#YesAllWomenLIVE from Seattle

June 5, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us


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Seattle Seattle


Seattle, May 30. Photos: Special to Revolution

On Tuesday May 27, a couple of woman who were very angry about the massacre at the University of Santa Barbara, and moved by the outpouring of tweets on the #YesAllWoman hashtag, felt that something needed to be done. They reached out to some organizers of Stop Patriarchy and others. We met in a living room together and decide there was a crying need to give expression to the anger and outrage that millions of women felt and that must become unleashed. We wanted to say that violence against women must be stopped now! This outrage needed to leave Twitter and become live. #YesAllWomenLIVE

The call for this was taken up and spread by Stop Patriarchy and others, and within a day or so protests were being called for in Philadelphia, NYC, San Francisco, Portland, Chicago, and LA.

In Seattle, on Friday, May 30, about 200 people, mainly young men and women, including people from the LGBTQ community, gathered in the Westlake Plaza in Seattle. Women speaking bitterness about their experience through tears and anger, joined with men who felt that women should not have to live this way. A six-second scream (six seconds for the six victims of the UCSB shooting) was unleashed and people shouted out the names of women who had been victims of patriarchy.

Several women talked about how they were terrified to come out, thinking that would make them more of a target, but then coming anyway, because they felt that was exactly why they had to come to the speak-out! More than a few people were afraid to get onstage and share their stories. One woman later posted a comment on social media, saying that she wasn’t planning to get up and speak, but felt compelled to after listening to others’ stories. She and a friend had a sudden moment of courage and pushed forward to the stage, and she described that what she shared at the speak-out was more than she had ever told anyone of her story. This was a sentiment that other people expressed too, that it was the first time they had spoken like this, in public, about their story, and the crowd echoed back to almost everyone that spoke, things like “That’s fucked up!” “That’s not right!” “Not Ok!” and “It was not your fault!” “Not One More!”

Person after person shared their stories about being sexually harassed at the bus stop, being called a slut, watching her mother beaten to the floor, being a man and getting raped by another man, being made fun of for being transgender, etc. It was very significant to see the number of men who said they felt compelled to act and to speak out and this is also a part of the atmosphere online, with the Twitter hashtag that has developed, #AllMenCan.

There was a sense of anger as well as an intense feeling of defiance that we will NOT tolerate this any more! Parts of the call to action from Stop Patriarchy were read, electrifying the atmosphere and giving context to the pain and anger many people felt. A supporter of the Revolutionary Communist Party read parts of Sunsara Taylor’s article on Santa Barbara. The whole speak-out lasted for four hours, with everyone who wanted to speak getting a chance to speak.

It truly was a “speak bitterness” speak-out, and there’s an opportunity to be seized here, for revolutionaries, for those involved with Stop Patriarchy, and all others who can be united: to dream, imagine, fight for, and begin to bring into being a world where we can make good on the promise of #NotOneMore! Where rape, terror, and violence against women, and all the horrors that patriarchy and capitalism bring down on people in big ways and in small ways, can be gotten beyond. The hashtag #YesAllWomen, and these speak-outs, protests, and demonstrations against the UCSB shooting that happened in major cities across the country were a moment when all sorts of stories, pain, and oppression welled up and could not be contained and suppressed in the ways they normally are, and this can and should go much further!

We recorded some of the speak-out, and also interviewed a few people who attended the speak-out. Here’s what they said:

Gay man in his twenties: I’m gay and I’m here for myself and for a friend of mine who couldn’t be here tonight. I’m here because I work with her, and she tells me about the cat calls and the guys who want her to get into her car, and we work here, right near this square. I told her one day, why don’t you stand up for yourself? Why don’t you say something back? Why don’t you feel empowered? She said, “Oh, that’s just how guys are, and it’s just probably what I’m wearing.” (guy yells from audience: “That’s fucked up!”)

It is fucked up!

And I said to her that a few years ago, I was in a bar with someone and he bought me a drink. And I guess he thought he bought me because he raped me that night. And when I went to tell someone about it, nobody asked me what I was wearing. So I’m here for her, and I’m here for all my sisters and brothers who are victims here in the U.S., and around the world. Not one more and yes all women!

Latina college student: I’m here because I got a divorce, because when I told my ex husband that I was sexually harassed he asked me, “Well, what were you wearing?” (from the crowd: Boooo!) I was like, in my mind, “Oh, so that’s like the first thing you are going to ask me?!” Yes I’m ok, and he didn’t rape me or anything. Thank you for your concern. And when I heard about what happened in India, and what’s happening in our backyard, and what’s happening in our campus, and me as a college student, its so overwhelming, and it’s so good to see you guys here and especially males standing with us, thank you so much.

