Oct 25, 2011

Portable safe spaces and occupying the occupation

Occupy the World is fantastic. It is wonderful and inspiring and in 2,000 cities around the world. It is the first truly global popular protest movement, it's made up of dedicated and self-sacrificing people with the noblest and best intentions. It is not vague, it is not spoiled, it is not destructive. It's ace, OK?

But Occupy the World is, well, part of the world. And that means that it contains, in microcosm, a lot of what is bad about the world as it is. To whit: patriarchy[1].

Some people think that it's OK to use the occupations as a pick-up opportunity; or so at least they claim - personally I take Amanda Marcotte's view that they are threatened by politically active women and are trying to belittle them through objectification. Other people think - and have thought from Day One on Tahrir Square - that the bodies of women are theirs for the taking, that sexual violence is exempt from the demands for a better future. These people are often bolstered in their belief by organisers and sympathisers who pressure women to forgo the small aims of justice and safety for the greater aims of the movement[2].

More prosaically, I know of women who have been heckled, called gendered names, dismissed, silenced and intimidated at several of the camps. I'm sure this is endemic in most if not all camps, not because the people occupying are bad people, but because it is widespread and endemic in the world. Not entirely surprisingly, all of this[3] has added up to a somewhat subdued female participation rate in the Occupy movement.

This is not quite OK, as far as I'm concerned. What the heck point is it in changing the world for half the people, by half the people? If you're going to be like that, then it should be "we are the 48%", not "we are the 99%".

So, last Sunday, my friend Jess organised a Feminist Picnic at Occupy Bristol. We came, we ate, we sat in a friendly circle, we interacted with the occupiers and the public (it was an "open family day"), and coincidentally we had an impromptu discussion about pole dancing. The sun shone and all was well with the world.

For a while. Here is what is absolutely fascinating to me about how the day went: whenever the number of women around our particular little enclave of blankets and chairs dipped below about 6, shit started going down. I'm not saying it was some kind of continuous campaign of harassment, far far from it; a couple of people who were maybe not quite with it and had had a bit much to drink or in general might have issues that we should not judge them for behaved inappropriately and in an intimidating manner. But as soon as ranks closed, women joined, a circle was formed - nothing. Nada. Zilch.

In fact the very same person who was talking over 4 of us, telling us how "things are done here" and being aggressive and belligerent, when surrounded by 10 of us, was raising his hand patiently to seek consensus right to speak and making cogent and helpful suggestions.

The circle grew and shrank once or twice, and the dynamic repeated itself each time: more women, nice atmosphere; fewer women, aggro. Really basic, obvious dynamics that nobody can dismiss as paranoid feminists making stuff us and "choosing to be offended"[4].

We had a fascinating discussion about how to continue interacting with the movement - because we all support the movement wholeheartedly, and frankly most of us could probably teach some of the organisers a thing or two about hegemony, delegitmisation of protest and privilege - while not exposing individual women or small groups to situations in which they feel intimidated or dismissed. It's easy to say "toughen up", but given that not every one can do that, what's the solution? Forgo the support of all the non-Boudiccas, or create a safe space within the movement where all women can come and contribute their creativity and passion?

Exactly. So, we decided to conduct an experiment in "Carrying Our Safe Space With Us". Given that a critical mass of female presence seems to be, in and of itself, a deterrent to misogynist bullshit, we propose to ensure this critical mass by arranging group presence at the Occupy Bristol camp. The plan, in outline, is:

  • Convene at the camp on College Green between 6.30pm and 7pm on Thursday the 27th of October
  • Participate as observers and guests (with a right to speak of course, but no agenda) in the camp's General Meeting
  • Stay, as a group, until 9pm exactly, displaying a sign that says "Ask Us About Women in the Movement"
  • Leave as a group, with only those who feel comfortable at the camp remaining behind, if any

Then we'll see. It is by way of testing the waters: are we right that being in camp in the dark but as a group can feel safe? Can we actually all commit to a solid 2 hour attendance? Will our presence be seen as a provocation or as disrespectful engagement with the movement? Can we find a way of getting stuck in and helping out without "breaking the circle" of safe space we have imported with us? And most importantly of course, shall we continue doing this as a way of enabling women's participation in the Occupy the World movement?

I hope it works, I really do - because if it does, it offers such a simple and effective way of helping women penetrate all kinds of spaces that they have traditionally been excluded from. And not just women - any group that feels marginalised or intimidated out of a given milieu can try this "portable safe space" approach to increasing visibility without making undue demands on brave and self-sacrificing individuals to be the token representative, the first penguin in the water so to speak.

