Read This, Not That: Misogyny in the Occupy Movement
Submitted by Liz Cambron.
Does OWS, like other social movements before it, have a problem with women? From being shut out of leadership positions, to reports of rape at the Zuccotti campsite, Sarah Seltzer, writing for The Nation, investigates the problem and OWS’ laudable efforts to correct it:
For many women in the movement, their frustration lies with the world outside Zuccotti. The video “Hot Chicks of Occupy Wall Street” grossly objectified a number of female activists, and Time magazine asked whether women were contributing to the #OWS Twitter hashtag, despite dozens of female journalists and protesters’ participation.
The dozen women I spoke to for this story—most of them queer-identified and/or women of color—have witnessed varying amounts of offensive behavior, such as unwanted touching or use of casually misogynist language, within the movement. And they also differ as to the extent to which they think they can elbow the “isms” out of their space. But for the most part they share a defiant hope; just maybe, they say, for once, a mobilization for social change can get it right: maintain a broad base of support, connect the dots between different kinds of injustice and achieve staying power. Their fervent wish is that the movement’s careful attention to inclusive structure, including “safe space” caucuses and working groups and a commitment to anti-oppression training, means not that misogyny will vanish altogether but rather that diverse voices will remain a core part of the movement.
On a side note:
Elevating the voices of women and people of color, she says, isn’t about “identity politics” but about sustainability, building “a viable meaningful protest against the hegemony of the rich.”
It kinda bums me out that identity politics is seen as a dirty word by so many people. That whole “identity politics ruined the left” narrative (also referenced in this article) is such bullshit, IMO.
Anyway, that doesn’t invalidate the work these people are doing to make OWS more inclusive, regardless. I think it just highlights the uphill struggle exacerbated by that sort of framing.
in one of my classes, we had some women from Occupy PDX come in and talk about the movement and the problems it has with women. They told a story about how they (and other occupy cities) had come up with numbers that showed that walking around in groups of 6 made them safer (less likely to get catcalled, more likely to get heard in GAs, etc). They called it “grabbing their sixpack before hitting the street”.
You know what? I think that the idea of “grabbing your sixpack before hitting the street” is one of the best phrases I’ve encountered in awhile.