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The Global Occupation Of Patriarchy

December 14, 2011

The struggle against patriarchy is a global one.  And the recent awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee, Tawakkol Karman reminds us that women’s activism is crucial. But as women in the Middle East who have participated so fearlessly in the uprisings of the Arab Spring have discovered, the success of progressive and revolutionary movements does not guarantee gains in women rights. And so women everywhere continue to rise up and to insist upon those rights and calls to occupy patriarchy are being heard around the globe.

On Nov. 25, The International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, Italian women  marched to call attention to austerity as a form of violence against women, citing policies that “de facto” require women to work multiple jobs, paid and unpaid.  Marchers also were protesting Italy’s very restrictive abortion rights policies.  And in the Philippines, women recently decided to “Occupy RH” (reproductive health) to push for passage of crucial reproductive health legislation with chants of, “RH delay, 11 deaths every day”.

Women also marched in Barcelona, Spain on Nov. 25th:

In England, numerous actions have taken place. In Exeter, women raised awareness about patriarchy with art.  And in Bristol, women experimented with “Carrying Our Safe Space With Us” in order to empower women at General Assemblies (the daily organizing meetings that are held in most Occupy locations). Feminists Occupy London has a Facebook page here and women at Occupy Warwick put up an Occupy Patriarchy tent!

The aim of the Occupy Patriarchy tent was to provide an anti-sexist space for students to talk about gender, the impact of the cuts on women and the role of feminism in the anti-cuts movement.

The Organization for Women’s Freedom In Iraq, whose members have been beaten by the police for their participation in Arab Spring actions in Iraq, issued a statement supporting Occupy Wall Street pointing out the connection between the cause of the 99% and U.S. imperialism in the Middle East and the Arab Spring.

Slovenian activist Tea Hvala offers us this thoughtful analysis. From Slovakia comes this commentary (easily translated via Google Translate). And from New Zealand:

But there are other risks associated with this movement, internal rather than external threats. Reports of rape in Cleveland and Glasgow circulate online. Occupiers in Wellington debate how to react to the presence of fascists in the city, and potentially at the occupation itself. It’s become increasingly obvious that by including those who behave oppressively, we automatically exclude others.

This de facto exclusion, particularly of women and those on the trans* spectrum, limits the development of Occupy politics.

The global call to end patriarchal control both within movements for change and the world as a whole have never been louder.  It is time to heed those calls.  If you know of other actions and commentary from outside the U.S. that should be included here, please add links in the comments section.

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