Are Women Safe at Occupy Protests?

It’s a fair question to ask, considering the continuous reports of rape and sexual assault, as well as sexual harassment coming from the Occupy protests. And it’s a shame that women have to worry first about becoming crime victims when all they want to do is help make the world a better place. I’ve been worried about this angle from the very beginning, when the word on everyone’s lips was that Occupy Wall Street wanted to recreate Tahrir Square in America. I had to ask then, and it’s a more compelling question today: You mean the Tahrir Square where Lara Logan was raped?

And rapes and sexual assaults are happening, 12 by my latest count, with the movement barely six weeks old. That’s a pretty abysmal track record, and in the comparison wars between OWS and the Tea Party, a very bad mark. I don’t recall seeing any reports of sexual assault or rape coming from Tea Party protests. Why is this more liberalized movement more inclined to perpetrate these sorts of crimes?

I can’t answer that question, though I have my own ideas. I haven’t been to any big time Occupy protests, just my little dinky standing occupation in my hometown of Indianapolis, where no tents are allowed. (You still couldn’t pay me to stay overnight.) So maybe it’s time we took a look at the warning signs coming from women who have attended, and enumerate the crimes themselves so women who choose to go to an event can go forearmed with the knowledge that they may be putting themselves at risk, and take action to protect themselves.

Wanting to change the world is a great thing, but getting victimized in the process really sucks. Just ask Donny the Punk.

If all you ever saw of women at OWS was this video, you might be inspired and inclined to go:

But this is what some other women are actually saying about it, and it’s just as important:

The conversation started with the early case of the insensitive, pro-rapist advice given to the women of OccupyBaltimore. But before that, there were warning signs, such as this tale from a Slutwalker about her experience at both protests, in which she claims that Slutwalk was a way more powerful experience for her. Pretty early on, Reena Walker published this screed on Facebook about the reception of black women at OWS.

Now, the movement is so comfortable with the evident misogyny in their midst that there is even a popular website dedicated to OWS babes. That website caused quite a stir when dcblogger posted it under the title “Misogyny at Occupy Wall Street” at Corrente. Dudebros came out of the woodwork to declare: “Shit! We can’t even look at hot women anymore? What’s wrong with feminists today?”

And it’s gotten so bad at Zuccotti Park proper that  women have created a female-only sleeping space.

Ms. Hardikar’s…speaks to a growing community of women who agree with OWS’ message, but who worry that their basic human rights might be getting lost in the shuffle. For that reason, Ms. Hardikar created a Safer Spaces Working Group in the General Assembly. … They have created their own female-only sleeping space in a section of Zuccotti Park.

Left-identified feminists are beginning to pay attention and report on the misogyny that characterizes the OWS movement and which is evident in the crimes against women happening across America. I have been tracking these events and to date we have at least 12 reports of rape or sexual assault events at Occupying protests across America (and one in Europe). Here they are:

NYC:

2 rapes reported in this article; one new, and an old one that got covered up.

Chronic groper delivered to police at Zuccotti Park.

This article reports a physical assault by a male on at least two women and one other male. (this story was quietly disappeared from the NY Daily News. Why?)

Denver: The man pictured in this article has been arrested for sexual assault of a male reporter.

Cleveland: This is the story of the 19-year old developmentally disabled woman who was raped at Occupy Cleveland. Her credibility has been under attack by Occupiers and by the media (perhaps fueled by reports from Occupiers) ever since.

Dallas: 14 year old girl sexually assaulted at Occupy Dallas.

Seattle: Chronic masturbator and child sex abuser arrested in Seattle.

Lawrence, Kansas: Lawrence woman sexually assaulted; Occupy Lawrence disowns her.

Oakland: Sexual Harassment accusations.

Portland: Portland protesters help sexual assault perp escape before contacting police.

Manchester, New Hampshire: 16 year old girl pimped out at Occupy New Hampshire.

Glasgow, Scotland: Woman gang-raped at Occupy Glasgow.

Getting this information to women who may be inclined to join the protests is critical. Putting it out there allows women a real choice in if, how, and when they participate at Occupy protests. Women may still choose to participate–and that’s a good thing–but real information like this may allow them to arm and/or protect themselves from the rapes, sexual assaults, and general sexual harassment running rampant at many of these protests. Awareness is key. It may even help change the conversation at the protests themselves, and that is desperately needed.

One last warning, though: Watch out on November 19th, ladies. It’s Occupy a Vagina day.

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41 Responses to Are Women Safe at Occupy Protests?

  1. crawdad says:

    With the occupy movement growing so much it is time that everyone occupies a vagina!

    Unless of course you have one, then you need yours occupied!!!

    WTF?

  2. elliesmom says:

    Women weren’t safe from sexual assault in the war protests of the 60’s either. And Woodstock, well, not every woman having sex in the mud was doing it of her own free will. I read a quote on a blog somewhere, “Conservative men think women are private property, and liberal men think they’re public property.” I wish I could remember who wrote it because I’d like to give her credit. While it certainly doesn’t apply to all men individually, the social policies that derive from liberal or conservative viewpoints seem to follow those guidelines. And so does the behavior at protests and rallies.

