Those of you who know me on Twitter may have noticed that I’ve become very preoccupied (har har) with the occupation movements. I have a longer post brewing, even though it may never come to light due to nursing school craziness.
Some things that concern me about Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Movements:
1. They didn’t show up for us. I know Slut Walk was problematic in its own right, but I’m kinda with Sadie Doyle on this one anyway. Progressive men need to be more concerned about gender based violence.
2. Can the Subaltern Speak? I don’t see faces that are representative of the 99% who are the most abused and marginalized in cities such as Austin, Charlotte, Seattle, Portland, and New York. Even though many who have witnessed the sites remark on the diversity of the crowds, those who are speaking for the Occupation Movements in local and national media are, to put it bluntly, white guys. My local Occupation made a call online for “spokespersons” who could speak for the group after some less than flattering interviews, and I cringed when the only demographic who responded were white dudes. I am still eager to support them, but I will not support a long-term movement if women, POC, and queers become supporting cast.
3. Too Many Haters: I find the relentless skepticism, misinformation, and derision to be literally depressing. I get it; the innocence of the ’60s is gone or whatever, and you haters out there can’t stand the idea that something cool and radical could be happening. But Occupy isn’t a romantic gesture towards the Anti-Vietnam demonstrations or US Civil Rights movements. We need not be nostalgic or reductive; Occupy is genuinely exciting (and moving, and expanding).
On the other hand,
1. @OccupyTheHood: is amazing. And so are the other conversations about race, gender, class (and this one!), sexuality, and ability that seem to be emerging. And so are the POC leaders of the movement. And so are the queers and gays who are rallying for economic justice rather than gay marriage.
2. A “Leaderless Movement” Means: that, technically, there are no leaders. You are your own leader, in your own town, wherever you damn well are or whoever it damn well pleases. Of course, leaders do, anyhow, emerge by default – and they reproduce oppressive hierarchies already in play. But unlike in real life, there is actually recourse built into consensus models that are used in general assemblies. These performances of participatory democracy are, in my opinion, transformative. It is an important strategy that models and raises consciousness about the importance of ingrained fairness.
3. The Demands Are Fabulous: I will post them here since the media can’t seem to find them.
Although I’ve been burning up my twitter about #OWS, I’ve noticed a deafening silence from many of my birth-repro-prochoice-activist crowd on the growing movement. Even though the largest nurses union in the US was out protesting with Occupy Movements, there was nary a peep from the American College of Nurse Midwives during National Midwifery Week in the early days of Occupy.
Occupy has resonated with too little of the 99%. But families of all stripes who are considering reproductive choices (I think that covers basically everyone, or at least the 99%, or at least everyone on my twitter feed) need Occupy Wall Street.
+ Today marked at least the seventh federal attack on our legal right to choose abortion this year. My feeling is that conservatives are provoking culture wars to drum up support in the ballot box and distract us from the enormous disparities in wealth they’re creating. Or maybe they just really do hate women?
+ Corporate healthcare privileges the medical model and keeps normal birth underground. Quite frankly, normal birth takes too long, and c-sections make more money and avoid more lawsuits. The way birth is managed in corporate healthcare models has contributed to an outrageous maternal mortality problem in this country – particularly for mothers of color.
+ Domestic violence was decriminalized in Topeka, Kansas to save money. Welcome to the austerity measures and its victims.
For these reasons and many more, we need Occupy Wall Street, too.
Find your local occupation here: http://www.occupytogether.org/