An Occupy Protester Has Accused the Police of Inducing a Miscarriage

What Women Really Think
Nov. 23 2011 11:48 AM

Doubts Raised About Occupy Protester's Miscarriage

Occupy protesters.
Occupy protestors hold signs during a demonstration at the UC-Davis campus on Nov. 21, 2011 in Davis, Calif.

Photograph by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

Like the UC-Davis pepper spraying or the 84-year-old woman pepper sprayed at a Seattle protest, the story of 19-year-old Jennifer Fox seemed destined to be yet another horrifying example of police brutality against nonviolent protesters. Photographs and video footage make it indisputable that Fox was injured at the protest when police pepper sprayed her until her eyes swelled shut. But Fox also claimed that cops kicked her in the stomach, and in doing so caused a miscarriage of her 3-month pregnancy. Sympathy poured out from all corners of the Internet for Fox, who is also homeless and says she's been relying on the Occupy protests for food and shelter. A homeless pregnant woman attacked by police for protesting economic injustice who then loses her pregnancy? If billionaire Michael Bloomberg is the perfect Occupy villain, Fox is really the perfect Occupy victim.

Unfortunately, while there's no doubt that Fox was injured with pepper spray, there are now doubts being raised about her miscarriage. Dominic Holden at the Stranger has had no luck in verifying Fox's story that she visited the hospital in the days after the police attack because of cramps, only to discover that she had lost the pregnancy. Her descriptions of her pregnancy keep changing, and frankly, there's something a bit off about her reaction to an early-term miscarriage. (I've never heard of a candlelight vigil and a memorial service for a 3-month-old fetus, even amongst rabid fetus-worshipping anti-abortionists.) She's refused any attempt to clarify exactly what happened, and there's reports that her family believes she plays fast and loose with the truth. Now the police are investigating what happened, and I'm guessing they're not going to be quiet about it if it turns out Fox is lying.

Advertisement

If she is indeed exaggerating the extent of her injuries to include a miscarriage, that's a very serious problem. Stereotypes about the protesters as drama queens and stereotypes about women especially as being hysterical and deceitful will be in heavy play in the reaction to this. Just as the very rare false report of rape is used by rape apologists to cast doubt on the vast majority of truthful rape reports, we can expect the bad behavior of a single protester to be exploited in an attempt to discredit the entire movement. From a feminist perspective, this is also deeply distressing. Most women don't lie about pregnancy or use pregnancy to manipulate people, but the rare occasions when it's happened are often exploited by those who have an anti-woman agenda. These sorts of incidents say little about women as a group, and usually stem from the mental-health issues of the woman acting out. In all the political tug-of-war that's erupting from this incident, the one thing that's sadly sure to be lost is understanding that, one way or another, Fox seems like a woman in a distressing situation who is not getting the help that she needs. 

Amanda Marcotte is a Brooklyn-based writer and DoubleX contributor. She also writes regularly for the Daily Beast, AlterNet, and USA Today. Follow her on Twitter.

TODAY IN SLATE

Foreigners

The World’s Politest Protesters

The Occupy Central demonstrators are courteous. That’s actually what makes them so dangerous.

The Religious Right Is Not Happy With Republicans  

The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 4:58 PM The Religious Right Is Not Happy With Republicans  

The Feds Have Declared War on Encryption—and the New Privacy Measures From Apple and Google

The One Fact About Ebola That Should Calm You

It spreads slowly.

These “Dark” Lego Masterpieces Are Delightful and Evocative

Crime

Operation Backbone

How White Boy Rick, a legendary Detroit cocaine dealer, helped the FBI uncover brazen police corruption.

Politics

Talking White

Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.

Activists Are Trying to Save an Iranian Woman Sentenced to Death for Killing Her Alleged Rapist

Piper Kerman on Why She Dressed Like a Hitchcock Heroine for Her Prison Sentencing

  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 1 2014 7:26 PM Talking White Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 1 2014 2:16 PM Wall Street Tackles Chat Services, Shies Away From Diversity Issues 
  Life
Outward
Oct. 1 2014 6:02 PM Facebook Relaxes Its “Real Name” Policy; Drag Queens Celebrate
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 5:11 PM Celebrity Feminist Identification Has Reached Peak Meaninglessness
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 3:24 PM Revelry (and Business) at Mohonk Photos and highlights from Slate’s annual retreat.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 9:39 PM Tom Cruise Dies Over and Over Again in This Edge of Tomorrow Supercut
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 6:59 PM EU’s Next Digital Commissioner Thinks Keeping Nude Celeb Photos in the Cloud Is “Stupid”
  Health & Science
Science
Oct. 1 2014 4:03 PM Does the Earth Really Have a “Hum”? Yes, but probably not the one you’re thinking.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 1 2014 5:19 PM Bunt-a-Palooza! How bad was the Kansas City Royals’ bunt-all-the-time strategy in the American League wild-card game?