Final Project Post 3 – Activism in Action

My first post of this project can be found here. It focuses on the spectrum of activism and tries to show why we need different types of activism and how one is not greater than the other.

My previous post can be found here, which focus on laying out and defining some tools of activism.

By now I hope you can feel that activism isn’t inherently better than others due to prior exposure to its forms. We need many different tactics to blend and stand alone sometimes to allow expression, the passage of knowledge, or pressure a change.

I went to a local protest on Earth Day for the global protest March for Science, which was a distributed action due to it being spread across the globe in many instances and clumped on social media to show its widespread support for science to be respected and funded. It was also a direct action as it surrounded one main theme and was set locally around a center area for each community that hosted one. The local direct action ensured that local representatives heard the word of the people while the distributed action of the global March for Science showcased the widespread support of science and how it is not a small problem, it is a global problem.

As serious as the dependency on fossil fuels is or the fact Trump denies the majority of the world’s experts in the field, this activism does not have to be depressing, dark, and stern. Other than myself and my friend, I saw many creative ways of protesting mixed with very serious signs and speeches.

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There were many great serious speeches and many signs that are the usual “Fight for Science”, “Facts cannot be Ignored”, and many others. But the creative group that showed up is not any less serious. We want to poke fun and enjoy life even when having to fight for a better life. While using already known stories and symbols to criticize stances we cannot support.

The picture with the dinosaur is my favorite, as the little girl looks at the dinosaur in curiosity little does she know the dangers of her future. My friend and I sporting Pokemon and Magic the Gathering themes signs are trying to get new understandings of what is happening, we can get angry and protest but if we use our fantasy worlds to understand our real worlds, kids and nerds can better understand the real life story. Whether it be a Pokemon trainer wandering the world with no Pokemon or the people of Kaladesh revolting against the oppressive Consulate to secure a future of innovations and inventions. Kids could imagine a Pokemon game where there are no Pokemon, is that the world they want to live in? They can learn from connections to other worlds they do understand to better understand this one.

We need to support creativeness for without it, we are only to ever have stagnation. We need those brave few to organize and ask others for support, those who put themselves in physical danger to fight oppression, and those creative who can nurture knowledge and be outright smart asses.

If we want a world that works together, we need activists that work together.

Final Project Post 2 – The Arsenal of Activism

In my previous post, I talked about how we need to think about activism as a rainbow spectrum, each color a different way of mobilizing, instead of looking at it through a hierarchical ‘successful’ vs. ‘failure’ idea.

For this post, I want to line up some of the possible ways to show how people can make statements, creatively or through pure power, and some examples. Using and citing Andrew Boyd’s Beautiful Trouble: A Toolbox for Revolution.

Let’s start with some of the more known tactics, Direct Action and Distributed Action. In my definitions, they do seem to be related or overlap a bit. But more importantly, these seem to be the more known and ‘idealistic’ ways of protest.

  • Direct Action centers around organizing people to showcase opposition or support of an idea or problem through using mobilized people as leverage. They may not have billions of dollars to give to lobbyists or special interests groups, but with large amounts of people taking action, they use this to disrupt power dynamics and try to shift it in their favor. Mainly used to pressure change and showcase resistance or support (p. 32).
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“Occupy Wall Street March 16 2012” by Michael Fleshman

An example of this can go as far back to the Boston Tea Party (p. 32), which was one individual movement to show opposition to Britain. A more modern example is Occupy Wall Street, eventually turning into many direct actions in a distributed action like use, Occupy Wall Street started in New York to oppose the power and constant bailouts the rich banks and companies received despite a surge in foreclosures on American citizens. This is also the style of protest the civil rights movements used during segregation in America.

  • Distributed Action is closely related to direct action, but instead of one major area, it is distributed across the nation, nations, or the entire world. This can heavily rely on social media since it is the fastest way to socialize and organize a distributed movement, also it becomes easy to clump these smaller movements together in the use of hashtags. This can be very beneficial to younger movements that have not had as much grow or support as direct actions, or beneficial to show the diversity and areas the movement does reach out to (p. 36). These can be used to present call out’s for people to enable direct actions (p. 37) or as stated before simply to showcase diversity and support across different areas. This also allows for participants to feel as if they are a part of something bigger, a movement that reaches across many people.

