Objecting or Objectified? At Occupy Wall Street Women Get Attention, But Not Always for Their Message

129282322 Objecting or Objectified? At Occupy Wall Street Women Get Attention, But Not Always for Their Message

A woman, Occupying Wall Street

Ugh, women. Can’t they go five minutes without ruining a rally against corporate greed with their claims of inter-protest misogyny, objectification, and rape?

When filmmaker Steven Greenstreet created his Tumblr Hot Chicks of Occupy Wall Street in mid-October, he was attempting to show “the sexy side of protesting.” Unsurprisingly, his site was only up for a day before feminist blogs tore into the “creepy voyeur” for what they perceived as a sexist objectification of women – many of whom were photographed apparently without their knowledge or consent.

Mr. Greenstreet addressed these issues five days after his launch, in a October 15th post titled “Why?” His excuse was pretty flimsy, and his argument against detractors boiled down to “Any excuse is a good excuse to bring up the topic of women’s rights.” Not a lot of feminists bought the line, yet the site continues to grow in popularity. Because hey, who doesn’t like to look at attractive people?

But Mr. Greenstreet’s site is only part of the problem for women thinking of joining the Occupy movement. Three days later, a 19-year-old Cleveland woman claimed she was raped at the protests after “camp leaders” directed her to share a tent with a man named Leland. The OWS message boards erupted: the young woman was called a liar, accused of secretly working with the government to make OWS look bad, or at the very least she was asking for it by getting into a tent with a strange man, and other misogynistic excuses. Perhaps the only surprising aspect of the reaction to the alleged assault was that it was Occupiers themselves that were turning against the victim, who they perceived as a threat to their community and tentative relationship with the local authorities.

Of course, not all message board trolls speak for the majority of the OWS movement. Yet the “women issue” continues to be, well, an issue. Ashwini Hardikar wrote a blog post on October 13th titled The Value of a Safe Space: One WOC’s experience with harassment at Occupy Wall Street where she describes being hugged by a male protester, an act she considered intrusive and non-consensual:

“What the fuck do you think you’re doing? You can’t just touch people without their permission. It’s not ok to be in someone’s personal space if you haven’t gotten their consent. I have no idea who you are, you can’t just touch me!” I was yelling, getting louder and louder. I wondered if anyone was listening.

“I was just giving you a hug. I’m not allowed to give people hugs?”

I couldn’t believe he was arguing with me. My heart was racing. All those other times that I had been harassed or groped, and it happened so quickly by a faceless assailant, or when I just felt paralyzed, flashed through my mind. All those times that I didn’t feel like I had a voice. This time, I had found mine somehow.

“No, you are not allowed to touch people if they haven’t asked you to. You’re giving this movement a bad name right now because you are going around and violating others’ space, and it makes people feel unsafe.” My voice sounded clear and very strong, even though I was shaking. Wow, I thought to myself, I know exactly what to say for once!

While some may dismiss Ms. Hardikar’s reaction to the gesture as extreme, she speaks to a growing community of women who agree with OWS’ message, but who worry that their basic human rights might be getting lost in the shuffle. For that reason, Ms. Hardikar created a Safer Spaces Working Group in the General Assembly. It is described in one sentence: “Working for respect of women, LGBTQ, & POC, Rape victim advocates, queers encouraged to come!” They have created their own female-only sleeping space in a section of Zuccotti Park.

Sarah Seltzer‘s article for The Nation serves as an antidote to those offended by Mr. Greenstreet’s objectifying blog. Her Wednesday post, titled “Where Are the Women at Occupy Wall Street? Everywhere—and They’re Not Going Away” described Ms. Hardikar’s experience, as well as those of other strong women who continue to protest even when they feel their voices aren’t heard as loudly as their male counterparts.

Ms. Seltzer’s article quotes a female activist who goes by Ketchup, who has been on the ground at Zuccotti since day one, and whose attention, it’s noted, has shifted toward helping create these safe spaces. Yet Ketchup remains optimistic in the face of intra-group misogyny:

“I would just say if you are a woman, please come here! Understand that while there will be misogynists in any group, people with bias in any group, the process here exists here to check that and there is ample support to deal with that.”

