10 Tiny (But Meaningful) Ways to Protest Daily
How to fight back when you don’t have much fight left.
On January 20th, I stayed in bed. I nursed a strange, fuzzy headache; I flailed under the covers and yelled at my cat and my boyfriend. I obsessively refreshed Twitter and then threw my phone into the closet. It was a bad day.
On January 21st, I marched.
What we’re seeing now is just the beginning of the resistance. It has been a busy and weird few months; it is going to be a busy and weird few years. What the Women’s March demonstrated is that there are millions of individuals (actual millions, not “alternative” millions) who feel as lost, as scared, as angry, as energized, as you do. And we can’t afford to waste that collective energy. This is the time to stay engaged and educated, to attend city council meetings, redirect your discretionary income to local businesses, call your representatives (it works!) and set up automatic donations to organizations doing the work on the ground.
But this can feel like a lot, especially if you’re generally disinclined to war cries, an introvert, marginalized, struggling to stay afloat financially, or just, you know, fucking exhausted. It can make you want to yell at your cat, which is helpful to no one, least of all the cat.
So, it’s a little woo-woo, but I’ve started keeping a list of small things I can do to subtly shift energy in the right direction, to make more space in my life and in the lives of others to breathe and do good work. A list to draw on for the dark days. To be clear: THIS IS NOT WORLD-TILTING STUFF. Discourse and action needs to happen at a level higher than this, but these small acts of resistance might make you feel more ready for the fight.
1. Say thank you.
Say it in person and in writing. Once a month, write a thank-you note to a woman in local politics, someone doing good work in your community, the colorist who finally got the brass out of your hair. Be earnest, be gentle, be generous.
2. Teach yourself how to sew a button or mend a hole. Your things are not disposable, your ideas are not disposable, your body is not disposable.
3. Commit to a year searching out voices that sound different to yours. I’m only reading books written by women or POC. It takes work to search out art by others; it is worth it. If books aren’t your thing, pick films or music.
4. Look people in the eye.
5. Learn how to cook one meal. Food is more wholesome and more intentional when you make it for yourself. Make it vegetarian, too: big meat is full of horrible vampires and it’s a nice thing to do for the earth.
6. Trump and his mess of turds in suits would like for you to hate your body. Your self-loathing is very convenient for them. Instead, create your own power ritual: use an empowering scent, like cinnamon or amber, let it linger on your bare skin, breathe deeply, admire yourself. Beauty is not weakness.
7. Host an affirmation dinner party.
Gather your women, and once you are cozy and well-fed, give each person the chance to share one thing they admire about each other. There is no space in this discourse for shaking off, no bashful self-deprecation. Absorb, relish, agree with them. Bathe in that light.
8. Buy a new lipstick.
9. Take the time to call out corporations who are doing good things. When Mall of America hired their first black Santa, they were buried by hate mail. Kellogg’s is facing a boycott because they’ve divested their advertising dollars from Breitbart. It takes two seconds to find a customer service email address and shoot over a quick note of thanks and pride.
10. Set up a personal tip jar.
Tip yourself a dollar or two for a good deed — you power through a performance review, you hold the door for someone even when it is raining, you remember to buy the toilet paper for your roommates — and when you’re in need of a lift, pull from the jar and make a donation to an important cause, or tip your snow-shook delivery guy an extra $10, or give $20 to the beautiful boy who plays violin in your subway station, or buy coffee for the person behind you in line. Money is precious energy and it is good to honor it and part with a little when you can.
Here’s what I know for sure: none of us can do this alone. Please, if you have your own ways of resisting, share them!