This was one of two WOW meetings held on 11/16 due to confusion about meeting location. The main meeting was at 60 Wall St’s atrium. This is the minutes from a group that met at the red cube.
For future reference, if you can’t find the larger group at the Red Cube, head to the Atrium at 60 Wall Street.
Women Occupying Wallstreet
11/6/11 Meeting Minutes for meeting held 4-5:30@ Red Cube
• No organizer was present for the meeting. 4 people met the red cube and waited for an organizer. At 4:11 three people decided to leave the red cube and try to find the organizer. They proceeded to the information tables which directed them to the Womens Safe Space tent which had no further information. En route we found another occupier looking for the meeting, the four people headed back to the red cube and at 4:20 they sat down to have the meeting sans organizer, later another participant arrived and joined in.
• Concerns about the organizer involved trying to identify who it was- it was NOT Melanie, an active female occupier, and it was not Ketchup, another active occupier and organizer who has recently departed the NYC location altogether. We also had no contact information for such persons, either email or phone #, and neither did the information desk, which we would have found helpful. We discussed the possibility that the organizer was arrested, in which case we express our concern and support, or has left the group entirely in which case the group will have to discuss replacing the organizer.
• Discussion on whether the group should be male inclusive or female only. A participant stated that at the Divine Feminine meeting a person stated that WOW was going to be an all female space. We decided this was a statement without power and authority and re-discussed the matter and unanimously decided that this space is open to men, including men identifying as men. Our reasoning was past experience in women organizations in which the male participants were highly contributive, and the problems with masculinity.
• The group was unsure of the purpose of the group Feminine Divine and whether they had the same purpose as WOW and did not want to re-create a group or splice the movement. However, we determined that DF is not a group on NYCGA.net and therefore probably not a sanctioned group. There was also reportedly a lot of infighting at the previous divine feminine meeting that was happily absent at WOW’s meeting. We were also unclear as to the Women’s Safe Space inclusion in either WOW or DF. The staffers at the tent did not express knowledge or interest in the WOW meeting.
• There was a feminist teach in nearby which was summarized for us by one of the participants:
o Sexist advertising
• It was brought to the attention of the group that RadicalFeministsNYC is holding a anti-sexist advertising event this Wednesday to take back public spaces by placing stickers over sexist advertisements in the city, but at this time the event was not being opened to new members.
• One participant brought forth a smaller effort to vandalize posters of Terri Richardson who has reportedly forced a model to perform oral sex for a work opportunity and most recently depicted the actresses in GLEE, where they play underaged women, in a sexualized manner as relates to their characters. Sexualizing children.
o Financial problems
• $ to solve female problems exists but is being allocated to corporations instead of people.
o Exploitative Films/portraying rape as sexy
• Gossip girls was singled out for an episode in which rape is not recognized as rape by the show and no stigma was placed on it.
• Important Issues to Be Addressed by the Group:
1) Women at Zuccotti park are being the subject of unwanted sexual advances, mainly in the form of unwanted come ons.
• Three members shared personal experiences, one of which had occurred earlier that day and entailed a man physically grabbing her arm while he had alchohol on his breath and declaring that she was sexy while several occupiers looked on and laughed. We were unanimously disgusted by such incidents.
• Getting hit on in the park discourages female participation. One participant stated that she did not feel safe coming without her boyfriend accompanying her. Women have the right to be active participants in society and should not need male accompaniment to do so.
• Ideas for addressing this issue:
• Report the people to security team and have them thrown out
o This was discussed and it was decided that getting immediately thrown out if u touch someone without permission was too harsh.
• Public shaming/hand signals. It was brought up that on trains in Japan is u r being touched inappropriately u raise ur hand directly into the air to draw attention to the behavior. We decided that individually we did not feel comfortable which such blatant and obvious hand signals.
o We decided to draw upon our personal experiences of having hand signals in bars. Two signals used by participants were sneezing and tugging your ear lobe. An informal consensus was for ear lobes but it is open for debate in comments. If no further suggestions are made then it will be deemed that ear tugging will be a signal to the people around you that you are uncomfortable, and they will be asked to step upto you and ask “Is everything OK” If you are being harassed this is the moment to say something or signal to the other person, and they will step in. Moving forward we will need to discuss petitioning the GA to make an announcement and possibly hand out fliers about it.
