Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Occupying public space (by Suzie)

How revolutionary it would be for feminists to occupy a public space day after day.

For centuries in the West, proper women did not go out alone at night. A woman on the street might be presumed to be a woman of loose morals and low class, i.e., prey. I wrote about public spaces on 4/3/09, suggesting that, when people talk of public spaces, feminists should question whether there are some “publics” who cannot use them safely and comfortably, and why.

Feminists have picketed, they have marched, they have chained themselves to the White House fence. Perhaps a reader can give me an example, but I can't think of any time when feminists have camped out in a very public place, demanding their rights, for any length of time.

Occupy Wall Street includes feminists, but its focus is class, not gender. I hope good comes from it. But I also urge feminists to insist that protesters not forget the economic inequities women face as women. Nor should the occupiers forget that women do not necessarily experience public spaces the way men do. For example, some guys are photographing or videotaping the movement's "hot chicks."

No one should forget that progressive men can be sexist, too. The antifeminist Anonymous and accused rapist Julian Assange, the P.T. Barnum of anarchy, support the Occupy movement.

I also am concerned about the 99 percent slogan, which lumps together people in households that take in $593,000 a year or less. Perhaps the guy earning $500,000 a year isn't doing as well as before, but I question how much he has in common with a woman who has spent her adult life among the working poor. A college graduate who can't find a job is in a different position than a convicted felon battling a drug addiction who can't find steady employment. Someone losing his $300,000 home is not the same as someone losing her $50,000 home.