Tag Archives: Strategic nonviolent activism

Stop Street Harassment

Since Feminist Activism aims to be the intersection of feminism and strategic nonviolent action, it makes sense that the idea of intersectionality is deeply rooted in everything I do. Nothing exists in a vacuum, so taking one’s gender, race, age, ability, religion, location etc. into account when trying to understand a given situation is a must. This understanding of intersectionality is crucial to a feminist lens and it is with this lens that I will soon be writing in another venue. I have recently had the honor to  be chosen to blog with Stop Street Harassment for the next few months!

tlynnOnce a month from now through April I and other activist writers will contribute to the discussion of street harassment in our corners of the world and ways we can work together to stop it. I will still be writing here at Feminist Activism too, have no fear! But I will also be linking to my articles on the SSH blog. If you would like to share your ideas of how to stop street harassment or tell your own stories feel free to do so in the comments, or by emailing FeministSNVA@gmail.com. You can also tweet @StopStHarassmnt and @FeministSNVA to add to the conversation. Thank you all for your continued love and support!

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Tedious Tastelessness in Texas

© David Thomas Photography

© David Thomas Photography

I’ve had my ear to the ground regarding these pieces of anti-choice legislation since the legislative session started, since this is the biggest attack on my personal human rights and bodily integrity I have ever faced, and the last gem of the previous post (ASC requirements) is one that could put me out of work. The dates and days and nights in orange at the Capitol became a blur, and I am still physically and emotionally trying to recover from these “Special” Sessions. I’ve gotta rest up so I can get back out there again for the THIRD! Thank science for time stamps so I can tell you that my journey into this fray started with a simple sidewalk protest on Monday June 17th, around 5pm, just as I was becoming aware that orange is now the color of Reproductive Justice. I made a sign that read: 

Perry, Perry you’re so scary
You’ve hit an all-time low
You took our voice, we have no choice
And you forgot all about Roe!

Total hours at the Capitol: 2

One of the overflow rooms teeming with Texans for Reproductive Justice

One of the overflow rooms teeming with Texans for Reproductive Justice

Thursday June 20th me and my co-workers from both of my jobs, as well as another 700+ pro-woman Austinites, spent our afternoons and evenings at the Reagan building, testifying against the First Special Session omnibus bills in the House. That night supporters from all over the nation bought pizza and coffee and donuts for us so we could carry on into the wee hours of the morning.  Since anyone in the testimony room had to respect all 175 pages of the rules of “decorum” jazz hands were initiated there. After waiting from 6pm to testify, when the Chair shut the whole thing down sometime after midnight for being “repetitive,” I just walked up and gave them the punchline to my testimony. And shortly after I left some vagilante male allies shone the bat signal for all the world to see. “Let her speak!” became our rallying cry and the #CitizensFilibuster was officially underway.

Total hours at the Capitol: ±6

Come when you can, wear orange, stay 'till the end!

Come when you can, wear orange, stay ’till the end!

Sunday June 23rd I waited in line with many other eager Texans in orange to bear witness to the Texas House of Representatives debate the Senate omnibus bill. I arrived around 1:30pm.  The House recessed for a long while, during which lots of us in orange, the #TangerineVagilantes and #FeministArmy gathered in the rotunda to chant, clap, stomp and hold up our ever-witty signage. 

Orange Line

The line to get in to the Capitol on June 23, 2013

The discussion had started with House Dems debating whether they were dealing with calendar days or legislative days, to which Austin’s own RH Reality Check Reporter Andrea Grimes tweeted, “We can laugh about counting calendar days, but when #txlege outlaws birth control, that’s a skill we’ll all need to bone up on. #hb60.” The House didn’t reconvene until around 6:30pm, I think. So I gathered with the raucous bunch in the auditorium overflow room, which was just as well, since we didn’t have to abide by decorum. 

She understands. She was alive pre-Roe.

She understands. She was alive pre-Roe.

I had to go to work from 4:45 to midnight but my co-workers and I (at a domestic violence non-profit) were watching the Texas Tribune live feed and guffawing at the risk of arrest for jazz hands and the ridiculousness that is ALEC’s newest It Girl pawn, “Representative” Jodie Laubenberg and #OtherThingsRapeKitsDo, and cheering for Representative Thompson hanging a hanger from her mic to punctuate her speech. By that time #TXlege #StandWithTXWomen (and variants) and #HB60 were also trending worldwide on Twitter.

