10 Tiny (But Meaningful) Ways to Protest Daily

How to fight back when you don’t have much fight left.

01.27.17
10-Tiny-(But-Meaningful)-Ways-to-Protest-Daily-Man-Repeller-Feature

changes-month-man-repeller

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.

10-Tiny-(But-Meaningful)-Ways-to-Protest-Daily-Man-Repeller-1

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.

10-Tiny-(But-Meaningful)-Ways-to-Protest-Daily-Man-Repeller-2

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.

10-Tiny-(But-Meaningful)-Ways-to-Protest-Daily-Man-Repeller-3

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.

10-Tiny-(But-Meaningful)-Ways-to-Protest-Daily-Man-Repeller-4

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!

Click here for a list of ways to take action.

Illustrations by Maria Jia Ling Pitt; follow her on Instagram @heysuperstar.

Get more Brain Massage ?
  • melissa

    im a vegetable hater who cooks once in a blue moon but i want to suggest one tasty and super meal that i learned from a friend! the shrooms don’t taste like anything but the pesto 🙂

    -black bean pasta (they have this at trader joes, idk where else)
    -homemade pesto (pine nuts, olive oil, basil, garlic, part)
    -mushooms cut in to small pieces
    -cherry tomatoes cut in half

    i cook the shrooms/tomatoes on the stove til they get soft

    delish even as leftovers!

    • melissa

      super easy****

  • Bee

    “Big meat is full of horrible vampires” is my new favorite quote. Thanks for these great ideas 🙂

  • katie_does

    Just want to say that I’ve been reading Man Repeller since the very beginning, but I’m not usually a commenting kind of gal. I’ve appreciated all of your post-dumpster fire articles SO MUCH. Thank you for being real, thoughtful, and unapologetic. You are all the raddest!!

  • This is beautiful and exactly the type of habits I’m trying to cultivate in order to be a brighter spot in my community. <3

  • literarity

    i would add an essential #11: divest from the maniac and his family.
    https://grabyourwallet.org/

  • Heck yeah! #TipYourself

  • prairie dogs

    Also, call your representatives once a week. Or write them letters, if you hate talking on the phone. Or email them, if you can’t ever find a stamp.

    I subscribed to this weekly action newsletter– it’s just 4 simple tasks a week, delivered on Sunday– and it makes things much easier. Usually it’s “send an email, send a tweet” something like that: http://www.wall-of-us.org

    Because being positive and kind is so crucial, but so is letting your voice be heard in Washington. Do not let D.C. forget you are watching everything they do.

    • I love Wall of Us, and the Resist and Action Now newsletters are also great resources.

    • Amanda B

      THANKS for sharing! Gonna start checking this now.

  • I think these are beautiful acts of self care and while I agree with audre lords that self care is a radical act, I think this will confuse the uninitiated.

    We needed to challenge the community to go harder.

    • Goodness no – don’t mean to suggest these are comparable to the absolutely vital political and community actions that are absolutely demanded of us right now (there’s some great links to those in the intro!). I just know that I need to find ways to shore up for the fight – and this is how I’m doing that.

      • SO important, literally all my heart wants is to curl up into a tiny ball and disappear for 4 years but that is unproductive and unhelpful. I am SURE these smaller steps will give me momentum–until I am emotionally strong enough to really fight.

  • Michaela H

    These suggestions were so sweet and thoughtful and are exactly the kind of things I find lift me up out of even the deepest news-panics/is-this-real-life-crises that seem to crop up every day now (or is that every few hours?) Thank you for sharing.

  • Lily

    Hi Meghan! I thought this was beautiful and encouraging and a very nice thing to read mid-afternoon on a Friday. I will certainly be following some of your tips, in addition to calling my state senators weekly. Numbers for all state senators easily accessible here: thesixtyfive.org

    • Thank you for sharing the resource! EVERYONE SHOULD LITERALLY BE CALLING EVERYONE ALL THE TIME and then take a very nice bath and then CALL SOME MORE PEOPLE.

  • Daeyz

    Love all the tips, definitely implementing them!

    xx,
    Daeyz
    http://www.daeyz.com

  • Annabel Waterhouse-Biggins

    this is energising

  • Amelie

    I bought subscriptions to NYT and washington post to support the free press which is vital in keeping us all so up to date And helping to make our voices heard!!!

  • Voovoo

    I’m late in the game reading this article, but what a sweet guide for making little changes! I am a person who is somewhat inclined to war cries, but I am also financially strapped, exhausted, beset with health troubles, and an introvert. And I often feel like I have the heart of an activist but not the energy to get out there enough. I feel like this list really gets me. ALSO; 3 cheers for the ‘big meat is full of horrible vampires’ statement!! It IS! As a super-lazy anti-consumerist anarcho-pacifist animal activist, going meat-free is the easiest way I can stick-it-to-the-man. But I should start writing some letters, too. 🙂