7 Ways Citizens Are Using Humor and Creativity to Protest Injustice
Photo Credit: Knitted Womb by MK Carroll, via the Snatchel Project
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The recent spate of right-wing attacks against reproductive rights, the ongoing foreclosure crisis propagated by Wall Street banks, racist police actions that never seem to end - the injustices can seem overwhelming. But rather than give up, activists have been relentlessly fighting back.
There's the Occupy movement fighting economic injustice (among other things), of course, but there are also many other activists fighting for our rights all over the country. Lately, many of those activists have been using creativity, and sometimes humor, to get their message across. While not a new concept, creative activism does seem to be having a "moment" right now as activists look for ways to draw attention to the recent battles happening around the country and the world.
Below are several examples of recent actions that go beyond the traditional protest march. Some of them have made us laugh, while others make us think - but they've all been successful, in that they've grabbed the media's attention and gotten activist messages out to the masses.
Several of the funniest recent actions have been carried out by reproductive health supporters fighting back against the onslaught of right-wing attacks against reproductive rights: Komen for the Cure deciding to defund Planned Parenthood (and then backtracking), Catholic bishops launching an all-out assault on contraception, dozens of Republican-led legislative attempts to undermine Roe v. Wade. As Amanda Marcotte recently told Tracy Clark-Flory in a piece for Salon:
"Things have just gotten to the point of absurdity that you can't react without being absurd yourself." Thanks to recent attacks on even contraception, "ordinary women who often don't pay attention to politics are finally beginning to pay attention," she says. "And I think that means more opportunities to communicate through humor instead of the typical outrage thing. Humor can be very clarifying."
So we'll look at several humorous reproductive rights actions first.
1. Knitting vaginas and uteruses for anti-choice Congresspeople
The Snatchel Project has a simple rallying cry: "Let's make a uterus or VJJ for each male rep in congress!" The point is to send the following message to anti-choice Congresspeople: "Hands off my uterus! Here's one of your own!"
Here are the simple instructions for participation, via the group's website:
2. Print a message to enclose
(see below for a suggested message)
3. Mail it to your male Senator or Congressional Representative
(see the links to the right)
4. We're in the process of arranging hand delivery to congressional offices in Washington, until then, go ahead and mail yours in!
5. Record your items in this spreadsheet so we can track which representatives still need to receive a "gift"!
6. Don't forget to thank your representative if he respects women and supports our rights.
2. A sex strike for reproductive rights
The sex strike is an idea that's been around at least since Aristophanes wrote Lysistrata. But in recent years, such actions have caught on again. For instance, last year women in the town of Barbacoas, Colombia, launched a "crossed legs" movement, forgoing all sexual activity until officials agreed to build a safe, direct road to their town. Whereas hunger strikes and other protests had failed to get results, the sex strike worked.
It's with that context in mind that a group of reproductive rights activists recently announced a somewhat more tongue-in-cheek action with the tagline, "If our reproductive choices are denied, so are yours."