Rape and violence at BM?

topic posted Wed, November 8, 2006 - 9:08 AM by  DiZzy
Just the other day I read that someone didn't want to go back to BM because of all the rape and violence. This struck me cold as I have been for 4 years (skipping a few years here and there) and I have never felt threatened in that way. Yes, I have been in situations where I had to extend my mental boundaries but I have never had a violent experience. When reading this post, it did cross my mind that it could be just another rumor. OR is violence becoming a part of the event due to the increasing attendance and commerciality? I want to go again in 2007 and this time with my daughter, but if this is true, I might have to think about it thrice. I want to hear from all of you with a legit opinion on this......
posted by:
  • I think anyone making a comment about 'all the rape and violence' is grossly exaggerating. Sure, BRC has it's issues, and they've been pretty openly discussed here on Tribe. Why don't you go directly to the person who made the comment and ask them to elaborate? It sounds as though they may have been exposed to something specific that altered their perspective.
  • There is Rape and Violence on the playa. There was a serial rapist over the course of 4 or so years, who was arrested in 05. Last I heard he had not yet been prosecuted.
    I believe that rape and violence are not as prevelent on playa as in other cities. Get yourself invited into teh Bureau of Erotic Discourse, who are working to educate men and women in awareness and rape prevention in a sex positive modality. (hehe, I said modality)
    Practice awareness just like you would anywhere, and teach your daughter to do the same. Make sure that your daughter has her own cup--With A LID (roofies are a problem)--and that she doesn't accept food or drink from strangers.
    My thought is that if that's the only thing that's keeping you from the playa, it's not really a good enough reason not to go, but you can educate and train and prepare to be ready and safer while you are there.
    • THANKS!
      How do I reach the Bureau of Erotic Discourse?
      • Dr Placebo is a member. (Can I just say that sounds really dirty?)
        He comments on the "I know we all sexual beings but what about this propositon" thread which is still on the top page of this tribe. PM him and if he can't get you in, he can forward you to GiGi who's the tribe's founder.
        • B.E.D.

          A link to the B.E.D. tribe:

          • Re: B.E.D.

            With no overlying intense policing infrastructure, the community knows that it has to regulate its people... quickly, and severely. I have seen a guy and gal having words on the playa, with everyone watching, eavesropping. I have seen it get a little more intense, all eyes on the couple and the community moves in. And when it is about out of control, or like pushing.... they intervene. I understand the weak and disgusting use the veil of night to promulgate their sickness... right? I do understand that... but when the community is aware and can see... everyone is responsible. At least the VAST majority.....

            The community regulates like the dude abides.

        • My own guess is that the amount of rape and violence is less on a per capita basis at Burning Man than in comparable size cities. I don't have official stats on this, but it is worth noting that the official arrest and citation rates were substantially down in 2006, despite a population jump.

          Yet any amount of sexual assault should be seen as excessive. BED (Bureau of Erotic Discourse) is a small grass-roots group with a goal of reducing sexual assault and harassment on the playa (and elsewhere). For a variety of reasons our tribe is private (invitation only), but our public site is:

          I'm happy to discuss BED via PM or via thread comments.
          • Stats however in this case would not neccessarily be accurate, as a city of 40,000 people is year round and BRC is only 2 weeks, so of course the numbers are going to be grossly different.

            I do however feel safer there then walking in the mission in SF.
            • <Stats however in this case would not neccessarily be accurate, as a city of 40,000 people is year round and BRC is only 2 weeks, so of course the numbers are going to be grossly different.>
              Oh, you can adjust by plugging in a number. 1/26 might be the appropriate one. YOu could probably do some sort of curve for the changing population over the course of the 2 weeks, or 10 days, or one week depending how you decide to count it. The LLC does that sort of thing, but I'm a couple years out of date on that, which is why my earlier statement wasn't stronger.
              • For that matter you could look at it on a daily basis.

                But rape is one of the most underreported crimes, so the stats are not reliable anyway. It's too simple by far, but one should make the decision about going to BM (or just about anywhere) on one's best guess about risk and reward. It's not a bad strategy to gather some opinions from people who sound reasonable.

                So my best guess is that BM is objectively safe enough to attend. Relating the risk to a city of comparable size is just an informal comparison. In my opinion, BED did not start up because the problem is worse than other places, but because our aspirations for BM are so much higher.

                Since Dizzy mentioned a daughter, I'd like to point out that kids of all ages are present, and that Kidsville is worth considering as a place to camp where there will be a lot of supportive company. There are other threads (and ePlaya discussions) about bringing kids, and they are worth reading, but you always have to make your own choice.

