Activism is one of those words that usually conjures strong images in the minds of those who hear it. The word is often associated with protests, marches, demonstrations, strikes, slogans, and chants. Of course, every thing I just listed most definitely constitutes very important forms of activism, but my time at WIB has taught me that activism is far more nuanced and personal than the most oft-cited examples of the word. From our interviews I’ve learned that most WIB members do not define their activism by particular actions they have taken but rather by the state of mind they inhabit and by the approach they take to the world around them.
The five minute video below will allow you to hear these views first hand, but one of my favorite articulations of activism as an all-encompassing approach to life comes from Svencka, a socio-linguistics professor in the town of Novi Sad who explained that she is an activist because she uses her professional position in academia as a means of dismantling patriarchy in our everyday language. Some might fail to consider her an activist because she is not marching and chanting against patriarchy every day, but this simplistic notion of activism fails to realize that people like Svencka act to bring social change in more subtly subversive ways. Being here has really helped me define what activism means to me and what kind of an activist I would like to strive to be throughout my life. I hope the video below will prompt you to think about what activism means to you.
The very last comment in the video is perhaps not the most uplifting, but I chose to end the video with those words because to me, they portray the very real dilemmas of those who approach activism as a constant, all-encompassing endeavor. Such an approach is draining, especially when the changes one is working toward seem distant and unlikely to occur. Women In Black activists have been going strong since 1991, but it’s important to consider the emotional toll such work can take.
Posted By Donna Harati
Posted Jul 27th, 2009