De-occupy Glasgow

UpdateOpen Letter from Glasgow Women’s Activist Forum

I can’t honestly say that I was ever that enthused about the “Occupy Movement“.  After seeing a live link up from Occupy Wall Street earlier this month, I did feel a frisson of revolutionary excitement, but it faded by the time that 15th October came round.  It was genuinely amazing and inspiring to hear from an OWS activist live on video link, and when asked what we could do to support them his immediate response was to bring the Occupy movement to wherever we were.  But once the initial rosy glow evaporated, I can’t say it was an action which filled me with much enthusiasm.

In Glasgow there was considerable debate within the activist community in the lead up to the global day of action on 15th October.  Should we be supporting the better planned Edinburgh Occupy?  Should we be looking to set up our own Glasgow Occupy?  Or should we be concentrating our activities elsewhere?  In the end the decision was kind of made for us when people unknown to the activist community set up a facebook event which attracted considerable support.  In such circumstances it would have been horribly elitist of us to stand at the edges shouting “Look, you’re doing it all wrong”, we needed to roll up our sleeves and muck in, at least to some extent.

The launch on the 15th was quite good, if a bit unfocused.  Lots of people, good diversity, interesting banners, a few dogs, some leaflets, a gazebo…and that was about it.  I said my hellos, shortly followed by my goodbyes and wished it well.  From that point onwards I fell firmly into the “Meh, it can’t do any harm” camp – not willing to condemn it as pointless (although to be honest I didn’t actually see the point), but equally unwilling to give it active support.  In the following week and a half, I’ve popped back and forward at various points, asking people’s opinions on it, chatting to bods there that I know from their activity and some that I met for the first time there, followed the tweets, the blogposts and the news articles, good and bad about the whole Occupy movement.  My position remained that I didn’t really see a point to it, but it had undeniable potential and may possibly grow into something worthwhile, so didn’t write it off, but at the same time the time/benefit ration was in my opinion seriously out of kilter.

Any occupation, particularly long term ones will hit problems.  The recent 7-month occupation of the Hetherington Research Club was not without its issues.  There we dealt with homelessness, sexual harassment, drug taking and mental health issues on top of ongoing and constant battles over particularly sexist, but also racist and heteronormative attitudes.  In total over the course of the seven months, three people were excluded from the occupation.  The only formal sanction that we had  within the space to deal with behavior was to determine that we couldn’t deal with it and exclude the perpetrator.  Despite the existence of a safer spaces policy and later a grievance procedure being developed there was a time when the sexual harassment of female activists within the space became so extensive that some refused to return to the occupation during that period.  Some never returned at all.

The Hetherington Occupation was a very different kettle of fish from the Occupy movement.  With a clear set of demands, it had seized control of a well equipped secure building and as the occupation had gone beyond its first days and weeks, turned it into a social space opening it up beyond the students and recent graduates who had created it to established activists, community organisations, international activists and individuals from the community who were in the process of becoming radicalised.  No occupation exists in a bubble away from wider society – sexism, racism, homelessness, migration issues, violence, drug and alcohol issues, homophobia and mental health issues are all prevalent in Scottish society – it is utopian to believe that they either would not emerge or could be “legislated” out of existence through a safer spaces policy.

The Free Hetherington, however flawed and imperfect did tackle a number of these issues head on, but it did it in a context of a consistent base of empowered and aware individuals.  It was never perfect, but safety and security was taken seriously and there was a genuine attempt to overcome some of the issues which led to some of the original occupiers feeling unsafe within the space.

But back to Occupy Glasgow.  As I said earlier I cannot claim to have been particularly involved with the occupation – although I kept tabs on it from afar.  My initial skepticism seemed ill-founded after a very successful public assembly was held on the 23rd October with a high proportion of attendees from the general public, a number of established activists and trade unionists engaging, however problems were becoming apparent.

The start of the occupation was a Saturday, and Saturday night in George Square can be a strange place, yet despite my reservations that the occupation would be over before it started, it seemed to pass without incident.  None the less given a city the size of Glasgow, the problems that it has and the lack of services to address them it was somewhat inevitable that in time, people in need of food and shelter would find their way to a central location providing both.  A number of people with a range of issues found their way to the Occupy camp at the same time as the politics and experience level of the activists involved declined.  The semi-cultish “anti-politics” of the Zeitgeist Movement and David Ike started appearing associated with Occupy Glasgow – something which I believe has also been found in other Occupy locations.  Additionally there were rumours of neo-nazi occupier and a racist element to the camp.

By the Tuesday, I was sufficiently concerned at some of the things that I was hearing about the camp that on one of my regular visits, I drew aside an activist that I knew to express my misgivings, where he confirmed that there was a level of dodgy politics within the camp, but that their overwhelming issue was with vulnerable and aggressive people turning up.  I grew even more concerned at this but he assured me that while he would take what I had raised on board it was all in hand and a “safer spaces” policy had been implemented that evening.

I first heard the news on Wednesday lunchtime.  Reporting was sparse however it was apparent that a rape had occurred within the camp. Later it transpired that she had arrived at the camp and despite the Occupy Glasgow’s efforts to obtain her accommodation, she was not offered anything suitable, despite being six months pregnant.  This is absolutely shocking and a disgusting reflection on Glasgow City Council.  Occupy Glasgow should be commended for the efforts that they put into attempting to obtain her suitable accommodation in the face of an uncaring bureaucracy, yet must also be held responsible for what happened next.  They eventually offered her and her partner a tent for the night – the most prominent tent in the entire camp, right at the front and in full view of the square.  From that moment on, fully knowing her vulnerability, her pregnancy and lack of accommodation, they had full responsibility for her safety as with any other member of the camp.  Her partner left shortly afterwards then, according to press reports a group of men turned up and started drinking with some of the occupiers, then entered the tent.  Occupiers overheard her crying and the men emerged from the tent offering them “shots”.  Where upon they called the police.

Their initial statement is below

Occupy Glasgow is shocked and deeply saddened about the alleged sexual assault on one of the individuals that have been co-inhabiting George Square with the separate Occupy Glasgow movement.

“Since October 15, Occupy Glasgow have provided free food, shelter and clothing to some individuals who had none of their own and we immensely regret any harm that may have befallen one of these individuals.

“We are fully committed to working with Strathclyde Police in their current investigation, and in continued improvements to the provision of safety to occupiers, the homeless and the general public that use George Square.

