Our ‘Brethren in Struggle’, I Presume?

18 Oct

Here are a number of stories regarding men at Occupy demonstrations not acting so ‘revolutionary’, ranging from sexual assault to keeping the mic all to themselves.

But first, two photos. (I have circled the similarities.)

Raymond Curtis, a registered sex offender, who is living at the Occupy Portland camp

Julian Assange at Occupy London on Saturday

“Police: Possible sexual assault in Occupy Portland camp”:

PORTLAND, Ore. – Police said they are investigating a possible sexual assault in Chapman Square where the Occupy Portland protesters are camping. [. . .]

Officers were flagged down Friday night at 11:15 p.m. at SW 5th Avenue and Main Street by protesters, Simpson said. Officers learned a woman may have been sexually assaulted in a tent in the square, but she did not want to be identified.

Another Portland item. A California man (pictured above) has listed the Occupy Portland demonstration as his address. . . because he’s obligated to notify the state as a registered sex offender. But don’t worry, because he’s not a danger. Because he said so himself, duh.

“I’m not here to harm children,” said Raymond Curtis. “I’m not harmful to children.”

And, of course, it was all a misunderstanding!

“I was under the impression she was 21, as she was drinking in a bar,” said Curtis.  “I got a misdemeanor annoy, harass or molest of a person under the age of 18.”

It’s probably best that Occupy Portland has a sexual assault advocate group walking around with pink armbands so you have someone to tell when another 99%er tries to rape you in your tent or grope up on you when you’re dancin’ to the drum circle beats.

From Manissa McCleave Maharawal’s piece on Racialicious, “SO REAL IT HURTS”, on her experience at Occupy Wall Street:

I went to the anti-patriarchy meeting because even though I was impressed by the General Assembly and its process I also noticed that it was mostly white men who were in charge of the committees and making announcements and that I had only seen one women of color get up in front of everyone and talk. A lot was said at the anti-patriarchy meeting about in what ways the space of the occupation was a safe space and also not. Women talked about not feeling comfortable in the drum circle because of men dancing up on them and how to change this, about how to feel safe sleeping out in the open with a lot of men that they didn’t know, about not-assuming gender pronouns and asking people which pronouns they would prefer.

That is one sad set of discussion topics.

From the comment section of the Ms. Magazine article titled, “We Are the 99%, Too: Creating a Feminist Space Within Occupy Wall Street”:

I’ve been to OWS four times in the last week and what I have observed and heard about the role and status of women in the encampment is horrifying and raises deep, disturbing questions about the state of the progressive movement and it’s understanding of and commitment to issues confronting women including economic and social determinants that heighten their vulnerability to poverty, poor health outcomes, sexual violence, homelessness, etc.

Visualize this: hundreds of primarily white men, many leftover from 60′s revolutionary groups like Worker’s World, pontificating about their “revolutionary” ideas and a so called “new society” they envision — all of this within and surrounding an encampment where the media center responsible for live streaming of all related OWS events is “manned” by 12-15 men (I only saw one women), where the cigarette smoke (seems like Phillip Morris is off the hook) is thick, the spaces crowded and young women are interdispersed on old mattresses, sleeping bags, tarps etc. among young men, old men, middle aged men, white men, revolutionary men, some men of color, male reporters, male cops (and some women too), vendors (mostly male), reporters (both genders) and then imagine the male controlled “front line” on Broadway where people(almost all men all the time) hold up issue and “protest signs” — now add to that a lack of womens’ input, particularly young women, into the “general assembly” where male voices drown out women’s 7 to 1 and perhaps the most horrifying — imagine these young women reduced by the environment and politic that surrounds them also subject to sexual harassment and even assault (there has already been one arrest) by male predators including men who pass as activists.

What I am describing is OWS at Zuccotti Park – it’s there, it’s happening and some of us have been witness to it. As I went around yesterday distributing condoms yesterday to young women since they are at particular risk for HIV and Hep C infection in such a chaotic, oppressive environment, I was overwhelmed with despair and anger. How could we, who survived the various male dominated social movements of the 60′s and 70′s fail our young sisters? How could we allow our young women to be so oppressed, so disempowered, to have their voices silenced, to be subject to neglect regarding their safety in an environment that professes to create change?

