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Writing Feminist Flyers For Occupy–More Resources

October 26, 2011

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.

Why?

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.

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14 Comments leave one →
  1. October 26, 2011 6:36 pm

    hi kathy

    thanks for linking to the HUB’s brochures! the link is broken however. here they are again:

    the dedicated page at HUB where we will archive screenshots and links to downloads is here:

    http://radicalhub.wordpress.com/occupy-wall-street-radfem-brochure/

    this page will remain on the front page of HUB and we will provide the most updated versions of our brochures there as a centralized one-stop.

    the link to the brochure you quote above entitled “OWS is a men’s movement” is in MS Word and PDF here:

    http://radicalhub.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/brochure1.docx
    http://radicalhub.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/brochurepdf2.pdf

    the brochure entitled “femininity is pro-capitalist” is here:

    http://radicalhub.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/brochurefuckability2.doc
    http://radicalhub.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/brochurefuckabilitypdf2.pdf

    and lishra has a flier entitled “we are the 51%” that isnt on the dedicated page yet, but it will be. for now heres that link:

    http://radicalhub.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/ows-triangle-flier-single.pdf

  2. October 26, 2011 9:25 pm

    Thanks, I added a note in the text directing everyone to your comment–oddly the link we have on the blogroll went right to it, so I just assumed it worked, so I didn’t think there was a problem, glad you flagged it. Lucinda

  3. Tom Barton permalink
    October 27, 2011 2:04 am

    You view the patriarchy as an overarching system of male oppression. That ALL men MUST be in on this “conspiracy to keep the woman down.”

    If you want to get supporters, aside from strictly feminists, (and trust me, a few men on your side could do wonders), you should stray away from vast generalizations.

    Women don’t like it that men use generalizations towards women, that “all women” are x, or “all women” are y….Have you considered the viewpoint that not ALL men are rapists? Not ALL men are enemies? Not ALL men are out to get you?

    You should consider the other side of the fence.

    Using the identity of a group in an offensive word that insinuates some sort of unsubstantiated reason to hate them is pretty much the definition of a slur. I.E, “Patriarchy”. Don’t get me wrong, there are bad people out there. Some of them men, some of them women; but that doesn’t give you the right to hate all men on the actions of a few.

    • kmiriam permalink
      October 27, 2011 6:38 pm

      Thanks for schoolin us because we just don’t get anything in our pretty lil heads. We needed a man to explain it all, and you are showing us the light for sure.

      Seriously, I’m wondering how you derive any of the conclusions that you come to. First of all, statistics are generalizations. The idea of a social class is a generalization. Are you saying statistics should never be used? are you denying the existence of a class-system? if so, I imagine you have no truck with the occupy movement so are thus a troll.

      As for your characterization of hatred, ummm., i dont think women are the ones who are raping, beating, slurring, killing, women, are they? or doing such to men. hmmm??

  4. October 27, 2011 4:54 am

    Wow, you guys real believe in a Patriarchy? Serious question

    • kmiriam permalink
      October 27, 2011 6:38 pm

      Wow, serious answer that you have just posed to your own question.

  5. October 27, 2011 6:04 pm

    Tom concludes that because we oppose and want to eliminate patriarchy we hate all men, that we believe all men rape, and no man can change. And that our message won’t get anyone on our side aside from scary feminists. how does that follow? unless Tom himself sees patriarchy and men as interchangeable, unless he can’t envision male people existing without patriarchy?

  6. kmiriam permalink
    October 27, 2011 6:41 pm

    Good points Winnie. Feminism wouldn’t exist if we thought men couldn’t change. Of course as with every case of oppression, those in power do not hand power over, they have to be forced to give it up. Frank and Tom are object lessons in the kind of denial that male domination even exists that helps keep the system going and shows the need for that force ever more so. Sensible argumentation which has already answered their questions obviously has no force in and of itself; logic doesn’t work that’s for sure.

  7. Noanodyne permalink
    October 28, 2011 5:27 pm

    Hey Tom, Frank, and other would be mansplainers — go educate yourselves, it’s not feminists’ job to help you understand this stuff. And you can start with Andrea Dworkin:
    “Feminism is hated because women are hated. Anti-feminism is a direct expression of misogyny; it is the political defense of women hating.”