These movements are important and are acknowledged for getting needed change in showing the power the people have to pressure change, whether it be legislative change or discussion focus.

Now let’s mention other ways of protest and demonstration that tend to be more creative but still effective. These tend to be some of my favorites when it comes to activism, mainly because these use creativeness in ways that distort, alter, and showcase symbols and can be a simple way to leave a big impact.

  • Banner Hang is when a group or person creates a big banner to hang over bridges, buildings, and structures. Can be complex or simple, yet needs to be simple enough to understand and read. The main point is to communicate to the people about a problem or bring into the people’s consciousness an action they should take (p. 12).

The most modern example oGreenpeace_Resist_1-25-2017f this is Greenpeace’s Resist banner, here is a link to a news report of the event. Meant to convey and rally resistance to Trump’s denial of climate change and seemingly blatant bigotry. Also, this banner symbolically placed over the white house tried to show the government a portion of the media’s discontent with the new government. Greenpeace has participated in other banner hangs about the Iraqi war and the global nuclear crisis. Greenpeace tagging on a hashtag also participated in the distributed action of #Resist, a nationwide and global social movement to show opposition to the newly elected president and the government as a whole.

  • Electoral Guerilla Theater is a form of extreme satire where someone runs for office, whether it be local, nationally, or both, and develops a character and a platform meant to bring about criticism to other candidates. They do not run to win, in fact, most support a candidate closer to their realistic position and try to not take away votes from others. The act of running and the satirical content of their campaign is meant to point comparisons so the absurdity of other politicians.

The best modern example of this is Vermin Supreme. Having his own campaign Facebook and many memes at his disposal he has over the years used his persona Vermin Supreme and his weird platform to criticize mainly right-wing politicians. Supporting the legalization of marijuana is one of his more feasible, progressive views, compared to his mandatory tooth brushing, pony based economy, and using zombies and the latest giant hamster wheel technology for free energy. Known for his viral videos including his Jesus-given revelation to glitter bomb an anti-gay republican candidate to make him gay and his viral speech about his platform (glitter bombing at the end of the video).

He does talk about serious issues like dependence on foreign oil and changing over to renewable energy, but does so in with farce. It also forced weird questions like “do you still support your government assisted pledge to give ponies to every American?” to be asked at town hall meetings by people who need to keep a serious tone. But most importantly, gets people to look at other politicians and ask, “well he is not so far from some of these people we find legitimate.”

  • Culture Jamming which is where a group or person takes a well-known cultural artifact or symbol and edits it to alter its known meaning into criticism or shock at another problem or critique. A new meaning that the people should be able to draw conclusions. Originally known as détournement which means “overturning” or “derailment” (p. 28).

The best modern example of this is casual pepper spray cop meme of Lt. Pike at the UC Davis protests.

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I focused an entire post on this topic before reading Beautiful Trouble, linked here. Taking pictures such as paintings of the declaration of independence, the picture of the monk committing suicide, or the flag raising at Iwo Jima have very heavily emotion responses and meanings to American culture. Adding in a cop pepper spraying and practically assaulting those beloved artifacts creates a whole new meaning. It is no longer brave men raising the flag or a monk committing suicide to protest China, it is now an American cop assaulting and killing the monk and assaulting the men who fought for the island against the Japanese empire. The bigger picture is to then focus on the cop assaulting people he should not which comes back to the original UC Davis protest comparing the innocent and peaceful protestors who got pepper sprayed to the other artifacts who we would already believe did not deserve the abuse of the cop being inserted. It takes a cultural symbol and jams a new meaning and discussion into it.

This is my most favorite utility to activism but cannot be done alone and should be combined with other strategies to ensure it takes off (p. 30). But at the same time, I love throwing wrenches into everyday society and send around memes that do it for the mere pleasure.

There are many many more examples and tactics but I just wanted to give an overall preview of a few different types.

In my next post, I will wrap up and give personal examples of activism I have participated in.

Final Project Post 1 – The Rainbow of Activism

We tend to look at social movements and judge them on effectiveness scales.

“Did this protest actually help women?”

“Did this one actually help science?”

“Was there people there who did not really seem serious?”

“This is not how it was back in the day, this movement will not get anything done!”