The distancing from this woman, referred to without reference to gender coupled with the implicit benevolence of the camp and lack of responsibility for what has happened is stunning without even mentioning that what later transpired to be a gang rape is referred to as an “alleged sexual assault”.

After work, I went down to Occupy Glasgow for the general assembly that night and talked to some of the participants.  I was genuinely shocked by some of the attitudes that I found there.  The woman was referred to in one conversation as an “undesirable element”, there were continual references to “alleged” rape/sexual assault, questions were raised about whether she had invited them into the tent and how genuine her claims were and her “vulnerability” was repeated over and over again as evidence of their lack of responsibility for her wellbeing.

The meeting which followed was little better.  The overwhelming impression that I gained from that meeting was that this was a terrible tragedy which had befallen the camp due to their kindness and benevolence, but was really nothing to do with them, and that all they needed to do was to rectify the security situation.

Horse.

Stable.

Bolted. 

I can’t (and don’t want to) remember all of the comments which were made and left unchallenged during that meeting, but I sat there transfixed with anger and my teeth on edge.  Online the discourse was little better with a continual stream rape apologism, minimising, othering, denial and victim blaming coming from some of the Occupy Glasgow contingent.

This isn’t the first rape that has occurred in the Occupy movement, and the victim blaming that has gone on here is replicated in a rape of a 14 year old at Occupy Dallas, while Occupy Baltimore has discouraged victims of sexual offenses reporting them to the police.  The leaderless nature of the Occupy Movement, and lack of accountability leads to informal hierarchies taking hold – and at the top of the hierarchies are generally the straight white males.

When sexist people are allowed to join and define a movement this drives women away; but, when women stay away, men, including sexist men, become the defining voices within the movement

At the moment there is no possible way that Occupy Glasgow can continue.  This rape was fully preventable and it is a sobering reflection on the culture of the left that it happened.  I am sure that there are many good and genuine people who have been involved in Occupy Glasgow, as with other Occupy camps, however the current situation is untenable.  It is perhaps unsurprising that sexual abuse has occurred within a movement which started off by welcoming a rapist as a hero.  While I continue to support the aims and ambitions of the Occupy Movement, its methods and culture need seriously rethought.

A woman’s place is in the movement and not just as a fucktoy for teh menz.

Cross posted to Village Aunties

Leave a comment below, or join the discussion on the or join the discussion on the Second Council House of Virgo facebook page. .
135 comments
aneczka
aneczka

It is an indictment of the anarchist methods of organisation, in my opinion. If you dont vote, the ones who shout the loudest, mostly males (Greece, look at them anarchists), or the most popular ones (not always for best reasons) will decide where the movement is heading to. Obviously someone in Glasgow Occupy has decided that a) there was no need for security inside the camp b) female security was less important.

aneczka
aneczka

It is an indictment of the anarchist methods of organisation, in my opinion. If you dont vote, the ones who shout the loudest, mostly males (Greece, look at them anarchists), or the most popular ones (not always for best reasons) will decide where the movement is heading to. Obviously someone in Glasgow Occupy has decided that a) there was no need for security inside the camp b) female security was less important.

zenrbe
zenrbe

And have they been arrested Mhairi?

zenrbe
zenrbe

I agree utter pish. This blog is just an opinionated load of drivel, i hope you wore a bib when writing. Writing a blog and basing its source on mainstream press is a non starter. The mainstream press are a joke. All through this its been stated that there were witnesses and people heard and seen various different things, then you came out with there had been arrests. Have there been any arrests?? You told me weeks ago there had been. Fair enough if you dont agree with the occupy but dont go round making shit up just so folks can give you a few thumbs up on your blog...

the truth teller
the truth teller

i was the only fucking occupyer there so thats BS, and if its about the wiki leaks guy then why didnt you say so, you delibratly left that out so people would think that it was OG that said that

the truth teller
the truth teller

firs of all i commend you for typing your thoughts in this blog, however i think you should get all the facts right and maybe repost this 1.there was no offer of sutable shelter for the couple, they were point blank refused accomidation because they were not from glasgow 2. the homeless couple involved had been at the camp for a week and a half before the incident, grafting like fuck just lie the rest of us, they attended every GA and made some good points 3. when we moved over to the other grassy area the couple decided to pitch there tent on the square despite being advised of the security risk 4. her partner left because she slept with someone else when he was away giving out leaflets, this was consensual and was comfirmed by both parties involved 5. i was there the night in question and the people that turned up were not drinking with any occupyers apart from the woman in question who knew them, i was the only person with any form of limited authority there and i was run of my feet dealing with issues left right and centre, i suffer from PTSD and the stress of being the only person there that gave a fuck led to my eventual mental breakdown 6. the men were not seen comming out her tent as she only told me what happened an hour after it occured so your quote of them offering shots is a load of shite 7. what the fuck do you mean we welcomed the rapist as a hero? they werent occupyers, we didnt even know who perpetrated this malicious attack and we certinaly dont condone what happened, but for you to openly state that it was the occupyers fault she got raped is completly outragious and i think you are a verry narrow minded person

Colin
Colin

I haven't visited Occupy Glasgow yet, but intend to this week, and will make make no comment about it until I have. My experience has been with Occupy Edinburgh, which I visited for several hours a day for two weeks, and camped at on five occasions. My findings: 1. The structure is pure Patriarchy - all important decisions are made by one highly egotistical, middle-aged white man. 2. It is antifeminist and several feminists have been insulted and/or excluded for their perfectly reasonable views. 3. Drink and drunks on the site contribute to making it an unsafe space - particularly for women. 4. There is an antisemitic element, which whilst a minority, contributes to making the site an unsafe space. 5. No will exists for dealing with any of the above. I no longer support it in it's current form.

Wyn
Wyn

Mhairi, I just want to say that I greatly admire the guts it takes to post this, and deal with the trolltastic comments that have come after. May I say I think you editing of comments and your responses have been measured and fair -- far more than I think I could have been over such an emotive issue. I've been sceptical about the Occupy Movement from the start, having listened to the marginalised voices rising out of it from the US and then the UK as things picked up speed -- women, trans folk, queer folk and people of colour alike have all begun to speak up to highlight patriarchal, heteronormative and cissexist goings-on across the movement. Thank you for adding your voice.

