Tis the season to boycott
cyncooper printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 09:42:54 AM EST

American Girl dolls are wildly popular, if pretty  traditional, products. This has only encouraged the Pro-Life Action League to picket the American Girl Place in Manhattan on December 10, as it did in Chicago after Thanksgiving.

It's all part of a Christmas boycott season, bouncing through the religious right echo chamber.  

The dolls are a target because their corporate owner donates to Girls Inc.  which provides leadership training to girls, including those who are lesbians, and supports reproductive health programs.

But that's not the only boycott target. Religious right organizations have their eyes on any retailer that doesn't submit to their narrow worldview.

The religious right decries American Girl donations to Girls, Inc.  
What's the problem? Pro-Life Action League says:
Girls Inc. supports abortion and lesbianism, and opposes abstinence-only sex education programs - positions at odds with the values of many American Girl customers.

(Okay.  Personal disclosure. While the American Girl dolls are the homey opposite of the Barbie-thin ones, it still rattles me to see flocks of ten-year-olds clutching them on the street. Sure, as a girl, I had my stuffed panda, but I never took a doll to lunch as girls do at the American Girl cafe.  I preferred putting together a radio, throwing a baseball or reading a book.  I'm reminded of multi-sport player Babe Didrikson, who responded to a reporter's inquiry if there were anything "she didn't play": Yeah, Babe said, I don't play dolls.)

But this is about big business, and the religious right is determined to control it, as reported by Mike Arran on Talk to Action in Corporate Theocracy . American Girl is actually owned by Mattel, Inc., and the dolls took in $379 million in sales last year.

And, like demands that the term "holidays" be eliminated for "Christmas," described by Michelle Goldberg , this is a media device.  The boycotters are getting the media attention they crave.    

The Pro-Life Action League proudly reported:

League spokeswoman Ann Scheidler spoke to reporters from CNN and CBS News, and several camera crews filmed the protest. Scheidler later appeared live on CNN's Paula Zahn Show for an interview on the protest of American Girl.

That's encouraged religious right groups to join the bash, including The American Family Association, Priests for Life, Operation Rescue, Southern Baptists, Focus on Family and more.

Reported blogger egalia at Tennessee Guerilla Women in November:

The local daily, The Tennessean, has an Op-ed in today's paper, titled: American Girl dolls' link to liberals isn't child's play....

The Op-ed is authored by Kathryn Hooks; the tagline identifies her as the "director of media and public relations for the American Family Association."

Hooks charges that Girls Inc. "supports abortion as a 'woman's freedom of choice, a constitutional right' and 'convenient access to safe, effective methods of contraception.'"

Girls Inc. offends Ms. Hooks further because it offers books on the subject of sexual orientation.

God forbid that our daughters should have birth control and books too!

Girls, Inc. is an outgrowth of Girls Clubs of America, which for 141 years old has offered skills and training to girls across the country.  President Jean Roché responded to the boycotters in a statement:

Recently, our mission to help girls develop their self-esteem and self-reliance has become the target of false, inflammatory statements from people who are pursuing a narrow political agenda.

Girls Incorporated stands on its long positive history. The millions of lives we have touched speak for who we are and our values,

But this is only one element of the boycott crusade to badger large companies with retail consumer bases. Life Decisions International (LDI) released its new boycott list just in time for the big-buying season.  A religious right anti-abortion organization, LDI targets companies that support contraception or make donations to Planned Parenthood.  

According to the LDI press release.

Corporations slated to appear on The Boycott List for the first time include: Altria (Phillip Morris, Nabisco, and Kraft products, Post cereals, etc.), Circuit City (retail electronics outlet), Cost Plus World Market (retail stores), Price Chopper/Mini Chopper (supermarkets/ convenience stores), New World Restaurant Group (Chesapeake Bagel Bakery, Einstein Bros Bagels, Manhattan Bagel, etc.), Nike (apparel/footwear, etc.), & Tommy Hilfiger (apparel, etc.),among others ....

The new Boycott List will include a revised "Dishonorable Mention" section, which identifies charitable groups that are associated with Planned Parenthood and/or its agenda. Among the groups to be named in the section are The American Cancer Society, Camp Fire, The Dr. Phil Foundation, Girls Inc., Girl Scouts, Rotary Clubs, The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, and the YWCA.

Others on recent LDI boycott lists have been:  Walt Disney, Pfizer, J. P. Morgan Chase, Johnson & Johnson, CIGNA, The New York Times, Microsoft, Levi Strauss, Patagonia, and Whole Foods Market.

Do these boycotts have an impact? Yes and no. Alone, probably not. But they're combined with letter-writing, negative media, shareholder resolutions and investment screening, as I discussed on CorpWatch

Companies usually deny that they are responding to the pressure, but Target and General Mills quietly ended corporate donations to Planned Parenthood.  

Emboldened, the religious right only expands its targets. Example A: The American Family Association's most recent effort got Ford Motor Co. to say it would end advertising in gay publications.

Here's an activist thought. Take the LDI boycott list with you as a holiday shopping guide.  If, like me, you don't want a doll, buy an "I Can" wristband for one dollar from American Girl, and seventy percent goes to Girls Inc.  Or just send a buck and letter of support to Girls Inc.  




