Activism– just a trend?

Noor Naji, Asst. Opinion Editor

Pink hats, liberty signs and more; all were present in one of the biggest protests in modern history of the U.S., the Women’s March. Although great in numbers, many people were upset when the so-called activism present became a “trend” and when it simply reduced the protest to a selfie contest on social media.

Although not every individual at the protest was there  for the purpose of women’s rights and other issues– activism has indeed become a trend– it does no harm to the movement or cause. People have united, for selfies or for rights, to join forces and take the time to stand up for  some type of value. Strength comes in numbers, even though a handful of those involved are doing so for selfish reasons.

Commercial activism, although not ideal, may have positive effects on our society. A recent article in The Guardian boldly states, “Sex doesn’t sell any more, activism does. And don’t the big brands know it.” Yes, this reaffirms that activism has become a trend and that it is being  used for profit, but for the first time, women might no longer have to be objectified to appeal to male consumers. If most companies are using activism to appeal to consumers rather than sex, companies sexualizing women will be pressured into switching to commercial activism instead.

For example, Lyft’s CEO announced that the company donated $1 million to the American Civil Liberties Union, which consequently allowed Lyft’s downloads to surpass Uber’s, their competitor, for the first time. Shortly after, in what seems to be an attempt to outdo Lyft, Uber created a $3 million fund helping workers affected by Trump’s immigration executive order

While it seems that many of the companies are not donating for the noble causes they claim, the result is no difference. They’re simply doing the right thing through the wrong means– and by today’s standards, that’s something.

It’s difficult to separate the fact that while these brands are showcasing pedigree social responsibility, ultimately they are helping refugees because it sells milky lattes and cheap holiday accommodation. They can see that allocating their marketing budget to good causes has a better reach than spending that money elsewhere right now,” the Guardian article states.

There is no doubt that companies are benefiting from this method, but so are the people or cause the money goes toward; it’s a win-win situation. We must recognize that many people in the U.S. working who have average, minimum-wage paying jobs cannot usually afford to help those suffering on the other side of the globe. Commercial activism opens a door to those who would otherwise not be able to contribute to the movement.

Although, at times, it can be seen as insincere and artificial, commercial activism has some positive effects to our society– and by the looks of it, it’s here to stay.