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.)
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.
Yes, that is an Occupy-Wall-Street-themed condom. Yes, it exists for realzies. Cuz you got to have something to fuck all those “hot chicks” with! The company making these should look into getting it made the official condom of Occupy Wall Street, seeing as they’re already handing out free condoms for the occupiers.
We won’t be screwed! We will come first!
The dudes leading this movement couldn’t have said it better themselves.
If it was not yet clear how entirely male-centric the Occupy Wall Street movement is, let this be the
straw bale of hay that breaks the camel’s back. Two men have put together a video called “Hot Chicks of Occupy Wall Street”, featuring interviews with young women at the event in New York. Not just interviews, but lingering, slow-motion shots of their hair, faces, and bodies. The women in it probably thought they were just being interviewed about why they are there, why it is important to them, etc. Well, surprise! You are now being used as “hot chick” bait for attracting more skeezy “male allies” to Zuccotti Park.
Also, the music gives off an aire of “look at these wondrous woodland creatures we just discovered”. Watch at your own risk.
Naturally, these dudes have also created a Tumblr under same name as the video featuring photos of women at the demonstration, many of whom clearly don’t know they are even being photographed. Those who knew they were being photographed almost certainly didn’t know that their image would be presented in an explicitly sexualized context.
The makers of the video have attempted a weak explanation of their little project, with the most plainly problematic parts put in bold by me:
A lot of fantastic media has been created about the “Occupy” movement. I was watching one video in particular and commented to a friend, “Wow, seeing all those super smart hot chicks at the protest makes me want to be there.” He replied, “Hmmm… Yeah, let’s go with that.”
We instantly went to Tumblr and made hotchicksofoccupywallstreet.tumblr.com. Our original ideas were admittedly sophomoric: Pics of hot chicks being all protesty, videos of hot chicks beating drums in slow-mo, etc. But when we arrived at Zuccotti Park in New York City, it evolved into something more.
There was a vibrant energy in the air, a warmth of community and family, and the voices we heard were so hopeful and passionate. Pretty faces were making signs, giving speeches, organizing crowds, handing out food, singing, dancing, debating, hugging and marching.
It made me want to pack my bags and pitch a tent on Wall Street. And it’s in the light that we created this video.
And we hope it makes you want to be there too.
Amazingly, the fact that these men are eager to “pitch tents” because females are in their presence does not make me want to take part in their political movement! Like, at all! Rather, I am horrified and not flattered in the least. And “pretty faces” weren’t giving speeches, debating, and organizing. These are actual human beings using their widdle lady brains to think hard stuff and get shit done.
Luckily, other women have been calling bullshit on this one, which has prompted the video makers to add this addendum. Again, I have placed the stupidest parts in bold:
EDIT: Apparently a lot of controversy has erupted online from people passionately opining (among many things) that this is sexist, offensive, and dangerously objectifies women. It was not my intent to do that and I think the spirit of the video, and the voices within, are honorable and inspiring.
However, if you disagree with me, I encourage you to use that as an excuse to create constructive discussions about the issues you have. Because, to be honest, any excuse is a good excuse to bring up the topic of women’s rights.
Woops, the whole thing is dumb! Who knew that a video reducing politically active women to “hot chicks” would cause a ruckus? Those “passionately opining” (read: “harping”) women just don’t *get* what the delicate artistes were trying to accomplish. And wait a second. . . let’s re-read that last sentence, shall we:
Because, to be honest, any excuse is a good excuse to bring up the topic of women’s rights.
The “excuse” is that you produced a video which turns your political peers into sexual objects simply because they are female. The “excuse” is a problem that you have created. You made a 4-minute contribution to rape culture. Congrats for creating a problem for us to fix.
There’s something else about this comment that just drips with… jeez, what would you call that? (Maleness? Ha.) “The topic of women’s rights” just totally sounds like something that a dude who dropped out of a women’s studies class after a week would say. It lacks any real historical knowledge or background in feminism. He’s trying to sound like he gives a shit, when he clearly doesn’t. It’s disingenuous to the extreme, and precisely what women involved in male-led movements have to combat at every turn.
And as was recently written about on the Rad Fem HUB, the “Occupy” movement is no friend to women for a number reasons. Whenever women organize with men, these are the kinds of problems we’re going to have. Our concerns will be minimized or ignored, we’ll be treated like their personal fuck objects and eye candy, and the group’s goals will end up entirely serving them, not us.
