17 October 2011 @ 08:59 am
Hot Chicks of Occupy Wall Street  
I have to admit to feeling ambivalent about Hot Chicks of Occupy Wall Street. I came across it through Feministe, where, as one might expect, the coverage was largely negative, though other feminist blogs (such as Feminist Fairy Tale) praised it.

For those of you who can't be bothered to follow the links, a guy called Steven Greenstreet went down to Zuccotti Park, took some pictures of good-looking women and shot a video (including a couple of interviews) then posted it all on tumblr. In his own words: "Our original ideas were admittedly sophomoric: Pics of hot chicks being all protesty, videos of hot chicks beating drums in slow-mo, etc. But when we arrived at Zuccotti Park in New York City, it evolved into something more." The problem is that the something more turned out to be a flame war. Jill on Feministe lampooned Greenstreet's attitude wittily: "Ohhh yeah, let’s go to this protest thing because there are hot chicks there, and then we can make a video where we sound kind of, like, deep, you know? Because we can like talk about community and stuff and how even though these hot chicks got us there, we realized that there’s something, like, important happening, you know dude? I’ll wear my favorite Livestrong bracelet.” Others said Greenstreet was being ironic, I slammed his grammar, and so on.

I think we should be honest with ourselves here. Firstly, Greenstreet is absolutely right that the presence of hot chicks will encourage men to turn up to events including, but by no means limited to, protest marches, yoga classes, ballroom dancing, therapy groups and poetry readings. I admit now—though never would have at the time—it was a factor for me in my youth (Latin American Solidarity had the hottest chicas, if you really want to know, followed by CND). On the other hand, guys who turn up just to ogle the women would do themselves and the world a service if they stayed at home and watched porn. Similarly, while the sex factor is there, does it really help to emphasise it? After all, I've seen a number of radical groups with a load of fangirls drooling over some hot revolutionary guy, but no one felt the need to publish "Hunks of the Proletarian Vanguard." If Greenstreet had just called it "Women of OWS", left out the frat-boy commentary and lingered less lovingly on the body-art, I don't think there would have been nearly as much fuss.