And that scream meant so much because it was like, maybe our power is going to like go out to the universe and the universe is going to speak to everybody, so that everybody can protect us women. And stop seeing us as somebody, humans who are just there to be sexually available to men. And I would just stop because I would talk for the rest of the afternoon. But my powerful ladies behind me stand for human rights, women’s rights and children’s rights. It really touched me when we talked about human trafficking survivors, especially because as children we are socialized as kids to be very passive to seeing woman being abused. Its ok for men to have multiple women. When I was interviewed by UnivisiĆ³n, being from Mexican culture, and the machismo that goes on, and telling children from very little that it’s ok for them to be machismo. And its ok for them to have multiple women, and do what they want to women, and repressing women’s sexuality down to them believing that their only worth is their virginity. Thank you so much.

College student, young Black woman: I am a Black woman. I’m tired of people telling me to choose which one. I’m tired of walking down the street, feeling I’m obligated to give a guy my number when they harass me, I’m tired of them feeling entitled to our bodies and telling us “what are you wearing?” I’m just tired of it. I am also tired of PATRIARCHY and it tells us to be silent and it tells us to be quiet about men’s abuse and the abuse we face as children and the abuse we face as women, because we don’t want to make the men in our family, the men we know, or the friends we trust, we don’t want to make them look bad. Fuck patriarchy! (cheers)

Woman from Organization for Prostitution Survivors. She spoke very powerfully to how her experiences forced her into prostitution and how there are not choices for women when you live under patriarchy.

BAsics 3:22--"You cannot break all the chains, except one..."I wanted to read a quote to you and see what you thought about it (see inset, right). “You cannot break all the chains, except one...”
Yes. I agree with this. How can you have liberation without both being liberated? Men’s liberation is tied up with our liberation and the concept. I think that without our liberation, men can’t have their liberation to be true as humans. Because they have to cut off their humanity just to stay in that patriarchal box that nobody really wants them to be in anyways.

Do you mind telling your story?
Sexually abused as a child by outside forces, outside my home. Eventually ran away, fell into some bad, bad groups where I was engaging in sex just to survive. I was prostituted at that point for about two to three years and after that I entered into a kind of owner/slave type of contract with a man for about two years. That’s my story and there is domestic violence and all sorts of shit in there too. I just kind of fell into the Organization for Prostitution Survivors.

What made you kind of understand what had happened to you?
That was actually somebody else kinda pointing out to me my traumas. You learn to disassociate yourself from that, it’s a common symptom and having somebody kind of say, “You realize you kind of check out during sex? You realize you have nightmares every night, that practically hurl you out of bed? That you can’t sit in a room without your back to the wall?” It took that for me to realize that there was really a problem. And going to tons of feminist movements and literature and working with amazing, fabulous people has really changed that for me.

Gay woman: I was threatened with corrective rape in high school because I was gay, and that’s bullshit, and nobody stood up for me but myself. My sister was raped in the military and she blames herself, and she won’t come forward to speak on her own behalf. (sobbing) And so I’m doing it now, states away, so that someone knows that she was wrong. (Somebody yells, “It’s not her fault!”) I know it’s not her fault, but also she’s thankful that her husband in the military is staying with her despite this. Not that he has said any of those things, but she feels tainted, and that she doesn’t deserve to be with him any more because someone took her empowerment away from her. And also because I can’t swallow my rage for another day. Because it’s eating me alive but I also want to focus on being happy and healing.

What brought you out today?
I’ve been following the hashtag #YesAllWomen and I have been speaking out about it on Facebook and stuff. I was really surprised how many of my male friends accused me of being an angry feminist or a misandrist, right. That’s what really brought me out here, was the shock of people in my own community, friends I have had for years, getting angry at me for speaking out about these issues on Facebook. Or doing a hashtag or a meme for sharing my personal experiences, and I heard about this [speak-out], and yes, we have to use this moment.

Do you feel like you have been changed by coming out here?
It’s really empowering coming out here and hearing all these women’s stories in public, because we’ve been silent for so long. Really good, really soul healing. I like that there are men here, and male identifying people, who are standing with us. I didn’t think any men would be here. Especially my own friends who are radical and progressive people.

I liked it. I wasn’t gonna come and then I got so motivated I decided to speak.

How do you see patriarchy ending?
I don’t know how patriarchy can be ended, but I hope this movement doesn’t end until patriarchy ends. I hope we can use this moment to really empower more women and more people in general to speak out, but amongst their own family members and communities. I hope more women will step forward with each other because of this.

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