Everybody seems to be protesting something these days. But does all of it succeed in effecting the desired change? It’s not always about the violence, the bullhorns and the angry crowds. Sometimes, being quirky is a better way to get one’s point across than being threatening.
Here is a list of five strange protests, done with a little off-the-wall pizzazz.
Yanukovych, piss off!
FEMEN is a Paris-based group of self-proclaimed “sextremist” women who are now world renowned for their topless protests against restraints on human rights and liberties (like sex trade, anti- abortion laws, the wearing of hijabs etc.). In December 2013, FEMEN protested against Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovych, who had deployed police forces to suppress a citizens’ protest in Kiev against his trade policies. The topless activists protested near the Ukrainian embassy in Paris. Five women publicly urinated on pictures of the Ukrainian president, thus symbolically attempting to clean up Ukraine in a ‘natural way’!
The Pink Chaddi Campaign
In June 2009, activists of Sri Ram Sena, a right wing Hindu activist group, attacked a group of young women and men at a pub in Mangalore,India; claiming that they – especially the women – were demeaning Indian culture and traditions. Sri Ram Sena founder Pramod Muthalik even threatened to have his people kidnap and forcibly “marry off” any couples seen fraternizing on Valentine’s Day. Formed in response to these and many other outrageous affronts to women’s basic freedoms, a group of young women that called itself a ‘Consortium of Pub-going, Loose, and Forward Women’, initiated the Pink Chaddi campaign. Supporters of the organisation were invited to send pink underwear to Muthalik’s office on Valentine’s Day. (The term Chaddi comes from the chaddiwallah, a term used to identify Sri Ram Sena cadres after the khaki shorts they wore). Over 2,000 pink chaddis were collected and sent to an embarrassed Muthalik, who, by then, had been put in house arrest by the state government as a preventative measure against his earlier threat. He rescinded his statements and cancelled any ‘crack-downs’ that his party had planned against any “immoral” lovers that Valentine’s Day.
“We’d rather go naked than wear fur!”
PETA (“People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals”) is known for putting its messages across in ways that are unconventional – bordering on weird. One of PETA’s biggest head-turners is the campaign against using animal fur for fashion. They have protested at fashion weeks in cities around the world, and have won support from actors like Penelope Cruz and Eva Mendes. One key strategy to show people the ugly side of these “luxury” garments is for protestors to parade around carrying simulated skinned animals covered in blood. Cruelty is not pretty!
I am now a URL—so Cut-Out Dissection!
Jennifer Thornburg, an intern at PETA, was distraught by having to dissect a live animal for her science classes at school, and she wanted to do something to protest the inhumanity of it. To draw attention to her cause, she legally changed her name to Cutout Diessection.com, which happens to be the address of a website protesting scientific animal dissections. Her driving license now reads ‘Dissection.com, Cutout’! Her protest convinced her school to allow students who oppose animal dissection to opt out of.
Moon The Balloon
A group of activists got together in Ontario, Canada to protest against an American surveillance balloon floating above the US/Canadian border. The balloon was allegedly intended to stop people from illegally crossing the border into the US from Canada. However, the Canadians saw it as an invasion of their privacy and resorted to a very cheeky way of protesting: they “mooned” the balloon (pulled down their pants and exposed their bottoms toward it). A total of 200 Canadians participated. Looks like the surveillance cameras didn’t have to wait too long to invade their privacy!