Megan Boler has a new article on the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement and the current state of feminism and it’s a good read. She looks at the relationships between the feminist movement and the concerns of the people involved in OWS activities.
But the tide seems to have turned. Feminism’s re-emergence was spotted on the horizon by numerous long-term feminist organizers months ago. Kathy Miriam, a professor and feminist organizer who lives in Brooklyn, recognizes this as a, “fluid, dynamic moment” in which anything is possible. As Miriam wrote in a blog post this fall:
“Can feminist solidarity reap the whirlwind and reinvent itself within new forms of social association too? … [T]he dynamism released by Occupy Wall Street [OWS] involves women – lots and lots of young women – who, like their male counter-parts are caught up in the momentum of movement-creating. This means that women are agitating, aroused anew as political actors on the stage of history. If there is any situation then, in which feminist ideas might stick and take root, this is it.
Will Occupy Wall Street be open to re-orientation through the lens of feminist action and vision? Will feminism re-invent itself as a movement within the new political situation and its forcefield of political possibilities?
She did research into the Occupy Movement and interviewed many participants to see what some people are still wondering – what’s occupy all about? Well, Boler points out that at the core there is a commonality between all the occupiers: they want a fairer, more equitable, inclusive, and most of all a more respectful world.
Here’s one of Boler’s key points:
4. We are seeing an intergenerational and international social movement grounded in creative dialogue across diverse groups.
The diversity of age, social class, education, religion, and economic status found in protesters around the world (including within the Occupy movement) offers great hope. The global protests bring together the wisdom of veteran organizers and the energy and technological skills of the younger generation. At every Occupy site and march that I have attended, I have witnessed dialogue taking place between hundreds of unlikely conversants – homeless people talking to men in suits, black women conducting consciousness-raising workshops in the commons for diverse and rapt audiences, older people talking to the young – as people discuss solutions for a sustainable economy and environment. Occupy’s success in introducing new concepts – such as the “99%” and “economic justice” – into our political lexicon results directly from the public spaces of unprecedented dialogue. Reading online comments and Twitter feeds, one discovers thousands of strangers engaged in serious deliberation. The dream of a public commons where genuine democratic conversation takes place has, for many, come true.
People often say to me “Why go to protests? They don’t change anything.” Usually my response relates to the necessity of an actively engaged population within a democracy. If we’re not on the streets asking for change then change won’t happen. The usually response to that is a lame excuse that we can’t change the institutionalized systems.
We can and we do.
If 2011 has taught us anything it’s that being on the streets matter. Talking politics matters. Talking about injustice matters. Telling friends why you’re protesting something matters. Voting matters. Writing politicians matters. It all matters.
Not going to protests and not talking about these things ensures that change will not happen. If anything, if people aren’t involved then the change that happens is usually the change that isn’t good for society.
So let’s change things for the better. Let’s do this because we can and because we need to.
Looking back on 2011 we have seen a near-global awakening of people-powered movements that come in a different form everywhere. We’ve heard a lot about Egypt and Libya in the west but there have been more. Some are still ongoing in Syria, Bahrain, and many other Middle Eastern countries. Closer to home in North America we have the Occupy Movement.
All of these movements have different concerns, different people, different reasons why they are on the street. They even have different goals.
There is one thing that they all have in common from Occupy Sydney to the oppressed people of Bahrain: to make the world a better place through democratic inclusion.
Who can’t get behind that?
For the upcoming year of 2012 I challenge every reader of Things Are Good to get out there and just show up at your local protest for positive change.
The Arab Spring initiated a jarring series of events in 2011 that illustrate the radical political possibilities of just being present. When the regime won’t listen, when being heard as an individual isn’t really a viable option, simply standing together and being seen can be profoundly political and empowering.
But will just “being there” really bring significant change?
Revolutions never happen overnight. They result from accumulations of dozens, even hundreds of moments, often stretching over a period of years, that make possible the ruptures that emerge when vast numbers of people begin to imagine, and then to demand, an alternative to their living conditions. We have been seeing these moments over the past year, first in the Middle East but then spreading to England, Brazil, Spain, Great Britain, the United States, and elsewhere. In this sense, we are experiencing a revolutionary moment in which the popular perception of what is possible has indisputably shifted in a way unseen on a global scale since 1968.
Democracy takes time, and it’s rough and tedious work, so it’s amazing that in the two short months since the Occupy Movement began an organization has sprung up that will help the movement. United Republic aims to support the Occupy Movement by championing the idea that political decisions should be based on reality and not on the claims of lobbyists.
We aim to transform our nation’s outrage over corruption, gridlock, and cronyism into a powerful political force that can demand and deliver lasting change. We will hold politicians accountable; expose how corporate lobbyists hurt ordinary Americans; build a coalition of supporters from left, right and center; and provide financial support to the best people and organizations working on solving the problem.
Already our coalition is growing. In the fall of 2011, we joined forces with Rootstrikers, a group founded by Harvard law professor Lawrence Lessig that shares the goal of ending the domination of Big Money over the political process. The group’s name is inspired by the Henry David Thoreau quote, “There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.” And we’ve recently merged with the Get Money Out campaign, an effort started by MSNBC host Dylan Ratigan that shares similar goals.
Even the right-leaning Canadian press can’t disagree that the Occupy Movement is a positive thing in and of itself. A new poll reveals that almost 60% of Canadians view the movement in a positive light, while some others tend to have problems because it is “leaderless”.
It’s great to see Canadians (who have not suffered as much as their neighbours to the south) talking about the concerns that the Occupy Movement has brought up. Issues like subsidies to big oil, the problems with current financial markets, joblessness, and even democratic accountability are all being discussed in the mainstream media.
Without the Occupy Movement these issues would in all likely hood not have been brought up. You should go to your locally occupied park and see what you can do to help.
Occupy activists have pitched tents in at least eight Canadian cities, building on a protest movement that started in New York’s financial district nearly two months ago. Participants have no official demands, but are advocating for a variety of social justice and economic issues, including nationalizing Canadian banks, closing tax loopholes for the wealthy and increasing the minimum wage. Most say they are frustrated that a small number of people control most of the world’s wealth.
“For many Canadians, they might not necessarily agree with those views, but they think that they are valid. Those are legitimate concerns that are being raised about our democratic and financial system,” Mr. Nanos said.
The most significant demographic that views the Occupy movement favourably is people who are between 18 and 29 years of age, the poll found, which may be reflective of a tough job market for new workers. Nearly 73 per cent of people under 30 said they have a favourable or somewhat favourable impression of the protests.