September 18th, 2012
Trigger Warning, obvs.
Greenham Common Occupation, 1982.
I wondered how many occupiers took this suggestion literally, and applied it to serious situations, and not just confrontations and minor non-violent incidents.
Firstly, there are better and more efficient ways to bring down an encampment, flood it with drugs, raid it, and your problem is solved- a tactic law enforcement have used for years on static protest and squats- why would any agency attempt to discredit a movement by planting false stories of a crime that is one of the hardest to prove?
Secondly, the way these reports were handled, almost universally from New York to New Zealand were with patriarchal fervour. I read so many of these… from the “Men can’t be raped” fallacy to “He couldn’t have done it, he’s popular” to the sickening “She asked for it”. Here is a small list of some of them, in the first month or so:
- Occupy Philly – Man arrested for alleged rape
- Occupy Wall Street – Two sexual assaults unreported to police
- Occupy Wall Street – Man arrested for sexual assault , suspect in rape
- Occupy Dallas – Sex offender allegedly rapes 14 year old
- Occupy Ottawa – Sexual assaults go unreported to police
- Occupy Lawrence – Sexual assault reported
- Occupy Toronto – Foot sniffer arrested
- Occupy Seattle – Man exposes himself to young girls
- Occupy Portland – Sexual assault
- Occupy Wall Street – Drunk gropes women in Zuccotti Park
- Occupy Cleveland – Rape reported after an overnight stay
- Occupy Glasgow – gang rape
- Occupy Baltimore – Multiple reports of harassment
- Occupy Chicago – Man arrested for child porn
- Occupy LA – Man charged with exposing himself to a child
I’d like to think that most of this came from sheer disbelief that this could happen in a progressive movement. But as any boots on the ground leftie activist can tell you, this isn’t the case. Progressive circles often carry a strong feminist element, and as we saw in many occupations, this was absent, or marginalised to the point of absenteeism from any and all true feminists & their ally’s, meaning solidarity was thin on the ground. In some occupations strong women’s caucus presence and equalities/safer spaces groups forced the issue of safety, and managed to keep a safe space, as much as is possible in public and open encampments. There wasn’t an infestation of rape by any means, but there was an infestation of misogyny within the movement, which showed itself whenever these tragedies occurred.
And it has begun already this year,with the NYPD taking action by releasing the picture of the rapist to the press. Can we expect the same from OWS? We were reminded of these attitudes recently, with Todd Akin’s batshit ‘legitimate rape’ theories and George Galloway’s redefining of rape as ‘bad manners’. It wasn’t really these two silly old men’s attitudes that irked me, it was the thousands of men and boys in real life and online agreeing with them, from the left and the right accordingly. All of a sudden the penny dropped. Loads of men don’t actually know what rape is- this is another blog however….
The best thing that OWS can do with this woman’s letter is to publish it. If you can’t see that accepting rape culture is wrong- you’ve got a long way to go baby. We need a western revolution, but it’s never gonna happen with these attitudes prevalent, and this breaks my heart. We need this so much, but if you aren’t fit to change your old fashioned attitudes about rape and sexual assault, you aren’t fit to change the world.
Further reading :http://globalcomment.com/2011/how-occupys-non-power-structure-enables-sexism/