Woo Wu!!!

Woo Wu!!!

I returned to the Capitol just after midnight and was in the gallery to see Representative Wu kicking ass. Kudos to Farrar, Dukes, Wu, Menendez, Lee, Mary Gonzalez, Dutton, Eddie Rodriguez, Howard, Burnam, Naishtat, Turner, Thompson and others for killing it on the floor and battling for women’s reproductive justice. Intersectionality at its finest. And kudos to the thousands of people who donated water, food, coffee and good vibes to keep us all going!

20130623_150911The reason we needed to prolong this process as much as possible, why hundreds of us came to add our voices at the Committee hearing and why our tireless Dems threw question after question around, was that the first special session was scheduled to end at midnight on Tuesday. If we could delay the vote on the bill so much that the legislature literally ran out of time, we would win, at least for a little while….

As predicted the bill did get through this second reading around 3:30am, so my activist friends and I from Get Equal Texas encouraged everyone leaving the gallery to stop on the 2nd floor outside where the representatives normally enter/exit so we could shame them to their faces. I led the charge with a classic borrowed from the LGBTQAI movement: I am somebody! And I deserve full equality! From there a huge contingent of people stood chanting pro-choice slogans like My Body, My Choice and We Won’t Go Back! The kicker was everyone getting fired up and chanting “Shame!” until some of the Reps who spoke up for us came out to thank us. That was the night I learned to use Twitter for real. 

Stairwells flooded with hope

Stairwells flooded with hope

Total hours at the Capitol: ±7.5

Stay tuned for the next exciting post on Texas’ woman problem: Wendy Davis’ filibuster.


Happy Birthday Rosa Parks!

birthday-black-history-rosa-parksJust in time to kick off Black History Month today marks what would have been Rosa Parks‘ 100th birthday. The “Mother of the Freedom Movement” continues to inspire generations of Americans who believe in equality. Arguably the most famous woman activist in American history, Parks’ legacy lives on along side legends of the Revered Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). The Montgomery Bus Boycott was sparked by Parks’ refusal to obey an unjust law, and her subsequent arrest, trial and appeals lead to the Supreme Court decision upholding a federal district court ruling in the case that Alabama’s segregation laws were unlawful.

BlackHistoryRosaPark’s humble quote here that she was merely “tired of giving up” is inspiring, but overshadows the truth that she had been groomed for making history by her own family, her community, and civil rights leaders of the time. Indeed, other “test subjects” against segregation, like Irene Morgan, Claudette Colvin, Mary Louise Smith, and Aurelia Browder (the lead plaintiff in Browder v. Gayle which effectively ended segregation on public buses in Montgomery Alabama) had been considered as the face of the boycott. Parks was chosen because of her stellar history as an investigator for the NAACP of sexual assaults on black women, like Recy Taylor, her acceptable employment and family life, and because she was “above reproach.”

rosa parks stampIt is both heartening and saddening to learn that the Civil Rights Movement was sparked by a community outraged at the brutal sexual assault of one of its women; heartening because it is everyone’s duty to work together to create communities and a world that are safe for all people regardless of sex, race, age, ability or religion, and saddening because we are still fighting today to make our communities safe for all people. The fight against racism is inextricably linked to the fight against sexism, and the fight against homophobia, and the fight against ableism, etc. In the words of Dr. King “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Rosa Parks landmarkAlthough Parks is the most famous woman activist of the Civil Rights Movement, many women had to come together to ignite the fight for equality, including Jo Ann Robinson, Coretta Scott King, Mary Fair Burks, Josephine Baker, Mary E. King, Daisy Bates, and the women of the Women’s Political Council. Although most history books focus on the male leaders of the movement, without these and other women who dedicated their lives to the fight for equality, many of the laws we now take for granted would never have been adopted. The everyday folks in Montgomery who participated in the bus boycott day in and day out for 381 days, who walked to work through rain and cold and sweltering heat were the ones who made the boycott a success. Without the cooperation of the community Rosa Parks’ determination would have been swallowed up by complacency and a resignation that the status quo would never change. It is your duty now, today, to honor Parks and other activists like her who have dedicated, and in some cases given, their lives in the fight for equality. Analyze, strategize and act to create equality. And do it with love.
Happy Birthday Rosa Parks: You are an inspiration to us all!

