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We are inviting women from diverse cultures, races, sexual orientation, and all who self-identify as women, regardless of birth gender, to share their personal stories about their encounters with sexism, racism, classism or similar forms of discrimination as they relate to the larger issues of women's oppression.If through dialogue, we find ways to work together to move the lives of women forward, great. If not, we can at least listen to each other and become more sensitive to each others' goals. These diaries are intended to be dialogues among women from their own perspectives. We ask men readers to respect this.

This is likely to be short and to the point, as I am very involved in OccupyBoston and little time today. I did want to jot down some of the gender-based experiences I've seen and heard about here, though.

As I note in a previous diary, OccupyBoston almost fell apart organizationally last week. We were having a difficult time creating a General Assembly environment which was conducive to openness and productivity. On Wednesday evening not one person on the facilitation team wanted to facilitate a GA. A huge factor in that dynamic had to do with how women were being treated. More below the fold.....

At last Tuesday evening's General Assembly, two women were facilitating. One of them ended up walking away from the assembly and the other wanted to but felt too strongly that the occupation couldn't afford to have that happen. They were both quite shaken up, as they stage had been rushed by the crowd and they were not afforded any respect or empowerment to facilitate a meeting. Men were dominating the airwaves and encroaching on their physical space.

We had seen a lot of this. There were some stark examples:

  • We try to keep the presentation area clear of anybody who is not presenting during the GA. It's distracting to everyone when other people are milling around up there and often they are blocking the camera for the livestream. It is difficult to get compliance. The facilitation team has to assign people to monitor the space and ask people to move. One evening a woman was doing this job. She asked a man to move down from the presentation area and he refused. Four times. She then sent another woman to ask him. He refused. Twice. She then sent a man to ask him. He moved upon the first request by a male.
  • The first time I facilitated the GA, there was in the beginning a fairly diverse crowd. People were sitting up front and behind them people were standing. At every agenda item in the meeting there were voices of dissent saying, "who gave you the power to put that on the agenda?!" or "I think we should be doing it this way!" About halfway through the meeting, I looked down to see that the crowd sitting down had vacated and the standing crowd and changed. The entire front line of people standing was male and mostly white. They had disrupted every discussion and blocked any progress at the GA. The next morning, there was camp GA and when I arrived at the 5pm meeting for the evening GA I was told how they had done such a great job facilitating. I asked what was done differently. The only functional difference was that the agenda items were in a different order. They hadn't done anything different in terms of the way they facilitated. The structural difference: the facilitators were two white males. We had already seen a pattern: when men facilitated, the meetings went more smoothly. When women facilitated, men disrupted and tried to overpower them.
  • OccupyBoston has not been able to put out any "official" declarations or demands. I've seen several attempts at people proposing that we have a provisional list wherein we can put one item at a time until we feel the list is complete. That, at least, this would allow us to say something official without claiming that the list was all-encompassing or prioritized. These proposals are always shot down. There are a couple of people insisting that their working group is writing a full list and that it would be detrimental to the entire occupation if we were to go through any process other than what their group is doing. Their group meets late at night, after the GA. I stayed one evening to see the group. All male. Mostly white. I think there may be one or two other people trying to be involved, but I am very concerned about this group defining a movement which is supposed to represent a plurality of voices.
  • After our frightening and intense night of arrests, we used the GA for some testimonial time so that people could hear from differing perspectives and connect the experiences for a fuller picture of what had happened. We asked for people to categorize themselves - those who had been arrested, those who had witnessed arrest, those who held the line but saw no police action, etc. We created different stacks for each category and started calling out those who were willing to come up and speak. The lead facilitator was about to close the testimonial segment, when I stood up and said, "we need to hear from women." We had heard from about 10 men and only 1 or two women. I went to the microphone and called women up to speak. Suddenly there was a line and about 6 or 7 women then spoke.
  • The Media Team, who are often interviewed and in front of the cameras, is predominantly men.

There are tons of little exchanges where the women are feeling overpowered and disrespected by the men. My sense is that a couple of things are feeding this dynamic. People have come to protest which means many are coming with their anger. We have a contingent of angry young men and they don't realize or seem to care that this makes them aggressive and oppressive. There is one young man, for instance, who is beautiful in so many ways and I'm certain that I agree with much of what he stands for. But, no matter how many times we say something, he insists on yelling when he gets the microphone. Women, particularly, end up cringing. Yelling is not the only way to express anger or passion. It is a violent form of expression. Women are not comfortable with men who yell. The women are going to fade back when they encounter this.

Also, this is an encampment at the core of a movement. The rough nature of living in an encampment means that there are many more men camping out than women. The movement includes far more people than the campers, but the campers naturally feel a bit more like they own it. That can lead to them feeling they have more of a right to control things or have more say.

After the near-demise of the GA last week, we have seen some improvement in how the facilitators are treated. There has been more respect for the process and this has gone a long way to empowering the facilitators. It is my hope that the more the GAs go well with women facilitating them, the better the gender dynamics will get. Also, the more the community bonds and people's anxieties are quelled, the better it will get. It's a stressful thing to gather in civil disobedience and the stress can bring out our lowest common denominators in terms of relationship skills. I hope to see that as the movement builds and trust amongst the members of the community grows, we'll get to higher common denominators. Still, it's sad to realize that we are in the 21st century and through a few waves of feminism and gender dynamics remain so challenging.

