Two days after the Women’s March on Washington 1/21/17, I find myself examining the term “intersectional feminism” and I’m pretty sure I’ve arrived at the intersection of the ridiculous and the tragic. I write to figure out what I think, so after another morning of dizzying headlines, lady patriarchs defending alternative facts and male plutocrats issuing executive orders that trample my body, my planet and my arts, I can’t laugh or cry. I can’t get out of my chair. I might as well write.
When I marched in Eugene, Oregon with family, friends and about 7000 locals in the pouring rain, I thought often about the 5 friends I knew were marching at the same time in DC. I met those 5 women almost 30 years ago. We were members of a female artist/activist group called the Nuclear Beauty Parlor: old school, pre-Internet, pre-cell phone, pre-intersectional feminism, pre-branding. Yet somehow we knew how to “brand” ourselves, to create a visual impact and a distinct identity attached to the much larger political movement of nuclear disarmament. We learned how to get media attention, write press releases, call press conferences and get the cameras to point toward us. We learned about friendship and the power of a group.
Most of my current marching group (8 of us piled into one car for the escape from downtown) had not previously protested in the streets. The highly successful Women’s March was our warm-up for many more actions ahead. Michael Moore says we need to form our own “rapid response teams.” Great idea. I know from experience that protest groups, or response teams, are motivated by friends and fun as much as dedication to causes and the willful intent to create change.
Let’s use the term “branding” to highlight the idea of friendship and fun, along with identity and message. The Pussy Hat Project is an amazing “brand” and thousands of pink caps dominated the news photos. The idea immediately appealed to women and took off around the globe. My niece learned to knit in order to make hats for us. The color pink signifies women and the cat ears signal that we will not forget the incoming president’s offensive words and appalling boasts about his own sexual assaults. Brava to the Pussy Hat Project!
Now, if you want to create your own group identity, branding experts ask us to consider:
- Color palette
- Consistency (colors, font, style)
- Logo (symbol or name)
- Your Story
What idea will get you and your people out to the streets?
As for me, I’m non-violent and I like to be comfortable. I’m not as old as Gloria Steinem and Angela Davis, but my age group is wondering how we’ll find the energy to get up and do it again. Maybe all age groups wonder how to stay motivated. For some, it will require a humorous cohesive push. So I’ll kick out this idea.
Name: Ripe Old Rage (ROR)
Our story: We are non-violent and we like to be comfortable.
Message: Ripe Old Rage is anti-ageist and advocates for social justice, the environment, arts and education. Local chapters will identify and take on their own social justice causes. You don’t need to be old to join this group. Ripe Old Rage is gender, race, age and ability inclusive.
Colors: If we don’t already have gray or white hair, we wear a gray or white wig during protest events. This creates a swarm visual, excellent for photography, drone footage, media attention, and sticking together in a crowd. For the armchair activists, we have a PR division. We can put our young friends and kids in gray wigs and send them out there!
Identity: We have a wheeled division so that we are always a parade. Using wheelchairs, bikes and elder scooters, the wheeled division will also be comfortable during long vigils and marches, outfitted in our snuggie blankets and umbrellas. The wheeled division will be decorated, of course, and equipped with coolers and snacks.
Added advantage: Authorities and bullies look real bad on camera if they pepper spray or beat up a bunch of white-hairs.
There. I wrote myself out of utter uselessness.