The Ms. Blog used the picture below to illustrate the statement on anti-harassment and anti-assault in Occupy spaces (to which Ms. and Occupy Patriarchy are co-signers). My first reaction to it was, “Yes!” My second reaction was, “Not quite…” It’s a nice word play, but I’d re-word it to say, “Women have the right to occupy (w)all street(s) without fear.” Occupying the streets should be an innate right, not something we ‘deserve’ or have earned–that makes it sound like it is a privilege that we earned for what? Having babies and cooking dinner? I don’t think so. The way it reads, however well intentioned, strikes me as an inadvertent illustration of the problem it is attempting to call out.
Additional thoughts based on initial comments below and on our Facebook page–I think one of the reasons the word ‘deserve’ doesn’t sit well with me is that we have heard rapists and sexual abusers justify their actions all too often by saying that she ‘deserved’ it. That said, kudos to this guy for holding that sign and I hope he’ll keep standing with women who occupy.
Postscript: The man holding the sign responded on our Facebook page and understood my discomfort with ‘deserve’. By way of context, he explained that there was a Slutwalk going on that particular day and the sign was intended for both that and Occupy. A case could definitely be made that ‘deserve’ is a way of calling out the issues Slutwalk is addressing, but he saw what I was saying in terms of the Occupy context. Regardless of the appropriateness of the wording of the sign, it still seems problematic as an illustration for the Ms. post.