Who takes the prize for the most unique protests?

Dahlia Ferrer, Saturday 13 Aug 2011

Slut Walks, Flamenco-fying banks, Stroller Marches, playing dead and Kiss-ins; the most unique ways the world is getting their point across

Chilean students dress as superheroes as they take over their schools
Chilean students dress as superheroes as they take over their schools in protest, Photo: Victor Ruiz Caballero, Reuters

Taking salt from the beach and not paying taxes on it (Gandhi). Wearing a pink ribbon (breast cancer awareness campaigns).  Pouring blood on fur coats as a model walks down the catwalk (radical animal rights campaigns). Sitting at the front of the bus (Rosa Parks). Massive sit-ins (Arab Spring).

People have protested peacefully for ages, avoiding violence. Nowadays, campaigns seem to be outdoing each other, both on creativity and humour.

One activist group that jumps to mind is Flo6x8. They certainly surprised the Santander Bank employees in Seville, Spain, when 20 activists entered the bank and started playing Flamenco music in the lobby in the middle of a business day. And especially when these 20 people started dancing in a choreography to the song whose lyrics say: “Banker, banker, banker. You have money and I have a hole in my pocket.” And even more especially when one of the activists started to take off his clothes... and fortunately had a unique surprise underneath. He was wearing a cow costume. The "cow" started shakn’ it for the camera that was recording the whole thing.

The movement has continued to surprise banks, either with individual, spontaneous Flamenco performances in the lobbies, or coordinated, mass groups audaciously performing the choreography in front of The Bank of Spain, for example.

Their cause? Spaniards complain of being milked to death by banks, who hold high loan interests over them on mortgages they signed years ago when people still had jobs. Now with 20 per cent (+) unemployment, Spaniards are feeling suffocated by banks.

On that note: many groups have taken the dead fish approach. Literally. A group of politically-vocal women, like Code Pink, plopped down in the middle of a walkway, wearing fish masks and nets to protest big-companies’ water contamination. Not to mention those in Spain who have sort of faked their death, covering themselves in a red substance, laying down at the sidewalk entrance of a bank with a sign that reads “The bank bleeds me to death.”

Another memorable movement hold what they call a Slut Walk.

This movement began when a Canadian police chief stated in a conference that if women want to avoid getting raped they shouldn’t dress like a slut. Canadian women objected on many fronts, of course, starting with the implication that rape is in some cases merited. On another front for the stereotyping of someone who dresses sexy. And yet on another front, that even if a woman is a slut, that doesn’t mean that she deserves to be forced. “Consensual sex!” they shouted.

A Slut Walk was held Australia and even to the conservative developing nation, India, who used the Slut Walk (under a different name in the local language) as a way to decry the egregious sexual harassment women face on the streets every day.

Slut Walk is rather self-explanatory, but in case it needs a visualisation: some women in Canada and Australia marched around in their scant clothing. Does a bra classify as "clothing?" Anyway. Many women did dress completely normally, held signs and sometimes were accompanied by fathers, brothers and other men.

Mama and papa are activists, too! In the recent sweep across Israel to lower the stifling cost of living in the country, parents, too, joined the cause in the only way they could: with their kids. Stroller Walk managed to get 1,000 parents to participate in a march to show their outrage at rising costs.

Who takes the cake for the most unique?

Chile’s student population movement, whose movement is referred to as invierno chileno (Chilean Winter). They have planted themselves in the central square, Plaza de Armas in Santiago and the Central University of Chile and in many other squares and schools. At times police tried to forcibly disperse them with teargas, water and one day even by simply detaining 900 of them away.

Up to 300 centres, according to some news sources, have been occupied by students protesting. They demand the end of municipally-run schools, preferring that they be run by the central government, upgrading the facilities at technical schools and more fairness (i.e. less corruption) in the education system. Labour has also joined in on some of their protests and have much to protest on their own.

Although some students and teachers are holding hunger strikes, thousands of them have joined less conventional protests.

Such as? Dressing like a zombie and taking over the central square by dancing the choreography to Michael Jackson’s Thriller.

The youngsters didn’t stay behind: highschoolers dressed like superheroes and battled it out on their campus.

What earned them the award? The most pacifist protest of all: a Kiss-in, where hundreds puckered up at dusk, under the dim, romantic light.

“The whole country is watching this movement,” the New York Times quoted 17-year-old student, Eduardo Beltrán.

Indeed, now the whole world is watching. Waiting to see how else the world gets their point across.

Short link: