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’.


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