Several readers have pointed out the news stories on the woman who has ditched her roles as wife and mother for the excitement of tramping around in the Occupy Wall Street movement. Even Captain Capitalism saw this story and was kind enough to think of me. The story is like wildfire in the media, with multiple outlets telling the same basic story as the NY Post does in its piece Florida banker’s wife left family to join Wall Street protesters:
A married mother of four from Florida ditched her family to become part of the raggedy mob in Zuccotti Park — keeping the park clean by day and keeping herself warm at night with the help of a young waiter from Brooklyn.
“I’m not planning on going home,” an unapologetic Stacey Hessler, 38, told The Post yesterday.
“I have no idea what the future holds, but I’m here indefinitely. Forever,”
Stories like this are almost too easy to take apart, as they so often follow the same script; flighty middle aged woman decides she isn’t haaaapy and abandons her husband and children, with the lack of foresight to consider the long term implications of her choice. At some point it almost becomes unsporting. What strikes me about this story and the Occupy Wall Street movement as a whole however is how quickly traditional gender roles have sprouted up in this oh so enlightened community. This woman is a prime example of this. While presumably fleeing the confining bourgeois roles of wife and mother, she immediately cozies up to another man*. Where’s the free love? Why would a protesting fish immediately acquire a bicycle?
One likely reason is the general lack of security in the camp itself. It turns out that a mob of anarchists can at times be somewhat unstable. The hard left finds its romanticism of the homeless and disdain for institutions of harnessed male power in direct contradiction. News stories like this one and this one tell us how the movement has created a security nightmare by inviting the homeless into the camp. We learn of nighttime shouting matches over property and space, the occasional knife threat, and even threats by one homeless man to spread HIV via a syringe. The AP story tells us:
Last week, a homeless man menaced a crowd of spectators with a pair of scissors.
I know what happens next! A 5 ft 4 tall man with wide hips and some sort of mask/helmet obscuring his face dove into action making short work of the threatening man. Only then does the short man with wide hips take off his helmet/mask, shaking free her long feminine hair in the process. We were all duped! It was really a bad-ass woman saving the crowd with an amazing display of moxie! Lets see if my years of watching feminist TV and movie action scenes has lead me to make an accurate prediction:
Micaiah Dutt, a four-tour veteran of the Iraq War, and two other former soldiers had no problem tackling and subduing the man. Other members of the protest’s volunteer security detail have been punched and threatened with knives.
See! I was right. These badass women warriors swooped into action and went all Lara Croft on his ass!
Dutt said he felt helpless at times and noted that the man he helped subdue could, in theory, press assault charges against him.
“I served four tours in Iraq, and I felt more safe there at times than here,” he told a gathering of protest organizers under a drizzly evening sky. “There, I had a weapon and knew the people around me were with me. Here, I don’t know.”
Oh, thats strange. I’m guessing all of the Xena types were busy with real security threats, and left the men to mop this one up.
Either way, the news stories I’ve read show a fair degree of insecurity in the Occupy [insert name of place here] movement camps. The housewife turned tramp in the original story quickly finding herself a man in camp reminded me of the movie Defiance, and how quickly the women in the camp attached themselves to “camp husbands” for security in a very insecure environment. Heartiste has written about this basic phenomenon in his post Tough Times Are A Bounty For Betas.
But just because she felt the need to get herself a man amidst the insecurity of the camp, it doesn’t mean she is following traditional gender roles in other areas. For example, she makes it a point to contribute her gender neutral talents to the good of the community. Per the NY Post article:
She got coffee and a granola bar from the protest kitchen before sorting laundry for two hours.
And she isn’t alone. From the examiner.com article Night and Day, Life at Occupy Wall Street:
It is about 11:15 am and a woman takes her place in a lawn chair knitting hats and scarves for the protesters, keeping track on a board of how many she has already made and donated.
*Edit: Chels linked to an article in the Village Voice which claims that Ms. Hessler’s sleeping arrangement with the waiter are non sexual. The original NY Post story contains the phrase “she plans to stray awhile” in the url for the story, but also includes the statement “She swears she’s not romantically involved with her new friend.” I’ll leave it to my readers to come to their own conclusions on this.