Slacktivism

Slacktivism

“Slacktivists don’t raise money” “Slacktivists aren’t informed” “Slacktivists aren’t connected to the cause” “Slacktivists aren’t real activists” “Slacktivists don’t accomplish anything” I’ve heard and read these complaints a million times over.  How many times do we need to see a campaign like the one launched to restore Planned Parenthood funding when Susan G. Komen Foundation pulled out?  Over $400,000 were raised rapidly, Komen went back on their decision, and at least one board member was fired/resigned.  That strikes me as a lot of money and accomplishment for a bunch of people who, “don’t care,” and “can’t accomplish anything.” I would like to point out that the TOMS Day Without Shoes (which appears to have accomplished nothing more than clogging my inbox) is considered “activism,” while buying something BOGO is “slacktivism.”  I have an inherent problem with the term slacktivism, but I also have issues with how we define it. I don’t thinkwe have to choose between one or the other, and I think there is far more overlap within these groups than is usually portrayed.  How often do I have to go to protests to maintain my credibility?  How many times can I tweet about a cause before I shift into “slacktivism” territory? Traditionally, buying BOGO, purchases where a percentage goes to a cause, signing an online petition and donating via “like” or text message are all considered Slacktivism.  Isn’t my money just as good if it comes via text?  In the paraphrased words of my friend Eduardo, we all have to wear clothes, so they may as well mean something and do some good.  Isn’t my slacktivist clothing accomplishing more than your sweatshop-produced, unsustainable stuff?  Isn’t my support for a...

Marx Was Wrong

The other day, we were casually discussing women’s rights when Chris piped in with a Marx quote: How can men and women ever be equal if men are not equal to each other?” At the time, I didn’t respond because I was so dumbfounded by the sentiment, especially coming from him.  I know he loves Marx, but this quote so clearly places women in the backseat of societal development, waiting patiently for men to sort out all of this “equality” stuff.  In general, I found the entire statement to be absurd, false, and a pithy one-off as an excuse to dismiss women.  I’ve read the Communist manifesto, and I’ve been to countries with varying degrees of socialism.  I like Marx perhaps more than most Americans, but that doesn’t mean I can’t question him when he’s so obviously full of shit.  Moreover, I’ve learned from development that as the women go, so goes the country. In matriarchal societies, people in general are fairly equal.  Meanwhile, in patriarchal societies, there are high levels of gender inequality.  That is to say, when women are in power, we are equals.  When women are more educated, that spreads to their children, limits fertility, and leads to better health.  When men are more educated…well, we have the world as it currently is, with overpopulation, girls not in school and a worldwide healthcare crisis.  So why would we wait for men to figure it out, idly twiddling our thumbs as they continue to increase the inequality gap across income and health? Share this:Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to share on...

“Voluntary”

Can we talk about the word voluntary?  and, unusually, I don’t mean it like helping out at the food pantry down the street or building an irrigation system in Uganda.  I’m talking about structural violence, and when privilege allows us to declare things as voluntary when they really aren’t. Reading Nick Kristof’s article and accompanying blog post brought me back to a conversation I had with my roommates a few weeks ago about prostitution.  There tends to be, especially in the United States, this sentiment that the women choose to live this life, and really why can’t you just get a job at McDonald’s? Well, as Kristof’s blog post points out: “Skeptics will note that there is also voluntary prostitution. Of course there is. There was also voluntary work on cotton plantations. But my point is that some of what appears voluntary is in fact coerced, and that should be a higher law enforcement priority. “ If you’re not okay with the master-slave relationship, you shouldn’t be okay with the pimp-prostitute relationship.  Are there significant differences?  Yes.  But is the woman, who foten enters the trade at a young, impressionable age, really empowered to fight back? No.  And that’s due in part to the fact that in America, she is a criminal, not a victim.   Can a woman who needs to prostitute herself really just get a job at McDonald’s?  Not if she’s a runaway with doesn’t have her birth certificate and social security card, or is too young to work formally in the US.  Not if she’s a single-income mother, who can’t afford childcare on minimum wage (because the minimum...

