Highlights from the #WomenOccupy Conference Call 1/25/12

Highlights from the #WomenOccupy Conference Call 1/25/12

On January 25, 2012, 21 persons from across the U.S. joined the weekly WomenOccupy conference call. The call was filled with mostly female-identified participants who spoke about their experiences of being in the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Here is what some had to say…
Noticed that as a woman our role was nurturing, mentoring, bringing blankets, don’t think Occupy could survive without it.

Difficulty being the only woman in the room at an Occupy, women’s issues not at the forefront, not nearly as many women are involved, hoping these calls will shift that, San Francisco is organizing march for International Women’s Day

Male dominated, lead the discourse, resistance to creating separate space and discussion while LGBT and race issues are easier to discuss, unsafe walking to and fro public transport

There have been mixed experiences. Overarching concern that with so many different backgrounds lots of noise that drown out female-identified voices, some spaces tend to be oppressive (someone wanted to do away with terms racism/sexism)

Global justice activist and organizer Starhawk was a featured guest on the conference call. She has been to Occupies at Vancouver, Minneapolis, Boston, Wall Street, San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley and Los Angeles. She saw that the Occupies were dealing with similar issues. While encampments were in place people struggled with how to live and work together in a context where people were unable/unwilling to set ground rules for behavior and enforce them. There was much more awareness around issues of race, class, gender identity, than around women’s issues. There was difficulty in getting people to look at disparity of dominance of male leadership.  When issues of women came up, they often don’t come up in a helpful way because many people don’t have experience with consensus process. In Occupies, the consensus process is a truncated way that is misunderstood and leaves out much of the process and squelches discussion – some groups have long, difficult meetings and then some women get shut down when they try to bring up their points.

Taking Stack For Actions

Starhawk describes that action is important and key to keeping movement forward and visible but also is a good time to have some training. It’s something we’ve done in other groups but not the Occupies. Trainings in consensus, strategy, affinity groups. It is important that we get the process right – not hard but takes some efforts. If movement can’t listen to each other we can’t move forward. As we take actions we need to have a strategy for them .

Other ideas for taking action

-Connect with women who have died and corporate persohood, heart disease from cancer-causing cosmetics advertised with pink ribbons, etc. Candle light vigil for women who have died – connect women, corporate personhood and death

-Renewing and reenergizing ERA, bring to light that we don’t have the ERA although many people think we do. As a movement we are interested in doing away with corporate personhood, make the point that we don’t have personhood

-Women from OccupyAlbany: planning a mic-check around women and health

-Women coming together can come off as intimidating to power. International Women’s Day idea to have protests outside of banks. In San Francisco geriatric women were outside and the bank was so intimidated they locked the door and closed for the day. Women taking our money, taking our power, free sales outside

-International Women’s Day is also full moon on March 8 – use imagery to shine positive magic on the banks, use power of moon to empower ourselves

-Candle light vigil we just had one with mostly men, peaceful, positive way to make large visual happen, combine with global action combine with banks, dissolution of banks, for credit unions. Woman used to knit in NYC and went back to get knitting and brought a chair but she was forced to move. Picture thousands of people knitting in the park or knit over everything in the park and invite people to relax on it

-Trend of yarn bombing, cover ATMs with yarn. Also – at Occupy Wall Street in the feminist direct action idea seeding about taking off actions March 4th as a day of command “march forth”, string of actions from May Day, women’s strike, do a choreographed flash mob on March 4th, occupy patriarchy in Oakland and others are working on creative ideas for the strike

Starhawk: Think of plays on words such as something for a story around the ATMs, Bohemian Club motto was Shakespeare’s “weaving spiders come not here” (don’t talk business or bring in matters that are serious) so we started yarning the place and also used it as barricades and around trees — chain saws can’t cut through yarn! Works well with full moon magic, spider woman.

Email melanie@codepink.org if you would like to be part of these weekly conference calls. Join us at www.WomenOccupy.org!

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