Jef
Jef

Very well put, Mhairi. That said, some of the comments on your blog have left me absolutely livid, whilst some have me despairing over our current society. Not only that, but these so-called activists are giving the rest of the left (if they are, indeed, left) a really bad name. I can't believe the hostility, victim-blaming and complete lack of empathy for other people some of them have shown so far. I stuck with the HRC occupation because even at its worst, everyone was willing to come together and talk about the issues and try their best to resolve them. There were times when I had to walk away and there were decisions made that I didn't agree with. But all in all I felt supported by many of those around me and the action proved to be a success. I just don't see how Occupy Glasgow could represent anything similar. It's an unsafe space filled with many people who are unwilling to talk about the issues the camp faces, not to mention wider society, and with no clear aim. Regardless of what happened to this poor woman, the 'movement' need to take a long, hard look at themselves and think about what they're going to do now.

Francisco Silva
Francisco Silva

Today, unfortunately, is a day I want to really forget, I found this post and with this I searched the web for more similar and I got to say that this movement (depending on each country/state) only serve the purpose of a few and not the needs of many. Before I delve in the context of the post, I gotta get something off my chest. I live in Portugal, and we are now going into such austerity measures that 20% of the population is going to declare either bankruptcy or is already living in conditions so bad and unhealthy that its not even a joke, we are suffering really bad with this recession and I'm one of the people that currently can't get a job to save my life, depending on the money my parents now give to me so I can stay afloat and keep on searching for a miracle. My main problem with this is that, when the movement started here, we also joined it, for 3 days. People left by the masses a couple of days later without even making a stand, and worse of all is that almost 90% of the people didn't know what they were fighting for, or what was happening there. 3 Days later, like I said previously, they just left because the next day was work day and nobody wants to get fired and live in the streets, we lost our will to fight for our rights here and got brain mush instead of a working one, everybody wants to strike here but only when its close to the weekend so they can get even more in debt and travel, or have a mini-vacation. Nobody wants to stay in a tent at the rain and such here, the society in Portugal is turned to elitist snobs with a few people who actually know what is going on. This is what this country is looking for right not, so I desperately needed to rant this. About the post itself, unfortunately in movements like this, innocent people suffer by inner-groups who want to take the best out of the whole group, we see this daily, and we are fighting against this, so much that the 1% are people who want to take advantage of the 99%. Every macro-group is divided by small groups or enclaves, and unfortunately not every group has the same ideals, we saw that through history and we will keep seeing it. Acts of aggression, whether in physical or psychological nature; gender or race discrimination; and so on and so forth cannot happen in movements such as this, as it will undermine the movement, and you can already see this being exploited by the media, in a effortless attempt to make the movement as negative as possible to inhibit the population of joining. The people must find a way to deal with these problems in a peacefully and orderly way, but I'm being Utopian in my comment. This rape aggression not only should it be a warning sign that things are going dangerously awry on several movement parts located in the world but also a way to change things effectively. It shows us that even inside movements like this we have problems of society in them, we need to deal with the inside if we ever hope of changing outside. Oh and women are way better speakers than man, so let them speak yeah? Anyway I'm dabbling too much, and possibly this wont make any sense to much :/ (not my native language)

Fiona
Fiona

By way of reply to the Scottish Soclialists' link above. I do apologise, Mhairi. Their site is not working for me just now. It is relevant anyway. Women are at high risk in Glasgow every night. Men are at equally high risk. This matter has been treated with the utmost gravity by all the occupants with whom I have chosen to have discourse. One of the discussions I had on Friday was with a woman who has been there since I first popped down, and we agreed that while people who had lived a sheltered life might feel frightened in the camp, for those who had lived the hard side of life it felt safe. Safer. I felt safe, and this had been the result of a process. I was a woman alone. I was deeply grateful for the calming presence of the older women in the tent on Friday. Just by their presence they helped keep the peace. I was chilled to see the order given to silence through force one of the members who was doing his level best to keep peaceful despite his very strong feelings, and the fact that he had already adjusted his delivery. I will not discuss this matter further as people have a right to confidentiality. I appeal to you, ladies, let go of your fear. I know we need to protect, but remember, nothing happens in that camp that doesn't happen all the time anyway. The difference is, we're seeing it. Who are Occupy Glasgow? Have I met them? This is a worldwide movement. Be the change you want to see. Would you shut down the London Underground because some eejits blew themselves up? Friday night there was a great deal happening. I am not associated with any official organisation. That night I had to leave the women's tent because there were children in the company and they needed to be kept safe. I'm deeply sorry if any of the older women felt intimidated. It should not have happened on my watch. I am not associated with any organisation. Actually, the older lady beside me did not seem intimidated. I had one person in a state of deep distress waiting to talk, one person giving the order to silence a legiimate speaker by force (what happened to free speech and democracy? We have been here before. BEWARE!!!!), and an intrepid and dedicated philosopher about to pass out in front of me. I felt his forehead. This lady leant over and asked if he was running a temperature, then she settled back to the discussion. She was not phased. Warrior spirit. She was neutral and supportive when it was needed. That night she was helping me occupy just for a moment. OCCUPY PEACEFULLY. This was a PIVOTAL moment for Glasgow's peaceful occupation. There were no fisticuffs that night. Now, you've inspired me to get down there today and see what's going on. You're absolutely right, society must respect the young, the old, the weak and the vulnerable. There is a core of protesters that are, to me, sacred. They are our youth, our hope, our mothers, and potential community leaders (I'm seeing the promising potential leadership from beautiful women arriving from the wilder zones of Glasgow to stand up and protect the vulnerable). This is a movement in which women must not just be heard, but take the lead where necessary. It is not a battle. IT WILL NOT BE A BATTLE. The game is to regain the hope and future of our youth. This can only be done through peace and reason. The footsoldiers will be home baking and bringing out literature without prejudice. If the women abandon the field it may well end in another ghastly puddle of misery in our city centre. You choose.

