How activism became seriously cool | GLAMOUR

It had been a record-hot summer in Sweden, when a pigtailed schoolgirl by the name of Greta Thunberg decided to skip school and sit on the cobblestones outside the Swedish parliament in Stockholm for a solitary protest. Thunberg was alone in her mission, but her hand-made sign daubed with red paint made her motives unmistakably clear: Skolstrejk för Klimatet (school strike for the climate). From that Friday onwards, Thunberg began to return to the same spot for a weekly strike, until the government took notice of her demands to reduce global carbon emissions, environmental destruction, and climate change.

Nine months later, and Thunberg is no longer an unknown teenager attempting to save the planet. The 16-year-old climate activist has kickstarted an international youth movement against climate change, galvanising tens of thousands of young people in the UK, Australia, Germany and Japan to walk out of school and join her #FridaysforFuture environmental protests. On 15 March 2019, an estimated 1.4 million students answered her call for action, taking to the street in 112 countries around the world to strike for the climate.

There’s no denying that even ten years ago, it would have been impossible to rally the scale of young people involved in Skolstrejk för Klimatet. Because somewhere along the way, activism became deeply uncool. The spirit of the 60s and 70s, when people demanded civil rights, climate action and sexual revolution lost steam, and in its place, a profound and deep-seated aversion to civil disobedience took hold. Activists were portrayed as a threat to public order, while feminists took the brunt of media hatred, earning the stereotype of angry, bra-burners that persists to this day. By all accounts, activism was considered A Very Bad Thing.

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