Originally posted to Anti-Capitalist Chat on Thu Oct 13, 2011 at 03:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by Feminism, Pro-Feminism, Womanism: Feminist Issues, Ideas, & Activism, ClassWarfare Newsletter: WallStreet VS Working Class Global Occupy movement, Massachusetts Kosmopolitans, and Occupy Wall Street.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I have recced your diaries on Middle East (17+ / 0-)

    and on #Occupy events and process as they are among the very best on this site, bar none.
    Yes I have seen this at my Occupy site in Upstate NY as well, not as blatant but a feature nevertheless.

    This will not stand or this will devolve into the same old bickering and chauvinism that has aborted many a good start.

    Keep speaking up Una, there are people who back you and if needed will teach the angry young men a lesson about respect.

    This is about true and genuine participatorydemocracy, not displacing the 1% patriarchs and their hierarchies with an upstart younger generation.

    If you think that you and a bunch of other people can just show up on Wall St, camp out and have any effect whatsoever, you're dreaming. *YUP!* h/t Hamden Rice

    by BeeDeeS on Thu Oct 13, 2011 at 03:09:17 PM PDT

  •  The femimnist movement that began in the 60s (14+ / 0-)

    was partly stimulated by very similar types of conflicts during the protest activities that were taking place then. History repeats itself. Maybe we've made some progress since then, but when you put people under pressure it often fails to bring out their best qualities.

    •  plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose (6+ / 0-)

      if we are constantly repeating the same mistakes and we need to relearn the same lessons every single time, we will never move beyond the same battles. Those that are being sexists should be called out and made to acknowledge what they are doing or they will never change.

      "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

      by NY brit expat on Thu Oct 13, 2011 at 03:35:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Typing and getting coffee? (4+ / 0-)

      Oh - and seeing that the leaders sexual needs were taken care of?  Those roles for women?

      Una, can there be a GA discussion of this?  It seems to me that the entire group needs to take it on for any change to come about.  That would acknowledge that it is a group problem, not a women's problem.

      Take care of yourself.  

      When shit happens, you get fertilized.

      by ramara on Fri Oct 14, 2011 at 08:11:37 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Protest and gender (11+ / 0-)

    It's something interesting to think about, although I'm not sure I have anything stunning and deep to add, other than that having women at events (particularly ones that may result in arrests) is particularly important.

    Thank you for the food for thought.

  •  Thank you for your work... (8+ / 0-)

    in all struggles things don't go smoothly and it will take time and effort by all to achieve progress. Be strong....peace.

    Plato's " The Cave" taught me to question reality.

    by CTDemoFarmer on Thu Oct 13, 2011 at 03:13:32 PM PDT

  •  Women have had similar experiences in Occupy Wall (11+ / 0-)

    Street.  I think discussing these issues is important.  Noting the difference in the way men and women react to things is also important.  But I don't think that means
    accommodating the gender differences --except where it makes the general occupation better.

    For example, while women's more genial (less yelling) manner may generally be better for group discussions, sometimes a little passionate yelling (as long as you are not interrupting) can be empowering and we, women have to learn not to expect everything to be "mice" which is how we were trained.  Just like the guys have to learn that the best way to win an argument is not to always overpower the other speakers by yelling.

    Also, if more men are sleeping over because it is "roughing it" and women are not used to that, they will, and rightly so, feel more entitled to the space because this is the frontline of occuaption.  As a solution to that, I wouldn't say men should understand that it is too rough for women, but that women should get out there and hit the ground (I met many middle aged housewives who spent time the hills in Nicaragua during their revolution).  At the same time, if some people can't sleep out because they have kids and it isn't a safe space for children, then we should honor parents (of both sexes) need not to sleep out but be home taking care of children.

    •  agreed in general, but the final point is (12+ / 0-)

      something that must be taken on board. Also, just because you are able to sleep out does not mean you should be privileged for many reasons. If they are building a movement based upon democratic participation, that means that people can only participate as much as they are able and their contribution needs to be respected as much as those sleeping out. No one is asking for privilege, in fact, the opposite; they are asking for equality and respect

      "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

      by NY brit expat on Thu Oct 13, 2011 at 03:39:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  This is a dynamic that I have often seen and (14+ / 0-)

    experienced in mass orgs and when coalition building. It is extremely frustrating, you are almost waiting for them to send you to make or get coffee.

    Extremely frustrating. Reading this and hearing the literal drowning out of women's voices is annoying. If the movement is dominated by angry young men that is not a movement. They finally did some interviews on the bbc with protestors at OWS and only interviewed men (all but one of whom was white) although there were women present in the pictures. I was not sure if this was the BBC and their sexism (in that they only asked men if they wanted to be interviewed) or whether men were the only spokespeople of the group or whether only men volunteered to be interviewed.

