If you spend any amount of time on social media, you'll come across throngs of people who partake in symbolic trends for many different reasons. Wearing a safety pin on one's clothing is one of those trends that seems to have had several different meanings over the years. So what does wearing a safety pin mean these days?
What does wearing a safety pin mean in 2021?
There are tons of "symbolic" methods of showing that you stand against tyranny, and apparently wearing a safety pin is another way of doing just that. The gesture has been implemented for years, and it made headlines in 2016 when the U.S. was shocked that Donald Trump was elected President of the United States of America.
Discussions about xenophobia, racism, discrimination, not to mention an utter obliteration of "class" in politics, emerged upon Trump's victory. Throngs of people began putting safety pins on their clothing to signify that they wouldn't stand for the acts groups of Trump supporters would commit in his name after he was elected.
After Trump's choice words with Iran, for instance, folks worried that we would be getting into World War 3 ... for about 48 hours. He also came under harsh criticism for not vocally condemning racism and white supremacy. Trump ultimately received a ton of flak for "emboldening" participants of the Capitol riots to storm the government building in an attempt to attack key political figures.
So safety pins during the era of Trump were to protest that line of xenophobic thinking, but what does it mean if someone wears one in 2021?
It could pertain to the horrible turn of events that occurred in Afghanistan. President Joe Biden defended the United States' decision to pull out of the region after years of military oversight/involvement.
Joe Biden isn't the only politician receiving flak for what transpired in Afghanistan. Vice President Kamala Harris has been criticized for avoiding the issue as she takes a trip to Vietnam in the wake of the Talbian's speedy takeover of the nation.
The Taliban have long practiced acts of terrorism both domestic and foreign. Wearing a safety pin in 2021 could be perceived as a sign of solidarity with the Afghani people, whom the U.S. suddenly left to be subjected to Taliban rule.
The safety pin symbol was criticized back in 2016 in a Huffington Post article that delineated the "problematic" nature of its imagery: "Marginalized people know full well the long history of white people calling themselves allies while doing nothing to help."
Wearing a safety pin in 2021 to show that one cares about disenfranchised people without actual action to back it up is a problem. It's all well and good to appear as an "ally," but the appearance of caring isn't the same as actually doing something for marginalized people, whether it be protesting or donating or calling your representatives or volunteering your time in another way.
The safety pin is also being used to discuss taking extra measures in the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Twitter account @SafetyPinDaily is sharing tons of news about the reported severity of COVID-19 spikes in specific areas while castigating anti-mask opposition. So it all depends on context.
In general, people wear safety pins as "a symbol of solidarity" with those who are marginalized. It's an albeit superficial way to say those people are "safe" with the pin wearer. Whether that display of solidarity is enough these days is another issue.