I’ve had this fantasy that I’d start some kind of activist group. You know, the kind that wears masks and goes into cities spreading the message via poster, pamphlet, and mural.
It’s what I get for reading too much books on 2nd wave feminism.
But ever since reading up on the history of 2nd wave feminism, I’ve come to see the power in activism. More importantly, I’ve come to realize how lacking the right is on the subject.
We need more activism. We need the right kind of activism. And we need to be creative about it.
By incorporating old tactics with new ideas, tools, and strategies we can spread out ideas to those in our communities, neighborhoods, and workplaces.
And these new strategies can be brainstormed by looking at the foundational aspects of activism. There’s twelve subdivisions of activism. Think of them like a foundation for more specific activist tactics.
The 12 Different Types of Activism
- Volunteer – joining, either by yourself or with a group, an organization or agency that deals with the issues you’re focused on. This could be political campaigns, to think tanks, to aid groups.
- Grassroots activism – increasing the publicity and support for your cause by grabbing people negatively affected and organizing them.
- Letter writing and petitions – sending letters and petitions to government officials and representatives, designed to inform them of your views, demands, or get a response.
- Direct lobbying – meeting with your elected representatives (or their policy aids) to request support for your movement or pieces of legislation.
- Litigation – utilizing lawyers and legal aid groups to enact justice, fight against harmful institutions, or bring more publicity to your movement.
- Consumer boycotts – meant to show grievances and problems with a particular company or institution by refusing to buy their products or support them. This can range from writing in to the executives, to call-ins, to demonstrations.
- Selective purchasing ordinances – using either the law or other powerful purchasing institutions to punish companies that engage in activities that your movement disapproves with.
- Ethical investing – if possible, limiting investment (whether on an individual or corporate level) to institutions and companies that don’t participate in unethical actions.
- Economic sanctions – encouraging your government to impose economic restrictions on countries that are oppressive or dictatorial.
- Demonstrate – protests aimed at companies or institutions that propagate what your movement is trying to fight against. Different forms of demonstration include marches, strikes, sit-ins, sleep-ins, teach-ins, street theater, and hunger strikes.
- Civil disobedience, “monkey wrenching,” and other “direct action” – this is the most confrontational form of activism, meant to directly confront unethical individuals and organizations. Arrest is a possibility.
- Agitate – encouraging oppressed groups to defend themselves or protest against their oppressors.
Obviously, not every form of activism is going to work, much less be an acceptable option for you to take.
For instance, I don’t believe sanctions work most of the time. We’ve had sanctions against Cuba for how long? The dictatorship is still strong as ever, but the people can’t rise up because of these sanctions.
Boycotts also fit into that category. Frankly, I’m sick of all these boycotts. They die as fast as they were born.
Finally, remember that these aren’t set in stone categories. Think of them as broad definitions that can cover a multitude of options and avenues.