    This does not bode well, not only is it not democratic, it is sexist and unless those doing this are willing to discuss and acknowledge their sexism, this is not a movement that is by any means inclusive. so what is it 49% of 99%? sigh ...

    I have heard comments on OccupyLA from a female friend that is a dis-ability rights organiser that has been complaining about access for disabled people to the site so that they can participate and she is extremely frustrated.

    "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

    by NY brit expat on Thu Oct 13, 2011 at 03:30:42 PM PDT

    •  I don't know what the answer is for dealing (10+ / 0-)

      with people who think that those who yell the loudest have the power to control everybody else. In more structured situations there are ways of imposing order. What is of course needed is a spirit that makes people want to be inclusive. Clearly that is not a default state for many of them.

      Perhaps one thing that women can do is to make their contributions with their own form of courage and lead by example. The world remembers Rosa Parks. That isn't the only approach, but it does have value.

      •  I must admit that the women have to stand up. (11+ / 0-)

        I called for women to speak and clearly they wanted to. Nothing stops them from getting on stack but themselves.

        Tonight I had an interaction with a woman wherein we were in the "state your concerns or objections" section and her floor manager thought her statement was really a clarifying question. I heard her question and answered it based on what I knew. She said she was still concerned. I told her to put up her hand and get the floor manager to let her speak.

        Her response: "I can't now because you spoke with a tone of authority. I have no choice."

        I replied, " you're making a choice" to which she responded "you took my choice away."

        I called a floor manager over and said she needed to speak.

        But I was so angry with her. How dare she abdicate her power and put the burden of her having a voice on me.

        Women have to stop doing that.

        Please remember to Witness Revolution. It means so much to them that we pay attention.

        by UnaSpenser on Thu Oct 13, 2011 at 07:02:06 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  when did anarchism become passive?! (6+ / 0-)

          wtf?! I would have been furious, you spoke with authority because you pointed out that she had something to say?! ... would she have stood there silently waiting to be noticed?!  argh! how dare she then complain? they must love her at meetings, waiting to be acknowledged while the real men get on with their important discussions. btw, points of clarification are allowed from the floor, so even if someone thought it was a clarifying question there should have been no question of her asking it.

          "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

          by NY brit expat on Thu Oct 13, 2011 at 07:11:15 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  we have an order of discussion: points of (7+ / 0-)

            clarification are first - I'm talking about the processing of a proposal here, at a GA with several hundred people - then points of information, then concerns or objects, then amendments, then statements of support.

            If hers was a question asking for clarification about the proposal she simply would have been rolled into that stack. She felt her point was a concern. It was sort of a concern, but it was only a concern because she wasn't clear about something. Once her misunderstanding of a term was clarified, her concern was addressed. Sometimes, it gets muddy. But, the floor managers are empowered to determine which stack you belong on. They never get to say you can't speak, they simply get to help with the flow.

            On the other point, she thought I answered her question with so much authority that she somehow wasn't allowed to voice her concern. It really seemed to be an issue she has with women, because when a man told her exactly what I told her - almost verbatim - she then felt that her concern was resolved. She was a piece of work.

            Please remember to Witness Revolution. It means so much to them that we pay attention.

            by UnaSpenser on Thu Oct 13, 2011 at 10:08:16 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Good observation. (5+ / 0-)

              I've noticed "sexist" behavior enabled and empowered by the females who seem to insist on being overlooked and minimized.

              I don't get that.  But then, I'm a guy.  

              All in all I don't know there are solutions to this sort of thing.  It's something that comes up in all cultures, in all times, and sometimes I think well, hell, that's just the way it is.

              Kudo's to anyone with the guts to stand up and speak, male or female.  The courage given them by their convictions allows them to be heard.

              And those who are willing to be ignored will be ignored.  Male or female.  Unfortunately all too often those same who are willing to be ignored, who virtually insist on it, will later bemoan the fact that they were... ignored.

              "I believe in a government which acts, which exercises its full powers and full responsibilities. Government is an art and a precious obligation..." JFK

              by Rick Aucoin on Fri Oct 14, 2011 at 03:35:17 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  unless those doing this (4+ / 0-)

      therein lies hope, I hope. the way changes in the minds of people (meaning to include men) were effected, IIRC, was to bring the things out in the open because the men too, at least most, find themselves on the right side or want to be there. Maybe I misremember. But real changes (including in gender behaviour) were achieved, and what I read here sounds like the beginnings of the way it was done back then too.

    •  My cousin (5+ / 0-)

      who is in that young-white-angry-male demographic, and an ex-Marine as well, described similar situations during his time at OccupyDallas. He explained it as too many men trying to defend their own egos. However, he has great hopes that the overall communal aspect will overcome their defensiveness, and spokespersons will become more representational of the general make-up of the participants.

      "Bootstraps are a fine invention as long as they are attached to boots." blueoasis

      by northsylvania on Fri Oct 14, 2011 at 04:59:47 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Bloomberg is going to "clean" Wall Street Square (8+ / 0-)

    early Friday morning - occupiers will be asked to leave.  says they will be allowed to return but without bedding, tarps, etc.  Someone will monitor them going back in (if they get in).  This was same tactic used to clear Bloomsbergville 4 months ago.

