P1000969 (by seasonofthebitch)
Let me tell you a little story about me and Occupy Wall Street.
This photo was taken the first day I stopped by there. I was skeptical; even scornful at first. Why are they occupying Wall Street on a Saturday? I figured it would be yet another protest ignored and gone by Monday morning.
When they were still there 5 days later, I packed my camera and went down to see what it was like.
I was impressed with the media center, smiled at the kitchen, but the thing that got me was the childcare center.
And I really didn’t stop and think about that until yesterday, when Mike Konczal tweeted a link with just the phrase “spontaneous infrastructure.” I’m a bit of a nerd and that’s the type of phrase that actually makes me click, and it was a link to the New York Times’ interactive map of the occupation. But my favorite bit of spontaneous infrastructure wasn’t on their map.
I’ve been seeing pushback from feminists against OWS for a while, and so last night I decided to write this up. Because I don’t have kids, I don’t want kids, I don’t even particularly like being around them, and yet it was the childcare center that changed me from a skeptic to a fan.
Because the childcare center, at which admittedly I have not seen children being cared for, is exactly the kind of thing that feminists should be asking of their protest movements, and exactly the kind of thing we mostly don’t have.
What having a sign that says “Childcare Center” really says is “Women and Children Welcome.” It says “Can’t afford a babysitter? Bring your children here and we’ll take care of them.”
An empty childcare center says “We thought about the needs of the people who might someday join us as well as the needs of people who are here right now and have the freedom and ability to give up all their time to camping out in a park.”
It’s infrastructure, of the type that this country especially has so dramatically hacked and slashed away from us or resisted ever building in the first place.
As we discuss and argue about Planned Parenthood and other reproductive health care services being cut, Occupy Wall Street built childcare into their plans.
Many have been saying that this is the resurgence of the anti-globalization movement, the one that declared “another world is possible!” Many others have complained that OWS does not have specific political goals and seems uninterested in buying in to (Democratic) politicians or institutions that support them.
This is my answer to that. They’re not building a political movement. They are building that other world. They have given up on asking for political action and have simply modeled the world they want to see.
That world provides free childcare.
(Do I have to add my disclaimer about it not being perfect? Of course it’s not perfect.)