This is, sadly, another occasion in which Robin Morgan’s words from 1970 are still far too relevant in the present:
And that’s what I wanted to write about—the friends, brothers, lovers in the counterfeit male-dominated Left. The good guys who think they know what Women’s Lib, as they so chummily call it, is all about—who then proceed to degrade and destroy women by almost everything they say and do: The cover on the last issue of Rat (front and back). The token pussy power orclit militancy articles. The snide descriptions of women staffers on the masthead. The little jokes, the personal ads, the smile, the snarl. No more, brothers. No more well-meaning ignorance, no more cooptation, no more assuming that this thing we’re all fighting for is the same; one revolution under man, with liberty and justice for all. No more.
Let’s run it down. White males are most responsible for the destruction of human life and environment on the planet today. Yet who is controlling the supposed revolution to change all that? White males (yes, yes, even with their pasty fingers back in black and brown pies again). It could just make one a bit uneasy. It seems obvious that a legitimate revolution must be led by, made by those who have been most oppressed: black, brown, yellow, red, and white women—with men relating to that the best they can. A genuine Left doesn’t consider anyone’s suffering irrelevant or titillating; nor does it function as a microcosm of capitalist economy, with men competing for power and status at the top, and women doing all the work at the bottom (and functioning as objectified prizes or coin as well). Goodbye to all that.
Run it all the way down.
[Update 10/27/11: Sady Doyle has written an article addressing the "Hot Chicks" video, as well as how a 'leaderless' movement allows for sexism to go even more unchecked.]
I’m feeling nostalgic. Oh, slut walks of yore… er, a few months ago.
Update (September 30, 2011):
Two new posts from the Rad Fem HUB confirm the dude-centeredness of SlutWalk in a very tangible way. Slutwalk Baltimore
is being was organized by 18-year-old Brennan “Molester” Lester. Also, Matt Tuscano is co-sponsoring a SlutWalk at the University of Connecticut. While Lester prefers to read Lolita and ponder what he would do if he had a vagina, Tuscano enjoys posting woman-hating images on Facebook. Oh, such a multifaceted group of men who wish to co-opt feminism!
Historiann and I seem to have recalled the same song upon today’s resolution of shit with MOAR SHIT.
Hopefully now everybody will also know that Republicans are mendacious jackasses who will always rely on extortion to get their way. And that they don’t give a single, flea-sized crap about the consequences.
(I prefer Elizabeth & the Catapult’s version to Leonard’s.)
Shulamith Firestone, “The Dialectic of Sex” (1970):
[T]he rhetoric of the sexual revolution, if it brought no improvements for women, proved to have great value for men. By convincing women that the usual female games and demands were despicable, unfair, prudish, old-fashioned, puritanical, and self-destructive, a new reservoir of available females was created to expand the tight supply of goods available for traditional sexual exploitation, disarming women of even the little protection they had so painfully acquired.
Rebecca Whisnant, “Beyond Multiple Choice” (2001):
For several years now, I’ve been doing a feminist slide presentation about pornography for classes, dorms, campus groups, conferences—pretty much whoever asks me. I do it because I think it’s crucial for women, especially young women, to know the truth about this massive industry that saturates their society, pollutes many of their intimate relationships, and makes their daily lives more dangerous and alienating. But I don’t always feel good about doing it. As the slide show goes on, some women duck their heads, while others slink down into their seats; a few leave abruptly in the middle. Those who stay look shell-shocked afterwards. Some ask questions, but most are silent. And sometimes I wonder if I’m doing the right thing here. Am I doing them more harm than good?
But then, at least two or three women come up to me afterwards and tell me about their fights with their boyfriends about pornography, or how they felt as a kid when they found their dad’s Penthouse collection, and how seeing the slide show and hearing me talk about it made them feel like they’re not crazy, not just prudish and uptight. And I keep doing the slide show because I believe that understanding pornography—like understanding radical feminist analysis in general—ultimately makes them stronger, not weaker.
Easilyriled’s Blog: “feminist lesbians argue for the abolition of prostitution”. . . succinctly laying out arguments, one by one. Seriously go read it.
A new essay by Robert Jensen: “Consciousness rising, world fading”
New York Times editorial, Saturday Feb. 26: “The War on Women”. . . regarding the House Republicans trying to defund everything that helps women not be pregnant.
Brave Lucky Game: “In Defense of the Rights of Brutes”. . . on carnism and veganism.
Ded Gurl Cingz the Blooze: “Individualism and Human Destruction” (audio)
A Salon article by Tracy Clark-Flory: “The twisted world of ‘ex-girlfriend porn’” [TW for sexual assault, massive hostility to consent]
High Dudgeon: Linda provides us with a list of ten “Handy Anti-Porn Arguments”