Hittin’ the Streets: Does burning money in salary protest equal effective activism?

Published on The Daily Femme – Thursday, July 29, 2010

Taking TheDailyFemme to the streets, coffee shops, libraries, art galleries, sports games, buses,  trains, and using e-mail, we ask women (and this time men as well) all over the country (and sometimes the world) one simple question. What we get in return is a lot of insight, advice, some nervous confusion and even a hug or two.

Interviews were contributed by Annamarya Scaccia, Maria Rubio, Kate Friedman, and Cherie Hannouche

This week’s question: A feminist Swedish group protested the gender pay gap by burning 100,000 kronor ($13,000). The Feminist Initiative party says the money set ablaze on the Swedish island of Gotland on Tuesday represents the amount of money the country’s women miss out on every minute in comparison to men. Do you think this move was effective activism or just a ridiculous statement?

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Clelia – Philadelphia, PA

The point of activism is to bring about change. Bringing attention to an issue is not enough in order for change to occur. Did the Feminist Initiative Party bring the issue of the gender wage gap to the forefront? Yes; but the act of burning money alone, I do not see as activism. I don’t see it as a ridiculous statement either. It was indeed a statement- a strong statement – and for activism to be effective sometimes a strong statement, such as burning money, is a catalyst for further activism. I hope that the Feminist Initiative Party has taken other steps to not only bring this issue to the forefront, but to validate the importance of this message where it matters and where a difference could be made.

Christina – Salt Lake City, UT

I think we sometimes forget that in order to create changes and address certain issues, we have to think outside of the box. This is certainly a radical idea but I think other radical ideas have instated real change for example at the time Sylvia Pankhurst’s Women’s Suffrage Federation took certain actions during World War I that many thought went too far and were ridiculous given the confines of war and yet they made strides that have brought women to where we are today. I just think we need to keep an open mind when it comes to these types of actions.

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Iris – Hephzibah, Georgia

I have to lean toward this being a ridiculous statement. I do understand that the money was donated but at the same time I feel they could have put the money to better use then burning it. I don’t know the state of the country however I can’t help but feel that an amount that large could have gone toward helping the cause by funding funding work towards changing legislation. Simply burning the money, while a dramatic statement and one that garnered attention to the problem as seen by the story being covered by the AP, won’t help bridge the gap between what men and women who are equally qualified are paid. Yes now the world is aware of the problem but awareness to an issue does not always translate into a government working towards a solution.

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Meredith – Brooklyn, NY

This seems to me like a case of “cutting your nose to spite your face”. That money could have gone towards raising awareness in a very different way. Sure, now the problem is out there, and the Swedish government is in the spotlight, but that doesn’t mean that they’re going to DO anything about it. Governments tend not to listen to overzealous radicals, especially in comparison to more levelheaded groups.

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Becky – Rice Lake, WI

I think it’s hard to gain respect for a cause if you do not act in a respectful manner. By burning money, it’s entirely possible to alienate some people who may have responded favorably to a different campaign. It certainly seems to be hypocritical on some level for a group of people to complain about a lack of money going to the women, and those same people actually burning money.

Richard – Philadelphia, PA

It’s a shame that this had to come to pass. It’s not right that in this day and age that there is still such a gap in wages between men and women – that in modern times, you would think that modern pay and ethics would apply. I don’t feel it’s effective because there’s a chance people will just see it as a waste of money. There may also be negative backlash and because there is such sexism in the world, I feel that people would look at them as a bunch of crazy women. That is not right. I think they could have found a different way to get this message across, however, I am not there and I don’t know the options they have that brought them to such a point.

screen-capture-15Justine – Philadelphia, PA

I think the statement they made was a little ridiculous. There’s a lot of other ways they could’ve made a statement that wouldn’t have put a lot people out of $13,000.

Susan – New Jersey

It’s a good way, at least, to get your issue in the headlines but maybe there might be other ways to get that kind of reaction without actually burning money.

Mariposa – Atlanta, GA

This act albeit daring was a very important step for  active change. Just think about how much international press they received which just would not have happened if they did not make as daring of a statement. I think now that the attention is on their cause so the question is what are they going to do to instate change however I truly applaud their efforts in trying to have the world hear their issue.

Fran – Mt. Airy, PA

In this economy, I think burning real money is not effective. [My friend] was saying it would get people’s attention but I don’t think as a tactic or an action, I don’t think it is. Believe me, I know there’s a gender gap. I believe it. I support it but I don’t think it’s an effective action.

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Jasmine – Brooklyn, NY

I think it was a completely ridiculous statement. That is my gut reaction. What I would have done if I could even get my HANDS on that kind of money is donate it to a cause that supports women in underdeveloped countries. It could have been the same amount of money and it could have represented the same cause but the money would have been doing something for somebody. But that’s just me.

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2 thoughts on “Hittin’ the Streets: Does burning money in salary protest equal effective activism?

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