David Scotland
David Scotland

Um... forgive me if im missing the point. There was probably a hundred sex attacks in Glasgow that night, against men, women and children. 90 of them went unreported, 8 of them will fail to be prosecuted due to lack of evidence or because of media bias, which includes social networking media as well, 1 of them your not going to hear about, and the other one was heard about in Australia. The attack brought the subject to the forefront of the global conversation even if just for a moment. But if the result of this is that we all start attacking each other who are we giving the victory to? The fault cannot even for a second be considered to be the fault of anyone at the camp. The attack could have happened anywhere. The fact is that there were also multiple stabbings and slashings of men, thousands of violent assaults if not tens of thousands, mostly against men. Then there is psychological violence, of which many millions suffer, mostly women but some men also. Violence of any kind is abhorrent to anyone of good morals. Is that not part of what we are trying to change? Is this issue not bigger than whether it is violence against a woman or violence against a man or even a child for that matter. We should be standing united as brothers and sisters not fighting against each other and blaming each other for something we had absolutely no control over. These men are scum, but it is problems in our society that has made them this way. If we stand together we can start to address those problems. It will take time but we have to start somewhere. Perhaps in some way we feel we should start pointing fingers at each other. I will put my hand up, I feel a personal responsibility because i wasnt there that night and I feel a personal responsibility because had I been campaigning hard enough to get the right people down to the camp from day one the wrong people wouldn't have got a foot in the door. Im all for raising awareness of the issues we face in society, but also to being part of the solution. That is why I am part of the occupation camp, and part of the global occupation movement and I am proud of what we are doing down there. And I hope one day when my grandchildren ask me what I did in this time of history to be able to say I was there in Glasgow and it was a hard fight but we won it. What we are trying to achieve here is massive. We are trying to change the world. We should be campaigning in defence of each other and standing together as those who are of moral standing looking for ways to address the problems that are inherent in human nature. The only way to do this is with a positive conversation. This conversation is not helping us achieve that, its pulling us backwards. The bottom line is that we need more support at the camp. Only then will it be a safe space for everyone. Men, Women and children.

Fiona
Fiona

How do you know what happened, Julia? Were you there? Why didn't you stop it happening then? Or was it you who had the courage to break it up? The Milgram experiment was W/R to bigger picture. I do not wish to expand on it. It may ring some bells for some people if they're listening, but that's for them to deal with.

Fiona
Fiona

You're absolutely bang on the money, Mhairi. 'No' to exploitation. Thanks for putting this up so the conversation could be had. If all the infighting can be quelled, Occupy Glasgow's best achievement will be to open lines of free communication by hosting such conversations. There's a lot to talk about once everyone's warm, happy, fed, safe etc.

'Bob'
'Bob'

Hilarious. You and your groups are the pseudofeminists who make Glasow dangerous for women. You accept in your ranks - Free Hetherington, Glasgow AnarchaFeminists the most mysoginist man I have ever met, <name removed - edit Mhairi>. After he joked about raping activists I complained to the group he was involved in, also friends of your friends - who refer to feminists as feminazis. I asked if he had form and was told "Well, there was the time he strangled a girl. We were tripping in Glasgow and a bunch of neds, 15 to 17 year olds, were giving us lip, so he pounced on the only girl in the group, threw her to the ground and strangled her until she passed out. I thought that was okay because she had slagged his mum" The Johanna Yates trial heard that compressing the neck sends high blood pressure signals that can stop the heart in under 20 seconds, and even if <name removed - edit Mhairi> was used to strangling girls then the hallucinogens he was taking would have distorted his timing. The fact he only went for the one girl, half his size and age, shows his true colours. He then bated me on Indymedia with an article where I got him to admit the attack, though minimising it with the pathetic phrase "all I did was pinch her coritids- no blows" http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2006/12/357875.html?c=all He posted under various identities there, including pretending to be a feminist hating woman as he admitted to me by email, and he crossed-linked it to the 'antimysandrist' site he normally posted on. Your friends <name removed - edit Mhairi and name removed - edit Mhairi knew about this attack, accept it, and have helped cover it up. And yet you feel to pontificate and slag others? You and your group are the real danger, utter hypoctrites, and you betray not only your class but your sex.

Fiona
Fiona

Post script. I spoke of Strathclyde Police's 'zero tolerance' policy towards violence against women with some bright eyed representatives of that organisation the other night. They reminded me that 'zero tolerance' is applied across the board, although they offered no value judgement with regard to this. When my babies are asleep I will see if I can get any more up to date information about current policy. There is an argument for 'safe zones' as facilitating the protective wing of the state in wrapping itself around any lost souls in need of a port, as well as those who would shelter them, rather than writing them off and dehumanising them. Examples of grassroots outreach programmes like this can be dug up from the literature, but I need to go and wash my baby right now. I'm not saying 'declare the square a safe zone tonight'! That would be jumping the gun.

Fiona
Fiona

I believe when we had that spate of vulnerable women being brutally raped murdered in the same neighbourhood a few years back there was a highly publicised arrest, but the charges were later dropped, although this, crucially I thought at the time, was not widely reported in the press. I'm aware, though, that I believe that because that's what was said at the time, and that hearsay is even less reliable than witness accounts. I might look back at that unpleasant episode in this city's collective consciousness once I get the weans down. The other 'through the grapevine' wisdom was that different men were thought to have been responsible for the crimes, with the 'cluster' effect being due to the fact that GLASGOW HAD NO EFFECTIVE POLICY FOR PROTECTING VULNERABLE PEOPLE CAUGHT UP IN THE SEX INDUSTRY. There was no free protected zone where police could protect the most vulnerable. Edinburgh was doing a far better job at reaching out these women (I say 'women' because I do not have sources for sex workers who are not women) than Glasgow was. I'm sure there must have been some frustration surrounding this at the time from many quarters. The police are supposed to do as they are told. They are supposed to protect the vulnerable. Criminalizing sex work, and indeed stigmatizing homelessness, means the communication lines between the police, sworn to protect us from violation against person or property, and those MOST IN NEED OF PROTECTION are afraid to cry 'wolf'. It's just as bloody well I'm not anywhere near the square because this sort of stuff makes me really annoyed and I don't want to pick up the megaphone and find myself telling the truth or having to mud wrestle. I'm starting to have to let go of that fear, though. I'm even slightly nervous saying it here, but I can hardly applaud others for defending the truth then chicken out myself. The truth that stalks the back lanes round the shopping Mecca. Mhairi, keep up the good fight. You should be applauded for refusing to let it lie. Too often violations of the person are neither acknowleged nor avenged when they are perpetrated on the vulnerable. No flag. No hate. We are one or we are none.

