I have been trying to think of how to respond to this morning’s events in a fuller and more considered manner after the rushed unofficial response I published this morning.
The difficulty lies in a total inability to understand what happened today. I know what happened – the actions – I know the Council’s motivation for seeking to remove the tents. I don’t know why they chose to respond in the manner they did. And I don’t even mean this in the sense of “why won’t they just let us protest?” – I cannot understand why Council officers, shit, why Australian adults would think it appropriate to gang up on someone, cut their clothes off and leave them shamed and violated in a public park.
The language I use might seem strong but it is appropriate for what happened. While I would hesitate to call this morning’s attack a pack-rape, it is easily only a half step down from that. What else would you call it when someone is surrounded by armed and dominant people while others use weapons to cut off their clothing?
To say I am disappointed with the public response would be to oversimplify how I feel but it will do for now. It is beyond disheartening and disturbing to see people clamouring and salivating over the images of a young woman being attacked and to say that she deserved it and that she is making a “mockery of sexual assault” to be pursuing charges against those who attacked her.
Shouts of “get a job” rarely phase me and I learned long ago to ignore those who threatened or wished death upon me. But it is a different kind of cruelty that wishes for someone to be violated because of a mere difference of opinion.
I have not known Sara for long and I do not claim to know her well but her presence at Occupy Melbourne has been unavoidable and always welcome. Some time after joining Occupy Melbourne I discovered that Sara was considerably younger than I had thought: her maturity and capability had me believing that she was in her late 20s. I was amazed to discover that she was only 19 or 20 and it is a testament to her that she has garnered so much respect from Occupy Melbourne.
When I discovered that it was her who had been attacked by Council officers my stomach fell through my feet. That something so brutal had happened to someone so undeserving is one reason that I still cannot understand what happened.
I’m also in the unfortunate position of being the brother of a young woman who is in many ways similar to Sara: they are around the same age, they are both about the same size and build and both have long, red, curly hair. If I’m not paying attention it is easy for my brain to mistake Sara for my sister.
This is a major reason that I will not be hosting or posting the video of the attack on the Digest. Some articles that are referenced and linked may have the video but I do not feel comfortable promoting it. I would encourage you to watch at least the short video, as I have, to understand what happened but it not something I wish to dwell on, nor something that I ever want to see again.
Tomorrow the Digest is focussing on the women of Occupy Melbourne and the global Occupy Movement. This is not the lead-in that I hoped for (or that I even thought would happen) but I hope that the attack will put what is published tomorrow into greater context.
As will be explained tomorrow morning, I believe that men and women are equal as human beings and, other than physical differences, I do not believe there is any reason to treat women differently from men. I completely condemn those who target and victimise women solely for their existence as women.
To Sara I say: Solidarity. We will support you.