Eve Ensler’s Article on Rape

Eve Ensler’s recent anti-rape manifesto puzzled me. I fully support Ensler’s sentiment that rape is a horrible crime that should never be tolerated. However, I find some of her assertions to be very troubling. Take this one, for example:

 I am over women getting raped at Occupy Wall Street and being quiet about it because they were protecting a movement which is fighting to end the pillaging and raping of the economy and the earth, as if the rape of their bodies was something separate.

First, we saw progressive journalists drop hints as to the possibility of sexual harassment occurring at #Occupy rallies. Why such suggestions had never been made about the Tea Party protests is a mystery to me. Is there any evidence that progressively minded people are more likely to rape than conservatives?

Then, these suggestions about sexual harassment among the #Occupiers transformed into hints that women might fear being raped during the protests. Now, Ensler talks about rapes taking place during the protests as if they were an established fact.  Several questions arise, however. If, as Ensler says, women are keeping quiet about the rapes to protect the movement, then how did Ensler find out about these crimes? Did the raped victims share their stories with her? This makes no sense because if the goal of these rape victims is to protect the #OWS, letting Ensler write about it in such a charged format is probably the worst thing to do.

I also have no idea how Ensler arrived at her statistic of 1 billion of women on the planet having been raped. The OCCUPYRAPE term she introduces is very disturbing to me, too. Rape is a horrible crime and I see nothing positive in “occupying” something like this. And what is the “escalation” that Ensler is proposing? If this is a legitimate attempt at political activism, why not be a bit more specific about what the plan here is. This “let’s end rape by February of 2013” reminds me of the promises endlessly made by the Communist Party of the USSR to create a fully communist society by the year 2000.

It would be great if Ensler’s impassioned but hopelessly vague verbiage included references to the fact that the rates of violent crime (including rape) in this country have been on a steady decline in the past 40 years. The legalization of abortion in the US was a significant contributing factor to this phenomenon. Now that we know this, any anti-rape activism needs to include efforts to guarantee that all women have the right to control their procreation when and how they see fit.

This will do a lot more to end rape than passionate manifestos that make wild claims and operate on the basis of unsubstantiated statistics.

16 thoughts on “Eve Ensler’s Article on Rape”

  1. I might have an explanation as to why there’ve been sexual assaults (from a cursory Googling, I can see that two men have been charged, one in New York and one in Philadelphia) at OWS protests and not at Tea Party ones, and it has nothing to do with any differences in the character of people belonging to either movement! No, it’s the simple fact that an OWS demonstration is a long-term encampment set up in a public place, where people live there for however long they can, rather than a single afternoon’s rally or march.

    There’s more of an opportunity for sexual violence when people are basically setting up camp, sharing living (and sleeping) space with strangers, than there is when people just go to a rally and then go home. That’s all I think the difference is.


    1. I’ve seen “The Vagina Monologues,” and remember the vignette you’re referring to. It does indeed portray a young girl’s rape by an older woman in a positive light — the speaker of the monologue treats it as a kind of sexual initiation.

      But I don’t know if you can extrapolate what Eve Ensler thinks from what she has one of her characters say.


    2. While I find that monologue disturbing, I didn’t interpret it as Eve thinking that lesbian rape is good rape. It is a story of a girl with a messed-up life who saw a situation where an older woman took advantage of her as her first positive sexual experience.

      If it is actually a true story told to her by the narrator, as is implied in the monologues, then I don’t see the problem with telling it. If Eve just made it up, then I might start wondering about her. Does anyone know which is the case?


      1. It’s adapted fiction. Ensler listen to a lot of stories, then wrote monolouges (supposedly) based on what she heard. But when people started criticitizing the “good rape” monolouge, Ensler did not stick to her guns. She took out the line and changed the girls age. Newer scripts of TVM remind actors that they are contractually forbidden to perform the scene as it was originally written.


  2. Also, the OWS people are much younger than most of the Tea Party crowd. Men between 16-30 tend to be a bit more aggressive, especially sexually, then older men. I’ve yet to see someone in the Tea Party crowd who’s younger than fifty.


  3. Above comment was offering an explanation as to why rape might be more common at OWS and not at the Tea Party rally.


  4. If, as Linday says, only two men have been charged with sexual assault, then this would be considerably less than what most statistics seem to say about how often rape let alone sexual assault let tends to get reported. Put those two against the countless thousands who have been at protests and we have a percentage that doesn’t even come remotely close to the national average.
    Or is Ensler deducing from a reduced number of reported cases, not that fewer are taking place but that more victims are keeping quiet about it? That would mean that the sexual assault rate is a fixed and unchangeable number in Ensler’s mind. You’d have to be pretty unhealthily obsessed with rape to reach such a state of mind. I’m sure psychoanalysts would have something to say about that.


    1. I don’t know what the purpose of Ensler’s article is other than to terrorize women with a collection of tendentious, unsubstantiated proclamations. I find the way rape is discussed on the US to be absolutely appalling, to be honest. Even seemingly normal people get completely unhinged on the subject. When the Sandusky story broke, crowds of journalists were falling over themselves in their rush to point out that had the victim been female, the general attitude to her would have been a lot worse than to a male victim. Which is so egregiously stupid that I have no words for it.

      And now here is Ensler with her “one billion of women raped on this planet.” It’s self-evident that nobody can possibly arrive legitimately at this kind of statistic. That means she just plucked a randomly high number and started bandying it about to make her story of perennially victimized women and horrible, violent men more convincing. This is irresponsible and simply wrong.


      1. You’re absolutely right. The sad truth is that people are often obsessed with sex and violence and especially both at the same time. When somebody spends so much time fantasizing up scenarios then you can be certain that they have some reason other than what they’re letting you know. Motivations are revealed, not declared.

        Unfortunately it gets a lot worse than that:


      2. I’m afraid it’s no joke and certainly not the only incident of the kind. I recall a number of years a go a similarly aged boy got arrested (!!!!) because neighbors saw him help his little sister pee.
        When it comes to anything that could possibly be connected to sex, there are no boundaries to the irrationality of people’s reactions.
        Dark ages reloaded?


        1. It sometimes feels like the goal of such policies is to place all of us on the sex offenders list.

          I think the statute of limitations has run out, so I’ll confess that I played doctor with other kids when I was five.


      3. When I was like 4 me and another kid surreptitiously showed each other our junk during naptime. Is it too late to sue somebody, either the kid or the daycare, for gobs of money?


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