Occupy Wall Street =/= A Frat Party, Dude
So apparently some dude named Stephen Greenstreet has decided a great way to dehumanize women’s voices support Occupy Wall Street is to make a blog: “Hot Chicks of Occupy Wall Street“. Yes, it looks like he has taken photos without getting consent. Sure, it sounds like in his video he asked women to speak up about why they got involved with the movement, when really he was interested in how “pretty” they were.
But, guys, guys, it’s cool- he’s just trying to rally people to the cause!
I was watching one video in particular and commented to a friend, “Wow, seeing all those super smart hot chicks at the protest makes me want to be there. He replied, “Hmmm¦ Yeah, let’s go with that.
Feministe gives Stephen Greenstreet the lashing he deserves:
So I know I’m all humorless and feministy about this, and why can’t dudes just enjoy the view at a protest without some lady getting all salty about it? It’s nothing against beautiful women \’ beautiful women are fantastic! It’s the dipshit fratboy vibe of “Ohhh yeah, let’s go to this protest thing because there are hot chicks there, and then we can make a video where we sound kind of, like, deep, you know? Because we can like talk about community and stuff and how even though these hot chicks got us there, we realized that there’s something, like, important happening, you know dude? I’ll wear my favorite Livestrong bracelet. It’s the idea that women are at OWS to be oggled by dudes, or to inspire some polo-shirted nitwit to Care About Something More [than titties] (TM). It’s that he’s taking pictures of women without their permission or knowledge and posting them on the internet as masturbatory fodder.
Oh, oh! But when this is challenged by women, who call this out as patriarchal sexist privileged BULLSHIT, it’s just us being insecure about our looks and waging war on straight male sexuality, says Zennie 62 over on SFGate:
It implies that women don’t go to protests or events, look at a guy, and say “He’s hot. It paints any man who dares think of a woman in sexual terms as having a problem. It also smacks of some weird attempt to re-wire men just because Erin undoubtedly doesn’t like guys “hitting on her and saying she’s hot. From what she wrote, I’d expect a punch in the groin if I said she was just plain good-looking, let alone “hot.
What I’m sick and tired of are some people (and certain men included) who have declared war on straight male sexuality. The examples of this effort to desexualize society are rampant, and generally express themselves in blog posts like Erin’s.
He goes on to say that it’s probably because she hates men of colour, and that old gem to dismiss women’s discomfort with being objectified, oh, I dunno, constantly, by saying “they’re just being complimentary”.
Never mind that women are already dealing with sexual assaults within this protest. Oh, and they’re being encouraged not to go to the police, either:
At a recent meeting of Occupy Wall Street’s nonviolent conflict de-escalation group, those present discouraged protesters from going to police unless absolutely necessary.
“We’ll get a lot more respect if we’re able to handle it ourselves and not run to Mom and Dad and tattle,” said Chilligan, 19, a Brooklyn resident who repairs computers for a living and goes by one name only.
You know what that reminds me of? The lack of discussion of sexual assault within the altsex scene, and the reluctance to support victims desire to charge their abusers. Not that I think getting the police involved should be the only option, but I certainly think that if someone wants to report their assailant, they should damn well be supported to do so.
One woman did a great chart about women, media and activism, comparing OWS and Slutwalk, but then commented on the Feministe article:
When I did my chart comparing the sex of photographers at Occupy Wall Street versus SlutWalk, I was thinking it said more about SlutWalk than it did about OWS. And certainly this guy is an outlier; there isn’t a gross voyeuristic air down at Liberty Plaza. But it’s a sad reminder that even when the numbers don’t speak to the ways women are being looked at as objects while in the midst of political acts, we are, we are, we are.
Also, another excellently thought out comment about this issue from Thomas:
The reductiveness of attractiveness in patriarchy. Nobody stops listening to Ryan Gosling or George Clooney while acknowledging their fuckability; it’s merely another feature of them, because the members of the dominant group in a kyriarchal structure gets to be multifaceted. So a man can be fuckable and not be a sex object and not be ignored, erased, reduced ¦ objectified. And conversely, the absence of attractiveness in men doesn’t mean that nobody will listen to what they have to say. Men don’t have to be fuckable to get attention, and if they are fuckable, that doesn’t draw all the attention away from everything else about them.
It’s incredibly frustrating as a femme activist, and just as a femme generally. But it’s an important reminder that activism is not safe space unless we construct it that way and maintain it:
The most offensive and astounding line of argument appears when you routinely inform us that you are not sexist, that you “respect women. Well, as the women you are claiming to respect, let us tell you this: it is not up to you to determine whether or not you or other men are sexist. If we are offended by a sexist comment, act, film, song or cultural product, you have absolutely no grounds to tell us why we should not be. As the victims of sexism, we define, describe and delineate it. In preventing us from doing so, you make a psychologically and politically difficult task almost impossible.
So, please. Don’t make things worse, k? If you want to tear down capitalism, you have to be aware of the rest of the types of oppression that hold it up- classism, sexism, racism, cissexism, heterosexism. I think the Sistas of Resistance said it best in their letter to male activists, though female activists should read it and hold to it too (including making space for men to take on different roles):
Listen to us when we speak, listen to our criticisms, listen to our experiences. Stop defending sexism, stop defending men, stop defending yourself. Do not interrupt women when they speak and stop immediately disagreeing with us. When it comes to sexism, you are not under attack, women are. We are under attack from this patriarchal male power structure all day, every day, and we need activist spaces to be safe and respectful places in which women are treated as equals. You will not win without us, so it is in your interests to work with us as equals. You can create these spaces of equality by actively challenging sexist gender roles, by taking over the chores and actions typically still carried out by women: washing up, cooking, making tea, cleaning, tidying up, looking after children, doing the food shopping, providing emotional support, washing and drying clothes, emptying bins, sorting recycling, listening to people, caring for the sick, etc. Make sure the male to female ratio of speakers, facilitators, participants or chairs is always 50/50. Take the minutes at meetings, type up e-mail lists and take over the other menial administrative tasks still disproportionately done by women. Become aware of what the women around you are doing, feeling and experiencing and help and assist them however you can. Notice the male-female dynamics in meetings, on demonstrations and in conversations and actively address this imbalance. Do not attribute the hard work and ideas of the women in your organisation to men; stop taking the women in your organisation for granted. Incorporate an awareness of gender and feminism into your everyday life; for if you want to bring about revolutionary change, you must begin with yourself.
And, you know, there’s better ways to show the diversity of #OWS without sexually objectifying people, and it’s pretty goddamn effective.