On Friday, Occupy Wall Street created a 16-square-foot “safe house,” designed to shelter up to 30 women. This is a start. However, how about setting up “safe spaces” AND placing the onus on men to stop sexual violence? According to feminist activist, Deanna Zandt, “getting the men not to rape [the women]” is a better starting point. I concur. Columnist, Katha Pollitt, put all of this in perspective when she recently asked, “Can you imagine hetero MEN having to set up a safe space to protect them from women and LGBT?” No. Most of us can’t. Too many of us have been wired to see men as predators and women as princesses needing protection, the latter of which doesn’t always have a happy-ending. Something’s got to give.
Women need safe spaces because we live in a rape culture that makes sexual occupancy permissible anywhere. Destruction of the latter needs to happen yesterday—and not as a leverage against Occupy protestors (or here), but as a requirement of human dignity. Economic and gender justice go hand in hand. While Occupying Wall Street and other locales, Occupy Rape Culture simultaneously.