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Women and the 99%

There’s been a fair amount of coverage recently regarding the demographics of Occupy Wall Street.  The surveys reflect what can be gleaned from a quick glance around Zuccotti Park: the Occupiers are mostly male, and mostly white.  One of the many criticisms of the movement is its failure to adequately include the voices of women and people of color.  Even South Park took a jab at the Occupiers’ grandiose assertion that they are “the 99%.”  OWS’s internal difficulties—from problematic self-policing to struggling to resolve flawed organizational structures and minimal success making the movement less monochromatic—illustrate how the group’s inclusive message is sharply diminished by practical realities.

I’m less concerned with the racial and gender makeup of the crowd than I am with the movement’s capacity to resonate broadly with Americans—especially women (the group hurt most by the economic downturn).  A common complaint of the Occupy movement seems to be the impact of the disproportionate political power wielded by a minuscule fraction of wealthy Americans. The way I see it, the focused attack on women’s access to reproductive health care is a perfect illustration of this phenomenon.  Here’s why:

In March of this year, 58% of the House voted yes on H.R.3 (misleadingly named the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act”) which aimed at expanding the Hyde Amendment’s prohibition of federal funds paying for abortion by, among other measures, denying tax credits to companies that offer health ...