Sunday, November 13, 2016

The Safety Pin Idea

In my day you used a safety-pin to fasten a diaper. A really good safety-pin had a hard plastic head made of pink or blue, maybe yellow.

  1. A patient asked me, What's up with the safety pin? (The one on my blouse). I answered that it was a solidarity thing with minorities, people who are at risk. Then I remembered the Holocaust and that story. . . 

  1. Martin Niemöller

    In Germany, they came first for the Communists, And I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist; And then they came for the trade unionists, And I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist; And then they came for the Jews, And I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew; And then . . . they came for me . . .
    Should we be worried, fearful that the American way of life, liberty and justice for all, will disappear? Could America become more like Germany in the late nineteen-thirties and forties, or Russia, ruled by one leader, one party? 

    Rather than worry, some have taken to wearing safety pins. Those who understand this intervention like it because it is a way to communicate to vulnerable populations, to reach out. It is designed to help people feel safe. There is safety in numbers.

    Therapists like anything that fosters a sense of security and safety, anything that reduces anxiety. These little bits of hardware even have the word safety as a root.  

    It started in the United Kingdom last summer with Brexit. To cope with the Brexit crisis, those who lived in the UK wishing to show solidarity with immigrants, poked them into their clothes. Like the colorful rubber bracelets people wear when they support research for cancer, or back in the days of the Vietnam War, when wearing a black armband meant you wanted the USA out of the Southeast (the black armband a symbol of mourning), the safety pin is more than a just a fashion statement. 

    It is a fastening together of humankind, implies support for the differently-abled, victims of racism, those who have to watch out for their physical and psychological safety due to sexism, homophobia, religious discrimination, ageism, any of those ugly isms

    Historically, Americans, when stressed about social policies (look up Poor Laws) have turned to their British role-models for advice. 

    The best headline during the Brexit safety pin episode had to be Safety-pins Puncturing Post-Brexit Racism. Make it so, here in America.

    Many, many Americans are panicked about Mr. Trump's victory, worry that he will turn back the social progress of the last few decades. It is impossible to ignore the emotional atmosphere in the country, the reaction to the election hasn't let up. The days of American Political Angst started on November 9, 2016, with that big surprise, regime change. 
    Or as people are calling it, eleven-nine.
     A tweet by Bex Tayor-Klaus:   My  shows I will protect those who feel in danger bc of gender, sexuality, race, disability, religion, etc. You are safe with me.
    They lined up in Washington and New York to protest the election, to tell President-Elect Trump that they feared for the lives, the futures of their friends. The protests were loosely organized, under a thousand angry, scared souls. But better organization, better demonstrations, we might imagine, will follow. 

    We have reason to believe that this isn't irrational panic. There have been over 200 incidents of election-related harassment and intimidation recorded by the Southern Poverty Law Center, in the first three days post-election.  They even occurred in the VP-Elect's hometown.  Chants of Build That Wall echoed during lunch at a Michigan school, and a swastika decorated a storefront in South Philadelphia

    This isn't the transition some of us hoped for; it is more like the one we expected and feared.

    Thus Americans, worried that the worst is yet to come, have followed their European cousins with the safety pin intervention. 

    President-Elect Trump and Vice President-Elect Pence should put one on. It can be gold. This would reassure the American public. 

    The President-Elect could tweet about it. Tweeting is addictive, in a good way, because tweeters express their negative emotions, yet 99% of the time, nobody cares. But if he tweets, everyone cares. 

    Twitter's WifeOnTheVerge tells us what it means. This has gone viral. 

    It makes sense. Holding things together is a safety pin's raison d'etre, if only the hems of skirts, and diapers. People vow not to let go of their friends, not to abandon those in fear of being cast-off, sent to another country having committed no crime other than being themselves. So the safety pin is a symbolic coping strategy, works with any wardrobe. See the latest in fashion examples.

    The President-Elect could sell them in different colors, as long as he doesn't make too big a profit. 

    But probably that won't happen; he won't get on board. He might even respond with a negative comment, as opposed to one that reassures. Still, some of us hope he can rise above the pre-election negative verbiage, now that he is the declared winner. 

    He should know, however, that there are likely to be protests, that people might come out in droves, fill the city streets, shut down government buildings, when he puts policies into place that turn back the hands of time. 

    We might see the 
     National Guard again. How strange is that?

    It won't be like the 5 million in Chicago who came out when the Cubs won the World Series. Now that was a rally, but a victory rally, not one communicating anything to anyone except good cheer. The sheer numbers in the picture below show us how, when millions of like-minded people get together, (and wear the same colors) it can be a thing of beauty. The rallies to come are more likely to be demonstrations of civil disobedience, and they might not be so pretty. 

    Even if the President-Elect doesn't wear the safety-pin, that little piece of nearly extinct hardware that saves us from embarrassment when something tears, and once held diapers together on babies,  

    At least one of us will. 
    The safety-pin on a doctor's blouse




Mound Builder said...

I've got mixed feelings about the safety pin. On the one hand, I think there are a lot of people who feel upset, who want to do something to make it clear that they don't support racism and sexism and homophobia. The safety pin is easy and it makes folks less invisible to each other. On the other hand, that may not have the intended effect. It may not make people who are marginalized feel safe. I've had conversations with a couple of African American friends who've been pretty blunt about it... they've got a lot of history of having reasons not to feel safe with just any white person. So the fact that a white stranger is wearing a safety pin would not make a black person feel safer just by virtue of standing closer.

I find sometimes these days that I wish I had some quick way of letting other people--whether white or in a minority/marginalized group--know that I did not vote for Trump. I guess a safety pin might indicate that.

therapydoc said...

I was shocked that so many had no idea that it meant anything other than fastening where a button went astray.

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