Some have argued that women like Ketchup and Ms. Hardikar are detracting from OWS’ message to talk about “women issues.” But we wouldn’t be too worried: as OWS keeps reminding us, they never had a cohesive message to begin with…let alone one that is about to be derailed by women demanding their right to walk freely and Occupy unmolested.

Comments

  1. Tyler Durden Maybe says:

    PILF

  2. Worldhills says:

    Thank’s

  3. Hi. I’m Steven Greenstreet. I made “Hot Chicks of Occupy Wall Street”. Since the Observer didn’t, feel free to ask me anything.

  4. Tyler Durden Maybe says:

    Too bad these Hot Shicks aren’t Capitalists, they’d make a fortune if they charged fair market value for their “Consulting Services.” 

  5. Deaconyourmouth says:

    If this is really Steven Greenstreet, then I have something to say. I actually looked at your video when a coworker called me into her office to show it to me. I thought that it was interesting and helped me to better understand just what people are trying to do at OWS. Then I heard the title of the video. The title didn’t change my opinion of the video, and actually kind of made me and my FEMALE coworker chuckle. Do you think that people have judged your video based solely on the name alone without actually giving it a fair chance?

    1. Thanks for your comment.

      Yes I think they have a knee-jerk reaction to the title without even watching the video. Just like the Observer ran this article (full of rather salacious arguments) without ever talking to me.

      The video is inspiring, uplifting and honorable. And if you actually visit my site, women around the world love it. The women in the video love it. The MOTHERS of the women in the video love it.

      I gave it that title so people outside “the choir” would see it. I wanted the apathetic masses to see it. And it worked. The video currently has over 1 million views worldwide.

      Don’t judge a book by its cover. Or, in this case, a video by its title.

      1. Roxangella says:

        Steven, I saw the video and I found it beautiful, inspiring and reverential to its subjects.  However while I understand your argument as to why you named it ‘Hot Women…’, to me, your title invites a sexualising gaze which many women would feel uncomfortable with.  I know I would.

      2. SouthernGent says:

        Simply because many women would feel uncomfortable with a title means nothing more than those women screaming foul have some issues (which are NOT Steven’s issues) to deal with.

        I happen to be gay and I think that “Hot Women” is no more objectionable than women talking about “Hot Men.”  It’s ok for women (and gay men) to objectify the male body and the penis.  However, because women are the “weaker” sex, it is not ok for straight men to appreciate the beauty of women in the SAME manner.  Look throughout history…..how many artists have painted nude women for their own personal pleasure?  How many of those paintings are considered priceless today?

        I think a lot of “objections” throughout history have arisen because of insecurities.  We all have them.  But it is not fair for a feminists to attack one man because he uses a term like Steven has.  I am sure there are many more women out there who are o.k. with the usage.  Unfortunately, in this sensational media world, you don’t see news stories asking their opinions.  Let’s face it, in today’s world “good” news is actually bad news.

        I do think it is a good idea to have the separate section so that women who have these feelings can still join the movement in their own way.  Yet, they need to stop projecting their own insecurities onto other people and speaking for the entire population of women in general.

        As my mother always said, don’t put yourself in harm’s way.  In other words, you have to lookout for yourself because no one else is going to do so.  Something that strong-willed “Hot Women” already do naturally.

        Plain and simple, men have always worshipped the beauty of women for millennia.  Why is it suddenly “objectification” instead of “inspiration”?  Because in today’s lawsuit-happy world, no one wants to take responsibility for their own insecurities.  They want someone else to pay for them.

      3. Actual_simulation says:

        Since when was it common for straight women and gay men to openly objectify men?? The last time I checked in with this world women who did that were sluts and men who did that were faggots according to mainstream culture. What world you livin’ in, SG?

  6. I like how the Observer links to their OWN “attractive people of Occupy Wall Street” article above.

  7. Witness says:

    After reading a very inaccurate characterization of an arrest that I witnessed yesterday by this same blogger, it appears, after today’s entry, that she is going out of her way to editorialize against #OWS. 

    I guess its an opinion piece, but let’s not consider this journalism anymore.

