The Negative Connotation of “Activist”

The whole semester we were given talks by people who called themselves activists – people who fought for causes usually in relation to important social issues in our country – but do I need to be as “active” as them to call myself some sort of activist? Do I have to be “active” to be considered a fighter for a certain cause?

 

I guess no one really can be called a fighter without making some sort of action. After all, boxers and martial artists do not win fights by simply standing around there in the ring with their opponents. To win any sort of fight, you have to do something. But the thing is, the term activist has brought along many negative connotations with it. “Anak, ‘wag ka na pumunta sa UP. Magiging aktibista ka lang doon,” is something I’ve actually heard from people. Whether it was a joke or a statement really made by someone’s parents, the point that comes across is that there is a negative connotation in being a UP student and being an activist. So why would I bother being an active UP student, or further even, an activist? Why would I subject a negative outlook upon myself?

 

The solution to this is to avoid the stereotype. Fighting is necessary to win fights (obviously) or arguments, but we do not have to fight and be violent and radical to get our points across. To be an activist, in my opinion, you do not need to further that stereotype. You can fight for your causes in subtle ways. As long as you are persistent, you do not have to be radical. Avoiding being radical can even bring others to your cause too.

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3 thoughts on “The Negative Connotation of “Activist”

  1. I agree, activism doesn’t need to equal extreme radicalism, rather a good activist is one who is aware of the political and social machinations around him/her. And when we find something that we don’t agree with, we fight for it, that’s what I think a true activist should be.

  2. Same sentiments. Throughout the sem, I’ve been wondering, based on our speakers’ experiences, if being an activist somehow makes you better or worse as a student, and the answer is that it shouldn’t. Even more so that our current situation doesn’t exactly call for it. But I do agree that even in things like political awareness or even our org work, we can be just as socially relevant as the UP students before us.

  3. Our lecturers were students of the university in a period of time that was far more socially and politically tumultuous than that in which we are now, which may have given them great motivation to take up student activism. While the issues surrounding our government now are not insignificant, I’ll say that the impetus now is not as great as it was then, but this is no excuse to be ignorant or indifferent.

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