    Now is the time for women to show what we are made of.  People are going doing tonite and early (4am) tomorrow to defend the square.  Some of us can go too.
    Time to join the army -- only the right army, the army of the people.  Let's make it a non-sexist, united action.  

    If you are reading this are any of you feeling like maybe this is not the kind of thing I do? Well, outside of age or illness or just the attitude of being a liberal but not a radical--if your gender is the only thing making you hesitate, it's time to reevaluate.  Maybe, if you live in New York, you should get down to the square (BTW I know some older women who have been done there a lot and will be joining the defense).

  •  I have a question! (8+ / 0-)

    How many people are participating in diaries on OWS on dkos? why is it when we raise sexism in the movement suddenly there is no one interested in talking? how many women are spokespeople of this movement? how many women are protesting? what is our role, to be background? come on ladies!

    "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

    by NY brit expat on Thu Oct 13, 2011 at 03:56:09 PM PDT

    •  have written to the occupy wall street group (6+ / 0-)

      clearinghouse site here on dkos and asked them to republish the diary, this is something that needs to be discussed openly!

      "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

      by NY brit expat on Thu Oct 13, 2011 at 04:03:41 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Right now everyone is trying to get people out for (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      poco, NY brit expat, petral, Keori, martini

      the defense of OWS tomorrow.  So the gender specifics may not be their first priority right now.  Also, it is still mainly white, young college guys running it (like in the 60s)even though some powerful women have spoken there -- Barbara Erenreich, Naomi Klein, etc.  

      We, protesting as women, have always taken a back seat in revolutionary movements -- even when we were the mainstay of the movement -- which is why a women's movement, populated mostly by women, always follows an upswing in the left movement.  We always have to go and form our own to get it done.

      Also, since DK is mainly a Democratic Party site -- while the Dems have generally been friendly to OWS, especially lately, along with the unions, they are still more in a support role and not so down with the actual dynamics of what is going on in the encampment.

      •  So what is it with young white college guys? (5+ / 0-)

        When I was one of those 50 years ago in Alabama nobody had ever told us about gender equality, or much of any other kind of equality. There have been a lot of conversations since then.

         It doesn't seem to take root in the culture and get passed on as part of basic humanity 101.

        •  Here is the most honest reply I can give you. (8+ / 0-)

          Nobody gives up power without a fight.  White. male, college (class) represent the big three power pilars --and if you look at our government and the CEO's (outside of the wives of some CEO's who sit on boards), the world is still mainly WMR (white, male, rich)overlords in America.

          You mentioned 50 years -- we've (women)have been in this spot for thousands of years -- so some of the changes (like tokens like Obama or -ugh-Bachman) are actually signs of improvement -- along with women in jobs they couldn't have held 40 years ago, and divorce, and some public childcare.

          Just means we have to keep up the work.  P.S. Women still only own 8% of the wealth compared to men (and that stat doesn't even break out the much worse stat for women of color)

          P.S. The IMF rapist just got off his second charge of sexual assault (first in the USA,now in France).  Hello!

      •  there are people on this site that have been (5+ / 0-)

        participating from the beginning; this is a movement supposedly based upon democratic participation and the notion of consensus; if women cannot participate as equals, then how can consensus be truly built?

        These women have come in and given motivational speeches, the basis of this movement is in participatory democracy is it not? it is only NY that is threatening to dismantle the site, there are others participating in different cities here.

        One thing is the leadership of the site and the democratic party, neither of which have anything to do with this movement; where are all the angry young men here on this site that have been working with this movement? Unaspenser, Joanneleon and other women from this site have been participating from the beginning ... yet no one wants to address this issue raised by someone that has been participating.

        "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

        by NY brit expat on Thu Oct 13, 2011 at 04:19:52 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  There is certainly no assurance (6+ / 0-)

          that everybody who shows up is committed to those principles. I am going to a training program tomorrow to be a monitor for Saturday's demonstration in Santa Rosa.

          •  but, it would be nice for them to take this on (7+ / 0-)

            board; it is almost insulting that I have to ask a feminist man to raise these issues at a training meeting.

            Man, I have worked for years as a political organiser; it is hard (and I am not a mouse by any means and neither is geminijen) to get women to get the same respect as men (forget issues of gender oppression or sexism); people have to be very aware of this issue and it needs to be monitored.

            I do not mind the shouting (unless it is a megaphone in my ear), I shout, I yell; but if women are being shouted down by men when they are chairing a meeting, it is impossible and it sends a very strong message that women are not equal and they can not be in leadership as these guys are in charge. These are the exact opposite principles of what this group is supposed to be fighting for; so we exchange our oppressors from extremely wealthy older white men to wealthy young white men? As geminijen said above: it is the classic combination of race, class and gender privilege.

            "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

            by NY brit expat on Thu Oct 13, 2011 at 04:47:21 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  I agree, but two steps forward, in the case of (6+ / 0-)

          women especially in the last twenty years, at least one step back. It is very hard, especially for younger women, who have not yet faced much of the oppression of women as women and who can still use some of the old "feminine wiles" to develop the strength, assertiveness and (yes anger) to challenge men (their future lovers and partners) even when they show this strength in other areas.  