I read recently, can't remember where, that the selective sex abortion epidemic in places like China and India is a huge problem, because historically, whenever the percentage of women in the population falls significantly below that of men, they suffer increased oppression and violence. At first this seemed counter intuitive to me, but I realised that this is because it flies in the face of a major patriarchal lie and underpinning of a lot of our sexual politics: that women are a resource for which men compete, not agents in their own right participating in society.

Under the patriarchal view (much loved by MRAs and evo psych proponents), the fewer women there are in a population, the more "precious" they are, and the better they will be treated by supplicants eager for their favour. And this is really deeply embedded in our psyches, or we'd all realise straight away that all this male attention is, even in the best and most PC of circumstances, little more than sexual harassment: to take an example I'm familiar with, one gets catcalled, groped and propositioned way more in places like SciFi/geek/atheist/comics conventions and fan clubs than at events with a more even gender distribution like pop concerts or weddings.

There does seem to be a basic principle of strength in numbers here, and while I'll need to think about it a bit more before I can write a pithy concluding paragraph for this post, I'm going to try and see if I can make it work for me in the meanwhile!

Remember: 27/10, 6.30, College Green Bristol. Be there or be a rectangular thing!

[1] And some other things, too. In the UK at least, it seems to be very white, and disabled representation is low more or less everywhere as far as I can see. These are important and serious issues, but I am not qualified to comment on them, hence the focus on stuff I do know something about.

[2] To those people I say: please, find a new tune. Women have been making the sandwiches for men's revolutions since forever - if you really want to change the world, why you be making it stay the same, man?

[3] And a bunch of other stuff, too: concerns for personal safety from the public (one woman at Occupy Bristol has had drunk revellers climb into her tent at night), responsibility for children (running water and sanitary facilities are a problem at many occupations), a sheer inability to not work, and so on - including good old fashioned social conditioning. All of the usual stuff that hinders women's political participation, in fact.

[4] They can, and they will - but that's because they're assholes, not because they have a leg to stand on.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Could you specify please where that implication was made? It so happens that the gender balance was indeed almost entirely female (all the people who came specifically for the picnic rather than joining in on the spot were women), but it is not my intention to suggest that men can't be feminists.

    They can't, however, be women - so this is rather in the realm of hair splitting in any case.

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  4. 'Portable safe space' is a really interesting idea - I hope it works.

    For what it's worth, I feel that the way the group physically places itself and interacts with the rest of the camp is worth some thought and constant review. I think standing in a group with a sign could, depending on various other circumstances, appear stand-offish. I think I get the idea behind your proposal, but I think you also have to consider that there may be males who could benefit from your presence who would be reluctant to come over to a group of 'angry feminists'.

    Like I said, I suppose it would be best to be mindful of this possibility and play things by ear.

    Hope you found my comments helpful. I won't be there on Thursday, but hopefully you will be there on one of the other days in which case I'll try to head over.

    Hope you have fun!


  5. Thanks for the article, really enjoyed it.

    John: oh my god. Why did you have to barge into this conversation and demand to be catered to? I am apoplectic with rage at you right now, for smearing your privilege like a turd all over my monitor. It will be up to the women in the group to decide what your role is, it is NOT for you to make a case. Argh.

  6. ian: you're making me giggle all over my keyboard! ;)

    Simon: well dear, I'll give you the same answer I gave to someone who raised that very same objection on Sunday: we got aggro while having a PICNIC. If you can suggest a way to be less "standoffish angry feminist", and still perpetrating the crime of being alive while female, go right on ahead and organise an event implementing it. Good luckz! xx

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  9. John,

    I guess I'd like to start by saying 'I cannot for the life of me understand,' but that would be a lie...nonetheless...why oh why oh why do you insist, as a man, and a feminist, on responding to Marina's really awesome portable safe-space idea by getting all sniffy about how you, as a man, and a feminist, have been excluded from a conversation about how to make it a bit easier for women to participate in an important social movement. As a man, and a feminist, I'm sure that you appreciate the difficulties women face getting their voices heard in these contexts (particularly when their voices are sometimes co-opted by men who are being extradited for sex crimes...). As a man and a feminist, I'm sure that you also empathize with the fact that women can sometimes feel verbally, physically and sexually intimidated in spaces dominated by men, and that a portable safe-space could therefore represent a really powerful political mode of engagement. And as man and a feminist, I'm sure that you are more (possibly even painfully...as we are!) than aware of the basic empirical fact that *most feminists are women*. Not by dint of a huge feminist conspiracy to deprive men of their feminist stripes, but by dint of the fact that a lot of men just don't really care about women's experience, and don't really try very hard to empathize with it. So, I'd like to thank you for not doing that, and for understanding what Marina was saying, and thinking really hard about how your privilege might contribute to the situation she was describing...as a man, and as a feminist...