• One participant discussed possibly coming up with a default script of what to say if you are being hit on unwontedly, drawing from a technique used by Hollabacknyc.org for street harrasment. If being harassed on the street you should turn and say sternly “That is inappropriate”, for example. This was met with warm reception, script is still to be decided.
2) Equal Representation among organizers.
• One participant was concerned that the organizers seemed to be mostly male. The opposite was decided upon in that the group consensed that women were equally represented.
• Discussion of the stand up step back GA approach. There was a general approval of this technique. However, particpants discussed that women may be self- censoring their ideas based on gender conditioning that has taken place.
3) Should the group address gender problems only within the construct of the occupy movement goals/space or should we address outside problems as well?
• The group consensed that there are many problems/issues that should the informal economic aims of the GA be met, women would still be oppressed. Ex. personal sphere problems. SO, we decided that WOW should have 3 categories of issues to address:
o (a) Problems pertaining to the space for women in Zucotti park
o (b) problems for women as relates to the economic goals of the GA
o (c) problems women are facing that are not related to the goals of the GA currently.
• One example discussed were domestic duties which could be lessened by state instituted day care options. Also recognized was reliance on domestic workers currently that could have exploitative working conditions.
• The group recognized that masculinity is as serious a problem as femininity and that todays masculine constructs support a rape culture.
• Gender indoctrination in child boys was brought up.
5) Rape on Campus
• Epidemic sexual violence on campuses and the failure of universities to adequately address this problem was discussed.
• Participants told personal stories about the histories of their colleges: Evergreen State, Univesity of Buffalo, and DePaul University. We unanimously were disgusted by these stories.
• The existence of SAFER, students active for ending rape, and their resources were outlined. They are attempting to get universities to change their sexual assault policies. On their website they have the current sexual assault policies of many universities and they encourage you to upload yours. They then have resources on what a progressive policy would look like and how to get your school to adopt one. They also send out organizers to schools. SAFER.org is their website.
• The need to publicize who the rapists are in the face of the campus and police failure to prosecute was brought up, though not indepth.
• The existence of rape crisis center was praised and noted that they provide advocates for rape victims to be at the hospital with them when they are having rape kits done.
• The idea for addressing the campus problem was proposed by one participant that people who have their case negligently handled by a university then sue the university civilly, which would attract press and cause university’s to self police. It was unclear how to find out who is in the position to sue so hard to advocate this to them.
• Currently, the only enforcement is to report the school to the Dept of Education if their policy is in violation of laws set up, specifically the Violence Against Women Act. The Dept. will then investigate (our participant was skeptical that this ever occurred) and then levy upto a 15k fine against the university for each infraction (no reported incidents of this happening). Most people do not know this nor do they know how to contact the dept of education.
6) Need for Occupy Sponsored Feminist Activist Events
• A recent feminist activist event, Slutwalk, was praised but those organizers were hesitant to directly endorse or include OccupyWallSt for fear that their permits would be revoked.
• Events would address female issues, ex. rape.
The participants then created a list of their emails for contribution to the organizer and eachother, and ended the meeting.
11/6 meeting at 60 Wall St.
facilitator- Giuliana, Minutes- Kristin, time- Mel B
MB- House Keeping- meeting times, many people confused and do not know when or where we are meeting.
eliminating Mondays, Keeping Sunday at 4 and adding Tuesday at 7:30.
temp check- positive.
Make sure everyone is on list serve to get all the mail.: firstname.lastname@example.org
Report Backs – Mel
Saftey in Park- Rape last friday- survival support cicles have formed. include 6 Point Response plan which is nder the umbrella of Community Watch. Much outreach from Safer Spaces concerning this matter. Great thing! Survivor is pressing charges, and another victim has surfaced against the same man. Survivor has released a statement/press release on Safer Spaces group and Wall St.org
SS is seeking skillied individuals in rape survival/mental health, etc…
Mel G- Starr of Family group is putting together Day of Humanity- November 13th.
