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Atlantic: Tina Dupuy Glosses Over Occupy’s “Woman Problem”

John on November 21, 2011 at 5:38 pm

The Atlantic published a piece by Crooks and Liars editor Tina Dupuy. It’s about what you’d expect from someone looking to gloss over the movement’s obvious problems. After a recitation of pepper spray use by police, she gets to the elephant in the room:

There have been a couple of alleged rapes reported in encampments. One was in Occupy Baltimore during the first week of their encampment. Police said the victim’s claim lacked credibility and dismissed it. Another was at Occupy Philadelphia and is still being investigated by police. One protester was arrested in New York for rape. There’s this volatile mix of those waiting to pounce on anything to discredit Occupy and an open public space where female protesters are sleeping that absolutely anyone can wander into. There have been no reports of men being raped at Occupations.

She leads with the one report that was judged not credible, then leaves out the statutory rape of a 14-year-old at Occupy Dallas, the alleged rape at Occupy Cleveland and the alleged gang rape of a woman at Occupy Glasgow. There is a more recent report of a rape at Occupy St. Louis. I’d say we’re no longer talking about “a couple” of alleged rapes.

There have also been numerous claims of sexual assault at Occupy sites around the country. And contrary to Dupuy’s claim there have been allegations of men being raped at Occupy Wall Street. Indeed, a female reporter who spent the night in Zuccotti Park reported that two men were raped but the attacks were apparently never reported to police.

Which brings me to the subject of the occupiers stance on snitching. First hand reports (by women) indicate that reporting of assaults is discouraged. One woman at Occupy Wall Street told the New York Post “We don’t tell anyone…We handle it internally. I said too much already.” My own original reporting on the situation at Occupy Baltimore indicated that sexual harassment was a common complaint, but organizers didn’t want word of it leaking to the media. One feminist who recently visited Occupy Edinburgh found it was sexist and reports that women were told not to discuss a rape that allegedly occurred at Occupy Glasgow.

Any conservative group with such a record toward women would be denounced as misogynistic troglodytes. But because OWS is progressive, Dupuy minimizes the problems at the camps as “a couple of alleged rapes.” She spends more time focusing on how women might be better represented in the general assemblies than the actual record of assault and harassment toward women in the camps. Dupuy is at pains to suggest a statement of zero tolerance toward assault (which shouldn’t really need to be stated, should it?) is a way to address the problem:

What is Occupy’s solution to its gender disparity problem? Occupy LA has a code of conduct and a zero tolerance policy for any violence or assault. Of course, it also lacks the ability to keep people out of the public space the camp is in. Occupy D.C., a more stable camp because it has not been raided, is able to work out intricate documents like a Declaration of Occupation (leaked last week), has set up a women’s tent.

There’s a reason women aren’t flocking to these tent cities. They aren’t safe. It would be nice if people claiming to be feminists could acknowledge the serious problems rather than glossing over them.

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