          That is why we try to do stuff like this.  Even if it's only 11 people tonite.  Anyway, I'm going to the square at 6am tomorrow.  Ex Pat, only the New York OWS is currently being threatened with evacuation -- and they are couching it in bureaucratic regulatory terms.

          Also, we asked the guys not to take an active part in this dialogue -- guess that means they don't want to come and read unless they feel free to comment, freely.  Though I admit I appreciate Richard Lyons input.

  •  Very important to bring attention to this, (4+ / 0-)

    please keep up the great work!

  •  Hate to say it, (9+ / 0-)

    but this sounds like deja vu all over again. AntiVietnam-hippie-antiwar-whatever + 40 years or so.

    At least now women aren't all being told that all they can do is make the coffee.

    ::sigh::

    At least the earnings gap is closing, by a few cents every decade.

    ::double sigh::

    Yesterday's weirdness is tomorrow's reason why. -- Hunter S. Thompson

    by Mnemosyne on Thu Oct 13, 2011 at 05:11:14 PM PDT

    •  Yes, the gains are little, but they are gains.But (5+ / 0-)

      as far as gains in our wages--while there has been some gain in our wages, the more important statistic is how much of the nation's wealth women control and it is only 8% compared to men's.  That indicator takes a lot longer to change.  The biggest indicators of change in a women's wealth are inheritance(daddy) and --wait for it --your marital status!  Love and romance might not be the only reason women are still so attached to the marriage tradition.

  •  It's so discouraging seeing the same old, (7+ / 0-)

    same old, replay itself out, again and again.

    This does not bode well at all for the OWS movement, or the young men who claim they are representing the "99%" while disrespecting half of it.

    There is no excuse for such behavior.
    None.

    Seen too much of it for far too long.

    I'm so sorry you HAD to write this diary, but unfortunately, I'm not surprised.

    You, and all the other women who have worked so hard for so long, deserve to be treated with ultimate respect and dignity.

    People who treat women so poorly have no right to claim to speak for me, my sons or my daughters.

    If corporations are people, then I want to see some birth certificates and talk to their parents.

    by Onomastic on Thu Oct 13, 2011 at 05:59:29 PM PDT

    •  The good news is that we are, once again, discuss- (7+ / 0-)

      ing it -- for the last twenty or so years, women have been pretending we are "post-sexist' while reverting to many of the old sex role channeling from the 60's.  So we may have to start some things over, but we are ahead of where we were in the 60's.  Compare wonder woman and Zena, the old and the new Charlie's Angels, how much better we do consensus in these meetings today than when the method of getting your way in a meeting in the 60's was for half the group to walk out if they lost a vote.

      •  Speaking only for myself, I never thought we (8+ / 0-)

        were "post-sexist" anymore than I thought we had reached some post-racial nirvana.

        Neither assumption bore up to scrutiny.

        Yes, there has been progress, but not nearly enough, especially given the amount of push back from the religious right that we've been seeing for decades.

        To have men, young or old, claiming to fight for economic and social justice, while treating women so poorly reveals more than just hypocrisy. Their actions exhibit an arrogant ignorance that under cuts the very foundation of OWS.

        Either everyone is deserving of respect and consideration or the movement is not what it claims to be.

        If corporations are people, then I want to see some birth certificates and talk to their parents.

        by Onomastic on Thu Oct 13, 2011 at 06:40:39 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  As women we have also been willing to play into (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Onomastic, NY brit expat, martini

          some of the old sexist cultures we said we had gotten past, i.e. women as sex objects.  What's with that?

           

          •  We're surrounded by it. (5+ / 0-)

            Our sexuality is used to sell everything from tires to food. The very real issues of violence against women are used to sell prime time network tv "dramas." Shows I refuse to watch.

            As the mom of two daughters, both of whom are now in their thirties, it was very apparent to me very early that when it came to supporting and nurturing my daughters as whole human beings, it was going to be me against our culture every damn step of the way.

            It was heart breaking to see how the girls were forced to change as they got to middle school. The struggle they went through I would not wish on anyone, and yet it happens to all our daughters.

            Our society has NEVER stopped being sexist as hell. It's only, as with racism, put a thin veneer of correctness on it.

            If corporations are people, then I want to see some birth certificates and talk to their parents.

            by Onomastic on Fri Oct 14, 2011 at 02:30:19 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Middle school. It's why we're homeschooling. (4+ / 0-)

              I couldn't let my daughter be subjected to the culture of middle school. Luckily, here in Boston, there is a vibrant homeschooling community and we have quickly found new friends who are also opting out of the cultural norms and raising their daughters in a different environment.

              It's tough, though, to avoid the horribly misogynistic culture here.

              Please remember to Witness Revolution. It means so much to them that we pay attention.

              by UnaSpenser on Fri Oct 14, 2011 at 09:14:42 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  Sorry, hit post too soon.. (5+ / 0-)

        And my previous comment is directed to the men of OWS. It is up to them to police their own and to make sure their sisters, mothers, and daughters have equal standing.