I used to look at movements this way too. At one point I lost all hope in Occupy Wall St for the fact a lot of protestors got abused by police and it seemed as if no one ever accomplished anything. It wasn’t until the 2016 election and 2017 class semester I realized I was wrong. A number of times the topic of income inequality and the diminishing “middle class”, which should by now just be summarized as the “working class”, was brought into the attentions of viewers and candidates.

It is not so much about instant, success, and change that you should evaluate. Sure Occupy did very little if anything about legislative change, maybe it did spark a few Fight for 15 campaigns, but even that has only changed in a small portion of the nation. But we need to look at the multifaceted influence movements can spread. This also cannot be done through one tried and true method, we need a multitude of strategies to exercise the many ways to spread a movement.

First, we need to step back and think about stratification. American culture loves to say how helpful and united we are, yet we push competition and hierarchies that show us otherwise. A social movement that is cited with the remembrance of the lines of workers marching through the police arm locked with their fellow workers who demanded workers’ rights and pressured federal law to pass and give breaks, a shorter work day, and health benefits, we would think as victorious. We would love to think those are the most important compared to movements where their legislative ideas never pass, the movement eventually breaks down, and at its smallest attribute is that it allowed a new discourse to be focused on. We want to rank them vertically on which was “successful” because it is what we have been born into, success and failure, those who made it big and those who did not go far enough in life.

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We seem to apply it everywhere. I did. The featured picture is a public domain picture I found when searching Creative Commons, and the picture is being used a bit out of context but captures my idea of activism. Originally mainly centered around animal rights movement the rainbow and each color should represent a style of activism. One color does not make a rainbow, but a few distinct colors and shades in between that complete a rainbow. One style and one movement should not and sometimes cannot stand alone. The rest of the picture shows the range of those who hide identity and are known for social chaos, yet they are cuddling bunnies which can show the more nurturing side of activism, to look after one another and help those in need. These people who are both in the cities and towns for civil liberties and worker’s rights, while also being within nature and advocating for animals and environments.

Sure those who marched arm in arm may seem like the best way to ensure big change, but even today all their work seems that it was for nothing as once again economic disparity plagues us and worker’s unions seem to constantly be hammered by union busters and fighting for conditions or reasons that by now should not even be a problem. Not saying their work is a failure, but those social movements cannot be inherently more valuable. We need those that focus on education to people of the topic. “Educating them means the problem will go away,” is also not what I am saying, but those who bring problems to the attention of people and try to educate them on the issues and possible solutions; educating the younger population to what the problem is, educating the current young adult and adult population of what the problem is, and the older population, who may not see or understand the problem, show them how and why it is a problem.

We need those who can simplify and educate the children, allow them to get to a conclusion they can understand.

We need those who are aggressive and literally fight against oppression and wrongdoing.

We need those who swarm media and force it to be a topic and exposed to the people.

We need those who force their problem and movement to be discussed by media and the governments.

We need all movements styles to be respected and supported to its flourishing capacity.

I will expand upon some methods in the next post.

Any Media Necessary Response 1- Fire Starters and Seed Planters

I personally got into certain forms of activism due to the idea that what was discussed within ‘institutionalized media’ did not cover the topic well or at all for any reason. I was a big time Occupy supporter because they wanted to change how America talked about wealth disparity (Any Media Necessary, p. 1). The media focused on unemployment and from what I remember more so just what are the unemployment rates. Once Occupy sprang up we started talking more about the hourly wages of millionaire CEO’s and how little their workers get in pay and health coverage.

I was young at the time of Occupy, still in High School so not young but inconveniently ‘grounded’ as a minor with no job or car.  But what people claim ‘keyboard warrior activism’ is not always so lazy as people want it to seem. After turning 18 I joined the Intactivist community, an organization built on bodily autonomy and not just changing American discourse but want to get law change to ban male genital surgery (circumcision) on minors. Citing cultural bias and scientific inaccuracies they attempt to discuss America myths and cultural ‘unknowingness’ of the natural male body.