Rosa Parks arrest

 


International Day of Nonviolence

Feminist Activism is all about strategic nonviolent action and activism (SNVA) so today, the International Day of Nonviolence, I wanted to share with you all some thoughts on nonviolent strategy and successful activism. Today is different in key ways from the International Day of Peace because nonviolence is, by definition, different from peace. See these FAQ from the Albert Einstein Institute for a simple yet thorough explanation.

My practical knowledge of activism comes from years of working with non-profit women’s organizations like VOX: Voices for Planned Parenthood, the Gay-Straight Alliance, the National Organization for Women, and the V-Day Campaign. Tabling, phone banking, burma shaves, political rallies, marches, protests, and productions were all lessons I learned in high school and college.

My theoretical knowledge of strategic nonviolent action comes from Dr. Mary E. King and the UN-Mandated University for Peace. Dr. King served as the press secretary for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during the civil rights movement. She and Casey Hayden co-authored “Sex and Caste”, which has been credited as one of the first documents of the women’s liberation movement. Her experience and vast knowledge of the literature about SNVA brought the ideas of brilliant theorists like Gene Sharp to the forefront of my actions, and allowed me to meet Retired Colonel (and expert strategist) Robert Helvey via Skype to discuss how SNVA could be used in the United States to pass the Equal Rights Amendment.

As celebrations of Gandhi‘s birthday–the International Day of Nonviolence– occur from Oman to Armenia to Tibet, I’d like to define for you, in my own words, what some prominent concepts of nonviolence mean for me. While you’re reading, think about how they can be applied to abolishing patriarchy and establishing gender equality.

Nonviolent action is not passive.
It is not inaction.
It is action that is nonviolent.

Peace: Not just the absence of violence but a state of calm and understanding that leads to respect and love. A lofty philosophy, nearly impossible ideal, and absolutely necessary goal. Peace can and will only be achieved when equality is achieved.

Nonviolence: Not to be confused with nonviolent action, nonviolence is a preface or adjective in many phrases in the field of peace studies. The biggest mistake most people make when thinking nonviolent action is ineffective is confusing it for principled nonviolence which tries to win the hearts of opponents. Most people who practice some kind of nonviolence, especially those who practice nonviolence strategically, do not believe in principled nonviolence.

Principled nonviolence: The religious, spiritual, moral or ethical belief that violence is wrong and must never be used under any circumstances. Many great nonviolent leaders like Gandhi and MLK have used principled nonviolence to demand discipline and adherence to nonviolent behavior amongst their followers, with the belief that nonviolence is morally superior to violence. Pacifism and satyagraha are forms of principled nonviolence.

Strategic nonviolent action/activism: The strategic use of nonviolent actions with the understanding that well-planned strategic nonviolent actions are statistically more successful than violent action. Nonviolent action produces change through conversion, accommodation, nonviolent coercion, and disintegration, and targets six sources of power to do so (authority, human resources, skills and knowledge, intangible factors, material resources and sanctions). Nonviolent action can be broken down into acts of commission and acts of omission, and into three different categories as described and defined by Gene Sharp–nonviolent protest and persuasion, noncooperation, and nonviolent intervention. In 1973 Sharp outlined 198 methods of nonviolent action with the caveat that the number of methods could be infinite. Through the wonders of the internet, telecommunications and social networking the creativity of new methods never ceases to amaze me. Other phrases that are often used interchangeably with SNVA include people power, civil disobedience, political defiance and nonviolent struggle. My favorite word to neatly explain SNVA is the Turkish word direniş.

If you want to learn more about SNVA follow Feminist Activism on Twitter @FeministSNVA, read everything you can get from the Albert Einstein Institute, keep up with Change.org and the Care2 and Avaaz petition sites, and find and participate with your local NGOs’ actions through Idealist, the American Civil Liberties Union, Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International. Most importantly, find your passion, figure out what you want to change, then make it happen! Happy International Day of Nonviolence everyone, go out and kick some ass–metaphorically of course!


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