21st century protest: new methods, new words

by Liz Walter

What would Gandhi have made of glitterbombing? This form of protest – a curious mixture of the high-spirited and the serious, the comic and the aggressive – consists of throwing handfuls of glitter at whoever has caused the protester’s anger. Glitterbombing has been aimed mostly at those accused of homophobia, and most of the recent US Republican presidential candidates have now been glitterbombed at one time or another. The tactic has also been used by Occupy Wall Street protesters.

Another, rather more benign, form of bombing is yarn bombing, a protest not against bankers or politicians, but against drabness and dreariness. Also known as knit graffiti, it involves leaving knitted objects such as toy animals in public places, or wrapping anything from road signs to cars to telephone kiosks in brightly coloured knitted covers. Started in Texas, the craze was brought to London by a woman called Lauren O’Farrell, who re-christened it yarnstorming, not liking the connotations of the term ‘bombing’. O’Farrell took up knitting as a means of distraction while undergoing cancer treatment, and celebrated her all-clear by tying an enormous scarf around the lions of Trafalgar Square. Continue reading “21st century protest: new methods, new words”