Occupy Patriarchy

Jan 312012
 January 31, 2012  Posted by  10 Responses »

Since the Occupy movement began, women in numerous Occupy locations have reported experiencing blatant misogynist behavior.  The following piece by Norma (Jinx) Jones about misogyny at Occupy Nashville was first published on her blog, Occupy Dixie.  We are grateful for permission to cross-post this excellent piece because Jones’ eloquent explanation about why women’s needs and voices are not trivial, and nor is the misogynist behavior that is taking place at Occupy Nashville, will resonate across the Occupy movement, regardless of location.

On the evening of October 31, 2011, I watched as a woman presented a proposal in Occupy Nashville’s General Assembly to form a women’s caucus. Her proposal was met with charges of being divisive. I was dismayed to see that, in spite of her thoughtful and apparently well considered explanation of why she was making the suggestion, it was met with such hostility. In response, I set up the Women Occupy Nashville page on facebook that very night so there would be a space designated somewhere as a forum to address women’s issues.

In the almost three months since then, I’ve seen repeated incidents of women within ON being discounted, harassed, threatened, marginalized, and their voices silenced. One after another, women have come to ON on fire to participate in this movement, only to leave in frustration after repeated unsuccessful attempts to assert their right to be a part of the process without harassment.

I’ve seen ON stream team cut the live feed when a woman began to speak in GA, only to “explain” to those watching that the woman was a “trouble maker.” I’ve watched in dismay as a male occupier repeatedly acted inappropriately with female occupiers while the other men excused his behavior by discounting the women’s concerns. I’ve listened to snark from the stream team with comments like, “Be careful, we’ve already pissed off the feminists.” And I’ve seen words like femi-Nazi thrown around. I’ve seen myself and at least one other woman banned from posting on ON sites when rules were not broken and I’ve had posts removed when I posted links to the ON facebook page as admin of the Women Occupy Nashville fb page.

The theme of “trouble maker” has been the primary weapon in efforts to silence women within ON. In my own instance, the label was quickly applied when I objected to a group of men publicly trashing a woman member of ON in the live stream chat. A narrative that lied to indicate I had “stalked” and “harassed” someone who had been a party to the incident was created and repeated ad infinitum, in chat, on the ON forum, the ON fb page, and in several emails that went out to as many as 40+ recipients at a time. I (and a number of other women who are part of ON) were all “man haters” with “an agenda,” a “vendetta,” even, at one point.

When it wasn’t enough to simply label us as trouble makers, the tack taken was to cast us as emotionally unstable. Email after email uses language like “going off the deep end,” “tantrum,” “chaos,” “severe malfunction.” One line from one email read, “I don’t know what spaceship she got a ride on…but she’s waaaaaaay out there.”

Three weeks ago, when I blogged here about an upcoming interview ON citizen journalist Matt Hamill was going to do with a man convicted of multiple charges involving two incidents with two different women in two different states, the narrative continued, as evidenced in some of the anonymous comments left on this blog, on facebook, and the ON forum. Perhaps the nadir of what happened there was the suggestion that some women deserve to be beat.

Earlier this week, ON participant Tristan Call published an excellent article in which he included a section called The Politics of Gender in Occupy Nashville. This article became the subject of discussion in more than one place online, but nowhere more than on a group page on fb started by a member of the ON stream team. Once again, the attack dogs went into action.

I’ve mentioned the marginalizing that’s continued unrelenting with charges that we’re trouble makers and crazy; there’s a new one now. Bullies. Now, we’re bullies. This came after the chortles all around over the clever comments that talk about us as if we’re bugs (really, read it for yourself.) This is all just more of the dehumanizing of your enemies that’s the usual process for those who can’t address your issues, so they go after you…again. Say and do anything that will make the conversation about the messenger, not the message or problem at hand. It’s precisely the same thing we’ve seen the media and some in political office, dare I say, even the state of Tennessee, take when dehumanizing the occupiers on the plaza with their wild charges of nonsense in the bushes and tents.

But, there’s no misogyny in ON, right? Apparently not, if you were to listen to the Soapbox after GA last night. It seems women have “run away” from ON because of “silly shit.” Or, maybe it was really just “bull shit,” as suggested by another. Or, was it the one who labeled it all as “trivial issues” that got it right? Because, don’t you see we have more pressing issues here than the concerns of some women? Again, it’s divisive to speak of such things because we have a “real” problem to deal with if the state moves to evict the occupation from the plaza, right? The message repeated clearly was that if you put energy into addressing misogyny and gender bias within ON, you’re not part of the team and not in support of the movement.

We need to get a few things straight here. Women make up over half the population. When you’re talking about representing the 99%, we are who you are talking about, like it or not. While we make up 51% of the population, we’re doing 2/3 of the labor around the globe and still being paid only a percentage for our labor what the men are being paid for the same work. 70% of those living in poverty around the globe are women and, in our own country, women over 65 are twice as likely to be living in poverty as are men of the same age. In 2012, women are still the primary care givers for children, the elderly, and the disabled. When you look at who is most impacted by the violence against people as a result of corporate controlled politics and public policy, you are looking at women and you cannot avoid that.

Women are not only what this movement is about, we’ve been at the forefront of every movement that ever wrought social change throughout the history of civilization. This is our movement. We will be a part of it because we are unavoidably so. You will learn to adjust to that appropriately, or this movement will fail. That’s a stone cold fact that should sober any of you willing or able to contemplate it with even a modicum of honesty.