    No offense taken.

  10. Hey, well done for making it down!

    Slightly off-topic, but this has been on my mind of late. I've been wondering about the feminist movement of late and wondered if anyone thought the term was outdated and off-putting (SHOCK, HORROR!). I'm not totally knocking the movement - I strongly support equal rights for men and women, however I consider myself an equalist.

    Yes I'm well aware that women have been oppressed for a long time and that this issue needs to continually be brought up if anything is ever going to change (although thinking about my workplace the reverse is actually true - of the 5 highest paid and ranking people in the company, 4 are women). But in having equal rights for men and women surely "equalist" or "humanist" is a more appropriate term as it is not biased towards a particular gender. As the word "feminist" is feminine word, events advertised as "feminist" are almost certainly going to attract a higher proportion of women than men. Many men I know who support women's rights are put off by the term "feminist" because they think they'll get their heads bitten off - and (I hope) that's not exactly what you want to achieve. I even know some women would are afraid of feminism because of the image.

    An event or group advertised as "equalist" is likely to be more balanced in attendance. My opinion is that the way forward for equal rights is by having men and women interact on an equal level, where there is no gender dominance, segregation or oppression.

    For me, the issue is purely with the terminology, which separates feminists from the rest of the people who think equal rights are a good thing. I think we're on the same side. I stand prepared to be corrected on some things, as it's not a matter I spend a great deal of time dwelling on - I was brought up to treat everyone equal and am lucky enough to mostly be around like-minded people!

  11. @Jay

    I shall try harder, my friend, to do all those things you have implied that I am not doing. Clearly, I've made an ass of myself, and am being duly addressed for it. I have removed the offending posts, which were clearly unwelcome, and I will think, long and hard, about why this has upset Marina, and possibly others, so much.

    I personally thought I would dialogue with Marina about the whole thing. I was looking forward to talking to her on Thursday, before I read her angry replies. I am absolutely a very imperfect feminist. Clearly, even here, on this singular exchange, I have enraged Marina.

    I don't think I was talking about feeling excluded. I don't even think I was trying to overtly critcise. I think I was trying to simply say, "I'd like to be involved in this too. Is that OK? It sounds as if your group is women-only."

    I have had discussions with the occupybristol folks today, and directed them here, to Marinas blog. Haven't spoken for Marina by saying much else to them, except that some women felt unsafe on the site. I am totally behind everything Marina says above.

    I am genuinely very sad that I've upset her so much. I honestly don't think I've been a total ass, though maybe I've been quite a bit of an ass nonetheless.

    Not sure what else to say, except, I am sorry. And I wish I understood better what exactly I did wrong. I don't feel like the demon I'm being made out to be here. But, yes, I'll try to reflect on it, especially your and Marina's replies.


  12. I am so sad that so many of the comments here are 'what about the menz' or derailing 101. ('Love' that hearing how women are treated badly instantly makes someone say 'well, perhaps if they just changed the way they presented themselves men would like them more!')

    I think a 'portable safe space' is a Brilliant Idea and hope that it works incredibly well. Working out a way of taking a protest and making safer and more accessible is just so fantastic and ingeneous. Thank you for doing this!

  13. Hi Rob, thanks for your thoughtful comment!

    I don't presume to speak on behalf of women with this, but I feel that they should not have to deal with your ignorant horseshit for one second, this is masculinity's mess.

    The reason that feminism is called "feminism" and not "equalism" is because it is about redressing issues which primarily impact people who identify as women. It is a movement which is driven by women's voices, forged by women, debated by women, progressed by women. It has no interest in "balancing attendance". When men are present, women will tend to speak less, be spoken over, be intimidated and be ignored. When men enter a space that is meant for women, the structural inequalities in society begin to make themselves felt almost immediately. This is not fucking redressed by tarting up feminism to appeal to whatever transcendental humanism you think would /truly/ help the women of the world.

