What Feminism in Ghana tells us about Status Quo Changing

Okay. Second Wave Feminism in Ghana is the new in-thing.

I haven’t really gathered my thoughts on the trend.

But on one aspect of the matter, I have a view.

Labels shape perception, but they can also determine the substance.

It appears many see those trying to rebuild a classical feminism project in the country and steer the narrative away from retro- and neo-feminist thinking as being part of an “advocacy movement”.

If however the movement is either “radical” or “activist” by deed and/or self-perception, then that would explain some of the audience confusion.

An advocacy movement needs high favourable public opinion to claim success. Some would say upwards of 40%.

For a quick gauge, take the US IRS requirement that to qualify for ‘public charity status’, an organisation must pass the ‘public support test’, in which a minimum of 33% of funding must come from the public as a way of confirming true “public support”. This is an interesting ‘starting number’ to consider. 33%.

But we all know that public opinion is also a Pareto phenomenon, 20% of voices determine the views of 80% of the majority. Effective publicity is thus easily attainable with 40% approval ratings for any advocacy or lobbying project. Perhaps the reason also why many global politicians see their approval ratings over time hover over that mark (the Putins of this world excluded).

Someone should check the literature on lobbying and sentiment analysis/measurement and chip in.

But the assumption that 40% favourable ratings is necessary for success in changing the status quo through advocacy assumes that a particular cause is an “advocacy project” by default.

If, on the other hand, it is a radical or activist cause, then an approval rating of 40% won’t just be ridiculous but actually dangerous!

To my mind, an activist or radical movement needs about 15% approval or favourabie perception to be effective. Anything above that would begin to suggest ‘capture’ into the establishment and the redundancy of activism or radicalism. What can be achieved from dialogue with the establishment doesn’t require activism.

True, many once activist causes have graduated to advocacy. Knowing which is which is however usually necessary in order to even detect that such a transition if it is occurring.

To sum it all up, if the second wave feminism project in Ghana is activist in its stance then it will be silly to judge its evolution by mass affection.

Which is why I find it rather suspicious when folks seem to be soliciting mass feminism even when their own professed diagnosis of the problem apparently call for radical solutions.

Postscript: But all movements – whether advocacy, radical or activist – need attention. It is the currency. In that light a radical movement may as a matter of deliberate strategy actually engage in extreme public-alienating behavior since the trade-off between attention and affection sits closer to the optimal point of their “goal curve” than it does for an advocacy movement.

This is also why it is also almost impossible to mix the two strategies of status quo changing. In fact, the majority of public campaigns eventually flame out because the majority cannot over time resist the very strong urge to mix the two approaches.

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