Last Friday, while some intrepid warriors were pushing, shoving, and pepper-spraying their ways to Black Friday deals, another group of brave people were pushing forward for a slightly different cause.
Friday saw an exciting and important action organized by CLAW (Clear Action by/for Women) Coalition (made up of AF3IRM, A.N.S.W.E.R, Black Women’s Blueprint, SisterSong NYC & Trust Black Women, Feminism Now Podcast, and the Party for Socialism & Liberation).
The action was organized around the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and called for the dismantling of the immoral and unethical economy of Wall Street.
The flyer and accompanying declaration make it clear that members of the coalition see the Occupy Wall St. movement as inextricably linked with anti-sexism, anti-racism and anti-classism:
“Wall Street is violence against women. Corporations get nearly 70% of their profit from women workers who earn $2 a day. In the U.S., women make as low as $0.52 for every dollar a man makes. Women of color are 70% of the global poor. More than 15 million of our children live in poverty in the U.S., the richest nation in the world.…We are not cheap labor, sexual objects or people to be disregarded!”
You can read the full declaration here.
While I wasn’t able to attend the protest, I view it as a very important milestone in the #ows movement, and I stand in solidarity with this effort to highlight the importance of an approach towards critiquing capitalism that incorporates intersectionality.
The Occupy movement has had varied degrees of success in engaging with feminist and anti-sexist causes, with some going so far as to accuse the movement of having a “woman problem”. I hosted a guest post back in October describing one activist’s hope for the movement: namely, radical inclusivity.
Unfortunately, there have been some bumps and scrapes as the movement has tried to live up to that ideal, especially in regards to race and class.
We know that there were reports of sexual assault and violence against women in Zucotti Park before it was shut down by the NYPD. The Safer Spaces working group was created to address this issue, with security teams that could monitor the park and respond to conflicts and crimes. Perhaps more to the point, there has been talk of exclusion of POC, women, and other minorities in the decision-making realm of the self-described leaderless movement. Several working groups have been formed to try to remedy and address some of these issues, including the Safer Spaces Working Group, the Queer Caucus, the Women’s Caucus, the People of Color Caucus, and the Security Working Group.
After Friday’s action, I’m more convinced than ever that Occupy Wall St. has great revolutionary potential, and I’m considering getting more involved with some of these working groups to make sure that all people and voices have the opportunity to make this movement their own.
To stay on top of #OWS, you can follow my list of women who regularly tweet about it, inspired by a conversation begun by Women Action & the Media (WAM!).
And check out a few pictures of Friday’s action after the jump, via Dio Dipasupil.