WE ARE THE 51%

15 Oct

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.]

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27 Responses to “WE ARE THE 51%”

  1. FCM October 15, 2011 at 11:06 am #

    yes! to all of it! well said lishra. and i LOLed at the entire thing being bolded, you are right, the entire thing is the “stupidest part.”

    for creepiest part, i nominate the part about the disembodied faces doing things. is that like for halloween?

    i do hope these asshats do their research regarding whether or not “tents” are actually allowed. bc it would just be a crying shame if any of them dropped $500 on a brand new tent from patagonia only to find that there are no tents allowed in manhattan. i have heard thats been an issue: NYC has its share of homeless already (50,000 last time i checked, 40,000 in the shelters alone) and they dont allow tent cities inside the city limits for obvious logistical reasons. they might relax the rules for the voluntarily homeless of OWS…and i am sure the “white doods with megaphones” would expect exactly that kind of special treatment too….which would be fucking disgusting now wouldnt it?

    trouser tents, of course, are always allowed everywhere in rape culture, so they are probably good to go there.

    • lishra October 15, 2011 at 11:27 am #

      Thanks, FCM! God, the “pretty faces” part. I had to re-read it a few times because it seemed too bizarre… and lo, that’s exactly what they’re saying. Ick ick ick. Meanwhile, I’m on Facebook trying to gently explain to my local Occupy dudes why THIS SHIT AIN’T COOL. I almost don’t believe that they can’t see what’s wrong with this. It’s about as subtle as, well, a trouser tent.

  2. lishra October 15, 2011 at 11:32 am #

    Hahaha… I’ve gotten a few hits from the actual Adbusters site. They’ve got a Twitter feed showing everything #occupywallstreet, and because I tweeted about this post, it came up. Oh, Adbusters. How my younger self adored you. And how my current self still gets emails from you.

  3. FCM October 15, 2011 at 11:37 am #

    you want to tweet the HUB article too? with all the ###s of course….let them read about how we see right through them. i hope it gives them nightmares about being exposed, because they are exposed.

    • lishra October 15, 2011 at 11:46 am #

      Good idea! Twitter is down right now, but I’ll do it when it’s back up.

  4. Hecuba October 15, 2011 at 12:59 pm #

    ‘The masters’ tools will never dismantle the masters’ house’ said by the late Audre Lorde and this phrase is as apt now as when it was first uttered by Lorde. Guess what boys you are all being ‘sexist and discriminatory.’ Why? Because there are no ‘male pretty faces’ featured in this misogynistic video. Where are the pretty boys’ faces – no don’t tell me I know where they are – they are the ones holding the camera or else they are the ones pontificating on what the good ol’ white boys are going to do to reinstate their power and domination over women of all ethnicities and races.

    Oh but I forget you boys have achieved this already and it is called the male supremacist system. ~Robin Morgan’s words too are apt and will never ever be dated – not until male supremacy is totally eliminated and that won’t be happening soon.

  5. Sargasso Sea October 15, 2011 at 1:04 pm #

    Just, LOL!, for now at least Lishra. Smart funny is so goooood. Thank you 😛

  6. ibleedpurple October 15, 2011 at 2:27 pm #

    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.

    That’s exactly like in the good olden days when women were being offered as prices for men refusing to fight in Vietnam. Oh, how much has changed!

    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.

    His comment also seems to imply that the silly womenz activistz with their easily upset nervous system are always searching for “excuses” to become mad about something. Isn’t he charming?

    You know, day in, day out I read studies showing that the so-called biological differences between women and men are anything but. It gives you the illusion that men actually want change. Nope, they don’t, that would be too uncomfortable. I think it has become important to realize that men purposefully oppress women. It is not a mistake. I wish other women could see this.

  7. pmsrhino October 15, 2011 at 5:39 pm #

    These assholes knew full well what they were doing. I’m starting to get REALLY tired of how often men are held up as simply ignorant of their misogyny and what their actions do to women. Men sexually harass women because they are socially awkward/just don’t understand how to proper speak to a woman/are scared of rejection NOT because they know full well that sexually and physically intimidating a woman can basically have her consent to whatever because she will fear being “raped” (which I only put in quotes because that kind of consent is rape but many, many people would never see it that way). Men rape women because they can’t get laid otherwise/don’t understand that no means no NOT because they know full well that they can use their generally larger mass and socially acceptable aggressive attitude to completely overpower and control a woman and are pretty much guaranteed to get away with it without even a slap on the wrist. Men put up objectifying and degrading videos of real women trying to make political change in the world because men just don’t know that that kind of behavior contributes to the objectification and sexualization of women/thought that it would be flattering to these women to be called “hot”/really just didn’t know any better because hey, they just haven’t been told that this behavior is bad and how would they know if that information hadn’t been hand fed to them by a bunch of women who know better NOT because men have no regard or respect for women’s ideas and agency and have no qualms reducing them to nothing more than their body parts or brains in pretty bodies to be fucked.

