Is there a link between the barrage of sexualized images of women in advertisements and the catcalling that bombards us on the street? “Radical” comes from the Latin word for “root,” and as radical women, we are aiming for their common root.
Earlier this spring, National Women’s Liberation and Redstockings held an action to “take on the interlocking tentacles of male chauvinist pig catcallers on the street and the sexist ad makers of big business.” We protested outside an outlet of American Apparel, one of the worst offenders of the sexist admakers.
ACTION COMES FROM THE WOMEN’S LIBERATION CLASS
The action was an outgrowth of our joint 10-week class last fall: “Building Women’s Liberation Now: Gems from the 1960s and Beyond for Radical Feminist Theory & Action Today.” Through consciousness-raising in the class, women testified about being fed up with men who feel entitled to harass us on the street, on the job, in our homes, or anywhere else. Men tell us to smile, comment on our appearance, and continue to see us and treat us as sexual objects. From there we dug deeper, investigating the connection between street harassment and the ads and admakers who profit from sexualization and exploitation plastered all over our public spaces.
As part of planning for the class’s action, National Women’s Liberation emailed out a meme and announcement that Occupy Wall Street picked up and posted on its Facebook page, provoking a storm of debate and discussion that garnered over 1,000 likes and hundreds of comments. This may have led to the large police presence at the protest. Redstockings also sent the meme and an announcement of the protest to its mailing list, noting the lack of progress in the USA between 1969, when the Women’s Liberation Movement first started slapping “this oppresses women” stickers on sexist ads, and today’s U.S.A.
AMERICAN APPAREL WAVERS
With all this buzz, and earlier attacks also, the new female chief executive of American Apparel responded during the heat of the class’ protest announcement and debate, that their ads would be “less overtly sexual… there’s a way to tell our story that’s less offensive.”
There is still much ground to be gained with American Apparel, nor are they the only (or worst) offender in the suites of the ad-makers or the streets of the cat-callers. The struggle for female liberation from all of this male supremacist and capitalist crap needs to continue and get sharper and more powerful.
ACT, REFLECT, ACT
The May 19th meeting will be evaluating the materials created for the protest with an eye towards holding another action this summer. NEW WOMEN WELCOME! Join us for a discussion of the following flyers and statements, and join the facebook event!
Help us sharpen our aim and our analysis!
Join us at the meeting! THE COMMONS in BROOKLYN. 388 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11217. Between Hoyt and Bond streets. Trains: A/C/G/2/3/4/5/B/D/F/N/Q/R