        I want to hear the men of OWS owning this and fixing it.

        If corporations are people, then I want to see some birth certificates and talk to their parents.

        by Onomastic on Thu Oct 13, 2011 at 06:44:03 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  have heard that H.R.358 the so-called (4+ / 0-)

    "Protect Life Act" (as long as it is not a women's life obviously) has passed the house. Can this pass the senate? I have heard that the President will veto from Rh Reality Check (http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/...) but ffs, I swear the US falls deeper into barbarism every moment. I do not expect much from the government but this is beyond disgusting. sorry for raising this here, just got emails from a number of mainstream women's groups. ugh!

    "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

    by NY brit expat on Thu Oct 13, 2011 at 06:17:23 PM PDT

    •  No, it won't pass in the Senate (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Onomastic, NY brit expat, evergreen2

      Per Laura Bassett's article (I don't link to HuffPost):

      H.R. 358, introduced by Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Pa.), goes beyond the issue of taxpayer dollars to place actual limits on the way a woman spends her own money. The bill would prevent a woman from buying a private insurance plan that includes abortion coverage through a state health care exchange, even though most insurance plans currently cover abortion.

      An even more controversial aspect of the bill would allow hospitals that are morally opposed to abortion, such as Catholic institutions, to do nothing for a woman who requires an emergency abortion procedure to save her life. Current law requires that hospitals give patients in life-threatening situations whatever care they need, regardless of the patient's financial situation, but the Protect Life Act would make a hospital's obligation to provide care in medical emergencies secondary to its refusal to provide abortions.

      "Congress has passed refusal laws before, but it's never blatantly tried to override emergency care protections," said Sarah Lipton-Lubet, policy counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union. "We've heard proponents of this bill say that women don't need emergency abortion care, but that is really just willful blindness to the facts."

      According to the American Journal of Public Health, Catholic hospitals already have a years-long history of ignoring the emergency care law to avoid performing abortions. In late 2009, an Arizona bishop excommunicated a nun who authorized an abortion procedure for a woman who otherwise might have died of pulmonary hypertension at a Catholic hospital in Phoenix.

      Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) said she personally faced a situation in which an abortion was medically necessary.

      "I was pregnant, I was miscarrying, I was bleeding," she said on the House floor Thursday. "If I had to go from one hospital to the next trying to find one emergency room that would take me in, who knows if I would even be here today. What my colleagues on the other side of the aisle are trying to do is misogynist."

      Despite a strong showing in the House, the bill is unlikely to pass in the Democrat-controlled Senate, and the White House said on Wednesday that President Barack Obama will veto the legislation if it ever reaches his desk.

      "The Administration strongly opposes H.R. 358 because ... the legislation intrudes on women's reproductive freedom and access to health care and unnecessarily restricts the private insurance choices that women and their families have today," the White House said in a statement.

      The bolding is mine.

  •  Thanks, UnaSpenser For an Important Discussion. (11+ / 0-)

    It is critical to raise the issue -- loudly (but not yelling) -- about respect for women in the OWS movement itself, and UnaSpenser has clearly doing that effectively within the Occupy Boston group and, thankfully, she is now doing it here on dailykos as well.

    (This diary has been re-published to the Occupy Wall Street group, I just checked.)

    Convict Bush, Cheney and their torture cabal. Support single-payer health care,unions, and WikiLeaks.

    by Justina on Thu Oct 13, 2011 at 06:28:20 PM PDT

  •  This is important and I have to admit that (7+ / 0-)

    when I see Ministry of Truth getting all this press that is so wonderful, I wonder if it could have happened for a woman? Or for a person of color? Is he easier to listen to because he is a white male?

    And then I have all these issues because I am raising two young, white men in today's culture and I want them to proud and confident but I also want them to understand how they have a responsibility beyond themselves without putting the weight of the world on their shoulders.

    These are hard things.

    •  At least MOT is working class (and also proudly (6+ / 0-)

      uses that term to describe himself), I take comfort in that; he is using his fame for good purposes and not self-aggrandisement. But I also wonder about the same role being served by a woman or a person of colour, would the same response have been offered to them even if they were as articulate as MOT? I do not want to take anything away from him; it is excellent that people are listening to what he is saying, even more so that he is such a humble guy, he has done so well and I am really proud of him.

      It is so important that your sons know that they have a responsibility to others. it doesn't necessarily mean that they are getting the world on their shoulders, but to understand how your behaviour and words affect others and that others are deserving of the same respect that you think that you should have is a basic principle that is the first step towards understanding social responsibility and cooperation. :) this is another one of those things that I learned from my mother, bless her!

      "Hegel noticed somewhere that all great world history facts and people so to speak twice occur. He forgot to add: the one time as tragedy, the other time as farce" Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte .

      by NY brit expat on Thu Oct 13, 2011 at 06:48:58 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Especially given (9+ / 0-)

      that he doesn't interact much with the collective. He doesn't sit in general assemblies or work with any working groups. He and Hank are independent operators. It could be argued that there is an important reason to independent journalistic types. But the media, and DailyKos, have proclaimed him a face of the movement when he doesn't participate in a core part of what the movement is about: working in and for the collective.