    Next time your brain farts out an idea about how to help women, why don't you keep your mouth shut instead of coming off like a spoiled idiot trying to exert his privilege however he can. You don't think all those feminists throughout recorded fucking history have had that thought? You don't think in the centuries of formalised debate and feminist academia that women have not come to a fucking consensus?

  14. @ian
    I am deeply offended at your comments. I don't claim to be an expert and I speak only from personal experience. I did not come on here to shit-stir, but to have a respectful debate and would be grateful if you would try and engage me in peaceful discussion, rather than the above abusive tirade. I'm sorry that I have never knowingly hurt or been abusive to a woman, I'm sorry that I stand up for equal rights, and I'm sorry that many of the objectives of the feminist movement have rubbed off on my friends and family and that I grew up in an environment where neither sex was particularly dominant. I don't think the anger expressed above is justified at someone who stands for equality, when there are far worse people in this world.

    From what I can see, the movement advocates equal rights, but also has the consequence of scaring men off, when they, just as much as women, need to be involved in the fight for equality.

  15. Hang on a minute, who's upset and enraged? I thought the whole thing was hilarious!

    John, you did make a bit of a tit of yourself. Sorry mate, that's jut how that one went down. But don't feel you need to delete your comments on my account - I'm not some kind of feminist anti-tit police.

    Well, except for maybe on news stands.

  16. Kate: thank you! Fingers and toes all crossed hoping it goes really well. :)

    ian: I'm, like, taken and that, so don't take this the wrong way, but I think I'm a tiny bit in love.

    Rob C: you're a dickhead. Move on.

  17. @Marina
    Yes I'll move on and will hopefully find people who want to debate, rather than namecall for having an opinion. I hoped you would have a bit more respect.

    Love and Peace.

  18. By the way, Rob, Simon and John this is a useful guide to honing your derailing skills http://www.derailingfordummies.com/

  19. Truly bizarre...

    I'm at a loss as to how much I've been misjudged and attacked here. Glad the feminists I know, love and live alongside don't see me and treat me the way I've been seen and treated here. Truly bizarre! Good luck to you all in your project.

    Marina, some of your writing here is truly brilliant (your slutwalk speech, for example) and I'll continue to direct people here to read it. A shame we couldn't relate in any amiable way, really.

    Goodnight all, and goodbye.

  20. Wow!

    This debate is quite funny...and troubling. Am interested that it is mostly men's voices in a space where we're talking about how women's voices are being sidelined in a movement. Not a bad thing, just interesting.

    I would like to answer Rob C's point though even though he is not here to hear it...

    I am absolutely dead set against the idea of re-branding feminism to make it more attractive to men or to women who are put off by the word, despite being a huge believer in the idea that we need to reach out to communities that traditionally feminism hasn't been associated with (with its tag of being white and middle class).

    Because when we say feminism needs re-branding, we're saying that we are ashamed of the word, of the movement.


    Why are we embarrassed by a movement that has:
    a. given me the right to vote?
    b. fought for women to have bodily autonomy and reproductive rights
    c. fought for the right to have rape and violence against women and girls recognised and taken seriously
    d. fought for the right for equal pay
    e. fought for the right to women have equal education
    f. fought for rape to recognised as a weapon of war
    g. fought for the right for women to be welcomed into the workplace
    h. fought for the right for women to be people in their own rights, not chattel of their husbands or fathers
    i. fought for the right to every bloody thing that means my life is far more free than my nana's, great nana's etc etc

    I could go on.

    Feminism ROCKS! people who want to re brand feminism are in my experience scared of what feminism has achieved and nervous aobut what feminism will go on to achieve. To me, feminism is about equality but more than that it is about liberation. Equality under patriarchy, under capitalist patriarchy, is not equality for all.

    Plus, to call it equalism, or humanism is to gloss over the fact that some issues, many issues are gendered. People don't like to admit this, it scares them and makes them feel uncomfortable. So they look to re-brand a movement that has done so much to change the world already, that has done so much to make the world a better place and will continue to do these things. I'm not interested in shrugging off and brushing under the carpet a word under which my sisters across the world and across the centuries have marched.

    If people want to re brand feminism, it's because they're scared of it in my view.

    And that really is their problem, not feminism's.

  21. Marina,

    Thanks for your reply. It seems we're misunderstanding each other, which is a shame. Hopefully we'll have better luck if/when we meet in person - face to face communication is so much easier than writing.

