The beginnings of the term originate from Melissa McEwan, blogmistress of Shakesville, in a post where she said:
Today is the final day of the 16 Days of Action Against Gender Violence, during which I suppose I have blogged exactly as often as always about violence against women, in America and abroad. Sometimes it feels like it's all I ever write about; sometimes it feels like I can't possibly write about it enough to do the issue justice; often, those feelings exist within me simultaneously. All I ever do is try to empty the sea with this teaspoon; all I can do is keep trying to empty the sea with this teaspoon.
But the idea has taken on a life of its own and grown since that inception. Teaspoon Theory is one of the defining codes by which I live my life. I define Teaspoon Theory for myself as thus:
On their own, the little things we do each day to fight the forces of injustice, hate, and bigotry, are as futile as trying to empty the ocean with a teaspoon, one scoop at a time. But each person has a teaspoon they can wield, for good or for ill, and if we can inspire enough people to use enough teaspoons...eventually, the ocean will be a lake, then a pond, and eventually a slightly damp valley. Teaspoons will be what saves the world.
An email I send to my Congressperson is a teaspoon. A reply to an obnoxiously racist forward that lands in my email box is a teaspoon. A comment on a beauty blog, asking the blogger not to review AHAVA products, is a teaspoon. Being the visible feminist in class, drawing ire away from those whose feminism is still nascent and too delicate to withstand ridicule, is a teaspoon. Asking my brother for the nth time not to say "That's so lame" is a teaspoon. Each and every post I put up on this blog is a teaspoon.
Some teaspoons are easy to deploy, like a letter to a Congressperson. Some are terrifying, like calling your father out over a racist joke. Teaspooning is exhausting, often, and sometimes I wonder why I do it still. But then I remember. My teaspoon is small, but it is not alone. And in conjunction with the Law of Non-Neutrality (aka All In), choosing not to raise my teaspoon is choosing to uphold the status quo. How can I do anything but rally and teaspoon forth again?