I just watched the documentary, #whilewewatch. It’s free online, and you can watch it too. It’s only 45 minutes.
It’s also very overwhelmingly male–and except for one man, really fucking white.
This bothers me. It is more than just political correctness or affirmative action–it is about me (and all of the other women, women of color), and the hard work I (we) have put into this movement (especially making media to accurately portray this movement) being completely ignored.
I’m a woman. I’m not silent, I’m not invisible and I’m not decoration. In fact, I have fantasized about countering the evils of capitalism through revolution and taking the streets and a radical redistribution of wealth and re-evaluation of our cultural values since long before #OccupyWallStreet was conceived as an idea. To me (and many others), Occupy Wall Street was an answer–a powerful force to show that we were not crazy, and more importantly not alone. It wasn’t about being a hippie, being rebellious or doing something counter-culture just for the sake of doing something counter-culture–it was something that was deeply, deeply needed to shift the dialogue towards the privatization polices and rampant inequality that has absolutely entirely left so many of us completely fucked.
(There really is not a more polite way to put that and properly get my point across).
The reality is, the people organizing Occupy Wall Street, taking the streets, making documentaries, writing articles and exposing the corruption of both our police force and the one percent that rigs our government are women and men of all races and sexual identities. Of course, there have been difficulties–it is impossible for all of us to acknowledge and confront our intricate roles as oppressors and oppressed without working through uncomfortable moments. Still, Occupy–through meetings, media and conversations has provided a space to have these essential conversations, enlightening some of us to our privilege, allowing some of us to speak out in a safe space about our oppression, doing a combination of these for all of us in between. Our differences are our strength and inclusivity–as we bring more and more voices, experiences and ideas of how to make the world a more equitable place we truly will become a powerful force of collaborative change.
My participation in Occupy Wall Street originally had nothing to do with the fact that I was a woman. At first, I was an American before I was a woman.
But then the boy’s club came to town.
Disclaimer: The following paragraphs might get a little bit salty–I don’t know the sodium content, because frankly I haven’t written them yet. I just wanted to say that I mean nothing against male journalists and media makers, and nothing against white men in general. I’m friends with several white male journalists, media makers, commentators and activists–and many of them have an amazing social conscience about their personal privilege merely by being white males.
Soon, those of us who have been activists–or at least bleeding hearts who genuinely believed that change in the world was possible–for years began to feel “replaced” by white men. It wasn’t a conscious decision, but this made it a little bit more scary. In the first Occupied Wall Street Journal, there were no female bylines. The vast majority of journalists and pundits asked to comment on television shows were white and male. The journalists who were asked to cover the topic for major publications–and likewise were paid more for their work–were majority male.
TIME Magazine even famously asked “Where are all the women reporting OWS?” Those of us like myself and Alison Kilkenny who were there since day one, and Sarah Jaffe who was there shortly thereafter were rightfully infuriated. I elaborated a little bit more on all of this here.
You see, I don’t want to have to see myself as a woman in the movement. I want to see myself as in the movement. And, the wonderful part is I have met several amazing women through the movement–and when the movement is at its height and we are in the streets facing off with the NYPD and have the magical feeling that another world really is possible, gender and race don’t matter for a split second because we truly are one.
However, when I see a representation of #OccupyWallStreet that shows barely any women, I’m suddenly struck with my difference. I don’t see myself documented in what is supposed to be a posterity portrait of something that my heart, soul, and every thought has been quite literally occupied by. I don’t feel any antagonism towards the men who are represented, and I agree for the most part with most of what they say. I just want my presence–by which I mean the presence of all women who occupy–to be remembered, documented and passed on for generations.
I want my daughters to watch a documentary about #OccupyWallStreet and see that a woman’s place is in the revolution. I want them to see that there are role model women who are loud, smart, articulate and are rewarded for devoting themselves to social change. I want them to know that we/they are so much more than just the Hot Chicks that Occupy Wall Street–I want them to know that we/they are the hardworking agents of social change.