FUR FACT: Around 85% of today’s fur comes from FUR FARMS, as compared to trapping. Trapping is no longer pervasive because it is too expensive. Fur farming entails the breeding of certain WILD ANIMALS in captivity ONLY for their fur.
For a while after my “aha”experience (post: That Moment of Knowing) I basked in the proud feeling that I was now an animal activist. My motto was silence is the worst crime. Then I thought, “So now what? Surely I can’t ignore the active in activism?” I knew that patting cats and washing dishes at Cat Village didn’t really count as activism. Besides, I had announced to family and friends that as an animal activist my personal grooming would be compromised, as I would never take time off while animals were suffering.
So my first step was to start a petition. After sifting through numerous sites, this is easy. Not only are on-line petitions free, but claim that the power is one grasp; the user can have a huge impact; change communities and convince people and companies to give up negative attitudes. Also appealing to someone like me, is that “no technical knowledge is needed”. What more could an activist want? Initially I used Care2petitionsite with my title “Fury at the Fur Trade” because of the “fur” in fury, which in hindsight I realise was a bit obscure.
The meaning of “activism” started to make sense. To get signatures I had to be active, My starting point was friends and family. Like a mosquito I buzzed and whined until they signed. Some only signed out of a sense of loyalty and if they could, they would have swatted me (extension of the mosquito metaphor) or at least reported me for harassment. Then I approached various anti-fur organisations to access their members list and something wonderful happened. Like-minded people contacted me to offer support and advice.
If you are one of those people I cannot thank you enough for this encouragement.
But it wasn’t all a feel-good experience. Many people complained that Care2 was now inundating them with e-mails, which they did not want.
I then changed to change.org, which is the petition below and still open for signatures:)
If you have run an on-line petition, I would love to hear your experience.
More significant though, was an anti-petition attitude where people would say things like, “petitions don’t work” or “you are wasting your time”. I heard negative terms like “slacktivism” and “clickerism”.
“Slacktivism” is a combination of the words slacker and activism. It refers to people who support causes without engaging with the real issues. Signing a petition gives them a good feeling, as they have the impression they have contributed.
“Clickerism” is the trend to sign many petitions, sometimes without reading them. It can turn into a kind of frenzy, as did the Kony 2012 hysteria.
However, I still believe it takes little effort to click on an on-line petition and who knows, maybe something will come out of it. I will sign most animal rights petitions, as I believe collective action works. We all know the saying “win some and lose some”. What do you think?
For me, starting a petition made me feel less helpless. It became a way of networking with others who fight for animal rights. I felt part of a community and learnt so much from people and reading. What started as a petition turned into an anti-fur campaign, which included other actions. The UK website Animal-Rights-Action.com provides for several strategies and I agree with its statement. Through “… government lobbying, petition signing, letter writing and telephone calling, laws have been changed for the benefit of animals and cruel practices have been ended”.
For example, today I read how attitudes to Bear Bile farming are shifting. See http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-news-from-elsewhere-23633665.
Of course more activism is needed to change this mindset: Chinese Newlyweds Wondering What They’re Going To Do With All This Medicinal Bear Bile (theonion.com) ]
But most encouraging for me was Slovenia’s ban on farming and hunting animals for their fur (2013). This was the result of “intensive campaigning, petitioning and educating.