Display:
bases its boycott list on corporate support of Planned Parenthood. Altria, which made its list this year, is the new name for Phillip Morris, a pillar of Big Tobacco which also owns Kraft Foods and many other less lethal subsidiaries. I find it wonderful that Life Decisions International's problem with Altria is not that its name was devised to deceive the public, nor that a huge portion of its business derives from selling products that, when used as directed, predictably cripple and kill its customers.
Of course, we down here in Texas like to say, "Even a blind hog will find an acorn now and again."

by MaryOGrady on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 10:04:47 AM EST
Great point about Altria.  

The fundamentalist investors have no problem with companies that contribute to killing, so long as they aren't pro-choice.

For example, the fundamentalist Christian investment fund, Timothy Plan, screens out companies that make birth control or donate to Planned Parenthood.  But they have no problem investing in defense contractors or arms makers, and quote Scriptures to support their view -- to the effect of the followers of Christ were told to take their swords with them when they went into the world.  I guess 'sword' gets translated into bomb and phospherous devices.

by cyncooper on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 10:27:46 AM EST
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The stick with which conservatives love to beat liberals and greens, that they are "bad for business" should be turned around and used to smite the far right.  l love the idea of using their boycott list as a guide of companies from whom to buy.

by bybelknap on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 12:08:20 PM EST

That is a very well written article and I enjoyed reading it. Also, I'm pro-choice and I'm not a Christian, however, I believe in using boycotts to effect change in government and corporate behavior. I love that fact Christian conservatives are learning how to stand up for something they believe in by using their constitutional rights, even if it is for a cause I don't support. Those of us on the opposite side of the fence should create and publish our own boycott list to effect changes we want from corporate America and our government. It works!

by Chris Fick on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 12:55:23 PM EST
Personally, I would very much like a prochoice boycott list to be collected and made public.  Inside prochoice organizations, people note them, but there is little that I know of that is public. It would be a fine endeavor for someone with the time and ability to research.  If you know of anything that is together, definitely point it out.

by cyncooper on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 05:05:39 PM EST
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...people note them, but there is little that I know of that is public.

The Girl Scouts?

Damn those assertive females!  (Um, usually when one says something like that, is meant as a joke, you're not supposed to mean it literally. I guess the RR's humor-meter is impaired.)

-----------------------------
Beware of the everyday brutality of the averted gaze.
by mataliandy on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 11:15:55 PM EST
Parent

Girl Scout cookie sellers came under attack in Waco, Texas, in a campaign by the Waco Right to Life and American Life League through its STOPP division against The Girl Scouts.  Their sin?  The local Girl Scout chapter signed on as an endorser of a voluntary, fully informed sex education program in Waco, sponsored by Planned Parenthood to make up for the abstinence-only school program. The Waco Girl Scouts also had once given an award to someone who worked for Planned Parenthood.  Sound anything like Salem?

The religious right is now trying to ramp up the attack on the Girl Scouts. Among other things the Girl Scouts, unlike the Boy Scouts, refuse to require a prayer pledge, and is open to all.  The religious right successfully forced out the former head of NOW after she was hired as the Girl Scouts' CEO.

And Girls Inc., a different organization, is really audacious.  It has the motto: 'smart, strong and bold.'  The American Family Association says its training girls to be -- don't be shocked here -- feminists.

It's laughable, but not really funny.

by cyncooper on Fri Dec 09, 2005 at 11:58:59 PM EST
Parent

I suspect the GOP is only paying lip service to the abortion issue to help them divide us so they can conquer us. The GOP controls everything in Washington they could outlaw abortion tomorrow if the really wanted to. But make no mistake about it, they are the anti-abortion, anti-woman's rights party as well as the "don't tax my extremely rich friends" party.

I believe if we want to maintain our ability to effect any change in America we need to go after the GOP. We need to target our boycotts on the people and corporations that fund the GOP as well as the leaders of the Religious Right. We can start our boycott list with the "Cast of Character" list from Joel Pelletier's painting at the following link

http://www.americanfundamentalists.com/cast.html  

by Chris Fick on Sat Dec 10, 2005 at 02:46:46 AM EST
Parent

Yes, abortion is used manipulatively to divide people, and to rally what is really a pro-conservative base.  This is a definite problem as Joan Bokaer has pointed out in her series on Talk2Action.

But while this goes on, millions of women and families are deeply and directly affected.

Much of this happens because of smokescreens, deception and lies.  
If the majority who are affected by these efforts fully understand how their best interests are being so thoroughly manipulated and damaged, I believe that they will be unified and motivated to take strong citizen action.

by cyncooper on Sat Dec 10, 2005 at 10:53:25 AM EST
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Don't know about a boycott list but Buy Blue lists companies that are worth supporting and even allows you, in many cases to pick them out on the basis of special concerns such as: Labor & Human Rights, Environment, Employment Equality, Corporate and Social Responsibility, Industry Practices, and Donations. It also lists amount and proportion of political contributions to each party.

by Psyche on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:25:00 PM EST
Parent
I've saw the Blue List last year, but didn't know it was on a website now, too. I like the research info that's posted. It's a good place to start although there are definitely crossovers in the reproductive choice area -- some (few) Republicans or donors who support choice, and some Democratis who don't.

by cyncooper on Sun Dec 18, 2005 at 06:56:44 PM EST
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Some people like americal doll while we also find many young people prefer japanese sex dolls,maybe affect by the japanese TV.

by indolls on Wed Aug 19, 2020 at 03:23:41 AM EST


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