      • elliesmom says:

        I hadn’t seen that post, but, yes, that’s what I was talking about. When women were divided between putting most of our efforts toward passing the ERA or working to make abortion legal, the argument for pushing for abortion rights first was often that women could get liberal men on board with the abortion issue. Well, duh, legal abortion made it easier for women to become public property. There was no upside to passing the ERA for either group of men- and regardless of their skin color. While I am decidedly pro-choice, I was never under the illusion that the men who worked hard to make abortion legal were doing it for me.

    • Jaye Jill says:

      elliesmom:

      “Conservative men think women are private property, and liberal men think they’re public property.”

      It was the late, great Andrea Dworkin who pointed that out, repeatedly. Start with her book _Right-Wing Women_.

  3. yttik says:

    Great report! This info does need to be shared everywhere. Women need to be armed with information and prepared to deal with what’s going on. Awareness really is key.

    It’s probably because I’ve been around for a few decades, but my stomach just sinks when I think of young women all filled with idealism walking into this situation blind.

    • Lola-at-Large says:

      Yep. When my 17 year old daughter expressed interest, I took her down myself so she wouldn’t get caught up in the melee. She loved it as long as she was safe. I worry for her next year. She’ll be 18 in six weeks.

      Don’t forget to tweet or facebook or digg this, or whatever! :)

  4. votermom says:

    Manchester, New Hampshire: 14 year old girl pimped out at Occupy New Hampshire.

    The story says she was 16. (Not that it makes a difference, just an fyi)

  5. DeniseVB says:

    Great post Lola !

    There have been reports of the kids hooking up from day one, so I think that’s attracting more of a Rave crowd than a political one. Dudebros’ get a little liquor and weed, time to pounce. Unfortunately, they’re probably never been told ‘no’ in their lives, so they may choose to take it anyhow…..grrrr.

    Ladies, be inspired, but please be careful. I don’t even walk through Central Park alone……in the daytime !

  6. votermom says:

    Awesome post, btw.

  7. DandyTiger says:

    Great post!! Honk, honk!!

  8. DandyTiger says:

    I’m sure pro women, pro OWS sites will be posting the same information (i.e., simple facts and warnings) to get the information out there to help. Right?

  9. yttik says:

    It’s a well done post, Lola. We need to pass this info on to as many people as possible.

  10. gxm17 says:

    Thank you LaL for pulling the facts together. It is so freakin’ depressing but needs to be reported. How OWS addresses this issue, or doesn’t address it, will speak volumes.

  11. Politicalguineapig says:

    I kind of gave up on marches way back in 2004. I haven’t been to the local protest, except inadvertantly. I was supposed to meet a friend, and then there was a concert near the protest. (A seperate thing, btw, though I think most of the musicians around here support it.) I did go to a union rally though- much tamer and more egalatarian crowd.
    I don’t really trust dudes my age (-30). They just see boobs and aren’t usually worth talking to.

    • Lola-at-Large says:

      Sad. I checked the occupywallstreet.org website forum and they are deleting any question concerning the safety of women. How effed up is that?

  12. soupcity says:

    Great post Lola, thanks. Like you say, getting this info out is so important, especially when a lot of these women are encouraged NOT to report to law enforcement.

  13. WMCB says:

    More: Occupy Ottowa

    “There has been several assaults and sexual assaults within the community. The community asks for no police action.”

    http://www.breitbart.tv/occupyottawa-violent-sexual-assaults-should-not-be-reported-to-police/

    • DeniseVB says:

      Yep, there’s an open invite for pervs to occupy. Com’on down and grope our wimmin’ it’s okay, we have our own laws !

      OccupyFail .

  14. I posted a link to the Occupy a Vagina page on http://www.facebook.com/occupypatriarchy so that people would know about it, and Facebook sent me a warning, however the page is still up–in the process of protesting that.

  15. WMCB says:

    OT – So the Senate is voting on transportation funding. Paul Ryan had added an amendment to get rid of the 10% “beautification” mandate in the bill. His amendment did not change the total dollars – he just thought that the money was better spent on actual roads and bridges rather than on transportation museums, and landscaping and pretty signs. All nice things, but can we afford to spend 10% of our transportation dollars on them right now?

    The Senate just voted his amendment down 38-60. I mean, geez, how can we have a nice slush fund to funnel pork to our states to buy votes if we can’t set aside a mandated 10% of all transportation dollars for vague and convenient “beautification” projects?

  16. Pingback: Why Safety Is Essential In Order For Women To Fully Participate In The Occupy Movement « Occupy Patriarchy

  17. Hello, my name is Alanna Klapp and I’m a contributing writer for Hope for Women magazine, a women’s fashion and lifestyle publication. I’m writing an article on the OWS movement and stumbled on this blog post, which I think is excellent and has given me the angle I want to take on this article. I’m looking to interview women to share their stories and experiences, good or bad, with OWS. It’s about 6 questions and won’t take long, and we can do the interview over email. If interested, please email me at alannaklapp@gmail.com. Thank you, and thanks for this blog and post!

  18. Jen Z says:

    The very protests are about limiting peoples’ basic human rights, so why on Earth would they give a rats behind about a woman’s right to her own body? Look at the crowd, the message. The whole premise of the protest is to take things away from people. You can’t expect lawlessness in one area and uncompromising morality in another.

    They turn homeless people away from their kitchens (the homeless, apparently aren’t part of the 99%), they deface private property, they harass and terrorize working people, and they rape women. Why one but not the other?

    It’s time for these people to go to prison or go home.

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