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,, 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


Useful platform: feminist issues line up with OWS goals

The website,, 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, 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)

Becca Barbush

Effects of OWS Beyond the Movement Itself

The Occupy Wall Street Movement takes a stand against corporate greed and economic inequalities stemming from the United States capitalist system.  Members of the movement protest the influence wealth can have on the United States government.  The movement has recieved criticisms of its protest tactics as well as what specifically this movement is fighting for.

Whether the movement will accomplish its goals or not is unknown at this time.  However, what is more significant regarding this movment is what does this movement truly mean in the larger picture of history. This movement will set a precedent for future protests.  In the last ten years, the two largest protests in the United States have been the Tea Party Movement and the Occupy Wall Street Movement.  Both, of which, have expressed citizen frustration of economic discontent.  This movement has definitely caught national attention through mass and social media.  It is unknown, but not unreasonable to postulate, that the Occupy Wall Street Movement’s presence could have influence over future polls and legislation.  The Tea Party Movement had a significant impact on polls. According to a poll conducted by CNN, roughly 49% of Republican or GOP leaning independents support the Tea Party Movement (“New CNN Poll: GOP Divided over Tea Party Movement.”). Though they do not support a particular party or candidate,  in upcoming elections, the Occupy Wall Street Movement could potentially have similar effects.

The concept of the 99% and the Occupy lingo, has nudged its way into our common lingo. This is also true in the political sphere. Newt Gingitch and Mitt Romney have both used Occupy lingo. Gingrich calls it “Unamerican” whereas Democrats in Congress call it “American.” Romney says

…I worry about the 99 percent in America. I want America, once again, to be the best place in the world to be middle-class. I want to have a strong and vibrant and prosperous middle-class. And so I look at what’s happening on Wall Street and my own view is, boy I understand how those people feel… The people in this country are upset

It has infiltrated the American political discourse, including campaign rhetoric.  This rhetoric has not only been used by the Republican party, but has certainly become a topic of discussion for Democrats.  Obama’s Jobs Act was passed including Occupy rhetoric. House Democrat Leader Representative, Nancy Pelosi, states, “I support the message to the establishment, whether it’s Wall Street or the political establishment and the rest, that change has to happen” (Desvarieux 1).

Overall, the Occupy Wall Street Movment has set logistical and methodical precedence for future protests, while making their goals of protest seen on a national scale.

“New CNN Poll: GOP Divided over Tea Party Movement.” CNN Politics. CNN Political Unit, 15 Sept. 2011. Web. 03 May 2012. <;.

Why Occupy Wall Street?

Occupy Wall Street is a movement, according to the motivations behind it. It is very much like the Civil Rights Movement, the Women’s Movement and any anti-war movements, but at a very basic level. Motivations are deeply rooted and to get exact data isn’t the most. A simple comment could remove your drive to do something as the Handbook of Motivation and Cognition says and in a protest, there is a fair amount of negativity.

In an era where most people are used to having things done for them (the planets are all found, the periodic table is set up, gravity is pretty much explained), it’s hard to get crowds to care for something deeply and pursue it. Even with majors, we find college students changing their majors every so often because of disinterest or something else caught their eye. Be it what it may, the OWS Movement, should it organize a hierarchy, could accomplish great things. Finding leaders to fill those positions without being corrupted and making decisions without a vote is another story.

The movement has great potential and definitely has a crowd of supporters,  that if motivated and continuously motivated by their strive for citizen rights, could bring about change socially and politically. Often, we forget how strong our words are, let alone our actions. Who knows what policies would look like if more women are in Congress or in the White House. Minority groups have brought about change social and political, but it won’t happen overnight like some of the protests want.

Time is a factor in the motivation of this movement and unfortunately, these people don’t have time. Jobs, families and bills take up most everyone’s thought process and their decision should be made based on those. But those who have stayed have either lost everything or given everything up.

Occupy Wall Street is a stepping stone for people to get involved. It has the basics but needs the structure. It needs an agenda; something everyone can agree with. So far, it seems that citizen rights is what needs to be placed on the agenda. Otherwise, people will lose interest, the movement will change or fade away and it will just be another example of our generation’s ability to stick to something.

Occupy Wall Street is Nothing Special

But what do they want? – by Tom Tomorrow, Oct 2011

Much has been made of the OWS movement’s apparent lack of leadership and concrete goals, its direct-participation organization and the idea of occupation as a radical act, and its utilization of technology. Based on my own historical research and the research of my colleagues, it appears that in truth, the only unique feature of OWS as a protest movement/mass demonstration is the technology, and this is only because such technology (and the resultant social organization/attitudes) did not exist in the past and so comparisons in that regard are apples-to-oranges. So in response to the question of “What is Occupy Wall Street?” my answer – from a historical perspective – is that it’s, well, nothing special.

Kara, in her post “What is Occupy Wall Street?“, discusses how OWS’s organizational principles are in line with long-established principles of true anarchism: loose organization, consensus-based egalitarian leadership, addressing economic grievances, and raising awareness. In addition, anarchism “seeks to transition the old system into one that fits their needs,” as opposed to a thorough overthrow of the existing system.

Erin has observed that the Great Depression saw similar economic-injustice/class-based protests. Protests on that subject go back to the 1800s with Coxey’s Army marching on Washington, D.C.–then, as now, the protestors were widely perceived as a disorganized mob.

So in this regard, the only radical thing about OWS is the literally radical (root-based) organizational mentality.