    Just to remind you, you replied:

    "Well dear, I'll give you the same answer I gave to someone who raised that very same objection on Sunday: we got aggro while having a PICNIC. If you can suggest a way to be less "standoffish angry feminist", and still perpetrating the crime of being alive while female, go right on ahead and organise an event implementing it. Good luckz! xx"

    It comes across to be quite patronising and bad-tempered - maybe I'm reading it wrong?

    To be clear, I want your idea to succeed. I think the group on College Green isn't representative of the gender balance in the general population which means we risk failing in our aim to be representative of 'the 99%'.

    I was trying to make a helpful suggestion that the way in which your island of safety physically relates to the rest of the occupiers and the way in which excursions from/to the island by members from within/outside your group are mediated will be vital to its success. I think it would be a shame, for example, if you attended but no-one noticed or if you came and others (of any gender) felt intimidated.

    I hope you'll see my reply for what it is - a genuine attempt to engage with you and do what I can to make your idea a success.


    P.S. My use of the phrase 'angry feminist' was a weak attempt at levity based on the fact this is how you describe yourself at the top of this page.

  22. It frankly astonishes me that you feel the need to explain to me that I "come across" as bad tempered and patronising, Simon. Because I was being so openly bad tempered, and so obviously intent on patronising you, that you must think me stupid to the point of comatose if you really believe I hadn't noticed.

    Wherein, of course, lies the problem. Go back and read everything you have written here; delete anything that you would not consider pointing out to someone whose basic intelligence you have confidence in; gaze in dismay on the remaining prepositions, flanked by the occasional punctuation mark.

    Then talk to me about about fucking "patronising".

  23. @Simon: I've thought long and hard last night and today about this. I think Marina's point, and she'll no doubt correct me if I'm wrong, is that Marina and any other woman who chooses to join her, can do whatever the fuck they want, especially if that is in order to feel safe. Who are we to tell them what to do?

    And who, when all is said and done, can argue with that?

  24. Marina,

    I simply didn't expect to be abused in this way for the crime of being alive while male.

    You presumably get a lot of enjoyment out of being angry. Good for you.


    @John You're right. I think we've got better things to expend our efforts on.

  25. @Simon: Personally, I feel it would be in line with the Occupy Movement in general to expend my/your/our efforts on ensuring that people of whatever group can use the space in whatever way they choose, as long as that does not restrict any other group from doing the same.

    If Occupy Glasgow is anything to go by, I think we should be listening to women who wish to participate and doing everything we can to facilitate them to use the space in whatever way they choose in order to feel safe as they do so.

  26. I think this thread really demonstrates how defensive people get when they are asked to question their privilege and challenge the ways in which they are speaking to people who don't share all their privilege - in this instance women and men.

    The occupy movement as far as i can see has big issues with inclusivity and listening to women's voices. Some have invited an accused rapist to speak. Some members in Bristol have called women sexist names and some members in other cities have sexually assaulted women. They've then told those women to not report it for 'the good of the movement'. What good is a movement that perpetuates and repeats the crimes of patriarchy? Some have dismissed women's concerns, some have ignored the truths about women's poverty and how there are more women in the 99% and more men in the 1%. I feel so sad that I feel excluded from the movement that is supposed to include everyone.

    I think a lot of the men on the thread and in the occupy movement need to question their privilege a bit more, look at what they're saying and challenge themselves. Ask yourselves, Why is what i've said seen as patronising? why is what i've said seen as aggressive? Why is what i've said seem dismissive of women's valid concerns. And then learn from that.

    There's no point getting defensive and complaining that people are being mean to you or that we're not listening. Because you also need to listen to what we're saying.

    As a feminist, feminism has taught me so much about privilege. I have a lot of it. It's not my fault, but it means i have to make an effort to look at, question and challenge my privilege and ensure that what i do does not exclude or silence others who don't have the same privilege.

    We ALL need to do this ALL the time.

    Otherwise we're not fighting for a better world for all, we're just fighting for ourselves.

    PS - if you want to hear people really patronise you and be aggressive, try being a feminist blogger! rape threats, name calling, physical threats - all in a day's work!

  27. @ Marina. Regarding your comments to Simon:

    "It frankly astonishes me that you feel the need to explain to me that I "come across" as bad tempered and patronising, Simon. Because I was being so openly bad tempered, and so obviously intent on patronising you, that you must think me stupid to the point of comatose if you really believe I hadn't noticed.