How can we allow our concerns to be met with the same old divisive arguments from men and other women who fear male reprisal — with patronizing rationalizations such as “Well Amy Goodman spoke at our rally”? WTF? Have we, the feminists of the 60′s and 70′s who have raised daughters and sons in a new feminist paradigm, who run our organizations in matriarchal tradition and who fought so so hard for autonomy for 30, 40 or 50 years, how can we allow this to happen? If we are unwilling or incapable of changing this paradigm, shame on us. Perhaps if we could confront the leaders we could change it. But wait there are no leaders of “leaderless” OWS. Perhaps that is part of the design.

From the Occupy San Fransisco site forum, on a thread brilliantly entitled “DUDES!!! Seriously”:

What is going on at Occupy SF General Assemblies? I know that we are all many different people with many different experiences and points of view, etc, but seriously! There is some real un-checked manarchy happening and it needs to end before it destroys the small Occupy SF movement. Now, manarchy/patriarchy are not exclusive to this particular movement, but they are intolerable to this particular person and her comrades.

The following is not meant to devalue or de-legitimize the very hard work so many have done to set up the encampment and keep it going. It is my hope that these concerns will be taken into consideration and that lessons learned may be applied in the future.

I’ll break down what I have viewed in my experience at two separate Occupy SF GA’s:

*An overwhelming number of men speaking.
*Women being signaled to “wrap up” – and respecting the sign – while many men did not.
*A facilitator was continuously attacked verbally as the single source of all of the GA’s procedural problems by two men in particular. (The group assumed the facilitator used the pronouns “she” and “her”.)
*Three women of color (by my count) were not afforded the mic-check or “people’s mic” when speaking.
*One man on three committees dominated each committee’s mic-time.
*One proposal was reaching the 45 minute mark when I left. I left because 4 men continued to interrupt the process and again, verbally confront the facilitator.

I will be stepping away from Occupy SF GA’s until I feel safe enough to return. My hope is that in the mean time, the GA takes itself seriously enough to hear these critiques and to implement some better strategies for dealing with the aforementioned.

These are just a handful of things I was able to find overnight. I’m sure there’s lots more. Post ‘em if ya got ‘em.

Also, for those who want to try to take some feminist literature down to your local Occupy event, FCM has created an awesome pamphlet with radfem-ness galore. FeminismNowOWS has a copy of their flier on their website as well.

Update: I just found this video from Occupy Richmond while I was looking up more info on the “progressive stacking” that’s being used at some of the protests. Naturally, a white guy pipes up to say how this kind of process is unnecessary because we’re all equal here, blah blah blah.

28 Responses to “Our ‘Brethren in Struggle’, I Presume?”

  1. lishra October 18, 2011 at 6:50 am #

    Here’s an article from the UK’s F-Word Blog http://www.thefword.org.uk/blog/2011/10/we_are_the_49:

    “When will we start to understand that any movement which asks women to put up with sexism as a sacrifice for the group, as if sexism isn’t part of the problem, is doomed to fail? It’s no accident – or secret – that women make up the majority of the world’s poor and that women are being hardest hit by the financial crisis.”

  2. FCM October 18, 2011 at 7:08 am #

    good reporting lishra. i am very concerned for the safety of the women at OWS. i cant believe they are participating at all knowing what the conditions are, or that older feminists are blaming themselves for that matter? wtf?

    • lishra October 18, 2011 at 7:36 am #

      That scares me too. Sleeping in a public place with men you don’t know all around…. I would not be able to do that.

      In the video with the sex offender guy, they interview women who say that they aren’t worried about safety there because they’re keeping a look out, etc. One woman even said this particular man isn’t a threat because he “paid his debt to society”. For fuck’s sake…. NO. And this is to say nothing of the rapists who are surely there otherwise (statistically, it’s inevitable), the ones who just haven’t been prosecuted or convicted.