      Don't get me wrong, I love Jesse and he has a gift for combative dialog.  But would a woman get away with this? Or would the collective turn on her?

      Please remember to Witness Revolution. It means so much to them that we pay attention.

      by UnaSpenser on Thu Oct 13, 2011 at 07:16:40 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Interesting. (4+ / 0-)

        Thanks Una, for all that you do.

        If corporations are people, then I want to see some birth certificates and talk to their parents.

        by Onomastic on Thu Oct 13, 2011 at 07:22:57 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Nobody should get to coopt the basic purpose of (5+ / 0-)

        the movement which, at this point, it to try to create a collective, democratic whole -- no individual man, no woman, no political party, etc.  We are always so busy try to get power over others, to mould them to our will or speak for them without asking them what they think!

        Am worried about tomorrow morning what will happen at Wall Street.  If they oust occupiers, mu suggestion is that we either retake it Saturday with the big demo or take our collapsable chairs (which are legal) and pull a cindy sheehan and go occupy Times Square in front of the Army Recruiting Station!

        Tomorrow will be an intersting day.

        •  I don't think Jesse is trying to co-opt the (8+ / 0-)

          movement. He is very committed to calling out the abuses of power and connecting the dots from money in politics to corporately controlled media. So, he's speaking his truth and he does it very well. He's not ruffled by interviewers who are not practicing journalism in good faith. It's impressive.

          He simply does it on his own. Since autonomy is a protected right in the Collective Thinking/Participatory Democracy/Consensus Decision-Making system, no one can deny him his right to a rogue act.

          In fact, I've been surprised to see that HankNYNY put links in his diaries - which Jesse then started using as they teamed up - and called it a media fund and, early on, led people to believe it was THE media fund for the media center at Zuccoti Park. He later admitted, that because he struggled to figure out how to work with the media team, the fund was his personal fund. He had bought himself equipment. (He did use some of the money, early on, for the media team, but he ended up thinking of the fund as his own.) Once he finally admitted that the fund was his, there was zero backlash from that. Would a women get away with that?

          Jesse and Hank are both comfortable in front of a camera and comfortable being confrontational and domineering in a conversation. (Neither seems to be aware that they are doing it. They mean well.)  Both white male. Both unable to really plug into the collective. Both operating on its fringes. What about that taps into our psyches and convinces us to celebrate them as heroes of a movement which is supposed to be about cooperative governance? And, again, would a woman ever have pulled this off? We need to examine this.

          Please remember to Witness Revolution. It means so much to them that we pay attention.

          by UnaSpenser on Thu Oct 13, 2011 at 10:30:15 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Thanks for the information Una. (4+ / 0-)

            You're right, we do need to examine this.

            If corporations are people, then I want to see some birth certificates and talk to their parents.

            by Onomastic on Fri Oct 14, 2011 at 03:20:32 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  As one who has rogue individualistic tendencies my (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            UnaSpenser

            self, I know that "meaning well" is not enough.  Over the years I have learned to be grateful for the process structures that collectives have put into place (though I used to make fun of them0 -- primarily because they keep me in line!  And sometimes I have trouble following them (like not interrupting).  So I think we all have to look at ourselves and each other.  The Liberation Theology guy's comment about act and reflect -- Maoists also used criticism, self-criticism.  when it doesn't get compulsive, crazy and punitive, it is a very effective technique.

  •  Comment from Sheila Parks:was at occupyboston GA (7+ / 0-)

    last Sunday night.

    And went nuts internally when during the explanation of  symbols, at the blocking one, white man after white man after white man raised his hand to speak and spoke

    I wondered what I was doing there, this was supposed to be not sexist, etc

    At the very end of the GA a woman from the queer subcommittee announced they were forming a women's caucus.  I got up and ran over to here and will join that caucus

    She told me other stories about sexism going on in the camp, not only at the GA

    Later in the week someone told me to read Chris Hedges who wrote an article interviewing a woman in OWS who told him how in OWS, when someone raised their hand to talk, esp if it was a white male, he would put on stack after other people who raised their hands, who would jump the stack, because so many white men were wanting to speak etcetecetc

    I thought either OWS was more savvy than occupyboston, had more feminists present or were occupying longer and had gotten better at dealing with the blatant sexism of white men hogging the mike - this, after all, is feminism 101 and it is 2011.  I have no patience for these white men doing this. NONE

    Una, if you email me privately, I will give you my phone number, I would like to talk

    I am intending to go tomorrow night, Fri, to GA - they will be dealing only with racism, it was decided last Sun. Does that still hold?

    As in most movements I have been in for decades, the white women were all over the racism and not all over the sexism. Arghghghhg

    Sheila

    •  I think women will have to take action as a group (5+ / 0-)

      Suggestion:  Get some signs, go to general assembly with signs (Remember the women", "women's voices must be heard" "Why haven't you called on the women" etc.  I would also incoude race if possible since that also is an issue in most occupations.  that should embarass them into getting their act together.