    Wherein, of course, lies the problem. Go back and read everything you have written here; delete anything that you would not consider pointing out to someone whose basic intelligence you have confidence in; gaze in dismay on the remaining prepositions, flanked by the occasional punctuation mark.

    Then talk to me about about fucking "patronising"."

    I was actually with you until you uttered this diatribe. Simon was actually attempting to say something positive on this issue and finding a way to welcome you in, but your response seems to indicate that anything that comes out of a man's mouth is automatically considered either 'patronising' or 'abusive' or what not.

    Moving on though, I think that the issue of women being abused or hassled when they visit the camp is a good one, and if it needs women to be 'standoffish with a sign' or something then so be it. My feelings are that the issues of patriarchy absolutely underlie the present system we are trying to change and therefore a strong feminist presence at the camp is something to be welcomed.

    The same process, I seem to remember, was going on during the road protests of the 1990's and I remember reading regular articles by women concerning the behaviour of male activists at protest camps and the intrusion of patriarchal attitudes into the camps, I'm not sure if it was ever sorted out properly because these discussions were still being held in the final days of the protest camp at Newbury as far as I am aware, and Newbury was basically the last large road protest of that era.

    I would suggest (at the risk of sounding patronising) that a 'women's circle' within or just outside the camp would be a really good idea, but of course that is something for feminists to decide for themselves.

    But I would also suggest that there has to be found a way in which men can also comment on issues of patriarchy and gender politics without the fear of being receiving an angry response, a solution to this may be to establish some kind of ground rules for dialogue beforehand, as it has to be remembered that many men have been conditioned by the system over many years and therefore do not necessarily realise it themselves if they are being patronising or abusive. For that reason, quite justifiable anger from a woman in response can often seem to be an attack on a man purely on the basis that he's opened his mouth and contributed to the discussion in the first, and therefore interpreted as an attack purely on the basis of being male in the first place.

  28. RobinWhitlock

    "The same process, I seem to remember, was going on during the road protests of the 1990's and I remember reading regular articles by women concerning the behaviour of male activists at protest camps and the intrusion of patriarchal attitudes into the camps, I'm not sure if it was ever sorted out properly because these discussions were still being held in the final days of the protest camp at Newbury as far as I am aware, and Newbury was basically the last large road protest of that era."

    That's interesting, because I don't remember much of that. I remember a lot of debates about macho aggression towards bailiffs etc, occasional squabbles about gendered insults etc, and a lot of self-examination, but in the context of months and months of free-flowing debate about all sorts of political theory (there were a lot of hours to kill)

    I don't remember any articles or complaints about women feeling threatened or excluded, the way we are seeing around Occupy.

    My hunch is that the 90s eco-movement had stronger historical lineage with the peace camps, the anarcho-punk movement, which had much stronger feminist influences than new generation.

    But I'm prepared to accept that my memories and impressions are completely false, if anyone else has an opinion? Interested in this question.

  29. Wow, why are people getting so angry that women want a space to tehmselves? This is an AMAZING idea! I passed by the Occupy LSX camp, read all the posters, grinned from ear-to-ear but spoke to NO ONE because I couldn't see anyone who wasn't a frowning man who looked very busy. If there was a marked safe-space, or as you've suggested a big board saying, "Ask us about women's issues in this movement!" I would have stayed and talked.

    I really hope the other movements take up your idea. I think it will make it more accessible to those of us (ie, women) who support the movement but don't havea background in demonstration/occupations/can't dedicate days and days to the movement/don't know anyone involved in it, etc.

    It's a shame the comments seem to have devolved into a sulking fit of, "But what about ME?!"

  30. Given the events at Occupy Glasgow it is important that all other occupations are safe spaces.

  31. This resonates with my experience in San Francisco/ Oakland as well. For SF add in a big dollop of queer/genderqueer issues and the people that don't understand them. I've heard lots of division over the issue. Your experience and proposal are interesting, and remind me of the efficacy of affinity groups and spokescouncils.

    Thanks for posting this. I suggest women who feel intimidated by the harassment form affinity groups of women, and collaborate to make sure that they can attend events and actions in enough numbers to feel safe. At SF GA last night, someone pointed out that your affinity group is also your first line of defenders if the march is attacked - they are the people who will help you if the police shoot you in the head with tear gas.

    I will continue as I have been doing, talking with all the mens and demanding their respect as an equal. Now I might try to get more women in one place at one time though.

