Steven Greenstreet is the dude behind the Hot Chicks of Occupy Wall Street tumblr and video. That video has gotten a lot of attention — a lot of women and some dudes have been like “well this is fucked up,” and then some other dudes have been like “I don’t see what the big deal is, boys will be boys and what’s wrong with wanting to meet attractive women at a protest?”
And like I said in my initial post, the deflecting from legitimate concerns, and the fact that the OWS “public” includes a lot of men who think it’s ok to treat women at a protest like we’re there for their visual fulfillment, troubles me. No one is saying, “Don’t find women attractive.” I actually like hot chicks too! No one is saying “Don’t meet hot people at a protest.” People meet people in all kinds of social settings, and that’s great. I met a past boyfriend at a liberal blog conference. Meet away, I say. No one is objecting to dating or hooking up or meeting women or meeting men. No one is objecting to the fact that straight men are attracted to some women (fun fact: straight women are also attracted to some men! So really, no one is pissed about attraction, I promise). What people are pissed about is what Rebecca Traister says:
The larger, simpler argument, outside of consent or permission, is: This video is sexist. It’s an example of women participating in public life — political, professional, social — and having their participation reduced to sexual objectification. That’s what happened here, nothing more, nothing less.
The notion that dressing in a certain way is an invitation (and presumably that dressing in another way is not) is flawed. There is no way for women to dress (dresses, shorts, jeans, overalls) that is not considered an invitation by someone. When you add in the ways in which women are expected to dress in order to be taken seriously, or liked, or listened to or paid attention to, and then add to that assumptions that the choices that they make equal invitations to be ogled, it leaves women no sartorial freedom.
Emphasis mine. If you’re at an event and you strike up conversation with someone cute? Wonderful. But creating a blog and a video dedicated to showing women at a protest with the sole purpose of reminding dudes that women at the protest are hot? That does reduce women to objects of male attention. It’s another reminder, for women, that how seriously we’re taken and how valuable we are depends on how sexually attractive we’re deemed. That it’s ok to use us as bait because hey, it’ll attract more dudes to the protest!
Frankly, the kinds of dudes who would come to the OWS protests because they heard there are hot chicks there? Are not the kinds of dudes I want to be protesting with. I would hope they’re not the kinds of dudes that most progressives would want to be protesting with — but judging by the lefty-dude reaction to Steven Greenstreet (hi Matt Zoller Seitz, looking at you!), that’s not the case. It’s disappointing. It’s pretty shitty to know that some progressive men are a-ok with female protestors being portrayed as boner-bait, because boys will be boys and it’s all in good fun. It’s also worth noting here that actual sexual assaults have happened at OWS.
Also? The early “he’s a misogynist creep” vibe that I got off of Steven Greenstreet appears to be pretty on. I avoid Twitter fights like the plague because nothing productive ever happens in 140 characters, but last night Mr. Greenstreet apparently spent the evening google-imaging me and then kindly used his Twitter account to link to photos of me wearing — get ready, ladies, it’s shocking — a dress, in a feminist eco-friendly fashion show my friend Kate hosted, where she used her friends because she didn’t want to exclusively feature traditional very thin models. Greenstreet added commentary like, “Oh I see, dressing in a short skirt and showing off your body to leering men is totally cool only when you do it” and “Love how these guys stare as you show off your curves.”
Because walking in a friend’s fashion show is totally the same thing as taking pictures of women on the street without their knowledge or permission and putting them on a “hot girls” website. And yes, by wearing a skirt in some photos I was obviously asking for it, right? Not creepy at all. Just totally normal guy stuff.
Steven is also mad that I use the f-word sometimes. It is a shame that I am the face of feminism, he says. Steven Greenstreet would definitely do feminism better than me. Especially when he gets all rape jokey.
[To protect the privacy of people who are Steven's facebook friends and because I just don't feel like digging my heels in on this one, I've taken down the screenshot of Steven's Facebook page. On that page, Steven linked to his "Hot Chicks of Occupy Wall Street" video, and added, "The way me and [a colleague] contribute to the movement.” A friend of his comments, “Way to legitimize the movement, Steve.” Steven replies, “An erection legitimizes anything.” His friend replies, “Even rape?” Steven Greenstreet says, “It probably wouldn’t be rape without one.”]
Good dude. Very not misogynist, clearly. Definitely interested in women’s rights and definitely being treated unfairly by mean feminists who clearly just hate attractive women.
We want to attract more dudes like this to progressive politics? This is who women should shut up and make way for? It’s no big deal that this dude is making a “Hot Chicks of Occupy Wall Street” tumblr and video because his erection legitimizes it?
Obviously this guy doesn’t speak for most liberal men. But I actually haven’t seen very many liberal men being like, “This is fucked up,” period. I’ve seen them be like, “Well it’ll attract more men to the protest!” and “Well it’s kind of a problem but it’s not really that bad” (there are of course a few exceptions).
Get it together, dudes.
[Just an FYI for the comment thread: A bunch of Steven's supporters have come out to tell us how they really feel, and I'm letting many of the comments through. I'm deleting the worst ones -- the ones about how we should be raped, how women who are dressed like skanks are asking for it, etc -- but I'm publishing a lot of stuff that we usually wouldn't let fly in order to illustrate my point that no, this isn't just good fun "boys will be boys" stuff, and very real hostility to women is lurking behind "The Hot Chicks of Occupy Wall Street" and its supporters. Some of the comments might be triggering, especially concerning violence and sexual assault.]