“The unity of the 99% must be a complex unity.” She also quotes Audre Lorde. Beautiful and inspiring.
We are so gratified by the amazing response that Occupy Patriarchy has gotten since we started it less than a week ago–thank you! Predictably we have also gotten a number of responses telling us that:
- We don’t know what we are talking about
- We hate men and
- We are being divisive
Oh yeah and then there are the ones that are:
**Just plain rude**
While we have approved most of these comments if for no other reason than to illustrate the point, we are quickly realizing this is a toxic waste of our time which we would far prefer to spend on constructive community building and dialog.
Therefore, we now have a comment policy–be respectful, on topic and be constructive. Yup, it’s that simple. If you absolutely must mansplain and feminist bash, please take it elsewhere, we will no longer publish those comments.
Responding to and participating in the Occupy movement as a feminist requires some thought as to how to most effectively express our point of view in a way that will be heard in a constructive way. Yesterday we posted the text from a brochure produced by the Feminism Now Podcast Group which we hope will be useful. Several other groups have also produced statements that may be helpful as welll. RadFem (see comment below for links to their work) has put together a brochure that can be downloaded which reads in part,
OWS must centralize the concerns of women. WHY?
Women are the majority on the planet: we are the 51%. That’s why.(Editor’s note–please see addenda below regarding this statistic.)
Together, both globally and locally, women and children vastly outnumber adult men, especially white men. Yet, to date, OWS has centralized men’s interests and particularly white men’s interests, even though they are a tiny minority of the global and local population.
The men of OWS do not have women’s best interests at heart.
If women no longer performed free labor for men, including sexual and domestic labor, the current economic system as we know it would come crashing down.
And if the billion-dollar global sex industry were eliminated, the effects would be far-reaching and undeniable. Economically powerful men – many in the top 1% — would be rendered powerless.
But we don’t see the men of OWS advocating for these changes, even though they say they abhor the current system and they want it to fail.
Because all men benefit from the status quo.
All men, including the men of OWS both individually and collectively benefit from women’s sexual, domestic and reproductive slavery. That’s why.
And they do not want this to change. But that’s not the only problem with the male-centric vision of OWS. The conditions for women at OWS offer a glimpse of what “success” would look like, if OWS succeeded. It does not look good.
Women’s concerns are marginalized and we are expected to support men’s concerns first and foremost, and adopt them as our own.
Women are cooking, cleaning and serving men, as men claim all the leadership positions and positions of power and prestige for themselves.
Male-centric sexuality that poses known dangers to girls and women, specifically the risk of unwanted pregnancy is over-represented, and female-centric sexuality that is safe for girls and women is under-represented.
Women have been groped and assaulted at OWS by male protesters and by the police.
The New York Chapter of Women’s Liberation has also produced a statement that may be helpful:
WHY WE ARE JOINING OCCUPY WALL STREET:
The economic system symbolized by Wall Street that puts profits ahead of all else is squeezing women on many fronts and is a major obstacle to winning women’s liberation.
This system unfairly makes women dependent on employers —and often on men and their employers—for our very survival. Employers reinforce male supremacy by paying men more, and by providing benefits to male workers that female workers have less access to.
The current unjust economic system also depends on women’s work bearing children and on the individual family’s labor in the home, raising children and sometimes caring for elders or loved ones who are chronically ill. But nearly all of this work is unpaid, and, unjustly, almost exclusively done by women.
The 1% who rule this country and control our wealth want to take away all birth control and abortion – pouring billions into organizations that seek to push women into forced childbearing and submission. The 1% put “mothers” and “motherhood” on a mythological pedestal, while fiercely opposing programs – like paid family leave and national health care- that would actually help families. The 1% want to get rid of the programs, like public schools, Medicare and Social Security, that have provided women with some measure of independence and freedom.
WOMEN ARE ANGRY!
We are sick of the “double day”- getting paid less than men on the job, and coming home to extra shifts of housework and child-rearing.
