Protests outside of the Supreme Court after it overturned Roe v. Wade
- After Roe v. Wade was overturned, people are acting with one thing they can control: their wallets.
- Some are trying to “keep money out of the economy,” or skip shopping at places like Walmart.
- People seem to be more interested in growing their own food after the decision, one gardening consultant said.
Jane Long, 33, usually spends just over $700 every two weeks on groceries. Before, she was spending that money at Walmart.
But after the Supreme Court overturned the constitutional right to an abortion, Long — who works as a stay-at-home mother and lives hours away from the nearest in-person protest — is mounting her own form of protest: She’s only going to shop locally.
“There’s so many benefits to shopping locally in your area. Long term, it’s something that we should do,” Long said. “But affecting revenue streams for big companies who put all this money into politics, eventually if enough people did it, it would cause a shift and a change.”
Long is mother of two, and has also had two induced miscarriages in the second trimester, both of which required abortions. She said without them she wouldn’t be alive.
Courtesy of Jane Long
Long is one of the many Americans who are feeling disillusioned with the current state of the country. With no policy in sight to codify Roe v. Wade, some are taking matters into their own hands, and exerting power over what they can control: Their wallets.
With the rise of social media, boycotts have become more effective and more plentiful, according to Caroline Heldman, the department chair of critical theory and social justice at Occidental College and the author of a book on the subject.
“Major corporations now have divisions that respond to the business threat of potential boycotts as a matter of course, and cause marketing expenditures have skyrocketed,” Heldman said. “For most of US history, most corporations sat on the political sidelines because they could. Today, there is much more public pressure to take political positions.”
An Insider investigation found that a slew of big companies — including Walmart, Amazon, and AT&T — have poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into lawmakers who are responsible for “trigger laws.”
“This is a capitalist country,” Long said. “Don’t let bad people have the thing that they want from you the most.”
‘People really find power in their dollar’
Shelbi Orme, a millennial content creator, first heard about the idea of an economic boycott in response to the Supreme Court’s decision on Roe v. Wade on TikTok.
As a sustainability expert, Orme is no stranger to the idea of a boycott or spending strategically — it’s something that environmentalists have been doing for “decades.”
“Essentially what we’re seeing now, after Roe v. Wade, is people waking up to realize not only do these multibillion dollar corporations hold up this system that we live in that is clearly corrupt, but they’re also literally giving money to politicians to fund things that are in direct conflict with our rights,” Orme said.
Courtesy of Shelbi Orme
Throughout her years as a content creator, Orme has noticed that “people really find power in their dollar.” Especially with decisions like Citizens United, which beefed up “corporate personhood” and allowed firms to pour money into political campaigns.
“It really feels like, especially in this day and age in the culture, that’s the only power we possess — at least on a regular basis,” Orme said.
There’s a long history of Americans turning to consumer activism “when they lack power in formal political channels,” according to Heldman. That includes everything from the Boston Tea Party to the wide variety of boycotts leading up to the Civil Rights Act.
The Supreme Court’s recent rulings “run against majority public opinion,” Heldman said. That includes the overturn of Roe, where, according to a Gallup poll, 58% of Americans did not want it overturned.
“Given the partisan stalemate in the Senate and the limited power of the President to enact policy, many Americans are feeling profoundly powerless,” Heldman said. “They are turning to consumer activism as a political tool because the political system is failing to represent their interests.”
From Roe V. Wade to a vegetable garden
When people lose rights, “they start looking for ways to claw back any amount of independence and control,” said Alliyah Perry, a farmer in Washington state. “And one of the biggest ways is their food.”
Bartering can help bring the feeling of control back, Perry said, though she noted you’re technically supposed to pay taxes on bartering. Growing food and trading goods are parts of the “homesteader” lifestyle Perry espouses, which can be thought of as social or political dissent, according to a 2016 dissertation by Jordan Travis Radke from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Perry is also a gardening consultant. She said in June, she started seeing an uptick in interest from younger women in their 20s and 30s. Two prospective clients implied to her that the Roe V. Wade decision had motivated them to get into gardening, she said. People want to “disconnect and like not rely so much on the system in general,” she added.
Kelly Krugman is one of them. A millennial who works in public relations and moonlights as a progressive TikToker, she’s been railing against corporate power for years including participating in Occupy Wall Street in Los Angeles.
After Roe v. Wade was overturned, Krugman made a video criticizing the futility of what some TikTokers have called “No Buy July,” aka reducing or stopping spending from July 3-5 to protest abortion restrictions. A user in the comments section introduced her to Progressive Shopper, which breaks down brands’ political contributions.
@kelsokru Keep your $… forever. Support local women/lgbtq/bipoc owned businsss #roevwade #strike #womensrights #reproductiverights #scotus ♬ Paris – 斌杨Remix
“You start to wonder: ‘Why am I contributing, and who am I contributing to,” she said. “It all comes back to money.”
She looked up places she shops and eats at on Progressive Shopper. Now, Krugman is skipping the Doritos taco from Taco Bell she ate all through her pregnancies and doing most of her shopping at Costco, which she said has a good record on political donations and employee and benefits. She said her main hope is that boycotts will help people communicate their opinions with companies.
Krugman is also looking into growing her own food.
“Why doesn’t every person know how to grow a tomato?” Krugman said. “Most of us are sitting on some sort of land where we could grow things.”
Heldman thinks that consumer activism “will play a key role” in politics in the coming years, especially as Americans “become frustrated with a political system that fails to reflect majority rule.”
“I don’t see us being able to take down a monster like Amazon,” Orme, the sustainability expert, said. “I don’t think that the US or just in general Western culture is willing to be uncomfortable long enough to make a change. So, at the end of the day, really what we’re hoping for is to get just enough people to care, to get politicians to listen to us.”