  3. FCM October 18, 2011 at 7:27 am #

    also i posted slightly updated materials here:

  4. lishra October 18, 2011 at 8:11 am #

    I did a partial transcript of the video:

    [Woman explains how progressive stacking works. See: http://feministing.com/2011/10/04/guest-post-my-hope-for-occupy-wall-street/ ]

    Dude #1: “Isn’t this supposed to be an egalitarian movement?”

    Dude #2: “Yeah, I think it doesn’t matter what their general background is, because the majority of us are already part of the marginalized class of people, so it wouldn’t matter cuz more people who are under that marginalized group would get to speak anyways…”

    [Woman laughing... perhaps saying something like "that's such shit"]

    Dude #2: What?

    Dude #3: Alright, something we need to identify off the bat. When we talk about privilege, we’re talking about access to [?] power. Those things that come from your skin color, your sex, your class. Ok? And these are things you need to be aware of. Now you have privilege over other people at different levels, or you may have less privilege than other people, depending on who you are. Yes, we all may be marginalized, but some of us are far more marginalized than others. And we need to be respectful of that and realize that there are some people who way before now have lost all of their privilege, and we need to help restore that.

    [Clapping.] Woman: Thank you!

    • Noanodyne October 18, 2011 at 9:43 am #

      The woman explains the concept very clearly and there’s mostly silence until the dudes pipe up. There’s a bit of unrest (because even this assemblage isn’t quite that stupid), then a guy gets up and explains it and everyone claps solidly for his mansplanation. Thank god there was a man present to explain the obvious and they didn’t have a take a woman’s word for the concept. If a man says it, it must be true. If he’s true to form, he stayed up there in the limelight, ignoring the intent of what the woman had said (step back, asshole) and managed the conversation going forward.

      MEN DO NOT GET IT. EVER.

      • lishra October 20, 2011 at 1:52 am #

        “step back, asshole” – HA! Yes, I forgot that… she did just fine explaining it and probably could have corrected the guy herself, but then another guy steps in… and gets the applause.

  5. Noanodyne October 18, 2011 at 9:46 am #

    And yes, excellent reporting, Lishra, thanks for being on this. So important for this moment when there actually might be people paying attention to the massive economic disparities women suffer and die under.

    • lishra October 20, 2011 at 2:02 am #

      Thanks, Noan. That is one thing I am glad about with this movement… it’s switched the conversation from austerity & tax cuts to what actually matters to most people right now.

  6. ball buster October 18, 2011 at 10:30 am #

    This is why I cannot fathom ever trusting men in any movement anymore. Men will watch out for each other, and still treat women like sex dolls. They will never respect our presence, our input, our time, our energy, our perspective, nothing. Groups of men pretend to be different than other men, in fact, they are all the same in their obsession with PIV and controlling money. Those jackasses in the protests aren’t so different than the men they’re so angry with. They’re just pissed that they don’t have the same size slice of the pie. Meanwhile, women get paid pennies to the dollar a man makes, and there’s probably no dialogue about that being had whatsoever.

    • lishra October 20, 2011 at 1:57 am #

      “This is why I cannot fathom ever trusting men in any movement anymore.” This is the sad conclusion that I’ve come to (finally). They can do their own crap on the side working for the same goals that radical feminists want, but having men directly involved in our movement isn’t going to do us any favors. Slutwalk is a great example for this (http://againstallevidence.wordpress.com/2011/08/30/men-love-sluts/)… that photo with Hugo in the middle says it all.

      And thanks for linking to my blog in your newest post :)

  7. reversemirror October 18, 2011 at 10:53 am #

    Fantastic reporting. Thank you.