zen rbe
zen rbe

Again John, you are presuming stuff about me, you dont know me. I never doubted anything the woman has said, you are making that up. Using the word alleged does not mean that i dont believe. So lets say the police pick up a couple of guys for this case, are they instantly classed as rapists? And if they are, what if its not them. They would have allegations put on them off the criminal charge of rape. hence alleged. I cant speak for woman or for anyone else to be honest. And do you not think that i as a human would understand how utterly horrendous this must be to go through, i have as much disdain for our sick society as you do. (infact even wrttiing this is untrue, as i cant ever know how she feels) There was a guy in the states recently who got the death penalty, when everyone who knows anything about the case, can see he was innocent. He was alleged to have committed a crime. And he got the death penalty for it. So going by your statement, the witnesses were the people who did the crime and the victim. And people heard her scream and cry. That is FACT. I have not denied that something happened on that night, i wasn't there and neither were you. Hence why I was asking for more information. Then you and Mhairi both claimed there had been arrests, which is not true. Now the media isnt saying very much about this to be honest, so i'm wondering how you and Mhairi could know there have been arrests. Now its up to the police and social services and other dept to help this woman in the best way they can. And i hope she gets this help. So to clear up a couple of points: 1 i do not disagree with the woman that she is a victim 2 i do not disagree with the people who said she is a victim 3 As for what went on that night, no one here can honestly say, we can come out and support the victim, for being a victim. And this victim has reported a rape to the police and the are investigating. 4 i do not disagree that she has gone through a horrible ordeal that ended with this woman reporting a rape. Now as far as i can tell the above is FACT at time of writing leave the police work to the police dude. I got this from the bottom of the STV clip online today "Police investigate report of serious sexual assault at camp in George Square." They are still investigating, no arrests have been made, so the information both you and Mhairi gave out is wrong dude. Now the reason i found myself on this poorly constructed blog was due to a ping back on a website that i admin, that was dissing the movement for being cultish, This part of my posts has been ignored. I think in future i have learned a valuable lesson here, i will not be defending the movement in these types of blogs again, as so far you are only reading what you want to read and skipping the rest. Treating posters like they have committed a crime themselves is not the way to have an open dialog. We could have discussed this in a better way rather than being subjected to the crap thats being thrown around, especially as some of it has been found to be untrue. And you are correct John this has nothing to do with you or I, my posts were about society as a whole, just your insular approach to dialog took it down a path that was not required. I hope the occupyglasgow can move on from this, maybe it is best that they move to a new area, as these types of occupy events are important to raising awareness of how screwed up things are. And i also would agree, that whenever i went to the event, it was mostly a male camp, this would put woman off from joining for the reasons pointed out on various posts. We also have the same problem within the TZM the majority of people are male, so there is something here that needs to be addressed, how can we make woman feel like they are part of the solutions and to also make them feel safe when contributing. we tried to address this, by having woman only meetings, but that isn't the answer either we should all feel safe working with who ever is sitting next to us, which is a huge failing in our current society. If you want to take this further down this route and see if we can use the blog in a more positive way rather than this route taken, i'd be happy to contribute I'm sure there are people here that can offer some brainstorming on how we can get more female voices involved in these events.

Fiona
Fiona

… When sexist people are allowed to join and define a movement this drives women away; but, when women stay away, men, including sexist men, become the defining voices within the movement… … A woman’s place is in the movement and not just as a fucktoy for the menz. What she said. I would also add that it takes courage for gentle men to negotiate this environment. A strong female presence makes all gentle souls safer. Allegedly. I'd be down there myself, but the youngest has got hand foot and mouth disease and due to a combination of patriarchal norms and my own artistic temperament, I'm at home holding the fort single handedly. I feel like running would let the bad menz get away with it. Is that primitive? Oh well. I only came along to try and paint something. I'll be disappointed if I return to see the camp gone to the dogs, but so it goes...

Fiona
Fiona

There is a good clip on STV. Glad to hear there will be a democratic vote with all voices heard. Glad to see Glasgow behaving herself. Long may it last.

Fiona
Fiona

zen rbe > > "i cant see anything anywhere that says there have been arrests." You noticed that too?

zen rbe
zen rbe

"So, now you are worried about how you are being made out to be something you are not. You feel out of control of your image, your identity, your truth. You feel unjustifiably questioned, misunderstood, wronged. It wasn’t your intent to make the victim out to be a liar, only that you didn’t believe this was an actual crime until you had facts, proof, regardless of the fact that *she* said she was raped. But, that doesn’t count. She’s just the victim. So, now you feel like a victim yourself. You don’t feel like I’m being just towards you, as if I’m not giving you a fair deal. But, why has this become about *you*? What about her, the woman who has been abused, assaulted, raped? I got the sense that you were more interested to protect your own agenda, namely making sure your precious Zeitgeist Movement wasn’t damaged, than actually supporting a victim of rape, the one who has really, *really* been wronged. And now you feel wronged for being called on your own crap, on how you don’t actually give a shit about her, how this was all just your attempt to protect your little agendas from being harmed, so her horrific event was termed by you, “alleged”" yeah john, i'm worried about my image and the image of the movement, get a grip dude. Just opinionated bull. I dont feel wronged in anyway, so what are going on about. This berating and anger at people is what perpetuates our sick society. Advising that i dont give a shit about this person and its people like me that prevent rapes being viewed in the correct manner. What a load of crap, dont ever pretend you think you know me, just from a couple of posts on a crap blog, that so far Mhairi has been accused of lying about not knowing people etc. Miss-information is a great tool eh.. I asked for more information, you are not in the position to give it, so why bother responding. And the info that was given was not vertified in any way, I got, go look at some witness statements in my blog post and their has been arrests. We thats why i'm asking for more information, as i cant see anything anywhere that says there have been arrests. So John before you go shooting from the hip again, can you please pass me the information on these arrests, i want to find out more of whats gone on and where we are with catching the feckers that commited this crime. Now i can use the word alleged as all crimes are alleged crimes until an arrest and charge has been made, i did not invent the law or the language used within it. So John, what are you doing to help society get out of its mess?? In what areas do you contribute in problem solving that gives you the right to question others.??

