Coverage of the Occupy Wall Street protests increasingly mentions protesters having sex. Some are using this as evidence that they're gross and debauched — but the protesters may actually be fucking quite responsibly.
The endlessly entertaining Daily Mail reports that, "Among the banners and flags are now discarded packets of condoms, cigarettes and bottles of spirits, while naked youngsters happily get together with just sleeping bags covering their modesty." The paper also published a photo of two scantily clad young people cuddling in a sleeping bag, atop which is perched a copy of "the book The Yage Letters, a collection of writings from the fifties and sixties detailing the search for a hallucinogenic plant in the Amazon rainforest." And they quoted a New York Post source, an activist named Andre who said, "Most of the kids are trust-fund babies. They don't need to be here. I've seen some making out, having sex. It doesn't look good."
The Post also talked to a guy named Dave who likes drugs a lot:
I got warrants. I'm running from the law. I'm not even supposed to be here, but it's as good a spot as any to hide. [...] I've been smoking and drinking in here for eight days now. I need to get some methadone. Every day, I wake up, and I'm f—ked up.
In addition to the drug addict from central casting, the Post spoke with a teenager from the Upper West Side who has heard that someone had sex:
It kinda makes me think of what Woodstock must have been like. I haven't hooked up with any guys ... but one of my friends did have sex in a tarp with a guy last night.
Drugs! Sex! Drugs and sex! The Post and Mail appear to be engaged in a dual mission, both to discredit the protesters and to sensationalize the story by including references to (allegedly) acid-fueled tarp hookups. But Rachel Rabbit White, writing in The Good Men Project, offers a somewhat different view:
There is a joke of needing a sectioned off sex area as well. Occupy Wall Street offers impressive sex kits which include condoms, dental dams, lube and finger cots. "I almost stepped on this couple having sex in their sleeping bag, they just looked at me, laughed and kept going" says one of the protesters.
Yes, people may be hooking up in public. But if they're hooking up using finger cots, they're doing so a lot more safely than the majority of Americans. And while "discarded packets of condoms" may seem gross to the Daily Mail, they mean that those "naked youngsters" are having protected sex. If journalists want to investigate allegations of sexual assault at Occupy Portland, or discuss where OWS protesters stand on issues like sex workers' rights, more power to them. But using the mere presence of (safe) sex as evidence of a movement's irresponsibility is itself irresponsible.
Sex And Drugs On Tap, Who Says It's Not A Political Partaaay? Occupy Wall Street Protesters Make Love As Well As Class War [Daily Mail]
Sex, Drugs And Hiding From The Law At Wall Street Protests [NY Post]
A Day Of #Occupy WallStreet And SlutWalk [Good Men Project]