For example, after turning 18 I joined the Intactivist community, an organization built on bodily autonomy and not just changing American discourse but want to get law change to ban male genital surgery (circumcision) on minors. Citing cultural bias, scientific inaccuracies within America, and bringing into perspective how majority of countries do not do this to their infants, especially some European countries whose health organizations have criticized America for their practice,  they want to change how we talk about this seemingly natural thing, which is actually highly unnatural and a human rights issue. Being a ‘keyboard warrior’ actually challenged many of my friend’s ideas. My cousin who had a son contacted me asking questions since he felt weird by the possibility of this topic coming up, eventually, he decided not to do it to his son. Also, many friends contacted me asking me about why/how I feel about it and I facilitated discussion with them.

There are two strategies I like to use, not sure if they are original, but I call them’fire start(ers/ing)’ and ‘seed plant(ers/ing)’

 

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“Kiev, Grushevskogo str. 22.01.2014” by Ввласенко

 

 

 

Fire starters are what I assume most call rabble rousers. Except these two strategies do not need discourse domination or a ‘successful’ debate win. Simply meant to anger both sides of discourse and take discourse to a new, even more, controversial level. For example, when feminist groups post about female genital mutilation I would be the person to, of course, support what I do believe is solely wrong. But I’d also put statements meant to villainize those who done the same procedure to their sons. Such as “This is disgusting and horrible! What’s worse is most people commenting on this thread probably did the same to their own son! What horrible hypocrites!” It is not meant to dimish female but to push both sides of people, left or right leaning people, to become enraged to show their own hypocritical flaws and cognitive dissonance. I do not care if I “win the keyboard war” it is myself filling up on responses to direct extreme sarcastic reductio ad absurdum. This slightly goes with my next strategy.

‘Seed planting’, I equate this to the success of my friends and especially my cousin reaching out to me about male genital mutilation. Once again, it does not focus on “winning the argument” but instead planting some sort of reasonable doubt that will fester inside those who read my comments. In hopes it makes them requestion their position and either, reach out to the original commenter, research new topics, discuss amongst others (be mini-seed planters).

I thouroughly enjoy those who are radical when it comes to discourse. Even when not radicalized I fully support those who forcibly push a culture/society to think about a topic not dicussed or normalized.

Project 3- Feminism and Men’s Rights Activists: Why Can’t We Be Friends?

I was a feminist, at one point. I left the feminist movement around this time of the year back in 2014 (March-April). I did not leave it for any stereotypical reasons one could throw at me.

“It wasn’t all about you so you left!” No.

“You are a sexist, misogynistic man so you left!” No.

“You left because you do not want equality, and can’t stand women having equal ground!” No.

But I left because I want to search for equality. Real equality. Feminism turned its ugly side to me and I left because of its own self-destructive ways. Let me direct to a brilliant video that surfaced after the 2016 Election. In case the embedding did not work here is the link.

 

Jonathan hits the nail on a belief I held for so long, a discussion is key. If you limit discussion you just breed more of a difference. Liberals/Feminists feel as if they ‘won the culture war’; anything that is not ‘them’, is wrong and is blasted. Either to silence it or label it in a demonizing way.

This is what scared me away from feminism. It was the cultural thinking that this is a strict belief and anything outside of it is sexism. That is not how public media and activism should occur. Clark and Aufderheide in their work A New Vision for Public Media state a viewpoint of John Dewey, “access to participation is to be free and equal, ‘without respect to race, sex, class, or economic status” (MSJ, p.61). I know this tends to help defend those who are marginal.

But truthfully this should apply, always.

I wanted to participate with the feminist groups and blogs, I supported them, reposted their work, and even to this day I take stands against sexism and inequality. However, my participation was limited, restricted, and sometimes thrown away.

I did not go into feminism and try to curse it, nor to make it egoistic about me. I realized it was egoistic. Any time I tried to gather support for men on an issue I was silenced. Even if the issues were the same, I failed to see the equality in ignoring the problem men face simply because it might statistically ‘happen less’ or ‘it is different’ as some feminists would state.

At no time, would I ever devalue the suffering of women, every time I showed support for the cause, but asked: “What’s the stance with men and this issue?” Assuming equality was the cornerstone of this movement I was baffled by the clear absence of any male issues that did not pertain to simply boys not being allowed to cry or play with ‘girl toys’.

Not saying overbearing masculinity isn’t a problem. If you know me, you would know I’m no manly man. But there was no widespread consensus within the feminist population about men being forced to sign the draft, male bodily autonomy regarding male genital cutting on nonconsenting infants and minors with no scientific bound reason, fathers being alienated from their children by their once partner, and especially courts favoring mothers against fathers. But anytime I brought this up I was called a sexist but I just wanted equal representation that I thought was their cause.