We are fed up with politicians, women’s magazines and pundits suggesting that women just need to find some “balance” in our lives, as if there are individual solutions to the problems we face. Justice for women requires social solutions and new and better community institutions.
We don’t want counseling, tips on how to multi-task and relieve stress, or “flex time.” We want justice and democracy.
We demand high quality education from birth on, national health care, a shorter work week, paid family leave (for women and men) and vacation and sick time guaranteed by law for all. Many other countries around the world have these programs. The U.S. has none. It’s time the 1% paid their fair share for this type of real democracy.
We want men to fight with us for these programs in addition to our longstanding demands that they fully share the work, worry and problem-solving of all household chores and child-rearing.
We are sharing these with the idea of sharing resources to make us all effective in our activism. If you quote the above in your handouts, please be sure to attribute them to the source. If you have written a flyer, statement or brochure about feminism and the Occupy movement that you would like to share and make available to others, please leave a link in the comments.
Addenda: I have been hearing the statistic that women are 51% of the population for years and frankly did not question it when I saw it in RadFem’s materials. However, after a reader pointed to information (see the comments below) indicating that this was not true everywhere, most especially in countries where there is a known femicide issue, I’ve have decided to flag that as a problematic statement and one that could easily be omitted without detracting from the central, important points that RadFem is making. I would also note that I am not a statistician, nor do I have time to go through all the data to fully understand it. Just the messenger, please use your own best judgement.
The following statement was written for a flier by the Feminism Now Podcast Group in NYC. Becca Wilkerson and myself, Kathy Miriam, collaborated on the writing. Becca did the bulk of the work, and I revised, added, subtracted. Announcements of our first podcast on feminism and OWS will be forthcoming! The purpose of the flier was to distribute at OWS and what ended up happening was that we used the flier as simultaneous teaching and talking points when interviewing women on the site. Feel free to use and adapt this flier for your own needs! The flier will be prettied up with graphic and better formatting soon!
Bring Feminism to Occupy Wall Street!
We will only truly know that a different world is possible when we know what this world now truly looks like. First, neoliberal capitalism is the source of “corporate greed,” and neoliberal capitalism is also patriarchal to the core.
The Man-cession is a Myth; the Reality is . . .
It’s true that men suffered 70% of the job loss during the Dec 2007 to June 2009 downturn  but the facts of the ‘recovery’ (June 2009 to September 2011) tell a clearer story. The unemployment rate for women has increased from 7.7 percent to 8.1 percent while for men it has dropped from 9.9 percent to 8.8 percent.  Women-headed households have about one-half the income and less than one-third the wealth of other American households; and further, women are 35 times more likely to be poor than men. 
The Capitalist System Depends on Women’s Unpaid Work
“Austerity” measures (e.g. Obama-administration’s spending-cuts) loot the public sector (education, health care, human services, government) while bailing out the private corporate sector (Wall Street). Women are hardest hit both as workers in the public sector (teachers; nurses) who lose their jobs and as unpaid caretakers who take up the slack when social services are lost. Global capitalism is made possible by women’s unpaid care-taking of dependents as well as of healthy adult men. In the U.S. among ages 25 to 34, women spend about twice as many hours per week (31.7) doing unpaid household work as men (15.8).  In Canada unpaid work is estimated to be worth up to 41% of the GDP.  The shifting of the burden of domestic labor from elite women to the domestic laborers (maids) culled from subordinate groups of women (immigrants; women of color; poor women) is another part of this same process of exploitation.
The Capitalist System Depends on Controlling Women’s Reproduction
The reproduction of capitalism’s work force is a large part of women’s unpaid work. Attacks on women’s ability to control when and whether to give birth  increases women’s economic dependence on men, the state, corporations and white elites, all of which, in turn, directly benefit from controlling women’s reproduction.
Women of Color are Hit Hardest by Predatory Lending
Deregulation of the market has lead to decades of preying upon the most vulnerable populations, with women of color being the worst impacted. Women are 32 percent more likely than men to receive sub‑prime mortgages and black and Latina women borrowers are the most likely to receive sub‑prime loans at every income level. 
