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Gloria Feldt
Gloria Feldt
Gloria Feldt is a leading women's activist, keynote speaker, and best selling author most recently of No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power. She teaches Women, Power, and Leadership at Arizona State University and is former president, Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
Posted in Society / Activism / Women's Rights

Friday Round Up: Who Will Carpe Occupy Wall Street's Chaos?

Nov. 4, 2011 7:00 am

Nature abhors a vacuum, right? So who do you think will eventually occupy the leadership vacuum that has been a deliberate feature of Occupy Wall Street's laudably idealistic start as a movement?

Why not a you or a woman you know?

Upsparkles and human microphones have become lovable symbols of a new wellspring of social justice activism that this country sorely needs in order to rebalance the odds that anyone who works hard enough can achieve the American Dream. Their outrage at an economic playing field increasingly tilted toward the wealthiest 1 percent among us, leaving the 99 percenters to fight for crumbs is entirely legitimate.

But from a strategic perspective--as in does OWS want to accomplish specific goals--well, let's just say that comparisons with the Tea Party are greatly overstated. The Tea Party might have started as a rag-tag bunch of angry anti-government folks (though there's good reason to suspect they were deliberately organized). But they quickly came forward with a policy agenda to slash taxes, quash health reform, shrink government, and defeat Obama in 2012 while taking down the Democratic majorities in the House and Senate along the way. And they coalesced their voting bloc around candidates that support their agenda. So much so that even previously centrist Republican presidential candidates are dancing as fast as they can to the Tea Partiers' tune.

So OWS is amorphous, leaderless, and appears chaotic as it places a spotlight on the economic chaos that has so many of our friends and family, and many of ourselves, suffering.

Meanwhile, women have been complaining about sexism within the supposedly progressive movement. No big surprise--it's just mirroring the culture at large.

I'm appalled, frankly, that this Friday Round Up could only find examples of women documenting the sexism, sexual abuse, and lack of women in positions--yes, they are inevitable even if informal--of decision making power. Here's a small selection of well-written articles:

"Where Are the Women at Occupy Wall Street? Everywhere—and They're Not Going Away," by Sarah Seltzer. The Nation, October 26, 2011.

"Where are the women of Occupy Wall Street?" by Jill. Feministe, November 1, 2011.

"Who Are The Black Women Occupying Wall Street?" by Mikki Brunner. Hello, November 1, 2011.

"Does Occupy Wall Street Have a Misogynist Side?" by Stephanie Rogers., October 27, 2011.

"Are Feminists Occupying Wall Street?" by Daphne Muller. Ms. Magazine, October 21, 2011.

Questions for you:

Do you see the opportunity I see?

What if instead of spending the time and ink documenting sexism, women focused proactively on ways to assume leadership? Into some policy initiatives that the part of us 99 percenters not populating the parks can organize around? Why not a woman or a group of women?

Who is going to help OWS find a way to make its voice heard when the winter cold shrinks the crowds? Why not a woman or a group of women?

Who is going to coalesce the diverse energies and agendas into electoral power? Why not a woman or a group of women?

Where there are no leaders, carpe the chaos and take leadership. Fill the vacuum in a positive and ethical way rather than waiting for someone else to do it?

What are we waiting for?

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