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.
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:
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.
Lawrence, Kansas: Lawrence woman sexually assaulted; Occupy Lawrence disowns her.
Oakland: Sexual Harassment accusations.
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.