Norma (Jinx) Jones is an activist with  Women Occupy Nashville.  Before retiring, she worked in the area of women’s issues focusing on domestic violence and substance abuse many years.  Jones is currently a freelance photographer and ardent supporter of the Occupy movement.  When I contacted her about reprinting her  post, she told me, “You might also note that I’m just “crazy” enough to be a “trouble maker” wherever I see a need for one”.  As they say in the south (I know because I lived there for 24 years), bless your heart Norma, we need more trouble makers like you!

Jan 302012
 January 30, 2012  Posted by  2 Responses »

Feminist activists are making their presence known in the Occupy movement in many locations, in the U.S. and throughout the world:

Occupying Patriarchy in Rome

The Occupy Albany Women’s Caucus takes on the Department of Social Services

In San Francisco

Creating a safe place in New York

The OccupyDC Gender Equality Committee mic checks the anti-abortion March for Life

This says it all.

The Ukrainian group Femen protests at Davos (warning–nudity)

Wonderful graphic by Liza Cowan

Special note–I thought Liza’s graphics rocked so much I hired her to design a new logo for the Feminist Peace Network website.  Also check out her other work here.

Jan 232012
 January 23, 2012  Posted by  1 Response »

At the age of 55 and counting, I am honored by the intimation that I am a young blogger (although dammit, lets keep listening to the elders among us) and honored to the point of happy tears that Gloria Steinem singled out the Occupy Patriarchy blog according to this piece from the Stanford University News:

“A panel discussion at Stanford this week about the history of Ms. will feature former editors from the land of paper and current young feminist bloggers. Websites that (Gloria) Steinem particularly likes include those of Occupy Patriarchy and the Women’s Media Center, the latter co-founded by former Ms. editor and well-known feminist Robin Morgan.”

Thank you Gloria for helping pave the way!

Jan 192012
 January 19, 2012  Posted by  6 Responses »

The following is the text from a petition regarding sexual assault at Occupy BostonIf you want to sign the petition, please click this link to go to the petition site.

Issues of sexual misconduct have been present in Occupy Boston, including sexual assault of Occupy Boston members and the presence of persons with a documented history of serious sexual crimes. Individuals active in the Occupy Boston community attempted to address some of these concerns with the Sexual Assault Awareness proposal— which, after four, long contentious General Assemblies, on January 8, 2012 was blocked without reaching a vote.

This block was a culmination of actions and events at Occupy Boston that have made women in particular and marginalized groups in general feel progressively less and less welcome. We the undersigned, while supporting the stated goals of Occupy Boston and the larger Occupy movement, strongly condemn the actions of Occupy Boston’s General Assembly (GA) on Sunday, January 8, 2012 and ask that Occupy Boston take immediate steps to address those actions and prevent further damage to our community.

Jan 092012
 January 9, 2012  Posted by  1 Response »

An Occupy Congress action will be taking place at the U.S. Capitol on January 17th.  There are many issues that should be highlighted that day that are crucial to the lives of women.  The most important is the Senate’s ongoing refusal to ratify CEDAW, The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.  We are one of a handful of nations that has not ratified this crucial human rights convention, along with countries like Somalia and Iran.  There is no excuse for this.  Senator Barbara Boxer has said she will push for ratification.  Let’s support her in that effort and let the Senate know we hold them accountable.

The second huge issue that impacts women is the long overdue Equal Rights Amendment.  It is time to get this thing passed.

HerVotes has put together a handy list of other issues that impact women.  Check it out here and make signs accordingly.

And while we’re at it, let’s point out the need to elect more women!



Jan 082012
 January 8, 2012  Posted by  1 Response »

Over the course of the last several years, I’ve become particularly interested in the importance of documenting our own stories for historic purposes and because women’s stories are so often excluded from the media narrative, it is urgently important that we document them ourselves.  So I am especially excited to see women documenting things like the  November 25th rally and march in New York that was held in conjunction with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women:

I do want to clarify that while this website is a project of the Feminist Peace Network which was a co-sponsor of the rally, the film was made independently and neither it or the rally were explicitly a project of this website.

Also, a great shoutout to Eve Ensler for documenting the stories of the occupiers of Wall Street with particular emphasis on the stories of women, especially women of color. Listen to her elegant explanation of what she is doing with Ambiguous UpSparkles and the stories that follow:

Efforts are now under way to document the entire Occupy movement.  I hope that films such as these are included in the archives being set up by efforts such as OccupyArchive.  Because Occupy Patriarchy is a project of the Feminist Peace Network, this website will be included in FPN’s archives at the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture at Duke University.

Dec 302011
 December 30, 2011  Posted by  2 Responses »

As many of you know, both the Occupy Patriarchy and Feminist Peace Network websites are an act of love and commitment. I receive no salary and costs are a bare bones minimum. That said, there are costs associated with running the sites–webhosting, internet connection, office supplies, printing, phone, etc. While I don’t like to ask for money, sometimes when I tote up the bills it seems like a good idea. If you can help out, it is most appreciated. You can donate by going to the Feminist Peace Network and clicking the donate button on the right sidebar. Please do note however that because of the very political nature of this work, it is not tax deductible.

(Thanks to the reader who noted the incorrect donate link that I’ve now corrected in the post.)

Dec 302011
 December 30, 2011  Posted by  2 Responses »

Please, please, drop what you are doing and watch this beautiful film from the wonderful website, Join The Conversation that talks about the connection between  rape and sexual assault, and the corporate culture and why it is essential if the Occupy movement wants to confront the latter, they must confront the former.  Exactly what we’ve said on this website, said in words that are beyond eloquent.  Watch: