Where are the women of Occupy Wall Street?

They’re right there, says Sarah Seltzer, and have been all along:

The dozen women I spoke to for this story—most of them queer-identified and/or women of color—have witnessed varying amounts of offensive behavior, such as unwanted touching or use of casually misogynist language, within the movement. And they also differ as to the extent to which they think they can elbow the “isms” out of their space. But for the most part they share a defiant hope; just maybe, they say, for once, a mobilization for social change can get it right: maintain a broad base of support, connect the dots between different kinds of injustice and achieve staying power. Their fervent wish is that the movement’s careful attention to inclusive structure, including “safe space” caucuses and working groups and a commitment to anti-oppression training, means not that misogyny will vanish altogether but rather that diverse voices will remain a core part of the movement.

“These issues are not being swept aside in favor of just dealing with Wall Street,” says “Ketchup,” a young woman from Chicago who has been facilitating meetings and organizing women’s groups downtown. “Yes, bankers’ corruption is important, but this community acknowledges that if we’re starting a new way of thinking it has to include finding true equality and really respecting each other.”

And Feministe friend Ariel Federow has some great commentary as well:

Ariel Federow has a pithy phrase for the problem many at Occupy Wall Street are trying to avoid. “There’s a ‘manarchist’ problem in a lot of left-wing spaces,” Federow, a young New York–based artist and activist who has been active in Occupy Judaism and has regularly volunteered downtown, says. “By that I mean a small group of white guys take up space and make de facto choices for a larger group of people.” But what’s surprised her so far about Zuccotti is that this concentration of power hasn’t happened. “There’s a strong current of actively saying ‘no’ ” to that element when it does pop up,” she says, “of people doing work around safer spaces and speaking out against sexual assault. And while women are leading, there are also other men involved.”

That is welcome news.

About Jill

Jill began blogging for Feministe in 2005. She has since written as a weekly columnist for the Guardian newspaper and in April 2014 she was appointed as senior political writer for Cosmopolitan magazine.
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10 Responses to Where are the women of Occupy Wall Street?

  1. This is good news, but I’m again a little frustrated about how little of this stuff makes it to the public consciousness.

    I had to learn news values in college. Perhaps you did too. I had to memorize certain ways that the mainstream media discerns what it covers and chooses not to cover. Those who make news have often kept those values in mind. So a leaderless, open-ended movement like Occupy may function well within itself, but the MSM wants to keep things simple and easy to explain.

    There’s a reason why the evening news is written on a fifth grade level. I want Occupy to grow, but I also know that the existing framework is incompatible with its current setup.

  2. Florence says:

    Insert Greenstreet joke.

  3. Politicalguineapig says:

    Still not going. I have better things to do. I support what they’re doing, but in the end it’s my ass that’s on the line, and I do not feel comfortable around the predictable bunch of hipsters who aren’t grown enough to get that women are people.

  4. FYouMudFlaps says:

    As far as I see here from Tampa, the Occupy movement is full of prominent female voices. It’s very nice to see.

  5. April says:

    In Minneapolis, women are very much involved in every area. I’ve been a part of the organization of OccupyMN from the beginning, and I never felt a disparity of power or numbers between men and women. Of course, there have been privilege issues on occasion and incidents where people have used, like the article said, casual misogynistic or other slurs and things like that, but structurally, I’m really impressed with our occupation in that regard. Mostly everyone is committed to horizontal organization first and foremost, and it shows.

  6. Politicalguineapig says:

    April: In that case, I might reconsider. I still have a lot to do: my volunteering gigs are much more important to me than the protest.

  7. Miss S says:

    I’m probably going to be heading down to the Occupy Baltimore protests this week. I’ve been less concerned about violence, and more concerned with feeling out of place. This makes me feel better.

  8. Andie says:

    Florence:
    Insert Greenstreet joke.

    So glad I’m not the only one whose mind went there.

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