Last night, I was on a panel about digital activism and feminism that my rad intern, Lanni, put together for her final project for her Internship course. I sat on a panel with five other women from various Madison/WI organizations. It was a really great experience, and a much needed conversation.
My organization, Guerrilla Feminism, was the only organization that started completely online, so I had quite a unique perspective to bring to the literal table we were sitting behind.
Many things came up for me during this panel, and the biggest was, yet again, this idea that digital activism isn't as important as "street"-level activism. This is fucking offensive in so many ways. Not only does this bullshit opinion further perpetuate the theory that digital activism is illegitimate, it's also horribly exclusive.
If you think that street activism is BETTER than digital activism, then get the fuck out right now. You're bullshit, and your opinion is bullshit.
There are people in this world who are unable to activate their activism offline in a "street" setting. There are people who home-bound for whatever reason. There are people who can't walk. Should we tell these people that what they're doing online isn't activism? Well, if we do, we're being exclusive. We're being ableist. We're being straight-up assholes.
Let's be fucking real here: who has the time to go to street protests? Time is money, people! Who has children that need to be cared for if they are to leave the house? Do you know how much money childcare costs? Sure, some might bring their children with them to protests (great!), but this isn't always an option.
Many POC have started amazing activist endeavors (i.e. everything Suey Park does, Black Girl Dangerous, etc). Are we to say these people and organizations don't matter? Because that's pretty much what we're saying when we spout on about digital activism being bullshit. We're being fucking racist. We're saying marginalized voices don't matter. How fucked up is that?
When I first started GF in 2011, I initially tried to create it as a street campaign, but there was ZERO interest. The second I put that shit up online, it exploded. This should tell us something.
On another note, I keep hearing how 2nd Wave feminists feel "left out" of digital activism, and you know what my response to that is? MAYBE THEY SHOULD FEEL LEFT OUT. Yes, they got us certain rights, and yes, I'm thankful for these rights, but let's not forget how overwhelmingly racist, white, classist, transantagonist this wave was. Let's not forget their exclusivity. Let's LEARN from their failings. If 2nd Wave feminists feel "left out" of digital activism, so be it. You know how many people felt left out during the 70s/80s? Any time white people feel left out, it's a HUGE FUCKING DEAL, whenever marginalized folks feel left out, it's "meh" or "get over it."
Nobody is saying we should abolish street activism. That's not what this is about. But guess what? These days, it's hard to organize nearly 50,000 people offline. However, GF is doing this online with much success.
I consistently receive messages from people telling me that GF has helped them in various ways, and I know other organizations who receive these messages, too, so what does that tell us? Obviously we're doing something right, and obviously those "Likes" mean more than some might think.