Fiona
Fiona

Excellent post. Welcome to Glasgow. Let us try to salvage some hope from the ruins. Ask how many vulnerable women (and men) have been literally slaughtered on these streets with nobody ever jailed for it. Ask why. Ask how it ever came to this. Don't look to blame, but to reflect. Give thanks that this ghastly theater has shone a light on the heart of Glasgow. Misandry is also a threat to peace. Take your hats off to those who have not deserted in the field, even though they trembled, and who have the courage to defend the truth. Put it all down to experience. Wonderful grassroots 'bottom-up' social projects are springing up all over Glasgow and we need support and energy for a peaceful evolution. If awareness is raised the occupation is not in vain. If you want to promote Zeitgeist bumph or some other personal agenda GCC may offer an alternative location and a fence to put round it. Edinburgh or some other scottish city might be more receptive, but the Clyde Valley is too busy licking her wounds and trying to get the roof fixed. Please don't play games with our hopes. De-occupy Glasgow? You and whose army? ;)

ffs
ffs

I've been involved with OG since day one, helping where I can tho I haven't stayed there. I also, on the day after the rape, used the word alleged. By the end of that day I had stopped, and am unreservedly sorry for having used it (god that sounds like a corporate statement but I don't know how else to say it). For once I thought about it (and was questioned on it) I realised how it was completely unacceptable. Alleged is a word we use for criminals until they have been charged. The two men who have been arrested are her alleged rapists. This is right, because the police might have arrested the wrong men. To be accused of rape when you are innocent must be a terrifying thing. But as you, as almost everyone says here, the crime, as she reports it can only be taken as the truth. I was raped when I was 17. I told very few people and even then have been afraid that I wouldn't be believed and that people would say it was my fault (I am a man, my rapist was smaller than me, why did I not punch him or fight him off, for instance). It was only a counselor that helped me see thru that some 10 years after that it was not my fault. So it shocks me that even with my background, my instinct was to use that word, and I've been trying to understand that, I'd like to suggest that the main cause is ignorance, coupled with a hopeful self-denial - under the influence of chronic-tiredness and panic in the midst of a media storm: - on the one hand, men I have spoken to using the word alleged, are confused about the difference between an alleged criminal and an actual crime. A case like Julian Assange who you mention, goes to the heart of the confusion as there is both a crime that has happened and an 'alleged' perpetrator who has not received (or put himself forward for) a fair trial so is usually referred to in those terms. What language should be used here that is both fair to the victims, and the principle of being innocent until proven guilty that we all also hope for? I don't know. I would like to see the Swedish guarantee no extradition to the US on espionage charges, and have him hand himself in there there, so we can know. - I think there is also self-denial that came, not from distrusting the woman or her story, but from not wanting to believe that something so terrible could have happened in a camp that represents the ideals of so many people, that is the first glimmer of hope for many of us in years. Please please please, we tell ourselves, can this not be true? Please can there be another explanation? It is naive, and offensive in context, but I think it may have biased subconsciously people in their use of language. These two points are the only way I can understand how my knee-jerk reaction was so wrong. I say these points not to try and justify my use of the word (or find myself new enemies here), but because it feels in the midst of this horror there is a chance for better education about why such words and such gross attitudes appear - certainly a lot of people are better informed as a result of their mistakes and I hope that keeps on going. It is a tragedy but maybe it is also a chance for better awareness, better education, indeed I don't see what alternative we have to teaching each other to improve things. Overall, as has been said elsewhere, just 4% of rapes lead to a prosecution, and each day since this 230 women have been raped in the UK. I am not sure of the last time the rape of a homeless woman received the press coverage it deserves (or the last time the Washington Post reported any rape in Scotland). What of the others still happening that don't benefit from the media spotlight? And those that go unreported because women (or men) fear what will be said about them in the media and online? Where do we go from here? I don't know, but I do know Occupy Glasgow has unearthed and been confronted with issues that West End Guardianista activists like myself might not normally encounter face-to-face while attending a talk at the CCA or going on a Coalition of Resistance march: - Firstly, the chronic homeless, mental ill-health, violence, drug and alcohol problems in Glasgow which the council appears unable to deal with. Hence the camp was split early on between those wanting to offer shelter and food to the homeless and needy and those saying it wasn't their responsibility and would cause problems. These issues should be shouted about, not swept away if the camp closes, especially in the face of cuts to shelters, refuges, and disability benefit. - Secondly, the outdated, ill-informed and down-right offensive and unacceptable attitudes towards rape victims and, in some cases, women. Because these have come from some within the OG camp it would be easy and maybe reassuring to say that these were problems that only come from those at the camp or from non-hierarchical groups, rather than fundamental society-wide attitudes that are rarely challenged ( good example - http://gu.com/p/332vb/tw - or Justice Secretary Ken Clarke's recent comments ). So the solution and debate I think has to be society wide, and has to happen. So maybe there is an opportunity to keep this being discussed where it is often silenced? (tho I hope without tarring all involved with OG with the same misogynist brush). #Occupy seems to bring a lens of media attention to topics - in London to the link between church, finance and state, and in Glasgow to everything mentioned above. At some point this focus will go away and people will return to ignoring these issues, so I wonder, what can best be now be done? (maybe that is unfair to ask, I just wish someone knew).

John Harris
John Harris

It is quite clear that you are eager to jump on cashing the misery and horrible experience of this woman. Also it is quite clear that you are one of the numerous misandrist, sexist feminist sensationalists who have no intention of trying to find the truth before alleging anyone of a serious crime as rape. For you and white feminists like you it DOES NOT matter what happened; what happened was your version of reality. If these men against whom you are leading a lynch-mob did NOT rape the woman, would you take the responsibility to go to prison for causing 1 - psychological, social and most probably economic damage to the lives of these *men* 2- causing the Occupy movement and their local organisers psychological distress 3- publicly lying and spreading false information with the intent of causing malice White liberal women are the bane of any progressive movement. White left should have learnt some lesson from the 60's 70's and 80s, when they were sold out by the sexism of female supremacists and their subsequently successful actions to institutionalise misandry and sexism against men.

Fiona
Fiona

Also this: http://links.org.au/node/2567 (Excerpt; free to print for non-profit I think) By Jack Ferguson June 23, 2010 -- Scottish Socialist Youth -- If you’re the kind of person who knows there’s a lot of problems in our society, and you’re looking for solutions for what to do about it, there’s a good chance you’ve found yourself here on our blog. There’s also a good chance you might have come across something called the Zeitgeist Movement. If you have, and you’re attracted to the ideas it puts forward, this article is our attempt to argue that Zeitgeist offers no real solutions to the economic and ecological crises that human civilisation is facing. In fact, quite the opposite: instead of explaining to people how we can change our society for the better, many of the ideas put forward in the Zeitgeist films have their origins in far-right and racist groups, and they’re ideas which are both crazy and useless...