DAY OF ACTION- women’s day, currently no title- goal of this day is focused on women’s rights & anti-oppression. December 10th. (international human rights day) Meeting for this is SUNDAY at 60 Wall St, at 2PM.
Kristin- a fellow member told me the story today of the crisis of Asia BiBi in Pakistan. She wasnt able to make it to the meeting so i am passing along this concern and interest. This is from Claudia’s email to me:
Asia Bibi, a mother of five, hails from one of only two Christian families that lived in the Pakistani village of Ittanwali.In June 2009, she was working with a group of Muslim women, picking berries in a field. She was sent to fill a bucket with drinking water. When she returned, the Muslim women would not drink from it. It was impure, they said, having been touched by a Christian. What Bibi said then is a matter of dispute. A local police officer later told CNN what Bibi’s accusers claimed she said.
“They said she had told them Jesus had been resurrected while Muhammed had died – claims her supporters emphatically deny – and demanded she recant and convert to Islam,” the Telegraph reported.The police took Bibi into custody for her own protection.“The police station was crowded by the Muslim ulemas (religious scholars),” the Pakistani Minister of Religious Minorities Shahbaz Bhatti, a Catholic, told The Washington Post. “They said, ‘If you will not register the case, she will be killed at this spot right now.'”Blasphemy charges were filed against Bibi. She was imprisoned for a year and a half. Then, in November 2010, she was tried in a local court and, according to the Telegraph, was “convicted on the evidence of two witnesses who were not present in the fields where the exchange is supposed to have taken place.”Asia Bibi’s five children and her husband became fugitives in their own country – even though they had committed no crime. Fearing their neighbors, they moved from place to place, sheltered by courageous allies.“I keep getting phone calls from people with hidden numbers asking where I am and whether they can meet me, but I know what they want,” the husband told the Telegraph. “They want us dead.”Others were martyred.Bhatti, the Catholic minister of religious minorities, investigated the Bibi case and recommended to Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, the widower of assassinated former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, that Bibi be pardoned. He also recommended Pakistan’s blasphemy law be changed.Salman Taseer, the Muslim governor of the Punjab, backed Bibi’s petition for a pardon. “I am going to take this petition to the president, and the president will forgive her,” Taseer said, according to The Associated Press.In January 2010, one of Taseer’s bodyguards shot him in the back – and then confessed.When he entered court the next day, according to National Public Radio, “young lawyers … showered the assassin with rose petals.”A month after Taseer’s assassination, Bhatti told the Christian Post: “I received a call from the Taliban commander and he said, ‘If you will bring any changes in the blasphemy law and speak on this issue, then you will be killed. … I don’t believe that bodyguards can save me after the assassination (of Taseer). I believe in the protection from heaven.”In March 2010, assassins gunned Bhatti down in his car.The BBC then reported that Bhatti had “recorded a statement in December, and asked that it be sent to the BBC in the event of his death.”“I am living for my community, and for suffering people, and I will die to defend their rights,” Bhatti said in the statement.Last week, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton released her department’s annual International Religious Freedom Report. It listed eight “Countries of Particular Concern” that had “engaged in or tolerated particularly severe violations of religious freedom.”Pakistan was not one of them.The report did say that “after initially signaling he was considering pardoning Aasia Bibi’s death penalty sentence for alleged blasphemy, President Zardari refrained from doing so.”The State Department said Bibi remains in custody.President Barack Obama came to office offering a new vision for American diplomacy in the Muslim world. Here is his chance to prove it works.
He should rally the leaders of all the major Muslim nations — including Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which enjoy close relations with the United States — to call on Pakistan to pardon and free Asia Bibi and let her and her family come to America. He should challenge them openly and boldly to give the whole world an opportunity to see their commitment to tolerance and freedom of conscience. “”