A Day of #Occupy WallStreet and SlutWalk
October 8, 2011 By Rachel Rabbit White for the Good MenProject
Rachel Rabbit White believes that both protests are fighting a similar evil; of the same generation. “A generation who want better. And who are out doing something to get it.”
It is Saturday night in New York City, just after midnight. While most of Manhattan seems to be walking to and from bars, at Liberty Square hundreds of protesters are in sleeping-bags covered with tarps to keep out the rain. It’s hard to navigate the park without stepping on a snoring body; a few are sprawled blanket-less on park ledges meant for sitting. Someone strums a guitar and people sing in a tent by flashlight, as if from inside a paper lantern.
Earlier today I went to SlutWalk, the world-wide anti rape-culture protest. It’s timely in New York, with two cops acquitted of rape charges and police warning women to dress conservatively. But after SlutWalk, I came here, to day fifteen of Occupy Wall Street–the “live in” protest about the disparity of wealth among the classes, the control big business has on the government and the corruption of Wall Street institutions. I should have guessed that tonight the protesters would be exhausted–just hours before 700 people were arrested in a march over the Brooklyn Bridge.
At SlutWalk, I pulled my sunglasses over my eyes, as I felt them filling with tears. It was the feminist rhetoric I grew up with that got to me. All around me were women with signs like “blame the system not the victim” — and “Slut” scrawled on their chest ala Kathleen Hanna. The lonely teenage riot grrrl inside of me couldn’t believe it.
But at Occupy, my eyes were wide. It wasn’t the fight I grew up with, but the one that was happening all around me, the frustrations of my generation unfurled. There were messages like “Wealth is meaningless on a dead planet“ or “United Snakes of America” scrawled on deflated Trader Joes bags or spotted pizza boxes. I watched in a daze, before realizing I had fallen in line for the march.
At the foot of the bridge, a sea of people unrolled as far as I could see. It was a sampling of the general population– the various ages, ethnicity and culture you might see on a Metra train. At Slutwalk one of the speakers had said “look around you, look at all of the different people and cultures and colors” and I swallowed back a tiny sob. Here, all the more true, I felt warm and stunned, too shocked to cry.
As we marched onto the Brooklyn Bridge, other protesters went on the street below which had now been cordoned off. “I want to be down there!” I heard and people began jumping from the bridge to the street. One man positioned himself over, gripping the railing, and a police officer grabbed his legs– he was dangled above a 500 foot drop into the east river. Some protesters pulled him back onto the bridge.