Posts Tagged ‘Activism’

To elaborate on the previous post by Fei An, I would like to quote a paragraph of the Blank Noise blog which describes their new project Y ARE YOU LOOKING AT ME.

After a brief introduction of everyone present, the meeting proceeded with a brief discussion on eve teasing and the intervention that will take place. ‘Y ARE U LOOKING AT ME’ is an intervention where a group of women wears a giant letter made of red reflective tape on their shirts. They then stand idly on the streets or zebra cross, staring at the vehicles and passers-by without a word. Together, the letters on their shirts form the sentence ‘Y ARE U LOOKING AT ME’, demanding attention by asking a silent question. When the traffic light flashed to green, these women will disappear to the sidewalks. A group of male volunteers are already there, distributing pamphlets and engaging passers-by about in a conversation about what they just saw and relate it to eve teasing. The idea behind this intervention is an act a female gaze to reverse the male gaze that often times could be considered as a form of eve teasing. Because it is so unusual, onlookers often look away or feel embarrassed after an encounter with the female gaze. Despite being done without a word, the twist of gender dynamics in this intervention provoked the interest of people in the sidewalk and opened up the space for public dialogue – the aim Blank Noise strives to achieve.” (Maesly Angelina on


This is very interesting. The main aim is not to create awareness and to change the men’s behaviour, which is of course very complicated to achieve, but to empower women in a way that makes them no longer feel victims of sexual harassment. They open up a space in which women can discuss these issues, which, I think, is the beginning of a strong emancipatory movement.

Particularly interesting I find the power shift Fei An briefly mentioned in the previous post. As soon as a women holds a camera she becomes the powerful, as she can register the perpetrater — who, at his turn, totally panics when he realises what happend. “I have a wife, please don’t do this to me”, he begged. Even though she might not do anything with this picture (I don’t believe this is Blank Noise’s aim), at that very moment she controlled the situation. Questions whether this will have any effect on the long term, or whether this will eventually establish some kind of societal/cultural change I consider not that relevant. In this case we should recognise the valeu of the process rather than the product. What does this mean for the particular women and how does it help them at that very moment?

Please read the entire blog.

A couple of months ago I wrote a paper on local activism through the production of videos on local (community) issues. This work is done by an NGO called Video Volunteers (VV). They train a number of people in communities and equip them with the necessary material/tools (camera, pc, etc) and encourage them to produce videos that report on local problems. In this way they tend to pressure local authorities in order to take action and find a solution to their problems. It turns out to be very effective. Not only do these people make a living out of this – besides making these political videos, they also earn some extra money by making commercial videos – they also in  a way empower the local people as they now (feel that they) have voice. The videos are posted online and can be watched by a global audience…

This video was sent to my by VV in their monthly newsletter, and reports on a case of prostitution in a village in the North of India.

What is the value of such an video, what does this simple video change locally? It is something I kept thinking about. It has to compete with billions of other videos online.. But I think, however, that the strenght of such a video lies within the production process. The locals can give their opinion, they feel that they have something important to say, and that people are interested in their stories. Furthermore, when they interview several actors they create a larger network of people involved with the problem, which increases their power as community residents. Finally, a camera and a group of reporters and the idea that a video will be posted on the Internet usually frightens authorities that are unwilling to take action or find solutions, and thus the dwellers might actually change something.

Video Volunteers is one of the examples of “10 Tactics for Turning Information into Action“. Me Like!