This year have been getting more involved in protesting, and there has been so much to protest about.
What does going to protests, signing petitions, actually achieve? People sometimes try to deflect from one issue a protest or petition is about by saying, but there are larger issues to worry about than the one you are protesting on. This seems counter intuitive as an argument, if someone cares about one issue it’s more likely they will care about other issues, why shut down their passion over this particular issue, why not listen to what they have to say about it? You have to give people a platform to begin with else people are shouted down on any issue that matters to them.
Cases when this happens can be with issues of representation of women, people argue this isn’t a ‘real’ issue, which I would definitely disagree with and say that how we see women in the public sphere is indicative of how women are treated across the board, extending to international attitudes towards women being reflected in their representation in media etc.
I don’t know if Media Diversified has ever been challenged to stop asking for people of colour to have a larger media presence, because really what they should be focusing on is police violence.
‘The social media campaign #AllWhiteFrontPages aims to raise awareness of British media’s need to include ethnic minority groups in their stories.’
It is all part of the same picture of injustice and discrimination. It’s frustrating that people are so quick to shut down issues in particular regarding representation of women; read this article on Media Diversified on race and gender intersecting: Who stole all the black women from Britain? They close the article by asking when will Britain feel able to have an honest discourse about race that may actually lead to real change, and protests and petitions can function as part of this honest discourse that we are trying to create.
A successful petition regarding representation of women this year has ensured that Jane Austen will be on a bank note, check out the change petition here. This petition has been successful and has brought up so many issues in its wake, with the backlash including troll death and rape threats against the feminist campaigner Caroline Criado-Perez, this being brought to attention and challenged, with two of the trolls going to court. This is great as it is part of creating a call out culture that these attitudes will be challenged and people will be made responsible for their online actions:
‘The troll’s messages to Miss Criado-Perez included: ‘Ya not that gd looking. To rape u be fine,’ and: ‘Just think it could somebody that knows you personally. The police will do nothing its only twitter.’
These attitudes have been challenged, and will hopefully create a culture that tells the trolls to stop trolling rather than the campaigners to stay offline.
This Christmas RECLAIM has released an Alternative Christmas Speech summarising statistics in the UK, including that use of food banks has gone up by 600%. The time to ask for change is now, as more people are forced to the periphery of society:
The build and energy of a petition is nicely covered by Emma Howard in the Guardian:
‘In the case of the national forests, half a million of us signed up. 38 Degrees then brought together these people to fund a YouGov study, speak to their MPs, put advertisements in national newspapers and apply pressure on an independent panel. This particular journey was 27 months long, and led to victory when the government was forced to revoke the policy.‘
I want to be part of a society that challenges the attitude that this is ‘just the way things are’, apathy is incredibly wearying, even though it can be overwhelming to begin asking for change we have to start, else we will be looking at the next generation and know that we did nothing to improve matters for them. The conversations I’ve had with people at protests this year have opened my eyes in so many ways, and educated me more thoroughly than listening to the BBC news ever has.
I’ll be putting up posts on some of the different protests I’ve been to in 2014, to give you an idea of what to expect, in no particular order here are some vigils/protests:
- Bring Back Our Girls Vigil
- Safe to Sing
- Porn Protest
- Mike Brown Vigil
- In Solidarity with Ferguson
- Protest Against the Cuts
- Carry that Weight
- International Transgender Day of Remembrance
- International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers
- Candlelit Vigil for Domestic Violence Victims