creative pragmatic activism
June 10, 2003 04:00 PM

Kerri asks today on WHB:

What are feminist actions you have taken? What are some ideas for taking action (as feminists, activists, whatever) that go beyond marching or signing petitions? Brainstorm. Be creative.

I answered this question in part back in January, thinking about some of the most basic ways to approach activism. Honestly, I'm at best a neophyte activist. And I'm not particularly radical - in behaviour, at least, though some of my views border on radicalism.

So. Creative things that not necessarily radical people can do to promote activism. Part two (part one is really much more comprehensive, but this is a small handful of things I didn't think to mention in January).

Reproduce your ideas.
Teach. Raise children. Play a role in the life of someone else's kid. Your views will automatically influence children who see you living them. And that generally applies to adults, too.

Leave signs you've been there.
I keep meaning to print some little business cards or something that I can drop in stores or bathrooms, whatever. Those or stickers or inserts in magazine or fliers could drop hints of a message without seriously disrupting the lives of the people who work wherever you leave them.

Don't do things like wheat pasting posters or huge stickers in commercial properties. You just screw the janitorial staff when you do that (yes, I appreciate the message of Guerilla Girls and such, but on a local level, it sucks); don't complicate the life of some one who isn't the source of your frustration. But do leave things that don't break the rules or serve as a form of vandalism.

Provoke questions.
This is a subtle way of educating people, and ties into what I said in January about wearing your opinion. Subtle outward signs like t-shirts and bumper stickers tend to prompt questions from people you vaguely know. It creates an opportunity to share opinions with someone who's already curious.

I've had a bumper sticker on my car for years. It says "Uppity Women Unite!" and is, as far as I'm concerned, an appropriately cheeky feminist slogan. I get questions and jokes about it even now.

Basically, if it's a little funny and the meaning isn't obvious, people will ask you about it.

Be an artist.
Art is like children. Your views, your you-ness, will by default color your art, whatever your art and whatever your views. It's often subtle, but this color also influences your audience and the artists with whom you work.

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