Author Archives: rebeccabarbush

Occupy Wall Street: Conclusions

In my post discussing the connections between the War on Women and the Occupy movement, the idea is brought to the table that although there may be no clearly defined goals (and many occupiers may not want to be defined), there are a plethora of groups and causes that do have goals. With this idea in mind, it is easier to see how the Occupy Wall Street movement has grown to become more of an umbrella revolution. By being general enough to encompass a broad range of ages, geographies, ethnicities, ideologies, and sexualities among other factors, the Occupy movement has been able to spread and gain a wider audience, increasing its potential abilities as a movement.

Many critics have proclaimed that the popular slogan “We are the 99%” is not, in fact, an economically or racially accurate representation of the population against which the occupiers are protesting. An animation depicting statistics that helps to the air on this discussion can be found here:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/video/embed

Beyond its realistic interpretation, the concept behind the slogan has been more than enough to invoke a response in people that has catalyzed a generation to stand up and fight the injustices they see in their lives. More than anything, it is this point that I feel “defines” the Occupy Wall Street, Occupy, and #occupy movements around the world. An idea that began with a spark has been able to ignite the fire not under just one cause, but countless causes. Whether or not people deem this movement as successful as a whole, its horizontal network, connected through social media and active interpersonal relationships, has potentially engaged a previously lethargic and negligent society. If even less than 1% of the “99%” is able to use the Occupy movement to their advantage, and, in the name of progress, make some sort of positive change in the world, then I feel as though this movement had a purpose. Whether that purpose or end goal is clearly defined as of right now is up to the occupiers of individual causes; however, the movement is still young and, I feel, even though it has been on the decline, that people will always need something to turn to to give potency to their beliefs. To wrap up this idea is a quote from the Occupy Patriarchy blog which explains that the 99% is a very general representation of an extremely varied population: “It is not sufficient to say that we have to come together as the 99% against the 1%.  The needs of the 99% are not homogenous…”

This quote sums up the concept of what Occupy Wall Street is ideally; however, if this fact is not widely embraced or acknowledged by the participants, then it can be a very divisive factor. My thoughts are that because this is still a young protest it will only continue to evolve, but it is essential that the participants spend the time to value all of the parts that make up the movement in its entirety.

Becca Barbush

http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/video/2011/nov/16/99-v-1-occupy-data-animation

http://www.occupypatriarchy.org/2012/04/02/a-call-to-the-occupy-movement-to-join-in-uniting-against-the-war-on-womens-lives/

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Crime in OWS vs Crime of OWS

From the violent shutdown of Zuccotti Park on November 15 to continued police brutality, the OWS movement is no stranger to crime. There is, however, a very large difference between the crimes committed by people who participate in OWS-related events and occupiers who commit protest-related “crimes.” What is unfortunate is that the media has played a role in discrediting the movement as a whole by its association with and response to these crimes.  According to a statement issued by the Women’s Caucus of Occupy Philly:

“Rape happens every day, murder happens every day and suicide happens every day. These tragedies are not symptoms or creations of the Occupy Movement, nor are they exclusive to the Occupy Movement; they are realities of our society and of our everyday lives.”

By taking what this quote says into account, the difference between the two groups is more easily defined. As a “society,” a term defined by Dictionary.com as “an organized group of persons associated together for religious, benevolent, cultural, scientific, political, patriotic, or other purposes,” the Occupy encampments are bound to have individuals in their midst who are prone to committing crime. Therefore, when sites like OWSexposed.com and PunditPress put together statistics seen in the chart below, it’s important to remember the circumstances that contribute to those statistics.

It’s sad to acknowledge that rape and sexual assault in particular have occurred in multiple locations across the nation; however, these actions weren’t carried out as measures backed by the OWS movement. In order to counteract this issue and raise awareness for its implications in society, some people are attempting to educate about how these issues go completely against the goals of Occupy Wall Street. In order to potentially eradicate sexual violence from first the movement and eventually the world, many people are asking for help.

