BY SARAH MADGES
In 2011, a movement quickly dubbed "Arab Spring" ignited quickly and powerfully, in part thanks to the easy mobilizing social media outlets like Twitter and Facebook afford. One tweet about Tahrir Square and the retweets magnified, hashtags went viral. Our online "reblog" culture of sharing posts and articles via email and social media had been incubating, slowly entering ubiquity — but with this additional, highly visible and revolutionary usage, thinkpiece writers everywhere took note. A new term cropped up in articles — "slacktivist"— which intended to deride the kind of person who is hyperpolitical online, espousing hardline stances on every Issue, but who fails to take any of their URL sharing IRL the way that the organizers and activists of Arab Spring did.
The other night, I sat with some dozen women who all plan to attend the Women's March in D.C. tomorrow, January 21, to protest the inauguration of a racist, xenophobic, sexual predator-idiot with no Pinocchio reflex and a Cheeto complexion, to design and draw signs to carry down the Mall. We'd been tweeting and link-sharing for weeks since Trump's election on November 9th. "Slacktivism," maybe, but also an outraged catharsis–a natural outpouring of demands to do better, and a refusal to acquiesce.
Although the same things drove us to some local bar to write slogans like "The Future is Female" or quotes from Audre Lorde, the personal part of "The Personal is Political" came true for me that night. We were scrolling Instagram accounts like the Women's March's official account and FemaleCollective for inspiration, finding the stock feminist phrases plus some new clever quips to write down. But something happened as we transposed the text into hand-drawn words and images. Instead of cutting and pasting articles, we literally cut and pasted letters and images from magazines, ripped card stock to usable parts, squeaked magic markers across poster board gloss, put thought to ink, which we'll take to the streets tomorrow. This felt worlds apart from the self-congratulatory slacktivism I've worried I've become prone to. This was taking action — and this is what handwriting can do. It is personal. It is political. It is individual. It is community.
Handwriting speaks in our voice, and our voices are speaking up.
And we want to hear yours! This weekend we will be collecting photo submissions of whatever protest looks like to you: they can be impassioned journal entries, signs with thoughtful slogans, posterboard with messy Sharpie scrawl, letters to the new U.S. administration–however you are speaking out with your fists tight around a pen. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, find us on Instagram and Twitter (@handwrittenwork), reach out on Facebook. Let's show the true power of the pen together.
Here are some we've collected so far. We can't wait to share more.