Jun 242012
 June 24, 2012  Posted by  Add comments

When my sons were young, I used to recite for them a version of the Gettysburg Address that began along these lines,

Four score and seven years ago, our foremothers were busy raising children and putting food on the table back home while our forefathers met in Philadelphia to write the Constitution and Bill of Rights and completely forgot to include the women.

Well the truth of course is that it never occurred to the framers of our Constitution that women or people of color should have equal rights, and we’ve been paying for that prejudice ever since.

Next weekend in Philadelphia, there will be both an Occupy National General Assembly and a Constitutional Convention 2.0. As I’ve noted previously, the second gathering has failed miserably in its stated intent to have equal gender representation. It is however heartening that the Occupy Gathering will be having a Feminist GA on July 1rst at 7pm edt.

There are a number of issues that need to become an integral part of Occupy’s call for social and economic justice in order to fully empower women in our democracy. While I’ve raised these issues before, along with an explanation of why they must be considered essential, I want to point to them again as a call to action to the Occupy movement as it convenes its national gathering. The following is excerpted from my recent remarks to the Civicus “Amplifying Marginalised And Muted Voices” virtual consultation:

If Occupy, as it goes forward, wants to really change the world, it will have to have a zero tolerance for misogyny and violence against women and for that matter, violence against anyone. But as the articulation of that vision develops, we also need to look at what feminism brings to Occupy and why it is so crucial for the success of the movement.

It seems to me to be beyond obvious that if you want true structural economic reform, issues like equal pay, access to childcare, paid maternity leave, etc. have to be an integral part of the Occupy agenda because women are half of the world’s population and without those things, we are not able to participate fully in society.

We also need to address sexual violence, exploitation and trafficking.

Occupy needs to not only call out predatory banks, but also be very clear that the people who were hit the worst by subprime mortgages were poor women of color and it will take women longer to pay off student loans if they are earning less than men. Economic and social decisions almost always have a gendered impact and addressing that needs to always be a part of our work for social change.

And we absolutely must work to get the Equal Rights Amendment through, as well as implementation of the U.S.’s new National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security and it is well past time to insist that the U.S. Senate ratify CEDAW, the Convention On The Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.

We need to confront the fact that 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.

And most definitely, we need to put an end once and for all to the horrendous assault on our reproductive rights.

For any real, substantive change for the better to occur, it is critical that issues such as these be addressed.

The above recitation of critical issues is offered not as a complete list but as a starting point.

This 4th of July, let’s insist on the self-evident truth that women’s human rights and empowerment are a necessity for a functional democracy!



  5 Responses to “We Hold These Truths To Be Self-Evident: The Imperative Of Women’s Human Rights And Empowerment In A True Democracy”

  1. When our forefathers met in Philadelphia, the interpreted “We the People” to mean rich, educated, land owning white males. Minorities were not people, the middle class and the poor were not people, the uneducated were not people, even their own wives were not people because women in general were not people. So the vast majority of Americans, both men and women alike were not people.

    Since then, the only thing that has changed is “land owning” has evolved into multinational corporation owning, and “We the People” (the people in control) no longer have to be Americans, but they do have to be Bilderbergs.

    I call that fascism.

  2. I think a leverage point may be to talk about hierarchy rather than patriarchy. I think history shows that the two terms may be synonymous and the use of the term patriarchy tends to alienate many men who would otherwise be allies in the conversation.

    • Sorry, but they are not synonymous. It is necessary to name your oppression for what it is if you truly want to change it. We live in a male dominated patriarchy, if men find that offensive, they need to work to change it.

  3. If you’re against sex trafficking, won on earth were you protesting the Oakland Conference? Why do you care more about “sex workers” (newspeak for “sex traffickers who use strip joints to cover illegal activities”) than RAPED AND MURDERED KIDS??? http://mrctv.org/videos/occupy-patriarchy-protest-anti-human-trafficing-conference

    • If you read the previous comments you would see that I’ve already noted that we are not affiliated with Oakland Occupy Patriarchy. However, your suggestion that sex workers are sex traffickers is absolutely incorrect.

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