With that being said, there are both those who commit crimes within the movement that can detract from its legitimacy (one woman reacts to an action by one of this type by saying, “You’re giving this movement a bad name right now, because you are going around and violating others’ space, and it makes people feel unsafe.”) and those who commit crimes for the movement. An example of this—most likely an occurrence that added to the 6000+ arrest that had already been made by February 2, 2012—can be seen in how one group of occupiers was promoting the idea of getting arrested. In the flyer below for a recent event, one of the two ways that the organizers ask people to get involved is by “acts of civil disobedience.”

With the intention behind this call to action as a demonstration of the evils of this nation’s justice system, these arrests are hardly seen as “crimes” in the eyes of occupiers and other supporters. Therefore it is important to realize that statistics cannot always be taken at face value.

Becca Barbush

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-11-15/u-s-mayors-crack-down-on-occupy-wall-street.html

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/society?s=t

http://www.occupypatriarchy.org/2011/12/12/occupying-patriarchy-throughout-the-u-s/

http://abcnews.go.com/US/sexual-assaults-occupy-wall-street-camps/story?id=14873014#.T6LhDo7qEhw

http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2011/10/another_rape_at_occupy_wall_street_goes_unreported.html

http://www.occupypatriarchy.org/2012/01/19/petition-to-address-sexual-assault-at-occupy-boston/

http://www.observer.com/2011/10/objecting-or-objectified-at-occupy-wall-street-women-get-attention-but-not-always-for-their-message/

Patriarchy at the root

“Occupy Patriarchy calls on the Occupy movement everywhere to support and attend these rallies because an attack on the 52% is an attack on the 99% and if we want to confront Wall Street, then we MUST confront patriarchy.”

With this quote, occupypatriarchy.org, a project by the Feminist Peace Network, sends its rallying cry to the internet.

While there are countless motives for people to be involved in the OWS movement around the world, it seems that many of the issues that people are fighting to improve stem from shared, deep-rooted needs of all human beings. With many different types of people making up the 99% and only a small representation of that number actively involved in the movement, it is important to discuss what those deeper issues really are.

One particular group has found a way to identify both a specific cause and what they feel is one of the source problems. In all probability, all of the contributors of the Occupy Patriarchy blog feel as though patriarchy is at the very root of the issues and that all of the specific concerns that stem from it are simply manifestations of this type of group consciousness. One contributor to another blog explains this as he or she discusses the presence of sexual assault in many of the OWS encampments:

“Sexual and bodily violence are part of the everyday social interactions that make up our economy and our lives. In the same way that we can’t begin to tackle the economic disparities between white and black Americans without acknowledging the racism and everyday violence/bullying/intimidation black people face in the workforce or as consumers, we will never truly make life better for ALL 99% if we can’t come to terms with how patriarchy, kyriarchy, and rape culture limit women’s access to wealth and economic opportunities.”

In this quote, the contributor acknowledges the “manifestations” of the issues and also brings the specific examples back to what problems he or she feels are at the root. Both blogs repeatedly reinforce the importance of raising awareness of the problems associated with patriarchy as the current standard around the globe. However, even if awareness can be raised, success cannot always be garnered so immediately. In the following quote it becomes apparent how this fight is a step in the right direction for progress, but recognizes that there is a long road ahead:

“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.“

Women protest in Egypt

Now, with the ability for women in the United States to use the structure and status of the Occupy Wall Street movement as a platform, steps can be taken and change could be implemented that could eventually raise the quality of life for women around the globe.

Becca Barbush

http://www.occupypatriarchy.org/2011/12/14/the-global-occupation-of-patriarchy/

http://scatx.com/2011/11/03/ows-are-we-fighting-for-genuine-transformation-of-the-system/

http://www.occupypatriarchy.org/2012/01/19/petition-to-address-sexual-assault-at-occupy-boston/

http://inveritascrescentes.wordpress.com/2011/11/28/the-arab-spring-versus-occupy-wall-street/

Useful platform: feminist issues line up with OWS goals

The website, occupypatriarchy.org, brings a unique perspective to the category of “Within the Movement.” With little research surrounding the specific gender breakdown of Occupy, this blog provides information about how and why women need to participate. In particular, one post provides the following quote that describes how even though the Occupy movement is new and young, long standing issues such as gender inequality can be addressed by using its structure:

“While the Occupy movement has been developing, the war on women has become a nightmare of hateful, ignorant, daily attacks on women’s human rights.  It is urgent that this be stopped and presents an opportunity for the Occupy movement as a whole to stand up for women’s lives and say that this war must stop.”