Fiona
Fiona

With love, sister. I have a little boy. His lower lip trembles when he gets frightened. My daughter is weaker in body, fiercer in spirit. Let's hear it for the human race. Down with exploitation.

Fiona
Fiona

Ay vay. Firstly, thankyou for saying your piece and inviting feedback. In my book there are at least three possibilities. 1. There has been a gang rape 2. The woman went to the police with an allegation which isn’t true. 3. A situation arose where a vulnerable person seeking refuge and camaraderie suddenly realised she was in the company of brutal psychopaths who saw her only as an object to be exploited, and that it was too late to get away. The police are working with her account, the accounts of other witnesses, interviews with suspects, and evidence collected, to build a full picture of what happened that night and take the appropriate action against any and all guilty parties. Sexual assaults involving alchohol and spiking with drugs are common as dirt in this city. They are notorious for being difficult to prove and try as the onus is on the accuser to prove that their lack of consent was shouted from the rooftops and defended by the complainant under our legal system. If she or anyone else at the scene was intoxicated, memories would be hazy and unreliable, the victim can be unconscious or amnesic. Post traumatic stress disorder can also leave memory gaps, perhaps to protect the violated person from the enormity of the horror they have been exposed to. This is not 'blamer' speak. What happened was dark and disturbing, and my first reaction beyond one of compassion for the victim(s) (because, make no mistake; this was an attack on a community) is to shout from the rooftops and try to raise awareness. Nobody who knows what really happened should be on here talking about it, so most of us will use the word 'alleged' in acknowledgement of this. I came along to George Square to see what was going on. What was going on was fascinating, grubby, and frankly unfit for the children. It was also tremendously heartening. With barriers broken down, Glasgow was letting it all hang out, her scars and neuroses exposed for all to see. A lot of people spoke of feeling frightened on Friday. Others found comfort and solace. I found the latter. I know the darkness of this beautiful city along with its light, and I am willing to look her in the eye and listen to her story. My experiences of watching the camp grow and change have taught me things I would have learned in no other arena. The day The Incident was reported I arrived at lunchtime to the horrible news. Would I have run? Don't be silly. I womanned the abandoned kitchen for a spell, chasing out the young team with the attitudes so I could take in the enormity of it in peace. Company around the tent, including police, were peaceful enough. The press were everywhere. The souls were milling in and out. There was no present danger. A man brought me pumpkin seeds. He said "These are for the real protesters, not the homeless and the jakeys". I took them diplomatically and said "I'll distribute these, sir." The good soul beside me helping mop up looked at me with hurt fury. "Is he for real? I was homeless once..." I looked her back in the eye and said "Yes, so was I." Naturally I did not base my distribution methods on the domiciliary status of the recipient(s), in fact I didn't even ask. People have appeared like angels throughout, offering home baking, hand knits, banquets, labour and love. Maybe some of these kids needed picked up and dusted off. Well, the people who called these protests have abandoned ship, if that is the action they choose, in the right place. Glasgow can pick up and dust off with the best of them. So, back to PTSD and violation of the person. Glasgow is a beautiful and deeply troubled city. Its men and boys are dying in droves. Drugs, suicide, alcohol, soldier games. We have a conversation to have as a city about what exactly is going on. Let me quote myself, if I may be so bold; "A situation arose where a vulnerable person seeking refuge and camaraderie suddenly realised she was in the company of brutal psychopaths who saw her only as an object to be exploited, and that it was too late to get away." Ringing any bells? What about the betrayal of sending men and women who have pledged to protect our security with their lives if necessary to kill and be killed under false pretences? There are bigger issues here than the gender divide. I respectfully request that you call the dogs off Glasgow. She's doing her best. Allow her to hope. You wouldn't catch me sleeping down there. I'm not brave enough. But that's not because I'm a woman. If you're going to call Glasgow out to protest you must look her in the eye, warts and all.

mhairi
mhairi

Even if there were no witnesses, that doesnt mean there was no rape. It just means there were no witnesses. Even if there were no arrests, that doesnt mean there was no rape. It just means there were no arrests. Even if there is no-one charged, that doesnt mean there was no rape. It just means no-one has been charged. Even if there are no prosecutions, that doesnt mean there was no rape. It just means that there are no prosecutions. Even if there are no convictions, that doesnt mean there was no rape. It just means there were no convictions. How the fuck would you feel if your stereo got nicked, and people insisted on talking about the "alleged theft" of your stereo, demanding to know if you had witnesses or if anyone had been arrested and insinuating that you were making the whole thing up. Thats a poxy stereo - this is the gangrape of pregant woman who had nowhere else to go.

mhairi
mhairi

I'm not employed by the police so I don't have any information other than that it was reported at the camp and on television news, although I cant find any online sources. It is certainly possible that they are still at large.

mhairi
mhairi

It was announced at the camp and on television news that two men had been arrested.

mhairi
mhairi

I wasn't there that night, so I have no idea who was there but others have told me that they were there that night. The primary source for what is written about that night is the mainstream press, I have been given personal accounts by other people which are contradictory both to each other and to what you state. The blogpost links the welcoming of a rapist to the occupy movement to an f-word post about Assange.

mhairi
mhairi

Much of the detail in the post is taken from press reports as referenced, however your points 1,3,4,5 and 6 contradict not only what has been reported in the press, but also what I have heard directly from other occupiers. The rapist referred to in my post which you address in point 7 refers to Julian Assange. His lawyer admits that he has raped two women, but argues that he should not be indicted as that form of rape is legal in the UK. Other than a small but vocal contingent he was warmly received at OccuplyLSX.

mhairi
mhairi

Yes, you are missing the point - spectacularly.

Mickey &amp; Minnie
Mickey &amp; Minnie

Being one of the woman there that night, with my male partner, I can say with full certainty no-one ignored cries for help. There were none. When the survivor disclosed to one woman, and another she knew personally at the camp the next day the police were called immediately. Does this constitute a "group descision"? A woman disclosing to her closet friends in the camp? I think not. When I was raped (many years ago) I did not cry for help. Many people do not. I know exactly how many women were onsite that night, and "Julia" was not one of them. - Minnie

doctressjulia
doctressjulia

Nope, the Bystander effect wouldn't apply in this case. Nor would the Milgram Experiment. This was misogynist dudes IGNORING a woman's cries for help. They knew what they were doing. Anyone who thinks otherwise is delusional or a liar.

mhairi
mhairi

While anon allegations against individuals are not of interest to me, I'd be interested to hear of any Glasgow activist group who refers to feminists as "feminazis". I can be emailed at mhairimcalpine35ATgmail.com

mhairi
mhairi

I think there is a balance to be drawn between minimising the violence women in prostitution experience and tolerating their ongoing abuse. The abuse of women through prostitution should not be toleratated.