  • I grew up in the city and am hyper-aware at night. Even in my current smallish town we have a lot of rapes and the like, so I'm definitely cautious of my surroundings and pay attention to my instincts, especially at night. This has helped me get out of some sticky situations, and avoid plenty of others. If the hairs on my neck are standing up, I pay attention!

    With that, I have never felt so safe in such a large group of people. I was cruising around by myself at night a LOT, meeting new people, checking out camps, and not once did my spidey-sense go off :) I would never do that in the default world and have never felt that at ease by myself!!
    • I just want to say that I think Flecka's probably right--much safer than the default world. I odn't want to give the impresssion that it's risk free, however. Of course, nothing is. Risk benefits ratios are always worth thinking about for a few minutes.
  • There are always reasons NOT to go to Burning Man. First they come up around going yourself, and then they come up around bringing your child. If you really need a reason not to go, you can find one. On the other hand, you can just notice them as fears and go anyway. You have been there, you know what it is like...don't let anyone else's perception skew your own. I'm sure you know to be can't trust every one of 40,000 people. And I'm sure you know it's as safe as safe can be...something bad can happen ANYWHERE, or not.
  • There is a really long thread on Burning Women about this subject.
    • "All of this Rape and Violence"??

      When it comes to Burningman, that sounds like something you would pick up by hear say-not by actually being there. Maybe this illusionary "Rape and Violence" scenario was cooked up by someone wanting to cut attendance by using scare tactics? Or is it possible they were influenced by some "man of religion" telling his flock about the "Evils of Burningman" because God Forbid any of them actually pass judgement AFTER they've attended......

      Can that person really prove they attended? Or is it possible they were tripping and took a wrong turn and ended up at some "New Life Church Tent Revival" or "The Monsters of Metal Tour" instead.......
  • I've had both rape and violence happen to me, in two different years.

    It hasn't stopped me from going so far, and I doubt it will.

    (No need for any "I'm so sorry you went through that!" as I think I have talked about it to death and don't retain any emotions scars that I know of.)
  • i have a friend who was assaulted on the playa this year. and two years ago, a friend raped. It's out there. the point is, it's ALWAYS out there no mmatter where we are in life, it's important to be responsible for ourselves and to take care not to put ourselves in situations that are dangerous to our well being.

    When I run around as naked as possible, with bling bling and fishnets. Men and some women will want me. If I walk around in a bubble that there are dangers lurking, then I am leaving myself prone to dangers. If I walk in the same naked ware, but take care that I am aware of what is around, then life has a different hue. I'm responsible for me.

    I will not justify the actions of others. forcing oneself on another is not acceptable. under any circumstances. anytime.

    With that said, the best defense is good offense. Be aware. If you party, be moderate so you don't end up in a situation you don't really want to be in.

    Then. Enjoy yourself! Live life like no one is watching. Look people in the eye. show respect. Have respect for yourself and show others respect by leading the way. Live Fearlessly. Live Consciously. LIVE for yourself. *end preachy pulpit speach*
    • I'm sorry, I didn't mean to imply that no one has ever been assaulted on the Playa. I have been bugged a few times, but never felt in any danger. Of course, I am not that nice or even afraid to kick someone in the b@!!s if they invade my personal space without my consent, so I imagine that attitude comes out when someone pushes me too hard and those guys pick up on it and beat a fast retreat.

      However, I was just reponding to "All" as the term used. That would definitely be the minority of people at Burningman experiences and I have never seen any evidence that it would happen "All" of the time (of course I've never camped with Death Guild, so maybe I don't know everything). I feel that all of the good vibes far outweigh some bad ones.
      • Assertiveness and self-defense training will go a long way to prevent possible problems. Every woman should investigate these options. If I had daughters, I would make sure they had these trainings, no matter where they were going.
  • Thanks all for your input. As BM is a participant created experience, I guess my experiences there have always been more on the authentic, creative and spiritual side...that is what I seek I, Now thinking about it, I pretty much have stayed away from any camp or situation I found threatening or dark. That has been my Burning Man so far and I will create the same next time, but it always helps to be more aware of the goings on....
    • i think sexual violence on the playa isnt just about acts of physical aggression. deliberate sexism, unwanted comments and touching, those are violent in another way. i think that the peep show mentality of many men (and women?) is disturbing. i regularly make men with digital cameras delete photos of me that they take without my permission. just because i am not wearing a shirt does not give you the right to take a picture of my breasts. one asshole told me that he didnt have my face in the picture, so it wasnt so bad. ugh!
      we like to think that our community is somehow removed from the default world. but it is NOT. we were all raised in a misogynist society, and that doesnt go away as soon as you land on the playa. i think BED does great work educating people about it, but i wish BM was not so sexist.
      in my own third-wave opionon, it is the biggest draw back about Burning Man

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