  32. Just got this through a group, Decolonize Together, that is trying to transform partriarchal, racist, sexist, and homophobic dynamics at Occupy San Francisco. Love it! It's interesting to think about what is gained in visibility and safety by organizing around identity (as women, people of color, queers, trannies) as compared to in mixed groups of feminists, anti-racists etc.

    In solidarity from the streets of Oakland!

  33. @sianandcrookedrib

    I came back have a look and see if anyone had said anything constructive and saw your post. Thank you for taking the time and patience, and for being reasonable. Like any movement often all it takes is a bit of time to talk to people about what you are doing and have done to make them understand it better. Although I am still not convinced that feminism in its current form is necessarily the way forward, my understanding of the feminist movement is now a little more informed and I have a better understanding and a little more respect for what you doing, and I think it is great. And even if it does move eventually evolve, the actions of the people who made a difference and got this far should never be forgotten - they are or were great people.

    Much respect, and thank you.

  34. Ally F said:

    "That's interesting, because I don't remember much of that."

    Well I concede you might be right actually, basically because I got my information at the time from 'Do Or Die' (a particular issue to be exact), but as I never actually made it to Newbury myself (unfortunately) I can't testify as to its authenticity. There were however some strong women at Solsbury Hill and I have to say they held their space very well, and rightly so...

  35. So how do you feel it went? Did you feel welcome and at ease at Occupy Bristol?

  36. I'm curious too. And my apologies for being an ass. I get it now.

  37. Hi, just came by to express curiosity about how it went on Thursday - if you're planning to write that up, I'd like to read it.

  38. You mention "one gets catcalled, groped and propositioned way more in places like SciFi/geek/atheist/comics conventions and fan clubs than at events with a more even gender distribution like pop concerts or weddings."

    This is just my guess but I believe those kinds of conventions and fan clubs attract socially inept people to a far greater extent than pop concerts and weddings. Although groping goes on at those events too in my experience. But it's not really a fair test, because alcohol

  39. Wow, a lot of interesting comments while I've been away! Definitely planning to write something about how Thursday went once I a) get back into the swing of things and b) have an opportunity to talk to a few of the other women there and collect their recollections/feedback. Rock on! :)

    PS Please please let's not import Elevatorgate into this space, anonymous. I say this more in sorrow than anger: any comments skirting even marginally close to the topic will have to be respectfully deleted.

  40. Just for the record Marina, I think that its not only healthy but also necessary for there to be a feminist presence on camp, so I hope some of you decide to move on site, I would certainly be glad to see some of you there when I visit even if I don't always agree with some of your perspectives. That's just my thoughts anyway...

  41. Marina, you're terrific. Get some support from great new now-going-worldwide movement, OccupyPatriarchy.org--which women in diff. countries are connecting with in order to raise serious issues of sexism (regarding both safety AND political analysis not factoring in women's centrality to economics) in the Occupy movement while still supporting it. In sisterhood,
    Robin Morgan

  42. Thank you so much Robin! That's made my week, that has. :)

  43. Thanks for sharing, I will bookmark and be back again

    House, Flats for Sale in Bristol

    1. I am shocked at the behaviour here. Shocked.

      This in particular:

      "ian: I'm, like, taken and that, so don't take this the wrong way, but I think I'm a tiny bit in love.

      Rob C: you're a dickhead. Move on."
      - Marina S (October 25, 2011 11:31 PM)

      My goodness me. To congratulate such disgusting and ignorant comments by a poster and then to call Rob a "dickhead" based on what he said is utterly, utterly despicable.
      You and ian are Part Of The Problem.

      While Rob was apparently unaware of the term gender egalitarianism, this should not count against what was said. He clearly was going in the right direction.
      You and ian are going the exact opposite way and will cause great harm without a course change.

      I am angry, disgusted and disappointed in equal measure.

      - T

  44. Hi, it's me, Rob C, the person who wrote all that shit above all those years ago.

    All these years later I have remembered this conversation and want to say that I now think that you were right. I spent more time listening to the women in my life and was fortunate to have good friends, including feminists of various stripes, who were happy to discuss questions that I had. I'm still probably not perfect - but these days I hope I am at least somewhat less of a dickhead. And yes, I was a dickhead back then, and I accept it and apologise for it.

    Sometimes taking the time to explain to men why they're being shit works. Keep at it.

    In peace,

    Rob C