Our Shared Shelf discussion

June/Jul: Betraying Big Brother > Demonstrations and Their Ability to Enact Change

Comments Showing 1-10 of 10 (10 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Pam (last edited Jun 06, 2020 05:07AM) (new)

Pam | 1070 comments Mod
The Feminist Five were arrested and detained following a demonstration against domestic abuse and sexual assault. However, after 37 days, the Five were released due to combined pressure from national and international individuals and agencies.

Across the world we are seeing more and more demonstrations occurring such as taking the knee for Black Lives Matters, Handmaids silently watching in red at abortion trials, or Fridays for Future walk outs for climate activism.

What are your thoughts on demonstrations? What works and doesn't work?
What demonstrations have you taken part in?
If you haven't been part of a demonstration, why have you abstained?
What do you think about the escalation of demonstrations to protests to riots?

message 2: by Charles (new)

Charles | 24 comments There are two schools about demonstrations, first the attendees second the power in place. For the attendees it’s a way to express a grievance against the power in place about a subject and the more attendees the more the subject has to be considered by the power in place. If it turns to riots the message may not be accepted as it should be by the silent people that feel concern but doesn’t act. The second school, is the power in place, by letting people walking for a demonstration they let them evacuate their anger and let them believe they have a certain power to make things change, but as soon as the demonstration ends, they don’t do anything to change because people have evacuated their anger. If the movement continue then they will have to consider doing things.

In my opinion demonstration are useful only if there is a sufficient number to convince the power in place that the subject is real and has to be considered and if the movement doesn’t run out of steam. And also if their is not rioting because I it’s contra productive.

message 3: by Miche (new)

Miche | 4 comments I think demonstrations are important. It’s shows governments that people are prepared to organise together for a common goal. The more people prepared to stand together the stronger that message. It may not change anything today or tomorrow but if people continue to work and communicate their demands there is a chance that it can result in change. If nothing else’s mass protests bring a greater awareness and a wider audience to the issue at hand.
In the book the author imagines what could be possible if the millions of women in China protested for their rights. How powerful and impactful that would be. Their protest in the men’s toilets was a success and their bloody brides protest was important in raising awareness that domestic violence is not acceptable and influenced change in women being able to get a divorce on these grounds. It helps I believe to have a clear action or demand that you are protesting about.

message 4: by Annie (new)

Annie | 44 comments Demonstrations are simple and provocative that are meant to jolt someone out of casual acceptance or a bias to stop the cognitive dissonance from occuring.

It's meant to wake people up by having them to confront the awkward realities.

They tend to be small scale like in a public place in a city or on a college campus. If they are lucky it becomes viral and can reach a much bigger audience.

The best ones help educate the public by not only directing them to a solution but also giving the audience something more. Like a sticker to help remind them to a pamphlet on what to keep an eye out for. Etc.

Protests are when bigger groups of people join in to voice their displeasure. And they are awesome.

Riots are when the social contracts are not being upheld and people are venting their anger.

message 5: by Michele (new)

Michele  White | 1 comments Greetings! I take issue that rioters are doing anything more than taking advantage of the social unrest to commit crimes as in looting/stealing. You say that obeying the law is a "social contract" you may be right. However, what about the shop owners "social contract" or the social contract of not being attacked on the streets when you have to go get your kid something to eat or buy medicine for them is that not also part of our "social contract?" I believe that protesters that follow the law or even push the envelope by resisting arrest with non-violent means show the strength of their convictions, but I don't believe in glamorizing stealing televisions and clothes or showing people being beat up with tire irons as they sit helplessly in their car unable to get away from these thugs. I don't believe for a second that those people's minds were on the plight of those who believe that "Black lives Matter" as they broke into stores to grab that 64 inch smart t.v. that they always wanted. Don't want to seem really harsh or anything and I can understand your position. I know that since I respect your opinion that you will do the same for me. I don't want to start an unending argument, but I wanted to get this off my chest for a long time. Thank you so much for letting me do so.
I look forward to reading your other posts and have a great weekend. I shall now limit my responses and questions to matters of reading. Again, I thank you.

message 6: by Peter (new)

Peter | 66 comments Michele R White wrote: "Greetings! I take issue that rioters are doing anything more than taking advantage of the social unrest to commit crimes as in looting/stealing. You say that obeying the law is a "social contract" ..."

Food for thought from John Oliver (content warning: adult language, violence, 33 min.):


message 7: by Annie (new)

Annie | 44 comments Michele R White wrote: "Greetings! I take issue that rioters are doing anything more than taking advantage of the social unrest to commit crimes as in looting/stealing."

Hello Michele, Thank you for joining in on this civil conversation. It's hard to be a voice asking questions or sharing your off the chest reactions. I much rather you share them here in a safe place where we can discuss it together than bottling this up. If that makes sense.

In the past, I would have agreed with you. I was definitely one of those people who scoffed at protesters blocking traffic thinking "delaying someone from going home isn't going to ingratiate them to your way of thinking."