    Seriously, this isn’t fucking rocket science. How can these men be the rulers of the world and not understand the simply fucking concept that people want to be treated as people, and that includes women wanting their voices to be heard and not having douchebags put their pics up on a website without their consent as liberal art major spank material. Spoilers: they can’t. They know full fucking well what they are doing to us at all times and only feign ignorance because they know that there are women who will come to their rescue and protect them from the “evil feminists” that actually have a clue and know better.

    I almost punched my computer when, after only 10 seconds into that video, the camera lingered on one of the women’s chest. I decided there wasn’t anything else I would learn from that video that I didn’t hear loud and clear from that one shot alone.

    And FCM, I lol’ed at the “trouser tent” comment. Of course those are allowed to be pitched wherever and whenever. it’s just what men do!

    • DaveSquirrel October 16, 2011 at 12:29 am #

      Yep, great post Lishra, and spot on PMSrhino!

      Libfems putting their faith in lefty dudes will always end in tears – always, after the lefty dudes have gotten their political objective, it goes back to lefty dudes objectifying and raping women (or in the Occupy thing, concurrently!). The women of Egypt found this out this year. They stood protesting with the menz earlier this year, and it was hailed as ‘equality’. Two or three weeks later, women took to those same streets for International Women’s Day and were shouted down by the very same menz they had stood along side just weeks before.

      And yes, LOL on the “trouser tent” FCM…

    • m Andrea October 16, 2011 at 5:24 pm #

      Well would both of you please get a degree in genetic endocrinology and enable lesbian reproduction? I’m too old, else I’d do it myself.

      Also, excellent article, thanks.

  8. womononajourney October 15, 2011 at 11:52 pm #

    You know, if OWS really is something like the start of a ’60’s era, maybe this will re-ignite a Women’s Liberation Movement as well. You never know, right?

    • Holly October 16, 2011 at 12:12 pm #

      ah, PLEASE let that be what happens!

    • FCM October 16, 2011 at 2:06 pm #

      yes WOAJ i hope so….

  9. maggie October 16, 2011 at 4:14 am #

    “Whenever women organize with men, these are the kinds of problems we’re going to have.” Absolutely, spot on and a great post.

    Yes the message seems to be from this disgusting video that these are ‘hot chicks’ unlike the ‘wimmin’s libbers’ of the 70s because those women had hairy legs, vulva and underarms. Women can’t win if they protest with men.

    ‘Trouser tent’ – brilliant FCM.

  10. Sargasso Sea October 16, 2011 at 9:43 am #

    The more I think about it the more I LOVE the idea of printing 51% on all of my clothing, naming our space The Fifty-One, tell people I work for the 51-ers. I’ve also toyed with the idea of getting myself a pin-back button making machine and leaving a few in public restrooms everywhere I go…

  11. FCM October 16, 2011 at 9:57 am #

    i didnt make up “trouser tent.” 😉 i am sure its one of the kajillion silly names men have created for their own anatomy, and that it has something to do with downplaying the harms they know they are all causing with their dicks.

    i pinged-you back, lishra! i have a graphic up at SOR.

    http://scumorama.wordpress.com/2011/10/16/we-are-occupy-wall-street-join-us-bitches/

  12. ybawife October 16, 2011 at 1:26 pm #

    The fact that so many Rad-fems are even giving this ‘SCUM’ air and word space is sickening…why bother, why enter the debate with them, they are doomed projects…their prono=post modernist brains tell them they are entitled…..womon only activism is the only way forward….no dialogue no discussion, no camping no NOTHINGness……

  13. doctressjulia October 17, 2011 at 1:34 pm #

    Excellent post. Thank you for helping to open my eyes and see the horror that is all around me. Ignorance must truly be bliss. /lolsob

  14. lovelifefreefall October 17, 2011 at 2:24 pm #

    I’m going to start calling the ladies lavatory “Area 51” tee hee hee

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