With dudes like these, who needs The Patriarchy? Why I left Occupy Denver.
I have been a part of Occupy Denver in some capacity since the week of the first GA. I am making this statement as an individual woman and participant, though I am a collective member of DABC. I want to be clear about the distinction there so there is no misinformation about what I have to say. I speak for myself and no one else.
“I will not have my life narrowed down. I will not bow down to somebody else's whim or to someone else's ignorance.” bell hooks
I have been the target of oppressive and patriarchal behaviors since I first entered the space of Occupy Denver. I have been pointed out and labeled as violent, though I have never even been involved in a physical confrontation with a participant or the police. I spoke out against the oppressive and aggressive behavior of one security guard/marshall and recommended that he be removed from those roles of power until he complete some kind of an accountability process. I was shut down as was anyone else who spoke against that individual, but more specifically the women who spoke out against him. This is only one example of the type of oppressive patriarchal behavior within #OD.
Yesterday I participated in the #OD march once again. I was a part of a crew of folks who utilized an american flag as a dance floor. We had music, confetti, and a whole lot of sassy energy to direct towards our celebration of the beginning of the end of capitalism. I was approached countless times by people who were very angry about this flag dancing. One individual approached me in an aggressive manner and was met with some sassy remarks from myself. I was told I was ruining the movement, a common phrase used against myself and others who participate in more radical ways. After telling him to scoot along he continued to come back and harass me as well as others. I was told I was a bitch. That oppressive language has been used to shut down women long enough. I will not play the “nice girl,” and bow down to that type of behavior or language. He then continued to front on many different people. He pushed a woman and pulled on her backpack. Yes, he was glittered by a magical radical queer fairy. Glitter is NOT assault and NO WHERE NEAR the level of calling women a bitch, pushing women, harassing them, or attempting to grab them.
Patriarchy is rampant in this space. It is primarily perpetuated by white men within OD. This space is dominated by white cis identified males. When I asked weeks ago for men of that description to step back in GA so that others could gain space to step up the first person to speak was, wait for it, a white dude. This is not okay.
How can any of us expect to build a better world, a better future when the very same oppressions that aided in the creation of our current system and social structure are replicated and manifested within this movement? We can't.
Either Occupy Denver adopts a critical analysis of power and oppression or it will die. Either Occupy Denver develops a practice around anti-oppression or a new movement needs to develop out of OD that does. Tonight is the night to draw that line in the sand y'all. I said it weeks ago at a GA, but either we figure out how to live, and thrive, together or we die alone. The world I wish to leave to my two children is one where people have un-learned the horrors of the past and have forged a world of equality and liberation. The world I wish to leave specifically to my daughter is one without patriarchy and those who wish to harm her, silence her, or shut her out based off of what lies beneath her clothing. I will do everything within my power to create such a legacy for them. I hope that others are willing to do the hard work to create that legacy in solidarity not just with me, but with humans in general.
As for my role in Occupy Denver, as an individual person I will no longer come to this space. At all. Ever. As a collective member of DABC, I will continue to do the legal line, jail solidarity, and court support for all current accused and any future accused. I will not be on the ground as myself or as DABC from this point forward.