Doing Boycotts Right


Got boycott fatigue? I know I do.

Look: boycotts work. At least some of the time. Bill O’Reilly is still off the air (mostly). And witness the success of Sleeping Giants.

The thing is, it can be really hard to keep up with everyone we’re supposed to be boycotting (check out the list at #GrabYourWallet and Grab-Your-Wallet if you don’t believe me). And the proliferation of boycotts has made them less effective, since we can’t all remember everyone we’re supposed to be boycotting, or why.

Meanwhile, it’s impossible to boycott everything that might have any connection to anyone or anything that’s objectionable, because no one’s hands are completely clean.

“These goods are sustainably produced, but has the company achieved pay equity?”

“This firm has done a great job of promoting diverse leadership, but they also do business with Israel.”

“I heard I should boycott products with palm oil, because the farming practices are bad for orangutans, but it’s IN EVERYTHING.”

“Georgia’s trying to legislate a draconian abortion ban, and we were all down with boycotting North Carolina over its anti-trans bathroom bill, but Stacey Abrams says not to, so I don’t know what to do.”

Boycotts: whatever you’re doing, you’re probably doing it wrong.

My spouse has come up with a pretty solid framework: focus on institutions more than individuals, and on objectionable behavior that’s made part of company policy, not just that someone involved with the company happens to believe.

It’s Chick-fil-A versus Home Depot.

Chick-fil-A is run by a homophobe. Home Depot’s retired co-founder supports TrumPutin. Both are bad.

But Chick-fil-A gives money at the corporate foundation level to funding anti-LGBT work. Bernie Marcus is no longer at Home Depot and has given money personally to TrumPutin-supporting PACs.

Spouse’s position? No Chick-fil-A sandwiches, but yes to getting tools at Home Depot. Which makes sense to me.

(Relatedly, I remember when we were SUPPOSED to go to Home Depot rather than Lowe’s because Lowe’s personnel policies were anti-LGBT, while Home Depot’s were LGBT-friendly. Or you can skip them both in favor of your locally-owned neighborhood hardware store. But I digress.)

(Oh, and for what it’s worth, the Chick-fil-A boycott seems to have backfired.)

Image found here (and it’s worth clicking the link, because the writer raises some additional good points on the efficacy, or lack thereof, of boycotts).

Like what you read? Follow me on Twitter @MrsWhatsit1.

One response to “Doing Boycotts Right

  1. Thank you for this good discussion; I often struggle with this. One thing I do try to do is to be public about any boycotting I do. Messages on Twitter with the company name and a discussion of why you won’t buy from them until they, oh, stop advertising on Tucker Carlson seem more effective to me than just not buying from them. Ditto emails or letters to the CEO.

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