I became silenced to the point I was once told: “The mere fact you are a man means your opinions do not matter here!” Of course, this would be dispelled as “just a bad feminist” and I did receive many other female feminists who jumped to my defense. But that did not stop my ban, removal, and silencing within these feminist online groups.

Feminism is almost like the Democrats in Johnathan’s video above. They believe they own the culture, they are right, cannot be wrong, and their culture bleeds into the media. Feminism is in many of my readings in the academic field, its trends all over media. It is a strong prevalent movement. People say feminism wants global equality but there is so much ‘us vs them’ within the movement. I understand some skepticism to the Men’s Rights Activists (MRA’s), but this should not destroy any effort at collaborating something better. As Hamelink states that within media we get a strong “us vs. them” narrative, with them always being dangerous to us (MSJ, p.28).

And I still support most feminist struggles. Women do have many inequalities which need to be changed. But men do not live a utopian life. This is a founded flaw of feminism I had to walk away from. Women’s issues still do not make it into media as it should, sometimes, but it is still increasingly dominant.

But it came to a point where I realized, systemically, my points and suffering or even just the general suffering of men I brought up was being ignored or silenced. This was not equality.

Nina Gregg in her work Media Is not the Issue, she states the issue is justice itself. You need to fight to get yourself into the media and you need to be courageous and demanding to get it put out (MSJ, p.86). But that cannot be done if the culture around it belittles and attacks other points that are still within the same spectrum of justice.

The Red Pill is a documentary that was conducted by a feminist, at the time, who wanted to get more insight on this seemingly “misogynistic and hateful” movement as she learned within feminism. But I argue, legitimate MRA’s exist because they became marginalized when they needed help. Some of the points these activists fight for I personally know some feminists who do support it. But the movement abroad seems to want nothing with it.

Some fight because they are victims of parental alienation, victims of domestic abuse, and many other types. Watch a sneak peek about this here.

 

A sad part of the video is seeing the backlash, from people who could not even stand for 5 minutes to hear what they had to say, referencing the anti-MRA march that showed up shouting instead of listening.

In fact, since this documentary has been released its release was canceled in Melbourne, Australia by feminist outrage. People who did not even watch it blasted it and tried to silence its attempt to bring men’s suffering that has gone ignored. What type of message does that bring?

https://www.theguardian.com/film/2016/oct/26/the-red-pill-melbourne-cinema-drops-mens-rights-film-after-feminist-backlash

Now I will agree there are sexists within the Men’s Rights Movement, but I could show you just as many ‘bad feminists’ I am told to ignore because they ‘are not real feminists’. Margaret Gallagher said in her work Feminism and Social Justice, that one criticism of feminism is that it is achieved at the expense of men. That somehow now they are the victims (MSJ, p.132). Which as a feminist she would believe that this is false, women are the victims and men are privileged. But that’s not the case, they have been victims. In some cases, men are becoming victims more due to ignored statistics and struggles.

I left feminism because my ideas of reform to address my own suffering and suffering of men I have met was ignored or struck down. Discussion to them was not a possibility, no matter how I tried in various ways. Therefore, they breed a bigger divide and even created more resistance to their movement.

Both want gender issues to be addressed. Christine Dunbar-Hester’s main theme in Drawing and Effacing Boundaries in Contemporary Media Democracy Work is that movements build walls to each other. When there should be a collaboration there is instead frustration and creating even more of a difference on top of the existing difference (MSJ, p 195-197).

Both need a reform, not one is perfect. But both has such great amazing points and possible strength. It is the problem that feminism built up its walls and defends them. Any difference is automatically sexism and hate. But how is bringing up the suffering of a man wrong to a movement I was told was for gender equality. We do not need MRA’s to just ‘understand feminism better’ or for feminists to go away. Personally, I would love for both to join together and create its own non-gendered equality movement that does not favor one side. But at least a collaboration of the two to take care of one another’s valid activism and provide each other’s weaknesses with the other’s strengths.

Why can’t we just see how the walls are built from inside talk and theory and realize it isn’t the great hero we think it is, we are wrong.

Why can’t we just work together for a better, stronger purpose?

