But the fact is, that these strong women and these women's groups didn't seem to raise the issue of male dominance within the OWS structure itself. Any woman who spent any time in any of the work groups or GA's had to recognize the signs of male dominance -- leadership is still mainly young, white, male. Women tend to cede space to men and, when we do speak up, except for the “big names”, we are not taken seriously.
I really believe much of the problem stems from young women at the Square not having been raised in a feminist environment and having to relearn the lessons of the 70s all over again. And women from previous generations who have gained some individual power do not use our voices to point this out.
So I was delighted to see that women, people of color and other marginalized people are beginning to speak out.
According to an article in the Guardian (http://www.guardian.co.uk/...), last Monday, OWS instigated a series of female-led meetings where only women can speak, after a number of women had complained of men being overly aggressive in meetings.
It was an opportunity for "males to listen and for female marginalised voices to be heard," Kanene Holder said. "White males are used to speaking and running things" said Holder. "You can't expect them to abdicate the power they have just because they are in this movement (http://www.guardian.co.uk/...)."
We too, have work to do to stop giving away power. According to the Guardian article women noted that part of the reason for the dominance of male voices, was “because men tended to place more emphasis on speaking to the media at the expense of other projects.
I consider myself a pretty strong woman, but I have frequently found myself doing exactly what Linnea Palmer Patan, a volunteer with OWS's press team, said she does:
"Sometimes there are interviews that I would really, really like to do, but when I put myself out there to do them I always say: 'I can do it, unless someone else wants to' (http://www.guardian.co.uk/...)."
This doesn't come across as a definite answer. It sounds like I'm asking for others' permission." (It also gives young white males conditioned to be egocentric and aggressive an opening to jump into the spotlight and push us aside!)
Another woman referred to the controversial blog "Hot Chicks of Occupy", which provoked discussion on whether it was sexist – or whether it could be seen as a tool to promote discussion."I mean, come on. Diminishing a serious social movement to a discussion over whether or not they're sexy?" said the woman.
We have to continue to be aware of letting old sexist concepts and false consciousness (it’s natural for men to lead and women to do the ‘support” work, women’s primary function is as a sex object) and to think of creative ways to make our voices heard so that we don’t fall back into old habits of letting men run the show.
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