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.