Oakland – Indigenous People’s Resistance Day 2011

OWS’s use of the word “occupy” is another radical, original action that the movement is credited with – yet this blog post, by somebody self-identified as unaffiliated with the movement, highlights how OWS has only been employing a superficial sense of the word. To be situated in, to engage, to take possession of. The movement as a whole has not been engaging with the highly problematic history of the word as a key referent to white colonialism and oppression. Sophie Lewis suggests that, since the word is now so entrenched, people should consider actually radicalizing the concepts espoused–in other words, actually pursuing equality for all, rather than reinforcing various forms of oppression such as cissexism and the erasure of people of color. The Albuquerque movement, happily, is one example of an active attempt at true radicalization: it has chosen to call itself “(un)Occupy” to more accurately reflect the goal of decolonizing the 1%. If such cases of true radicalization (e.g. discussion of social privilege) become more widespread and even part of the popular discourse, then OWS could be said to have more of a unique aspect to it.
(Adrienne K. of Native Appropriations also applauds the Denver movement, and her whole post is worth reading in addition to Lewis’s writing.)

With regards to technology and OWS – my comparison of the Kent State shootings and the November, 2011 pepper spraying at UC Davis revealed that, while the internet is more “immediate and personal” than other media, images from the Kent State shootings spread just as rapidly after accounting for the built-in delay of media development. Therefore, it seems unfair to say that OWS is a wholly new form of protest due to the inclusion of instant-communication technology; rather, it is simply a protest of its time, of a society infused with current technology, just as previous protests were products of their technological means. Coxey’s Army did not have television or radio coverage to help speed the dissemination of its message like the social justice and anti-war/nuclear protests of the 1950s-60s; were the mid-20th century protests new forms of protests because they had ham or CB radio available for popular use (cf. twitter) or television to help get their message out to the public faster?

One could argue that there have always been “slacktivists” – people who say they support the cause, but don’t actually get themselves out there to do anything. Is writing letters to the editor, for example, a form of pre-internet slacktivism? Attending the big, publicized protest but not any other events? Wearing a shirt with the anti-nuclear symbol (now known as the peace sign) and leaving it at that? I am skeptical of claims that “Facebook activism” is somehow worse than previous ways of failing to commit to a cause.

In conclusion – OWS is just another protest that may or may not end up being effective the way it intends, like the Alcatraz occupation with which (surprise) OWS shares its current momentum thus far.

Cody VC

Y U No Happy?: Angry Occupiers

An article by Marc Lacey titled “Countless Grievances, One Thread: We’re Angry,” simplifies the reasons behind the gathering of so many for a movement that, for the most part, has not brought about a policy change. According to the Handbook of Motivation and Cognition Vol. 2, positive feelings (i.e. not anger) are a better motivator than negative feelings.

“Peace activists, indigenous rights activists, immigrant activists — they’re all here.” A quote from one an occupier interviewed by Lacey. Those three activists have one “thread” in common, according to Lacey, and it’s anger. “What brings me out here? Outrage — outrage with what’s going on in this country,” said Lucy Horwitz, 79, who participated in Occupy Los Angeles. “Right now, the first issue on my mind is that corporations can buy congressmen.” Bold statements and quick soundbites can get people riled up and moving. “Buy [people]” is basically what the woman was saying and buying people is generally not okay anymore. The thing with that is it is temporary; anger diffuses quickly and interest can be lost just as quickly if there isn’t anything going on to make things better. People who take the incentives are usually very passionate about their cause but nowadays, there is so much to be involved in, it could be easy to get overwhelmed and take a backseat. How do you get people to stay motivated?

The movement has taken several approaches to this and their most successful is the tumblr. They get people to continuously follow what they have to say and arrange meeting places and incentives for coming. Those who show up have a good time and if they get threats to be arrested, it’s even better! Getting arrested means they did something big enough to catch the eyes of authorities. The attention could be a huge motivator for some and also having a purpose or cause to believe in.


You Say You Want a Revolution….

In this, my final post, I will attempt to define what Occupy Wall Street really is. Let me start by saying that I will analyze this through the lens of finances, which is what my posts were about.

Occupy Wall Street in one word, is a response.

It is a response to the conditions that the majority of Americans face in our society. These are people who have decided that they will no longer stand by when there are billionaires who can finance deep-sea explorations, when they can’t purchase a car.

Unemployment has gone up since the Clinton years, the stock market still hasn’t fully recovered from its dip in 2008-9. Local businesses have been forced to close down, these are all things that displease members of OWS.

Have they been successful? My answer would be no.

Does this mean anything? My research couldn’t tell you.

What my research has shown is this. OWS is run by a group of people who know what they are doing. They organize the money that people send them, and they have appropriated a Finance Committee. Despite the dislike for the Finance Committee, and there is a lot of dislike, the Finance Committee does exactly what it sets out to do. It makes sure that nobody spends money frivolously.

Now members of OWS dislike the fact that the Finance Committee has more say than the General Assembly when it comes to funding, but look at the money troubles that OWS is facing right now. If the Finance Committee had been more lax with spending, they would be in a worse situation.

OWS, in part through the finance committee, has become a hub for people who are not happy with their current financial situation. They provide metro tickets, food, and small amounts of medical care for people who have been injured through the course of protesting.

An organization without leadership simply cannot exist.

Through my research, I have determined that while there is no one leader of OWS, there are many, the Finance Committee included.

Lastly, I would also like to say that OWS is a voice. It’s a voice for people who want their frustrations to be heard by the government. They are tired of endless bureaucracy, and they want change right now.

OWS wasn’t something that was cooked up overnight, judging from how the finances work, it was methodically planned.

Occupiers have grown tired of waiting for change to happen, and they want to bring it. Only time will tell if this social revolution will actually amount to anything.

–         Image