During the winter of 2014, fur was everywhere, which made a bad winter even worse for people who care about animals. In urban areas, activists could easily cross paths with hundreds of fur wearers each day – leaving some of us feeling frustrated, helpless and hopeless.
So what do we say, if anything, to people wearing fur in 2015? Does saying nothing and turning a blind eye make us complicit? Author Jonathan Safran Foer once stated, “Not responding is a response – we are equally responsible for what we don’t do.”
But what is the most effective approach with fur wearers? Starting a dialog by asking if the fur is real? Shaming them with the hope that they’ll be skittish about wearing fur in the future? Any discomfort experienced by the people we address pales in comparison to the agony experienced by the animals who they are wearing.
I use several different approaches with the hope that one will emerge as the most effective. When I say, “I love your coat! I hate animals too,” some people respond by laughing nervously. One woman asked if I was being “nasty,” which opened the door to a dialog. She said she “couldn’t argue” with my points but that she also couldn’t give up her “vintage” fur. In the end, I used flattery with her in an attempt to effect change: “I’m sorry, ma’am, but a glamorous woman like you wearing fur encourages others to do the same.” (P.S. Nothing about her was glamorous).
Sometimes I say, “OH MY GOD. Your coat looks just like my dog” with a nonjudgmental, matter of fact tone. Invariably, people respond with a terrified “No” as if I actually thought that they were wearing my dog. By referencing a dog, my hope is to help people connect the dots between companion animals and those used for fur.
Last winter, I placed a few “I am an asshole. I wear fur” stickers on people after “accidentally” stumbling and falling into them. “I’m so sorry! I must have tripped on something.” I need to get more of those.
PETA, which is still regarded by some as the red paint throwers, suggests a polite approach that could trigger a conversation. They’ve even created an instructional video:
What do you do, and do you think it’s effective?