Over the course of the last few weeks, I have had the opportunity to speak about Occupy Patriarchy and why feminism is so important to the success of the Occupy movement at the University of Pennsylvania, at a panel organized by the Lysistrata Gender Working Group at NYU and at a panel discussion at the National Young Feminist Leadership Conference.
One of the key things that I discussed is why the issues that feminists routinely prioritize are so important to the Occupy movement. Those issues include:
- Equal pay and ending other forms of economic discrimination
- Paid maternity and paternity leave
- Zero tolerance of violence against women, sexism, sexual harassment and other misogynist behavior
- Ending sexual exploitation and trafficking
- Getting the Equal Rights Amendment ratified
- Implementation of the National Action Plan for Women, Peace and Security
- Funding the Violence Against Women Act
- Ratification of CEDAW the Convention on All Forms of Discrimination Against Women
- Reproductive justice (including the right not to have a child, the right to have a child and the right to raise children
- Zero tolerance on the assault on women’s reproductive health
- Valuing unpaid work such as childcare, eldercare and housework
For any real substantive change for the better to occur, it is critical that these issues be considered an integral part of the Occupy discussion because institutions such as Wall Street are manifestation of the far deeper and greater problem of patriarchy, which depends in large measure on the exploitation, dis-empowerment and subjugation of women.
As the Occupy movement continues, I think that there is a real opportunity to develop a broader commitment to addressing these issues. But that opportunity will not be easily realized and must be predicated on the understanding that Wall Street is a manifestation of the problems we face, not the root cause, and real change must also include confronting misogyny in the movement itself.
It is not sufficient to say that we have to come together as the 99% against the 1%. The needs of the 99% are not homogenous and it is not acceptable to say that it is divisive when we point this out.
While the Occupy movement has been developing, the war on women has become a nightmare of hateful, ignorant, daily attacks on women’s human rights. It is urgent that this be stopped and presents an opportunity for the Occupy movement as a whole to stand up for women’s lives and say that this war must stop. On April 28th there will be rallies in all 50 states and in Washington, DC calling for an end to the war on women.
Occupy Patriarchy calls on the Occupy movement everywhere to support and attend these rallies because an attack on the 52% is an attack on the 99% and if we want to confront Wall Street, then we MUST confront patriarchy.