Lessons Learned from Jacqueline Novogratz

Jacqueline Novogratz, founder and CEO of the Acumen found, world traveler, social entrepreneur and all-around badass wrote the book The Blue Sweater.  Ms. Novogratz is one of a growing group of business people who believe that we can combine the goals of philanthropy with the methods of for-profit business and come up with a sustainable way to help people.  The emphasis is on providing opportunities for people in developing countries to make their own money, rather than simply giving it away. I’ll be writing about the book and these ideas quite a bit on here, since I greatly admire her path in life and would like to emulate her.  Before a formal review, though, here are some take-aways from her book: Don’t create more dependence Invest in good people Listen.  Really, really listen. Involve people in the formal sector of the economy If you want to be taken seriously, take everyone else seriously.  That means real logos and an office, but it also means that if someone defaults on a loan, there needs to be some sort of punitive measure.  Just because the work is motivated from a place of humanitarianism doesn’t mean your customers and clients can do whatever they want. Focus on building upon systems that are already in place.  Starting scratch often means failing. Sell to them on their terms, not yours (know your audience) Everyone can contribute You need feedback, something the market can provide that is often missing from traditional philanthropy Don’t leave people behind The world’s poor are active customers, not passive receptacles of charity We are all smarter for knowing one another...

10 Things People Say About My Travels

Have you read Eat, Pray, Love? Good lord, no!  But might I interest you in some Ayn Rand, Ayun Halliday or Malcolm Gladwell? Have you been to___________? Probably not.  I’ve only been to a few places.  They just all happen to be a little scary to the average bear, and one trip right after another. Why don’t you just go where they speak English? I speak other languages and I want to learn more.  Also, my travel is an integral part of my education.  It is not based on areas of high booze, sex or beaches, but rather areas I want to study.  England and Australia appeal to me as a traveler, but not as a student.  It would be counter-productive and perhaps a bit unethical for me to take money from NU, the government, and my parents to go abroad for non-educational purposes. Wasn’t it scary?  And don’t they just treat women like crap? And aren’t they awful?  (you get the picture…) No!  I promise!  I really have enjoyed everywhere I have gone, and I have never felt truly unsafe.  I research where I go pretty heavily, and I have turned down opportunities because I deemed them unsafe.  And if you come away from reading this blog thinking the people were awful and mistreated women everywhere I went, then I’ve failed.  I tell it like it is, and that means mentioning the harassment.  But I also get an alarming number of doors opened for me, and strangers who make sure I’m not lost, and people giving me presents at random.  It’s a mixed bag, like anywhere else. I...

Domino

This is my best possible recollection of something that happened about a year ago.  The quotes may be a bit off, but the sentiment is there. Also, some names are changed because I felt weird. I wander down the broken street, and my steps start to bounce because I can hear Rigoletto floating down to me out of a high Havana window.  Bum bum bum bum-ba-da, bum bum bum bum-ba-da, baa daa daa daa-daa, baa daa daa daa-daa.  I think briefly of seeing that opera at the Met when I was in high school, and the warmth of the memory has Havana feeling like home.  But still, I get slow and cautious as I approach the tiny barrio within itself.  It isn’t about safety; I don’t want to be the first one to show up. There are no women poking their heads out of windows tonight, no children running around and curling themselves around my ankles.  One little, bare bright, bulb shines and makes shadows out of Brittan and Fernando.  Rather than playing dominoes and crouching on the metal skeletons of chairs, they rest comfortably on a low, cement wall.  They drink, but their voices are relaxed and slow and the bottle remains upright and still most of the time. Brit smirks and stands to hug me, and suddenly Fernando is animated.  He immediately busies himself getting me the closest thing to a proper chair and a jam jar for the clear, grainy rum. “Heh, Have I got a story for you,” Brit quietly laughs to me.  So Fernando won’t hear it: “we’ve been talking about you.”  He seems pleased...

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