  8. Matt Bulger says:

    Coincidentally, after randomly reading an article about Anonymous at OWS by this very same “journalist”, I was then linked by a friend to this page after they stated their had be rapes at OWS; which i was shocked to hear, but now I’m not so shocked. This article, or rather is writer, can barely utter two sentences without trying to denounce the credibility and message of OWS. Her articles teeter between downsizing the scale of this immensely vast and growning movement, and  talking about womens rights. She says nothing good about OWS but rather talks about all the “flaws” which are largely non-sequiturs and the opinions of one person, the writer .

    This Drew Grant is a woman, dont be fooled by the name, who use to work for Salon… writing about tv, film and pop culture. Since when does that make you an investigative reporter on topics such as these? OWS is not something to be giving a thumbs up or down such as film or tv. It’s not something to superficially scrutinize such as pop culture. It is a moral, ethical, and economical movement to better the world for everyone. To try and deter from the message of OWS with her non-sense is both BIASED and uninformed, hich is NOT what a reporter supposed to encompass. Reporting is just that, announcing the FACTS to the people… but I suppose it’s not “reporting” when you’re looking up your information on google, NOT talking to the people involved, and doing this all from your cubicle in your lovely manhattan office.

    This website is foolish, and with that said, this Drew Grant belongs at such a unprofessional, unreliable media outlet.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Thank you Drew Grant for reminding us of what a Progressive education accomplishes when presented with weak minded, almost somnambulant, greedy malcontents.  The OWS crowd is a perfect picture of know nothing zombies spurred by malignant political puppet masters. 

    They scream about the 1% and yet have Michael Moore (worth 50 million, and until two years ago, a large investor in Corporate stocks) as a muse.  The same can be said of Russell Simmons, Susan Sarandon, Alec Baldwin (like your commercials for Citibank) and Kanye West, but the Occupiers a/k/a the Squatters don’t see their hypocrisy or their stupidity.

    They scream about the “banksters” as being the recipients of bailout money and yet never bother to note that the banks paid back ALL of the TARP monies in full, along with 4 billion dollars in interest to the Fed. Gov.  While the money (union bailouts) which went to the car companies has yet to be paid back in full and will almost certainly end up sticking the taxpayer with billions of dollars in unpaid loans.  But, of course, these same union members which profited greatly at the expense of stockholders and American taxpayers are now marching with the know nothing OWS crowd.

    They claim that their student loans are unfair, yet they weren’t unfair when they borrowed the money.  Additionally, if the cost of  higher education is too high then shouldn’t they look at the Universities which are ultimately responsible for those prices.  Every year they raise the costs of education while spending lavishly on their administration and faculty and all the while sitting on billions in alumni contributions.  But, according to the clueless, it’s the banks, which made it possible for them to attend these bastions of progressive mind melds, that are responsible for THEIR choices.

  10. Edward says:

    The Occupy Movement is a serious business and you get an arsehole Steven Greenstreet coming up with such a stupid idea, it only belittles what men and women are trying to achieve!  This man sounds like another agent provocateur working for the very bastards that are trying to stop the protests!  Do not let them put you off from the movement!   The demand that the Occupyers must insist on is the total ending of Usury by the international Criminal Banking Cabal!   Only a People’s government can create money without any debt or interest attached to it!   All private family banks must end.   Only the people’s Government Bank must remain! 

    Say no to Centralization too!  and Down with Corporations in Congress!  Make them pay the Taxes they have avoided for decades!!  Also, never let them divide or conquer you!   You know who and what the enemy is,  do not deviate from this course!   This is the only way to go!
    Namaste!

  11. Too Young To Feel This Way says:

    I thought these people were supposed to be different. The Occupy movement actually gave me a bit of hope, that’s pretty much gone now.

  12. alphaproton says:

    Feminism, aka misandry, has absolutely NO legitimate place in OWS.

    OWS doesn’t need MORONS dividing their cause for totalitarian interests, aka feminism.

    I’m actually starting to believe the Koch Brothers are backers of feminists solely from this observation.

    1. Actual_simulation says:

      Funny that you have “alpha” in your name, considering the condescening, sexist tone of your comment. Feminism strives for equality between all sexes and races. Tell me why you think that equals “totalitarianism”?