      •  we also do a "progressive stack" where the (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        evergreen2, martini, Geminijen

        stack manager bumps up marginalized voices. What's tough is to even get the women to get on stack. It's getting better. But, I think you're right, we need to keep inviting women and people of color to speak, letting them know that we want to hear from them.

        I'm not sure why I'm able to stand in front of a thousand people comfortably for this - I used to get incredibly nervous in front of groups - but, it can be scary. Anyone who is uncomfortable speaking in general has to overcome a lot to speak in front of such a large group. We need to make it as safe as possible.

        I even wonder if we need to explicitly make a "women's individual stack" and a "non-caucasion individual stack" and a "differently gendered individual stack" so that we are quite proactively asking those voices to speak. (I'm sure someone could come up with better names for the stacks, but you get what I mean.)

        Please remember to Witness Revolution. It means so much to them that we pay attention.

        by UnaSpenser on Fri Oct 14, 2011 at 09:21:17 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks, Una (6+ / 0-)

    I have noticed not only this treatment of women, but as time goes on a number of faces of color that used to be around have left Dewey Square.

    I am severely disturbed by this.

    This afternoon there was a minor crisis that needed addressing, and since I seemed to have a lot of answers, people started coming to me. Even the young white males from DA were listening to me and doing what I said! It was only after I had a chance to sit down and replay the situation in my head did I realize what had happened - when people turned to me for help, answers, and a cool head I had automatically fallen back into my non-commissioned officer role, voice, and manner of speaking. IOW, I was displaying male-socialized characteristics, things taught to me in the military. I spoke to people as though I had a right to their obedience, and they gave it to me.

    1) When I finally got to think about it, it freaked me the hell out, both that I had done it, and that no one stopped me from doing it. I need to be careful of that. That is NOT what we are about here.

    2) Yes, I am a white woman. But because I was a white woman who had assumed authority in a manner typically done by males the men in the group responded to it. I behaved the way they expect a leader, ie, a MAN, to behave. So they respected me. Their socialization is still to respect typical "male" behavior and to ignore typical "female" behavior.

    /headdesk repeatedly

    When are you going to understand that being normal is not necessarily a virtue? It rather denotes a lack of courage. - Practical Magic

    by Keori on Fri Oct 14, 2011 at 05:51:14 AM PDT

    •  I did the same thing in a women's group when a (0+ / 0-)

      very male identified woman joined the group and all the other women would listen to her when we wouldn't listen to each other when we said the same things --talk about conditioning!  We could only hear leadership from a "man."  I actually practiced being this way to regain some sense of power in the group and it worked.  After a meeting I would go home and be so relieved I didn't have to be that authoritarian macho woman anymore.
      Not saying this was a good solution -- just what I did when confronted with this subtle form of sexism.

  •  Thank you Una For This Diary! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    martini, Geminijen, jarbyus

    And all the conversers!

    After spending much of my week thinking through the experiences that went into my "indigenous" diary (and then struggling with a failing router all day yesterday).

    Thinking about how Boston is one of the few places that has, at least theoretically, addressed the "Occupy" problem.

    It's so much easier to proclaim words of solidarity than act them out.  

    I haven't been able to physically participate that much in OccupyWallStreet/LiberateBurque this week, but tomorrow is a big action and I will be there.  I'm going to try to increase my presence next week, keeping in mind these issues.

    I do perceive, given certain realities, that tough, individualistic, competitive, privileged male energy tends to dominate the messier group process.  And it was certainly males who most staunchly objected to the idea of honoring the voices and concerns of the indigenous people, who were also majority female in that gathering.

    Just goes to show "You have to be carefully taught."

    I'm not all that familiar with the process that is being used, so I appreciate when it is described.  A young woman whom I work with at Peacecraft facilitated a very tricky and complex GA Monday night after the police had ousted Camp Coyote the preceeding midnight.  She did an amazing job.  Good thing I got a nice photo of her to send her!!  She has a energetic, but calm, kind of energy, a sense of self-confidence, and a serious grasp of societal power dynamics.

    And, yes, this movement has a long, long way to go to grow into its stated principles.  Why am I not surprised???

    I've been thinking a lot this week about what I learned via Liberation Theology--The Praxis of Liberation is Action/Reflection!

    Namaste!

  •  Una, it's become clear to me the older I get that (0+ / 0-)

    each crop of men, especially white men, who are born into this world will need to be trained on how to treat women.

    I don't know why it has to be like that and I wish it wasn't.  But my observation has to do with how human beings simply do not learn from past history, ANY kind of history.  And why that has to be puzzles me also.

    It's sadly clear that "how to treat women" is another one of those things that can't be learned from past history.  And I think one of the reasons that we've gone as far as we have is because the baby boomer generation was just TOO BIG to ignore.

    That's why I'm so excited about Occupy Wall Street, it's TOO BIG to ignore.

    The sexism?  I'm counting on you gals to move it forward!  Thanks for everything you do.

    I've got my spine, I've got my (DKos) orange crush, we are agents of the free.....R.E.M.

    by FlamingoGrrl on Sun Oct 16, 2011 at 03:16:32 PM PDT

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