Especially after being primed to care for the entrepreneur or restauranter and how they were suffering due to the shut down at a rate higher than my own situation as I could work from home. Eating out or ordering in became less of a case of being lazy and more of me "doing my part" to help keep the economic wheels turning. So to watch as places in my city were broken or police cars burning was defintely a moment where my initial gut reaction was ... well fudge. I guess I'm lucky we're not Brazil or China or West Papua where instead of abortifacient chemicals they are shooting bullets or locking us in black out zones for years.

And then I was smacked over the head with this statement from one of the restaurant owners in my area that was looted.

Property damage can be fixed, things can be replaced, but lives cannot. While I don't encourage violence or destruction, I do no judge a response to pain, oppression, and injustice that I cannot begin to understand. Thank you for wanting to support us, but please put your energy and money into supporting a cause that is bigger than glass and and more threatening to everyone than a few ruined tables."

Beyond the remark that small businesses are insured and will be able to replace glass and minor items; is a few tvs or clothes or glass or the hours needed to clean up and replace any of that worth being silent while another person is being unfairly treated and targeted because of their skin color or their economic situation? Does all of that damage equal to the amount of deaths we have seen where a few bad apples used excessive force? It's just stuff.

But what we are fighting for is the spirit of the law that is currently governing us. BLM is currently fighting to be heard for the Tamir Rices of the world, the Christian Coopers, the John Crawfords, and hundreds if not thousands of others who are guilty of doing nothing more than being black in a world that feels threatened and anxious by their very presence.

So yeah. it's complex situation that has been built up from years. Years of this and the idea that the way to take care of the problem is to beef up security.

There is more to this topic. But I would like to hear more of what you think to this statement.

message 8: by Sandra (new)

Sandra | 260 comments hey all,

i've been an activist, demonstrator, street marcher, and advocate since the 60's - first on my college campus, then in the streets, on the phone, and with the written word.

in doing so, i became part of showing the world the need for change, and much change came about because of what i was part of. vietnam, take back the night, domestic abuse/violence, timely medications for those suffering from mental illness are all issues that are looked at differently now than when i was young..

these current demonstrations remind me of all that, and i'm so proud to see so many young people making both a noise and a show against what has been inherently wrong with this society - indeed, with any society that oppresses people because of beliefs, color, religion, national origin, gender - whatever the power structure deems unimportant, threatening, or too different to tolerate.

i have raised my fist in public several times for #BLM, of late, but i'm too old and sick now to actually march. still, i'm proud in my heart, moved, to see people standing up against what is wrong, attempting to be heard so that things can change.

while i don't condone violence or looting, i can understand the frustration and pain behind it. i love that quote from the restaurant owner. thank you - what a great spirit. .

message 9: by Pam (new)

Pam | 1070 comments Mod
Sandra wrote: "i've been an activist, demonstrator, street marcher, and advocate since the 60's - first on my college campus, then in the streets, on the phone, and with the written word.

in doing so,..."

Thank you for sharing Sandra.

Do you have any advice for new activists, demonstrators, or marchers from your wealth of experiences?

message 10: by Sandra (new)

Sandra | 260 comments i don't know about having advice, per se, but i think it's important to go from your heart. demonstrating means risking vulnerability, letting the world into your private and personal beliefs, and that takes courage. without shaming or blaming, not everyone wants to or is able to take that risk for a variety of reasons.

as has been discussed many times here at OSS, speaking up, even in private conversations, against any of the 'isms' we might encounter is a form of activism. living your life honestly according to your beliefs is a form of demonstration. taking to the streets, marching together, sit-ins, kneeling during the national anthem (in the U.S,( - these are all public displays of protest. every action, every voice, no matter how small, shows support.

when i lived in mexico, i was dependent on the national insurance institution for monthly anti-depression meds. too many times these were not forthcoming in a timely manner. in the small town where i lived, the overseer of the pharmacy was 125 mi. away in the main branch of the health center.

i became increasingly stressed out each time my meds weren't available when i needed them. vocalizing to the local director brought no relief, so i decided i needed to do more. anyone who relies on medications such as these knows this can be a life and death matter.

i did research on what can happen when people are pulled off such meds abruptly, wrote a letter containing professional references and quotes about the increased possibility for suicide, and reminded the powers that be that loss of life because of their disrespectful attitude toward patients could be grounds for a lawsuit.

i distributed this letter to the director of our little clinic, and also to the director of the umbrella clinic, as well as the head of the pharmacy from which our meds were sent to us. lo and behold, beginning the following month, my meds, and those of others, i'm sure, were there, on time, for the duration of need. this was during the early 2000's.

another time, in the mid 70's, i was at a small bar with some friends, when a table of men said racially disparaging things about my choice of music for the jukebox. altho i'm caucasian, with immigrant european grandparents, i decided a little lie might fit the bill. i walked up to the bar at the same time one of those men reached it, each of us getting a refill.

i didn't look at him, but said in a pained voice just loudly enough so he and his friends would hear me, 'my mother is black.' then, i turned away, went back to my table. there were no more remarks heard from any of them the rest of the time we were there.

my only advice is to do what you can when you can in order to raise awareness of something that hurts your heart. sometimes desperate circumstances call for desperate measures. other times, the smallest word can change your corner of the world.

back to top