  8. October 28, 2011 8:09 pm

    I was participating in Occupy Freedom Plaza until I was voted off the island. I dared to challenge men (quite lovingly and kindly I thought) on their sexism, whites on their racism, activists on their classism, and all on our abuse of the Mother Earth thru blatant disregard of products & food we were consuming, including plastic water bottles and smoking all over the place. (see my blog http://www.codepinkjournals.blogspot.com)

    I attempted to merely group a few tents together to provide space for womyn to tent on the plaza. Men went ape-shit, as if the womyn movement never happened. I was accused of being “divisive”, of “segregation”, of making everyone uncomfortable (except those womyn who wanted to tent together). You might have thought I was suggesting castration for all males over 5!

    When the vote of about 30 mostly white males and around 8 females was taken, majority ruled in a process that claimed consensus. The men told me I brought it on myself, attempting segregation!

    BUT we are starting our own occupation! At Lafayette Park in front of the White House, Here is the preliminary call:

    Calling all Witches, Crones, and Sirens! And our allies!!! Help create a new occupation at Lafayette Park beginning October 31st! An occupation that
    • recognizes the Military & Prison Industrial Complexes as the driving forces of our economy and race/class/sex system
    • targets war & prison corporate profiteers
    • seeks to create a totally different pie where no individual human being has less than any other human being

    Further we want to build the foundation for our occupation on the recognition and responsibility for the isms that we bring from the outer society including but not limited to racism, sexism, homophobia, classism.

    We especially recognize we activists who have come to D.C. might be part of the 99% in the U.S. as a whole, but here in D.C. at this park, we are the 1% compared with the 99% poor and homeless people who occupied this place before we arrived.

    We will attempt to role model for the larger society how the 1% shares with and reaches equity with the 99%.

    We have a zero tolerance for overt racism, sexism, homophobia, classism, or any form of violence; and a 100% commitment to rectifying and making amends/reparations for covert isms and improving our non-violent behavioral and communication skills.

    We struggle to recognize and grow beyond internalized isms. We who are the victims of isms also strive to protect ourselves and maintain our commitment to building community and activism in spite of facing these issues amongst us.

    We are committed to being aware, raising consciousness, and making all the connections: from the tiniest part we play in caring for and protecting the Mother Earth and all life – so we are conscious of the choices we make around consumption of food, things, products – to the greatest part of undermining slave labor and genocide by determining how & where we spend our money and resources.

    If this so moves you, please come join us at Lafayette Park, Washington D.C. from 6:00am on Monday, October 31st until we have succeeded in convincing enuff U.S. people to come to D.C. and end the wars & prisons industrial complexes.

  9. SheilaG permalink
    October 28, 2011 8:49 pm

    I really believe the men commenting here are mentally challenged. Classism exists, racism is a system, as is male supremacy. Wall Street itself is one of the most male dominated industries in the nation, and it is no accident that men were the prime movers in the crashes and globalization.

    Patriarchy is the system, and both men and women are in it. Occupy Wall Street doesn’t address this issues of the overriding system, just as “bank reform” has nothing to do with creating new systems outside of capitalism.

    When men are called into question, as oppressors, they are going to fight back to silence women. They are acting like patriarchs, and don’t want their power challenged, just like the men of Wall Street who don’t want the occupy movement to get anywhere.

    It is exactly the same process. If men don’t get this, it’s because it is a deliberate tactic not to acknowledge, and thus waste more of women’s time. Women are the 51%, and if women collectively choose to end the system of male supremacy, it would end tomorrow.

    The greatest challenge in feminism is not about men at all, it is waking up women worldwide, that should be the sole purpose of feminism. When women demand and push back, men back down. They have no say in the matter, women do.

  10. Fuzz permalink
    October 28, 2011 8:55 pm

    “Women are the majority on the planet: we are the 51%. That’s why”

    This figure is for the USA, not for the planet. Please check your facts before publishing them

    Here are the estimates for the CIA world fact book:

    at birth: 1.07 male(s)/female
    under 15 years: 1.07 male(s)/female
    15-64 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
    65 years and over: 0.79 male(s)/female
    total population: 1.01 male(s)/female (2011 est.)

    Meanwhile, UN data suggests:

    Males – 3,477,829,638
    Females – 3,418,059,380

    Sources:

    https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/xx.html
    http://esa.un.org/unpd/wpp/index.htm

    Considering the situation regarding infanticide in India/China, these figures do not seem out of line.

    Starting your argument is an incorrect statistic isn’t really the best way to go.

    • Fuzz permalink
      October 28, 2011 9:05 pm

      with an incorrect statistic*

  11. October 29, 2011 4:43 am

    yes, lets do discuss the global epidemic of female infanticide shall we? 🙂

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