Why can’t we be friends?

M&SJ Response 4- Conspiracy Theories or Facts?

Drawing and Effacing Boundaries and Media Democracy in Action were two of the most interesting reads from this book. I enjoyed much more but these two were great.

The problem within Dunbar-Hester’s work Drawing and Effacing Boundaries is that we have many different organizations and movements that focus on specific ideas or reforms that they try to push. It is almost evident to find some that are very closely related and advocate within the same realm. However, there may be slight differences but differences matter (MSJ, p. 207). One big problem is that one group may criticize the other groups end goal or worldview which abrupts any reality of univocality within the movements (MSJ, p. 197). This is a bigger problem I will go into in my next post. But this problem creates more frustration towards the groups and in my opinion hinder their mission in the first place.

Lastly, Media Democracy in Action by Huff and Phillips. While reading this chapter I felt as if it was myself talking to me. Although I’m not a 9/11 truther, I do agree there is obviously some weird unexplainable things that I wish was mainstream discourse through the media, but it isn’t (MSJ, p.250). Media focusing on trivial garbage such as “Look at (celebrity), they’re so different now!” Well, I would assume that as one ages, they might gain weight and look older, who know right? Why not talk about those who can’t age because they are part of the huge population in poverty and those who starve to death. We claim in America to hold a mighty War on Terror, yet we do not see a modest War on Starvation or poverty within in duty (MSH, p.243-244). American corporate media glosses over stories and limits what we are told. These media push the ‘trusted’ news slogans all over their work but we can’t really trust it if they serve us a buffet of garbage and throw away the most important stories they should be working on (MSJ, p.252).

M&SJ Response 3- Social Power Struggles

Power struggles are amongst the hardest situation to overcome during activism and social justice. As in my other M&SJ responses, there are other obstacles such as policies, funding, and bridging gaps between reporters either academic or professional and the people needing to be covered. But even when covered the people will still clash with authority, MSM, and companies.

In Gallagher’s work, she talks about the Dove “Campaign for Real Beauty”. When this launched I know so many of my feminist friends who supported this and spammed it over Facebook. However, to me, its face value seemed crooked. The women still looked hand picked for pleasurable viewings, feel good activism (fake activism), and money pandering. As Gallagher says they were all under age 30 and still below the average body size for America and Europe (MSJ, p. 134). Now, personally we shouldn’t endorse unhealthy living, but we should stress the idea of people feeling comfortable within their own skin.  This was done for profit and for a type of activism I hate which I call ‘feel good activism’ where you personally do not really care about a subject, but you do it because it is for your own good, not the subject’s own good. This shows a power struggle between the people and the companies that do something that seems moral and progressive but are seemingly done for the wrong reasons. It devalues the activism because it takes the seriousness away from a cause.

My favorite work in this section was Watching Back written by Mark Andrejevic. Sousvallience, a term I never knew existed, is a hot topic right now. The ability for the people to film and use this as leverage against police who had a monopoly over “the real story” (MSJ, p. 179, 183). After exposing lies under oath and released many from false arrests, the police moved to other ways of securing their authority. This came to as screening of possible protests and confiscating equipment for ‘security’ reasons (MSJ, p. 181-185). This is a constant see-saw of power. First, the police have absolute authority, once questioned and proven wrong there is a period of balance in my eyes, but tipped towards the people. Afterward, they find ways to push the momentum back into their field. One of the things I hated when I was younger was the post 9/11 atmosphere, aside from the anger and warmongering, I am more talking about the idea that security comes at the price of civil liberties (MSJ, p. 186). It’s a sort of taunting, “if you want to be safe you need to submit to x,y,z” which in some cases such as at protests, makes violations from the authority force more realistic than a terroristic attack. Even down to the tactic of trying to induce enough doubt into the situation such as if a videographer has a video of cops interacting with the arrested civilian, the cops could claim “this video does not fully show the whole indecent or from a good perspective.” Attempting to once again gain a monopoly of the true story but through doubtful discourse (MSJ, p. 187).

As stated even when people have your back and advocate for a certain subject, there is still some sort of power struggle given as another obstacle which can be one of the worst ones to hurdle over. Using the Watching Back as an overarching theme to power struggles, we all need to have each other’s back and even police those such as companies trying to gain from ‘feel good activism’.