An Oppressor in Activist Clothing

by Dr Kerri O’Donnell.

My young adult daughter stumbled upon a Facebook post by a ‘Mommy’ who professes to be an Activist.  The woman describes herself on her official public figure Facebook page as: “I make videos. I rant. I speak places. I love my 10 kids and my hubby. I do it all because of Jesus. I am The Activist Mommy.”

My daughter was incensed by the particular post she found because it presented so many Alternate Facts, all in the name of Activism.  Alternate Facts which defied dictionary definitions, let alone freely accessible statistics.  A less generous person would say they are lies, but let’s give her the benefit of the doubt and call it ignorance.

The post was ostensibly about genocide, and I had a look to see what the fuss was about.  What I found was a post about something that does not actually meet the definition of genocide, on a page that does not appear to have any consistent interest in any of the myriad issues in the posts.  But the Mommy calls herself an Activist, so I look harder to find the cause she believes in, and/or the group the is an ally of.

Perhaps it is feminism?  The following post brought a moment of hope that I’d identified what she is fighting for.

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The ‘contradictory’ Teen Vogue article

 

But the commentary is this:  “Liberated Woman?? Do you see the Muslim lady on the right wearing her hijab? Is that a typo on her shirt?? Yeah, because when I think of liberated women, I think of women who can NOT drive, can NOT get an education, can NOT think for themselves, can NOT choose who they marry, can NOT keep their clitoris. Yeah, that’s who I think about. Thanks Teen Vogue and Planned Parenthood once again for making it so easy to make fun of your constant contradictions!”

Excuse me?   How do you know that any of this is true about “the woman on the right”? The women I see wearing scarves are walking around my university, getting Masters degrees and Doctorates.

Those women are activists because they are empowering their own lives as well as being a positive influence on public perceptions.  In contrast, the Mommy is ‘making fun’.  And the contradiction she is making fun of is arguably the huge gap between activism and her personal opinion.  Her ‘making fun’ changes nothing, but instead perpetuates a western social bigotry that keeps these women oppressed in our countries.  What is going on?  I look further.

Instead of Activism,
the Mommy’s site plays host for all manner of ridicules and hate speech
against others’ efforts to create positive change and empowerment.

Even if the Mommy’s perception of Muslim women were true, why would anyone make fun of their liberation?  Why would an Activist make fun of anybody’s liberation?

According to Fitzroy Legal Service Inc. (What is an Activist?):

“Activists are people who seek to create positive change [and] activism includes the positive and courageous actions of ordinary people in their daily lives.

Activists may be forming radical co-operatives, working within universities and schools to educate others, working through the legal system or government to create institutional changes, maintaining cultural practices and music as an act of resistance, developing national and international networks and forming alliances across movements… in the spirit of solidarity and common ground between all people working for a free, just and sustainable society.”

Alas, there are no such activities or movements to be found on the Mommy’s page.  No marches or other events, or educational materials.  There is not even a clearly identified cause.  Who is she even an ally of?  But there is one common thread between the many posts: Pro-life beliefs in Jesus’ name.  The Mommy is not an activist – she’s a preacher.  A rather zealous one.

I’ve got nothing at all against preachers.  But I won’t tolerate hate speech dressed up to look like a social service.  She should just identify herself as a pro-life preacher and get on with that instead of misleading people with false definitions and unsubstantiated ‘facts’ about activism.  The Mommy’s page has 131,900 Likes, which is concerning enough, but it also has thousands more followers who have not ‘Liked’ the page.  This suggests that the extra followers may be simply keeping tabs – and indeed there are voices of dissent in post comments, calling out contradictions, underlying subtexts and false premises.  That can only be a good thing, because who in our world is not tired of misrepresentations and alternate facts?  Someone has to look out for the 131,900 lambs she is nurturing.  So it is with some regret (because doing so will probably send the Mommy the wrong message) that I am now one of those followers.  I have joined the small army of individuals who refute and rebut, because I will not stand by while a self-nominated ‘public figure’ perpetuates oppressive bigotries, and sabotages real Activists’ campaigns for positive change and empowerment.

Here is one such sabotage I can attempt to redress right now:

You can read the Teen Vogue story here, and the t-shirt image below is hyperlinked to its Liberated People buy site.  A brief introduction about that campaign:  “A diverse group of influential activists including fashion designer Mara Hoffman (National co-chair of the Women’s March on Washington), Carmen Perez and more… the Liberated Woman campaign is donating five dollars of every sale of this t-shirt to directly benefit women and people of color.”

 
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