Poking the bear: Feminist online activism disrupting conservative power


  • Rusa Jeremic George Brown College, Toronto Social Justice Education, UofT/OISE




This is the time for a critical digital pedagogy that simultaneously recognizes the potential inherent in social media to challenge power and build movements alongside the dangers lurking in a fake news era that spreads hate, division and distraction. This paper explores how Canadian digital feminist activists challenged conservative power over three federal elections with innovative creativity using what I have termed, critical pedagogical humour, resulting in a spontaneous online social movement that helped oust the Prime Minister. Using a social-justice qualitative mixed-methods approach, this study informs online political practice and pedagogy drawing three conclusions: 1) Social media makes responsive activism possible, lifting most barriers, and enabling risk-taking; 2) Social justice struggles rely on informal education based on truth-telling, rooted in values and deliberately using humour for its innocuous delivery that disarms and opens doors and; 3) Social media provides unique opportunities to respond to events in real-time while creating a historical record documenting government activity and resistance.

Author Biography

Rusa Jeremic, George Brown College, Toronto Social Justice Education, UofT/OISE

Rusa Jeremic is a Professor at a local city college in Toronto, Canada. She teaches Human Rights, community organizing and social activism. She is currently completing her PhD (expected Fall 2019) in Social Justice Education at University of Toronto/OISE on digital activism, social movement building and critical digital pedagogy. This research was made possible through a CGS Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Grant.