If you're strongly connected to the blogging infertility community, you may have heard about how a certain animal rights group (whose name I refuse to mention in my blog) started an offensive campaign, linking National Infertility Awareness Week, vasectomies, and the neutering or spaying of dogs and cats. In short, they were offering a free vasectomy "in honor" of National Infertility Awareness Week to any man who gets his animal fixed.
There are so many things that were wrong with this campaign. So many. I struggled with writing a blog myself on the topic because 1) I didn't want to bring them more media attention (which was their main goal, after all), 2) I was so angry I couldn't think straight, and 3) I didn't want to bring them more media attention. (Ya, I know I repeated that reason twice. It was a big one for me.)
So I'm not going to write any more about they-who-may-not-be-named. Instead, I want to tell you about the amazing power of the infertility blogging community.
Keiko Zoll, whose advocacy efforts I've written about before , started an online petition against the mention of National Infertility Awareness Week in the animal rights group's contest. That petition eventually garnered some 2,200 signatures in three days.
Keiko encouraged other fertility challenged bloggers to write open letters and for all the fertility challenged (and their loved ones) to write emails directly to the head of the unmentionable animal group. She provided phone numbers and encouraged people to call again and again, until they got through and voiced their opinion.
She also networked with many in the fertility world to let our objections be heard and known, including RESOLVE, who released an official press statement on the matter.
Amazingly - and it really is amazing, if you ask me, considering who the offender was - Keiko's and the fertility community's efforts worked - the offensive mentioning of National Infertility Awareness Week was removed. The fertility community won.
This is huge, my friends. Huge.
Many would say that a campaign against this group would never make a difference. (They are known for offensive campaigns - it's their specialty, you might say.) Some may say the group could care less about emails, petitions, or phone calls. Some might say the efforts were more for our own dignity, and not likely to lead to results.
And yet, the advocacy actions taken by the fertility community did get results.
You may think that your email, your signature on an online petition, or your blog doesn't make a difference. You may think you are just one little person in a world of billions. But your voice does matter. Your emails, letters, and phone calls do make a difference, especially when combined with others in a mass wave of passion.
The question right now on my mind is, if advocacy can make a difference with a group like this, what kind of difference might it make on lawmakers, who do care about your opinions? (After all, it's your vote that keeps them in office. They actually do care about what you think.)
If you're inspired by the fertility community's win against they-who-may-not-be-named, I want to encourage you to attend Advocacy Day in Washington, DC, on May 5th, 2011. If you can't be in Washington, DC, there are local ways you can get involved. You can learn more about this important day, and how to get involved, from the RESOLVE website.
You may not think your presence or your blog or your letter or your phone call matters. But it does. It really, really does.
Oh, and WAY TO GO, Keiko. I think I speak for the entire fertility community when I say we are lucky to have you. Thank you for being an inspiration to all of us. Thank you for showing us that it's possible to make a difference.
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