This morning OWS protester Cecily McMillan was sentenced to 3 months at Riker’s Island + 5 years probabtion for “assaulting” a man who grabbed her breast…and who happened to be a COP. As far as I know, the Bacon Grease is still sizzling along out there thinking the tetas of NYC are up for grabs and that we their owners can’t say fuck-all about it. This is an affront to me as a woman, a feminist, and a New Yorker.
From the Justice For Cecily site:
Cecily McMillan, a 25-year-old organizer, and has been politically active for over a decade — most notably in the Democratic Socialists for America, the anti-Scott Walker mobilization, and Occupy Wall Street. However, on March 17, 2012, Cecily’s attendance at Zuccotti was a point of party, not protest. It was St. Patrick’s Day and as a McMillan, she vowed for this one occasion to put down the bullhorn and pick up the beer. Cecily swung by the park to pick up a friend on her way to a nearby pub. Minutes later, she was sexually assaulted while attempting to leave Zuccotti in compliance with police evacuation orders. Seized from behind, she was forcefully grabbed by the breast and ripped backwards. Cecily startled and her arm involuntarily flew backward into the temple of her attacker, who promptly flung her to the ground, where others repeatedly kicked and beat her into a string of seizures. In a world that makes sense, Cecily’s attacker would be brought to trial — but unfortunately, her attacker turned out to be a police officer. To add insult to injury, Cecily is being accused of Felony Assault of a Police Officer, a charge that carries up to seven years imprisonment. Two years later, the trauma continues as the constant string of court dates have all but reduced her life to trial and the hope for vindication. This website is dedicated to making sure Cecily gets the justice she deserves.
I know this isn’t the first time someone on the force has gotten away with perpetrating sexual violence, and I’m pessimistic enough to feel we have a long way to go before we see the last. I’m feeling particularly annoyed though, that she’s being punished for retaliating. Was she supposed to stand there and let some stranger feel her up? Are any of us?
I sure as hell haven’t been a meek little lady over the years, wringing my hands and shrieking for help when strangers have gotten out of line. I’ve elbowed the solar plexus of a stranger who came up behind my and grabbed my ass in a bodega. I gave a guy a kneecap full of combat boot in the old Rubulad space because he thought it would be funny to put his hand up my dress. I’ve fought with a musclebound meathead twice my size in an isolated part of Kent Ave., who thought I was out of my mind not to just do as he said after taking a fist to the left side of my face. I wasn’t out of my mind, schizo-affective notwithstanding. I made up my mind long ago never to endure what I did when I was 14, even if I died fighting. Luckily for me I guess none of these jerks were police. (And the police someone did call on Kent Ave. were actually very nice and helpful to me, unlike the cop who groped Cecily McMillan.)
I know such proactive antics are not popular in some corners of forth-wave feminism. There’s an idea that suggesting any type of recourse is somehow saying it’s the responsibility of women not to get attacked, rather than of men not to attack. (this sort of discourse somehow always adheres to the gender binary in this way only women being victims, and I’m sure my hate-readers are all in a bunch at reading my failure to regurgitate the party line exactly.) And the thing is, I don’t even disagree that rape, molestation, any violation of boundaries is the fault and responsibility of the perpetrator, not the person who suffers it. Yes, we should be teaching people from a very young age that this is not ok to do. And for those who are victimized, they need compassion and support, not a bunch of questions about what did you wear? how much did you drink? why didn’t you do this or that? Such garbage is of no use to anyone. But, though I chose to become a feminist in my teen years, I was born a Hell’s Kitchen New Yorker first and foremost. I don’t feel safe or comfortable placing all my hopes in the idea that the other person knows better than to commit such heinous acts. More bluntly, rape culture being what it is, if someone has the mindset that it’s ok to pull this shit in the first place, I just don’t TRUST my well-being to such a person to do the right thing in the long run.
Bleak little fucker, aren’t I?
But I’m a bleak little fucker who fully supports Cecily McMillan’s right to her personal boundaries, her bodily agency, and to defend her person if she needs to. Once again, the police have gotten the message that our bodies are theirs to do with as they please. And non-consensual sexual touching is not something I can accept from anyone, no matter what they do for a living, no matter what position of authority they have.