For many of us, the day after Thanksgiving is a simple day of rest. What is Black Friday if not vegging out and eating leftovers? Oh, yeah. Then there are those other folks who trek over to their local Wal-Mart right after dinner to make their way into doorbuster deal glory. And hey, if Black Friday shopping is your thing, more power to you. But for some of us who either don't feel awesome about engaging in our country's most extreme hyper-consumerist exercise, or simply hate dealing with crowds and shopping in such a high-competition environment, Black Friday is just not very appealing.
Having a day off to relax is pretty great, but if you’re feeling the itch to do something and get busy, there are a number of things you can do. Not only a number of things, but a number of feminist things: ways to give back to the community, ways to educate yourself, ways to enrich the lives of others. Do you see where I’m going with this? Maybe it’s time for us to start a new tradition for the day after Thanksgiving; one that revolves around leaving the world around us a little fuller, as opposed to leaving the store shelves around us a little barer. If you’re wondering what fun, feminist things you can do on Black Friday, here are a few ideas:
Actively Boycott Black Friday
It’s not enough to silently opt out of shopping on Black Friday: Speak out and let others know you aren’t participating in the consumerism and are instead choosing to take part in activism. Blackout for Human Rights has a few suggestions on how to spread the word and even lists some alternative activities for the day.
Attend (Or Organize) A Black Friday Protest
Last year, there were massive Black Friday protests in Seattle, disrupting the droves of shoppers on the day. There are already plans for Black Friday protests in Chicago and demonstrations in Seattle, as well as worker’s protests of Wal-Mart at stores nationwide. Animal rights activists also use the shopping extravaganza as a day of protest called Fur Free Friday, encouraging shoppers to “ditch the fur.” Put your activism to work this Black Friday. Netflix can wait.
Volunteer At A Soup Kitchen Or Homeless Shelter, Or Your Local Food Not Bombs
While many opt to volunteer on the days leading up to Thanksgiving, and even during the morning of the holiday, the days after can often end up with few volunteers to help those who struggle daily. Take a couple hours out of your day to give back to those who need it most in your community. Do a search for your local soup kitchens and homeless shelters, or consider attending (or starting up a chapter of) a Food Not Bombs.
Make A Donation
This is seriously easy. Instead of spending (or potentially wasting) your money on things you and others probably don’t need, find an organization or cause that needs it and make a small donation. If you’re looking for some ideas, here's a good start:
Read Some bell hooks Or Roxane Gay Or Audre Lorde Or Your Favorite Feminist Writer Of Choice
No better way to burn off the extra calories from last night’s meal than to curl up on the couch with a good book! (Wait, that's how this works, right? Indulge in some of the best feminist lit you can get your hands on and encourage others to do the same. A day spent learning is a day well spent. If you need some suggestions, check out this list.
Make A List Of Awesome, Feminist-Friendly Small Businesses To Holiday Shop From On Small Business Saturday
Rather than saying you won’t shop for gifts from the major retailers on Black Friday and then going to them anyway a day or two later, why not try and see if you can get most of your gifts from small businesses? Etsy is, of course, one of the best places for this. A large proportion of Etsy shops are owned by women and you’d be obtaining truly unique gifts while supporting an independent business. It’s money going directly toward sustaining a small biz, rather than going into the pockets of the corporate giants who all too often put their employees last.
Here’s a list of rad feminist finds on Etsy, or if comic books are more your thing, check out this female-friendly comic book store finder. You could also shop off the Feminist Majority Foundation gift shop, or consider buying one of these shirts from various ethical sources online. More options include visiting one of these feminist bookstores, buying new reads from one of these feminist zine distros, support a girl-band by purchasing their music... so many options!
Find A Local Women's Health Clinic To Defend On Saturday
Educate yourself on abortion and reproductive rights, and then look up your local clinics. Most clinics perform abortions on Saturday mornings. The anti-choice movement knows this, which is why they tend to come out in droves at the start of the weekend with their graphic posters and hate-mongering. An awesome thing to do, if you're down for it, is to commit to becoming a clinic defender/clinic escort. Contact the clinic to see if they can put you in touch with your local escort group or try Google. You can also read first-person accounts of what it’s like to be a clinic escort. Prepare yourself and then show up the next day and start making a difference.
Write To Your Representatives
Make a list of all the things you’re happy (and pissed off about) that you might want to relay to your local representatives: equal pay for women, transgender rights, reproductive rights, maternity leave, healthcare, climate change, etc. Then write out some letters and send them over. Send them via e-mail or go old school and drop them off at the post office. Make sure they hear your voice. Personalize the hell out of it so you stand out. Make them listen.
And Finally, Recognize The Class Privilege Of Boycotting Black Friday
Hear me out. I’m all about hitting ‘em where it hurts, and I do believe that boycotting Black Friday can be beneficial to the cause. However, I also understand that many families are hurting and would love nothing more than to buy their kid a doll or a bike or a damn Lego set for the holidays (no matter what holidays they celebrate). So while yes, there are plenty of feminist things we can do to support workers, support the Black Lives Matter movement, support demolishing the absurdity of hyper-capitalism, I would not dare judge a poor mother trudging over to buy her kid a few toys and necessities on Black Friday because they’re hoping for a way to stretch their few dollars. If you really want others to partake in boycotting Black Friday without class shaming, find shops that are having good deals but aren’t one of the main big-box retailers and give the list to your friends who plan to shop that day practically out of necessity.
Images: otto yamamoto/Flickr; Giphy(6); Wifflegif(3)