Limited bandwidth activism

This morning I was watching a video of Humane Hancock. Humane Hancock has this gimmick where he goes to protests of different issues. At these protests he would then lead people to think about veganism in relation to the issue they are protesting for or against. This particular video had him going to a feminist protest.

Humane Hancock discusses sexism, racism and speciesism at a feminist protest.

The quote from the woman at 09:50 in the video stuck with me, as it reinforced an idea that I have had for a while and sometimes feel quite guilty or ashamed about. She was asked whether she thought there was a contradiction in campaigning for women’s rights while paying for animal exploitation. She then continued that it’s up to [anyone] in which issue they want to put passion and energy. She continued to say: “we all have limited bandwidth, we’ve all got to put our energy into the causes that we feel most passionately about and often the causes that affect us most directly.”

On a sidenote, looking back at it now, I realise that she pivots away from the question that is actually being asked. She was not asked whether she thought there was a contradiction in campaigning for women’s rights while not campaigning for animal rights. Not contributing to animal exploitation, however, does not require the same level of energy as campaigning for animal rights would. Let’s put that aside, however.

The reason this quote stuck with me was because I, myself, do not campaign for other issues than animal rights and global warming. I agree with many social justice movements regarding racism and sexism, but do not necessarily fight with them. I try to fight injustices in my personal environment, but only when it is convenient. I feel that is particularly the case as I am not being directly affected personally. Not only do I think that this is a kind of hypocrisy that cis-gender white men face, I also feel guilty because it makes me feel like I am not doing enough.

Looking closer, the reasoning that I do not partake in fighting for those social issues as much as I feel I should, is because they do not affect me personally, does not really make sense, though. Either I would then have to accept that fighting for animal rights does affect me or I would have to adopt a different reasoning as to why I do not always fight for other social issues.

Let’s go with the former.

Veganism, in my mind, concerns all beings. Like Humane Hancock also suggests in the video, it is an extension of the idea that racism and sexism are bad. Racism and sexism concerns humans while speciesism also includes discrimination against animals. Accordingly, I would perceive fighting against speciesism to be an extension of fighting against racism and sexism, as they exist in a kind of superlative degree. If one does not agree that discriminating another human based on arbitrary traits is immoral, why would they ever agree that discriminating another species would be immoral?

In other words, I see veganism as all-encapsulating. Veganism is feminism is social justice. Does being a vegan activist therefore exempt me from doing other forms of activism?
No, absolutely not.
The type of approach still matters in activism as people witnessing the protest immediately know what it’s about and could then conclude how they should change their personal behavior. This is why it’s still important to partake in different forms of activism.
I suppose I’ll have to write about framing in activism some other day.

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