Domestic Violence Intensifies in Unstable Economy
In an effort to save money, the city council of Topeka, Kansas recently voted to repeal the law that makes domestic violence a crime! Minimal resources meant to help protect women are being sacrificed when domestic violence is actually worsening. Rates and severity of domestic violence increase in times of economic struggle. Financial strain often compels women to stay in abusive relationships. Women whose male partners experience two or more periods of unemployment in a five year period are 3 times more likely to experience abuse. 
Economic Exploitation and Destruction of the Environment go Hand in Hand
Women’s reproductive organs are particularly vulnerable to damage from environmental toxins, endangering them and the children they may bear because of under-regulated corporations that value money over life.
Women’s Bodies are Part of the Battlefield of War
Due to women’s position as unpaid primary-caretakers, they are the social glue of communities strategically destroyed by military rapes. Sexual harassment and rape of U.S female soldiers by their male counterparts is figured at staggering rates.  Militarism is fueled by hyper-masculinism, the latter stoked by soldier’s prolific use of pornography  and the establishment of the sex trade at military bases around the world.  Women and children are the overwhelming majority of refugees displaced by war.
Sex Trafficking is a Reality for Women in Poverty
“Trafficking occurs in a context of global economic inequalities and a failure to respect the human rights of a majority of the world’s population. Enormous amounts of people find themselves unable to provide for their families and are forced into situations of extreme desperation. The impact of structural adjustment policies is worsening the feminization of poverty; women make up 70% of the worlds’ poor. Women are more vulnerable to exploitation as they are often supporting families, work in unregulated sectors of the economy, have little or no access to education, employment and options for migration. They are often seeking to migrate due to war and internal conflict, poverty, statelessness and domestic violence, but face strict immigration policies and are unable to migrate legally. Often their vulnerability is exploited and they fall into the hands of traffickers.” 
1. Calculations from U.S Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.
2, National Women’s Law Center, www.nwlc.org/
3. Women of Color Slammed by Economic crisis, www.alternet.org/
4. Bureau of Labor Statistics, American Time Use Survey http://stats.bls.gov/opub/ted/2009/ted_20090806.htm
5. United Nations Platform for Action Committee, Women & The Economy http://www.unpac.ca/economy/unpaidwork.html#3
6. Reproductive Rights Steadily Eroded in the States, http://www.now.org/issues/abortion/031704states.html
8. National Institute of Justice, Concentrated Disadvantage, Economic Distress, and Violence Against Women in Intimate Relationships (2004), http://
10. Benedict, “Why Soldiers Rape,” http://www.inthesetimes.com/article/3848/
11. Read anything by Cynthia Enloe for information about and analysis of this point.
12. REED, http://www.embracedignity.org/?page=trffckng
The Occupy Patriarchy website was conceived of to provide a supportive, global space for feminist analysis, response and organizing and networking within the world-wide Occupy movement.
It is our observation that institutions such as Wall Street are manifestations of the far deeper and greater problem of patriarchy which depends in large measure on the exploitation, disempowerment, and subjugation of women, yet (as is all too often the case in progressive movements) the analysis of issues presented so far has shown little effort in looking at the various issues discussed from a feminist vantage point, including but not limited to the following:
- Women make up the overwhelming majority of people living in poverty and do the overwhelming majority of unpaid work on which everyone’s lives depend.
- Our reproductive rights and agency are continually under siege.
- The overwhelming number of victims of sexual exploitation and violence are women and this exploitation intensifies under conditions of economic devastation.
- While these issues impact all women, women of color are far more likely to suffer the consequences of patriarchal domination.
For any real, substantive change for the better to occur, it is critical that issues such as these be addressed. It is also crucial that sexist and misogynist behavior occurring at Occupy events, whether by participants, law enforcement or by the media be called out and addressed. There must be zero tolerance for that behavior in the movement for economic justice. We cannot successfully occupy Wall Street without also confronting and addressing the patriarchal system it perpetuates.