From this application of the ideals of the movement, one can see how wide ranges of people and causes (with respect to geography, education, economic standing, medical history, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, etc.) have the potential to speak out for change by using the OWS movement as a platform. More specifically, in the case of occupypatriarchy.org, many feminists and feminist supporters wish to show how Occupy’s many human rights complaints forge a bond between the occupiers and women’s rights activists.

Below you will find a list of issues deemed by the writers of the blog as issues routinely prioritized by feminists that are, or according to the article should, be important to the OWS movement:

  • Equal pay and ending other forms of economic discrimination
  • Childcare
  • Paid maternity and paternity leave
  • Zero tolerance of violence against women, sexism, sexual harassment and other misogynist behavior
  • Ending sexual exploitation and trafficking
  • Getting the Equal Rights Amendment ratified
  • Implementation of the National Action Plan for Women, Peace and Security
  • Funding the Violence Against Women Act
  • Ratification of CEDAW the Convention on All Forms of Discrimination Against Women
  • Reproductive justice (including the right not to have a child, the right to have a child and the right to raise children
  • Zero tolerance on the assault on women’s reproductive health
  • Valuing unpaid work such as childcare, eldercare and housework

The general focus of this list is equality for women both nationally and globally; however, its undercurrent furthermore suggests that because these circumstances exist, the more general issue of human rights is still a serious problem within the United States. What this lists describes is a series of circumstances in which many people feel as though human rights have been limited or have been nonexistent. The income inequality concern that sparked the OWS movement in New York is also an example of a very specific complaint that has its roots in human rights. By supporting the endeavors of both groups to raise awareness for the core issues the chances of effecting change are much higher.

(A more in-depth look at the feminist issues presented in this article can be found here)

http://www.occupypatriarchy.org/2012/04/02/a-call-to-the-occupy-movement-to-join-in-uniting-against-the-war-on-womens-lives/

Becca Barbush

Global goal connects regional protests

“Occupy Plymouth Rock is a one day occupation of Plymouth, MA, in a show of solidarity with the Wampanoag Nation who host a solemn march and rally, every year, beginning at noon at Cole’s Hill, overlooking Plymouth Rock, on the ‘Day of National Mourning’ aka ‘Thanksgiving Day.’”

With this sentence, the Facebook page of Occupy Plymouth Rock declares its actions that the group hopes will “demonstrat[e] for Native People’s Rights.” Occupy Plymouth Rock is an example of both how the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement is the same and how it is different across the globe. What I have recognized, and what can be supported by the claims made in Anderson Kurt’s article, is that people are protesting for action: more than anything those individuals involved want to effect positive change. Whether this change impacts millions or stems from an acute need in one particular area, people are using the platform of #occupy to bring attention to injustices or prejudice or discrimination or simply, as with the Occupy Plymouth Rock, a cause that has been neglected.

Kurt comments that “rising expectations that go unfulfilled are sociology’s classic explanation for protest.” This speaks to the idea that as people around the world, and more specifically across the United States, began to feel as though their influence in the social and economic world was slipping, they have decided to fight back. The lack of control and lack of confidence in authority that was recently realized by many of the world’s citizens starkly contrasted with the opportunities that they had previously expected. Whatever the particular purposes of the regional protesters may be, these groups of people are using the support network of OWS and its overarching goal to implement the need for change not in people’s expectations but in the reality of society’s shortcomings.

Anderson, Kurt. “The Protester.” TIME Magazine (December 14, 2011). Web.

“Occupy Plymouth Rock – Info.” Facebook. Facebook.com. Web. 21 Mar. 2012. <http://www.facebook.com/pages/Occupy-Plymouth-Rock/272639272775795?sk=info&gt;.

Becca Barbush