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.