From Big Books and Social Movements: A Myth of Ideas and Social Change (PDF) by David Meyer and Deana Rohlinger:
“Mythic accounts shorten the incubation time of social movements and omit the initiating efforts of government and political organizations. The myths develop and persist because they allow interested actors to package and contain a movement’s origins, explicitly suggesting that broad social dynamics replicate idealized individual conversion stories. They also allow actors to edit out complicated histories that could compromise the legitimacy of a movement or a set of policy reforms. These mythic accounts spread and persist because they simplify complicated social processes and offer analogues to the individual process of becoming active, but they may lead us to misunderstand the past and make misjudgments about collective action and social change in the future. We consider those implications and call for more research on the construction of myths about the past.”
It should be no surprise that nuance is lost as histories become narratives become myths, or that interested actors construct stories about past events to serve their current purposes. But then while simplified myths can be useful rallying points, I’m surprised how often some movement clichés come up — and how hard they are to dislodge.
First you ban them from your political convention, then you threaten their funding, now the puppets are rising up and fighting back with a Million Puppet March in Washington DC three days before the election. That should be some photo op — humor is a powerful tactic.
(Protest image courtesy of Nikkolas Smith.)
Flipping through some old posters, this one from Australia’s Earthworks Poster Collective caught my eye. I love the humor and urgency, the pop of white ink on newsprint, and the appropriated and politicized style of romance comics. And though printed in 1979 it’s just as relevant today.
Obamacare is a huge leap forward for women’s reproductive health in the US. But it still casts contraception entirely as the responsibility of women. While birth control and tubal ligation are guaranteed and free, vasectomy is a patient responsibility that insurance companies may refuse to cover — despite the fact that vasectomy is essentially an outpatient procedure and has a much lower risk of complications than female surgical sterilization methods.
I don’t anticipate a groundswell of men demanding free vasectomies, but suspect a court challenge will eventually update the law. The high courts do love an anti-discrimination case when it affects white people and men.