A couple things have happened today that have made me thing about what happens after an activism victory. I’ll talk about one today, and the other tomorrow. (My first 2 part post, I’m pretty excited!) I posted on Facebook about how excited I am that the Boy Scouts of America voted to end their ban on gay scouts, and congratulating the activists who made it happen. Immediately people replied that there is still a ban on gay leaders and that this victory isn’t enough.
I see this happen with all kinds of activism victories. I won’t speak for anyone else, but I can tell you that when I’ve just been part of an activism project that has had a success, this response is far more disheartening than a million trolls calling me a “fat cnut landwale.” There is always a next step, there is always more work to do, but I don’t believe that means that we shouldn’t take time and space to celebrate our victories. While I understand that many of the people who do this have positive intentions, and of course I don’t deny that people are allowed to do it, I’m not convinced that pointing out that a hard fought victory is “not enough” before the ink dries helps to encourage future activism – though perhaps that’s not the goal. I’m not against discussion of what more there is to do, I’m just not certain that the most productive time for that discussion is in the minutes following a victory.
I’ve had the opportunity to be involved in some large-ish scale long term projects and to talk to people who have been involved in many more than I, and what I learned from my experience and from the people who mentored me is that activism like this can be absolutely gut wrenching – full of bumps in the road, hope dashed by bitter disappointment, desperate stories from people who tell you that they are counting on you to make things better. Out of a 1,000 day campaign, it’s possible that day 1,000 is a partial victory, but every single other day was a battle – not even necessarily with those whose policies/minds you hope to change, but also with yourself not to give up in the face of seriously stacked odds and naysayers (just as there are people who rush to tell activists that our victories aren’t enough, there are those who tell us at the outset and every possible opportunity that our activism is doomed to failure, nothing ever changes etc.).
As an activist it is always possible to look back see your entire life as a series of projects and victories that were never enough – for me that certainly doesn’t encourage continued work, and I’ve not seen it inspire others to activism. So to take away the celebration when we win a battle, just because there are more battles to fight, seems like an absolute shame and counter productive to me, but of course that’s just my opinion.
Fat activism has had plenty of amazing victories so far and we’re going to have plenty more, so I think we might as well talk about what happens after we win.
On the News!
I’ll be on Alberta Primetime at 12:30pm Pacific Time today (5/24/13) with a panel to discuss the Abercrombie and Fitch situation and what we think will happen in the future.
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