Online activism makes a difference
During the Super Bowl last night, I was not watching the game but following the Twitter hashtag #notbuyingit where people were protesting about the many sexist ads, such as those by Kia, Telefora, Fiat and GoDaddy. Today’s Mother Jones article Twitter Talks Back to Sexist Super Bowl Ads described how this campaign started by Miss Representation is taking off.
Do online petitions actually make a difference? After looking at recent events, I have to say the online activism can and does make a difference. Several articles in the last few days documented the role online activists have to make change. The AltanticWire article 2012 Is the Year of the Virtual Protest and Nickolas Kristof’s Sunday New York Times column After Recess: Change the World both highlight the impact online efforts using services such as Change.org have. As Kristof wrote about these successes:
And therein lies a story of how new Internet tools are allowing very ordinary people to defeat some of the most powerful corporate and political interests around — by threatening the titans with the online equivalent of a tarring and feathering.
Our efforts to change the culture can start with online efforts. How will you use our new technology to promote a world free of sexual violence and domestic violence?
I think it important that we go further than merely expressing outrage at the sexism in the ads if we want to bring more people on board, especially those who see no particular harm in the ads and see us who do as annoyingly over-critical. For example, the storyline of the Fiat Ad is classic “women say no when they mean yes.” The super-beautiful woman rails at the “not your masculine hero” man ogling her and then procedes to come-on to him even while staying always unattainable. All of this subtly reinforces the ancient message that women use sex to manipulate men and men are powerless to do anything about it. Connect the dots to anger, hostility and eventually violence against women who are presented as the gender in control, turning reality on its head.
Here is another example of online activism making a difference – this time to remove “stalker” cards at Target http://www.forbes.com/sites/carolinehoward/2012/02/09/target-stalker-valentines-card-not-so-funny-say-victims/