Smart and Loud

Views of the smart and opinionated women of Occupy Wall Street and Occupy actions around the world. Smart and loud and have thoughts to share? Submit them here! (Note: Submission does not guarantee posting)

I tell him I’m afraid. I’m afraid we’ll never have sex again. I’m afraid of what might happen when we do have sex again. I’m afraid this is my only chance to have a child. I’m afraid something will go wrong. I’m afraid it won’t work. I’m afraid it will hurt. I’m afraid I am a terrible person because I haven’t considered adoption, haven’t considered parenthood. I’m afraid there’s something wrong with me because I don’t consider either an option. I’m afraid of disappointing our families. I’m afraid of what I’ll say if I do have a kid someday and she asks me about it. I’m afraid I’ll carry the guilt and shame, the weight of it, around with me for the rest of my life. I’m afraid I’m being selfish. I’m afraid I’m a murderer. I’m afraid I’m going to hell. I’m afraid I’ll never fall asleep. ”

I want to give this woman a hug forever.

This coffee falls into your stomach, and straightway there is a general commotion. Ideas begin to move like the battalions of the Grand Army of the battlefield, and the battle takes place. Things remembered arrive at full gallop, ensuing to the wind. The light cavalry of comparisons deliver a magnificent deploying charge, the artillery of logic hurry up with their train and ammunition, the shafts of with start up like sharpshooters. Similes arise, the paper is covered with ink; for the struggle commences and is concluded with torrents of black water, just as a battle with powder.

~Honore de Balzac (via altruish)

The movement will be caffeinated.

(via matterless)

The Guardian reports on efforts to reduce male dominance and the challenges female activists continue to face.

From what one can tell, the current state of politics is such that prospective candidates who gain support for having strong progressive values are then made to feel that in order to succeed they have to censor all the positions that made them desirable prospective candidates in the first place. This is asinine.

"Some aging activists would like to own this movement," said P.J. Jentsch, an independent filmmaker who moved to Boulder earlier this year and was part of the first, small group to pitch a tent on the courthouse lawn. "They’re heavily invested in the Democratic Party, and they want to re-elect Barack Obama."

In a reflection of the lack of consensus within Occupy Boulder, Ilan Sherman, a photographer and teacher at New Vista High School who joined the encampment, waited politely for Jentsch to pause, then told him he “strongly disagreed.”

This quote has been floating about, attributed to Occupy Kentucky:

An Open Letter To Politically Affiliated Supporters of the Occupy Movement:

Yes, you are the 99% as well, so act like it. Put down your tea cups, tie your donkey up at the door, and don’t bring your elephant in the room and expect us to not talk about it. You are individual people, and each person’s commitment to change is what makes this movement so strong. We are all leaders, so don’t tell us your political party has all of the answers, because they don’t. Would we be in this mess if they did?  - Occupy Kentucky

Sorry, but I won’t be tying my “donkey up at the door.” In fact, I’ve traveled to other Occupy events while sitting my local occupation out because I feel it’s been made quite clear that Democrats aren’t welcome there. That we should check our political affiliation on the next block over before entering the occupation. And I am not okay with being asked to check part of my political identity in order to be welcome.

I want to support the 99% movement. I want to build a broader coalition. I want to pour my heart and soul into improving our nation and our world.  And I want to be myself while doing it. A woman. A friend. A worker. A Democrat. I want to be able to stand next to the rest of the 99%, whether they are there as socialists, Republicans, anarchists, independents, Pastafarians, Buddhists, something else, or totally unaffiliated without dropping what I believe in, and I believe in the Democratic party.

This is insanity, you might think. Not the part about being able to have Republicans, socialists, and anarachists stand shoulder to shoulder. The part about believing in the Democratic party. You’re entitled to your opinion. But the point is that I’m also the 99% and I’m also entitled to mine.

The Democratic party is flawed. I will openly admit that the Democrats, in their current form, do not have the answers to our current problems.  In particular, our national Dems too frequently fail to go to the mat on the issues that people like me care about. But I believe that our best chance for fastest relief within the current system is not to create a third party (although I don’t think that’s a bad idea), but to reform the parties we have. Someone else can wrestle with the Republican party. But me? I’m going to fight like hell for the things I believe in both out in the streets and within the Democratic party. 

I think the people who wrote the Occupy Kentucky quote above have missed an important lesson from Wisconsin. When the people stood up to Scott Walker, the Democrats stood up and fought. When the people stood up — exactly what those who support the 99% movement are doing. Standing up. Instead of alienating Democrats (or Republicans), we should use this as an opportunity to force our elected officials to represent us.  When the people stand up, together, as the chant goes “we are unstoppable; another world is possible.” A world in which the people lead and the leaders follow.  

Monied interests will continue to wreak havoc on the legitimacy of our system of government. We absolutely must band together to fix our democratic system. While doing so, I hope that there is space for those who want to fix the Democratic system, too, because my donkey will not be tied up outside the revolution.

The closest ancestor of Occupy Wall Street was the Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp in Berkshire, England. The encampment started in 1981, after some Welsh feminists called Women for Life on Earth marched from Cardiff to the RAF military base in Berkshire, asking to debate the siting of 96 U.S. cruise nuclear missiles there. Ignored, the women pitched their tents outside the fence. They were told to take their tents down. They slept under tarps or in the open. Over the years, thousands camped out, with as many as 70,000 showing up to link hands and encircle — or, as they put it, “embrace” — the base.

The dozen women I spoke to for this story—most of them queer-identified and/or women of color—have witnessed varying amounts of offensive behavior, such as unwanted touching or use of casually misogynist language, within the movement. And they also differ as to the extent to which they think they can elbow the “isms” out of their space. But for the most part they share a defiant hope: just maybe, they say, for once, a mobilization for social change can get it right: maintain a broad base of support, connect the dots between different kinds of injustice, and achieve staying power. Their fervent wish is that the movement’s careful attention to inclusive structure, including “safe space” caucuses and working groups and a commitment to anti-oppression training, means not that misogyny will vanish altogether, but rather that diverse voices will remain a core part of the movement.

Photos of strong, loud, passionate women at protests around the world.