As an activist who has joined the lingerie protest for the first time, I will be sharing my first time experiences with you and also my general thoughts on taking your clothes off for animals is it worth it… is it effective… or is it just crazy?
I first heard about this form of activism online. My first impression was positive because I had a lot of admiration for the women who were willing to use their bodies and become vulnerable to help animals however one part of me was still sceptical. I was worried that the benefits of spreading the animal rights message this way was not worth the negative of “damaging” the “brand image” of veganism, or so I thought.
During the first month of my time in the wonderful Swiss animal rights community, I met Nell and her team at a regular activism event (with clothes on). I saw her lingerie actions before so we began to talk about it. The main thing that stood out to me was how very mature, balanced, serious and focused Nell’s mentality was when speaking about activism in general. These attributes couldn’t be further from the “extreme” nature of her protests.
The mind often tries to create stories and understandings of the outside world. As open-minded activists we need to challenge our limiting beliefs and fears so as to remove any potential mental obstacles blocking us from acting effectively on behalf of the animals. Meeting Nell in person made me realize she is just a normal activist like me, and an extremely talented one for that matter. She easily has the intelligence to handle outreach conversations but has chosen to also use her body as an extra tool to enhance her effectiveness.
It’s a mistake to think activists wearing lingerie are extreme or uninformed because when you suspend these judgments what you find is that it couldn’t be further from the truth. Sure their chosen way of activism might seem extreme to you but perhaps there is a reason why they have made that choice. Sometimes extreme solutions are necessary for extremes problems, and I can’t think of anything more extreme then the exploitation, abuse and murder of trillions of innocent animals. Let me tell you, there is a method to their madness and when you start to understand the reasons you will realize just how beneficial this form of activism is for animal rights.
An event came up a few weeks after meeting Nell, so I joined to see for myself if my doubts were true or not. I am the type of person who never likes to takes thing on face value, I don’t like to make a definitive judgement before I try it out myself and also just based alone on the amount of time, energy, effort and commitment they were investing to contribute a unique approach to the movement I really could not find a reason not to go.
I am very glad to have gone because the action was a complete success! During the day there was so much positive feedback, people laughing and smiling, some even supporting us with a thumbs up. One lady said she would share the photos she took online and even one man took his shirt off for a photo with us ??. For me this was more than enough proof that the public responds well to this type of activism and if there will be any negative impressions made it would only be for the small minority. With every form of activism though, even the least provocative ones, there will always be anger and negativity triggered in people, so the question should not be are you making people angry, it should be are you making people think and is the message being spread? In the end I can safely say the positive responses far outweighed the negatives ones.
The most interesting thing for me was when a tour guide approached us, he firstly thanked us for our creative efforts to share an important message, he was telling us this as someone who still eats meat! He said he loved the idea and also his touring group of 10 people also really liked it and were very attracted to the messages… and also to the guys… he said they really liked the “Jesus looking one”… t seemed that was me… ??. Jokes aside, I was really astonished that the group couldn’t stop talking about our action, the tour guide told us it was hard for him to keep the focus on his tour. He was so impressed at how good our action was attracting attention, he asked to take a picture that he would share to promote his tour guide. He said it would help us share our message to thousands of his followers and also help him create more interest for his business! Win-Win!
Also throughout the day we had a few conversations with people and in general they took the message very well, perhaps this is because there was an unspoken respect they had for us, that we are very committed to what we believe so much that we are willing to take our clothes off. When speaking to the people I expected more disrespect and mocking, but I was surprised to see the opposite. Some of our conversation were very productive and were recorded by the team to be edited and posted online.
The point of the funny signs are not to convince people of animal rights through those messages directly because frankly we have actual serious and strong arguments for the debate of animal rights, but the point of the signs are to grab attention and from that attention to hopefully plant seeds and bring up the topic and conversation of animals rights where more serious thinking will hopefully take place. This provocative approach really does attract attention, this is such a valuable tool because to win the focus from people especially today can be very difficult, so when an activism method can do this with such success, it’s hard to find a negative to outweigh this huge positive. I even noticed the more provocative and funny signs would get much more attention, one person even asked me to hold up the “Eat pussy not animals” sign for his picture instead of another one I was holding!
Think about it, when the tour group couldn’t stop talking about the funny action, naturally the conversation about the purpose and meaning behind the humour of animal rights will come up. To get an entire town of people thinking about these topics when otherwise they wouldn’t be, I think this is a big win for the animals.
But not only did we get the local area thinking and talking about animal rights, we also got the online world talking too! From the pictures we posted online we received thousands of views and hundreds of comments, some comments from people who agreed with animal rights and some who didn’t. We took this as an opportunity to outreach the commenters, leaving them with another perspective to think about. I’m not exactly sure how the posts got so popular but my guess would be because it’s very provocative and funny so people share the post even if they are not necessarily interested in promoting the animal rights message. The humour is acting in our favour, in a sense it is employing people to promote the message for us. This is just the start of our posts for this particular action, there are interviews still in progress, yet to be published.
Am I glad I joined the group? Yes!
Will I continue going to actions? Yes!
Have I been impressed by the results? Yes!
Should you join or create a local lingerie group in your area… I hope that’s turned into a yes after reading this blog!
(Text by Erizon)