Keith Fyans
Keith Fyans

"So lets say the police pick up a couple of guys for this case, are they instantly classed as rapists? And if they are, what if its not them. They would have allegations put on them off the criminal charge of rape. hence alleged." No. If your telly was burgled and two men were picked up you have one victim of burglary and two accused of being burglars, not an "alleged burglary". If you are raped and two men are picked up for it then you are still a victim of rape. It is not an "alleged rape". The above use of language is rape culture in action.

ffs
ffs

yes my mistake, sorry. It had been announced in camp that there were some arrests to great cheers, but I see in the news today that the police are still looking for the men so not sure what happened. thanks for flagging this, and the comment John.

John (@_LovelyJohn)
John (@_LovelyJohn)

You're right. I see no evidence that there have been any arrests. All I can find it that they are "looking for two men". Maybe the article should be corrected to that extent, but that's up to Mhairi. However, my point still remains my friend. You refuse to believe this woman when she says she's been raped. I believe her when she says she's been raped. And I believe the people who said they heard her screaming. You do not. You would rather use the term "alleged" as if it is some appropriate term you just use in these situations. But, you don't realise that this word, and the attitude behind it, plays right into the culture that has grown up around rape. The 55,000 women who are raped every year, with only a 3% conviction rate. The constant talk of, well, it's an "alleged" rape right now, there was no witnesses. She was drunk. She was dressed like a slut. What did she expect? Afterall, if there not doubting the reality of the rape, 1 in 3 people go on to believe that the victim of rape is partly to blame for being raped. FACT! And here you are, using the word "alleged" a word which sterilises the traumatic event of reality, and aids in the process of making it only possible, nay, improbable, unbelievable, doubtable, untrue. A man above has written about why he stopped using the word "alleged". I highly respected his honesty. I know how he feels too, because I had to change myself when I realised how much of a privileged white male I was being. I suggest you read his comment carefully and try to figure out why he changed. I might give you some clues as to why I changed, and why I'm giving you such a hard time. And as for your question, what do I do etc etc. You still don't get it. Though I could list many things I do to contribute to society, this isn't about me, and it's certainly not about you. That's my point! Its not even about the normal uses of language, especially language employed by the media to manipulate the degrees of reality events are permitted, or denied, to have. This is about the woman. How do you think she would feel, having admitted that she's been raped (a fucking mammoth decision, considering that she's very likelt to be dis-believed, even blamed!), only to come across your posts demanding that her rape only being talked about as "alleged". Go on, say that to her: "You can't say you've been raped. You've only allegedly been raped. Are there any witnesses? Have there been any arrests?" And can you possible demand that I, let alone women, use the word alleged? We don't want to say that to her. We don't want to drain her trauma of reality. And in any case, what might her answers be to you? Where are you leaving her? The only witnesses are the men who raped her. And some occupiers who said they heard her scream. And no, the police have not arrested anyone. But, they are looking for two men. What more can she say? And can you really then say to her: Well, you see? You've only been allegedly raped then. What might she think, faced with your response to her trauma? Maybe: 'Why are you saying "alleged"? Why don't you believe me?' It's really very simple. And yes, I know there are legalities involved here, but in a culture where rape is constantly doubted, sterilised of its reality, some people choose to do everything they can to push the truth of rape, the reality of it, the fucking horrible trauma of it. To do this, these people don't use the word "alleged". They don't talk about "witnesses". They simply listen, and stand by, the victim. They believe her. They don't blame her. And they get angry, yes really fucking angry, because someone has come along and thought, yeah, I'm going to rape her. They've thought that they could get away with that. And do you know what? They *do* get away with it. That's why some people talk about rape, not "alleged rape". What more can I say? On this point I will fight, tooth and nail, against you. Not because of any agenda I have (it's not about me!) but because I am fucking ashamed of the society in which I live, and I am often ashamed of being a man, because women who have been raped have no recourse to the law (3% conviction rate!!), and yet people like you claim the right to inflict legal terminology on them, as if the law is their friend. But, the law does not stand by women, it ignores them, calls them mad, blames them. So, women stand by women. That is what Mhairi is doing. She's standing by a woman who says she's been raped. And I stand by Mhairi in her willingness to do this in whatever way she pleases. You might tjink she's doing that imperfectly, but I don't give a shit. She has a right to be furious. I will certainly not come along and tell her to calm down, or stop swearing, or be more rational. She's the one who has to be far more afraid of being raped than men, just because she lacks a penis. She has to put up with that crap, not me. So, yes, I will continue to stand by her and support her.

John (@_LovelyJohn)
John (@_LovelyJohn)

Mhairi has not accused a particular men of anything. She has simply refused to doubt the victim, by not using the phrases "alleged victim" or "alleged rape". She simply uses the word victim, or rape. So, what's your problem? She's not doing damage to any men, because she's not using any men's names? Personally, I think what you said is disgusting, because I feel you're more intent of presenting a squeeky clean Occupy Movement than accepting the rape victims words and admitting a rape has happened on the Occupy Glasgow site. But, I might be wrong. So, I'll ask you outright: Do you believe the victim, that she was raped, or not? I await your answer, as this will clear up my perception of you.

Mickey &amp; Minnie
Mickey &amp; Minnie

I agree with everything you have said, but could you please remove the part about her "condition"? we must protect her identity. This makes her identifiable out of the women their that night. (and delete this comment after?) Many Thanks - Minnie

mhairi
mhairi

If you are referring to her pregnancy, I believe this has been reported in other places and is now common knowledge. As to the comment after, I am unclear why you would like that removed.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] letter to ‘Occupy Glasgow’ des Glasgow Women’s Activist Forum auf der Webseite der SSY und De-occupy Glasgow auf Random Musings, offenbar gab es im Rahmen der Occupy-Bewegung nicht nur in Glasgow sexistische [...]

© 2014 Frontier Theme

Page Optimized by WP BTBuckets WordPress Plugin