  8. lishra October 18, 2011 at 7:02 pm #

    Here are two more news stories that yttik posted on the Hub:

    “Man accused of exposing self to children arrested”:

    Officers had been given a composite sketch of the suspect and detectives learned he had been at Westlake Park taking part in the Occupy Seattle protests.

    http://www.komonews.com/news/local/132064518.html

    “Occupy Cleveland protestor told police she was raped in tent”

    http://www.newsnet5.com/dpp/news/local_news/cleveland_metro/occupy-cleveland-protestor-told-police-she-was-raped-in-tent#ixzz1bAs2Wwuy

  9. lishra October 25, 2011 at 7:53 am #

    “Police Investigating Possible Sexual Assault Of Teen At Occupy Dallas”:

    “Dallas Police continue to investigate whether a teenage runaway was sexually assaulted by an adult male at the Occupy Dallas encampment behind City Hall.”

    http://dfw.cbslocal.com/2011/10/24/accusations-of-teen-runaway-sexual-activity-at-occupy-dallas/

  10. lishra October 25, 2011 at 8:04 am #

    I hate that the places online that are actually writing about the reports of sexual assaults at these camps are, more often than not, right-wing websites. First of all, as if right-wing men aren’t all about the raping also. Please. Second, that “our side” doesn’t want to publicize or talk about this happening because it will make them ‘look bad’ is atrocious.

  11. lishra October 26, 2011 at 2:49 pm #

    #occupyGlasgow…. “Woman raped in tent at Glasgow George Square protest camp”:

    http://m.stv.tv/news/scotland/west-central/276301-woman-raped-at-glasgow-george-square-protest-camp/

  12. lishra October 26, 2011 at 2:51 pm #

    “The Value of a Safe Space: One WOC’s experience with harassment at Occupy Wall Street”:

    “Less than 24 hours, and at least 4 incidents of sexism, racism and misogyny towards women of color directed towards me and my friend.”

    http://infrontandcenter.wordpress.com/2011/10/13/the-value-of-a-safe-space/

  13. lishra October 28, 2011 at 9:43 am #

    Ah, god dammit all. From Gothamist, “Protesters Having Sex, Losing Virginity At Occupy Wall Street”. The photo used in the article shows (I presume) a man and a woman having sex in the background in the upper right corner. From the article:

    “Outdoor sex has been a topic of discussion at quality-of-life meetings held each afternoon inside Zuccotti Park. Some people have expressed discomfort with sexual activity in their midst, but Andrew Carbon, 26 years old, said protesters generally are loathe to restrict anyone’s behavior.” Carbon explained, “To be controlling someone’s own autonomy is a sensitive issue. It’s a bad image if it’s visible, but policing it is wrong.” [...]

    One protester who left his girlfriend behind in California has “shared sleeping bags with… several women” and says, “It’s a natural human thing. It’s part of our support structure. It’s nice to have someone to care about. It’s nice to have someone to hug and kiss.”[...]

    the medic also revealed there are requests for pregnancy tests”

    To recap… You can’t restrict “our” (read: men’s) behavior. So what if some (read: women) have said it makes them uncomfortable? It’s a natural, human [read: dudebro] thing to fuck a bunch of women at a protest and maybe get them pregnant. But don’t worry, babe, I’m totally pro-choice [read: pro my choice to demand PIV without personal consequences]!

  14. lishra November 1, 2011 at 11:08 am #

    A pregnant woman at Occupy Glasgow was raped by several men in a tent at the camp: http://mhairi.wordpress.com/2011/10/27/de-occupy-glasgow/

  15. lishra November 1, 2011 at 11:11 am #

    On Twitter, @OccupyLSX retweeted an image of a “feminist pumpkin”, as they called it, which is a pumpkin carved to look like it has a penis in its mouth: http://www.mobypicture.com/user/OccupyFS/view/11096131

  16. lishra November 2, 2011 at 2:28 am #

    Daily Kos: “A Black Woman Who Occupied Wall Street: Why She Won’t Be Going Back.”

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/10/17/1027186/-A-Black-Woman-Who-Occupied-Wall-Street:-Why-She-Wont-Be-Going-Back

  17. lishra November 3, 2011 at 8:26 am #

    “Occupy Wall Street Participant Arrested in Sex Assaults at Zuccotti Park”:

    http://blogs.wsj.com/metropolis/2011/11/02/man-arrested-in-sex-assaults-at-occupy-wall-street/

  18. lishra November 6, 2011 at 11:00 am #

    A great guest post on Occupy Patriarchy by Sam Berg: “Feminism and Occupy Portland”…

    http://occupypatriarchy.org/2011/11/06/feminism-and-occupy-portland-by-guest-author-sam-berg/

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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