Posts Tagged ‘opinion’

Activism, my lack thereof

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

I was an opinionated little girl who saw almost everything in pure black and white. I threw myself in to environmentalism in middle school, proudly wearing my Greenpeace T-shirt long before environmentalism was remotely cool. I was mocked for it, fed on the scorn and looked for something more intense; in 7th grade I sent my allowance in and signed up for the Earth First! Newsletter, not really understanding who they were and what they stood for, but I loved their logo and their rhetoric.

In January 1991, I was a junior in High School (I’m old) and I was out on the street marching with a sign in protest of Desert Storm. I had trash thrown at me from car windows and I was yelled at and spit on. For those of you too young to remember, that was a very popular war.  All through school, most of my teachers actually encouraged my budding feminism. After High School, I headed off to UC Davis where liberal is considered too far to the right. And I LOVED it. Feminists were the norm and I was a history major, and reveled in the study of oppression. However, this was also the 90s when political correctness reached a fever pitch and things began to get a little out of control.

I’ve always hesitated, however, to label myself too concretely, mostly out of respect to the groups themselves. I didn’t eat meat for years, but never labeled myself a vegetarian because I ate meat (and normally got quite sick) when I went home because it was easier than dealing with my parents. I was friends with punks, listened to punk music, had pink hair and rocked my doc martins, but never called myself a punk, I never thought I was hardcore enough. I listened to angry music, I fought the system, I was anti-consumerism and anti-corporate.

And then I finished school and needed a job. And I got a job in retail and became part of the system. Then I became management and became the system. I realized that all the objecting had worn me out and worn me down. And I stopped. I don’t know if I just got older, but I started getting really pragmatic about the act of boycott and what it could really accomplish. It seems too absolute to abide by fully. And then I settled in to my late twenties and early thirties and while I still avoided things; I did not boycott.

Then I had my baby and found twitter, right before the big nestle-blogger incident. I still was figuring out how twitter worked so I just saw pieces of it unfold here or there, but I followed a fair amount of , so I saw enough. It was the first I had heard of the nestle boycott and the WHO code, despite having worked in a hospital for the last 9 years. I started avoiding nestle and gerber, but did not memorize the list of brands, I am sure I inadvertently bought plenty of nestle products out of ignorance. And I don’t boycott, it is too hard and I don’t think I would ever boycott completely because I am not about to ask whether people used nestle when I am out to eat or in some one’s home.

And I will admit, I question the completeness of many people’s commitment to the nestle boycott – who also profess their boycotting status. I feel like some people pay it lip service on twitter because it is the cool thing to do. Maybe I am just cynical. I know the WHO code is important, I get it. But it isn’t law. And ignorance of the law doesn’t necessarily mean that a company deserves a twitter lashing. I’m thinking of the recent twit storms surrounding Robeez and Old Navy.

I think the reason all of this bothers me so much is the doctor’s offices and hospitals who also violate the WHO code, normally get brushed off with a “those foolish doctors tried to give me formula” tweet. I’ve never seen a “St Whatever Hospital violated the WHO code” tweet. But if people don’t change doctors or choose to deliver at baby-friendly designated hospitals, the medical professionals have no financial motivation to comply. Do people complain to the management? Express their desire to take their business elsewhere? There are exceptions. I just read a great post about objecting to a gift basket in a doctor’s office. If lactivist just roll their eyes and mock the healthcare professionals on Twitter, nothing will change.

I was lucky enough to deliver in a baby-friendly hospital. I’ve never been offered formula in my doctor’s office. I’ve been given some questionable breastfeeding advice, but there has never been any derailing. I also delivered at a public hospital, without many of the amenities and luxuries that come with a private hospital/practice.  I realize that there are insurance restrictions that can decide who a person sees or where they deliver, but I just would like to see the same about of ire directed at the heathcare industry as directed at a shoe company.

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