism, class equality and human rights, it’s no wonder that they’re using social media platforms to share their thoughts.
So what’s happening in Texas?
In short, a new law has come into place in Texas which allows citizens to sue those that have provided or facilitated an abortion for up to $10,000. Be it the doctor, nurse or Uber driver, anyone involved in the process could be pulled up.
It’s thought that the ruling will affect lower-income women, trans men and non-binary people the most, due to the decreasing likelihood that they’ll be able to travel states to get access to abortion healthcare, be that for financial, family or work reasons. It’s also important to remember that travelling became increasingly difficult over the past year and a half due to the pandemic and the strict travel restrictions.
Aside from the outrage of people across the world on behalf of the women of Texas, another concern in America is that the rulings will act as a guide for other states. The realisation that this might not remain a single-state problem, but spread further, is one that’s catalysing panic and fear.
Over in the UK, abortions are much more accessible (location and demand dependant), however, despite progression, Northern Ireland still offers limited access to abortion.
How is Gen Z reacting to this news?
Quite simply, via an outpouring of support and anger on social media. According to our UK Youth Trends Report 2020, 59% of Gen Z have suggested that their generation is more likely to stand up for the rights of others’ than previous generations, and this is evident through just a quick scroll on Instagram. Diversity, equality and fair access to healthcare is second nature to them, meaning the upheaval in Texas has caused outrage and upset.
And it’s not just young women who are invested – we spoke to 17-year-old Dani, who said that everyone she knows at school, from her friends to her boyfriend, is sharing educational content surrounding the Texas situation. Gen Z may be the most diverse and individual generation yet, but when it comes to important issues such as this, their beliefs seem to be pretty much aligned.
73% of Gen Z describe themselves as activists, and 83% get their news from social media, so it’s no surprise that they’re sharing posts and articles about the story online. From sharing educational and empathetic tweets, to news clips of TV anchors debating with guests, and even reposting infographics from recognised influencers, Gen Z has been pulling on every resource at its fingertips. According to our insights, 34% of Gen Z would post about a cause they feel passionately about on social media, and 50% would donate money – using social media is their way of educating and raising awareness.
For these influencers who are sharing information about the situation, using their platforms is a way of reaching people who may not understand the science and reasoning behind abortion, or the situation in Texas. In our 2021 Influencer Trends Report, we reported that Gen Z wants to know what influencers stand for and what causes they represent; however, influencers playing their part in serious discussions such as this can potentially lead to some issues – a trickle effect of information, where it’s passed on and shared around, could lead to misinformation and confusion. There’s also a danger of being seen to be jumping on the bandwagon – Gen Z knows if your brand’s claims are not supported by actions, so sharing information on social media needs to be supported and evidenced.
What does Gen Z want from brands?
Quite simply, they want to be heard. People across the world, particularly women, non-binary people and trans men, are shocked, shaken and devastated by the news from America. Brands need to empower Gen Z and reassure them that they can be trusted and that the brand-consumer relationship is a two-way and respected one.
But this doesn’t just apply to this issue; as we reported in our 2021 Youth Trends Report, young people no longer believe that staying neutral is an option. Brands need to take a stand on the important issues, be it abortion rights, diversity and inclusivity, or LGTBQ+ rights (as well as the many other important causes), and be brave. Andrew, a student at Edinburgh University, says “I would like to know when a brand is using their profits for good. I want to know the money I’m contributing to a brand is not just lining the pockets of a CEO, but contributing to something good in the world. That’s a priority for me.” This suggests that, whilst supporting a cause undoubtedly benefits brands financially (87% of Gen Z would actively support one if they felt represented in their advertising), it also builds loyalty and trust.
But critically, Gen Z recognises performative activism. Brands cannot run an external campaign on an issue and expect it to be sufficient. Gen Z does its background research and is unafraid to call out a company if its actions seem to be performative. They want brands to commit to causes externally and internally, from establishing employee support services to donating money to charitable causes. However, it’s important to bear in mind that Gen Z recognises and values transparency in terms of what a brand can offer – Andrew goes on to say, “Some brands might not be able to physically help with certain issues that young people might like them to. But signposting and platforming people and their voices and views so they can be heard and seen is [brave].”
Our top tips? Regardless of the topic, talk to your audience and listen to what they’re concerned about or invested in. Then use that information to help shape the future of your business; Gen Z want brands that are politically and socially aware, and are willing to do the right thing.
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