In case you were wondering

This post, in my mind, isn’t really about Julian Assange and least of all about WikiLeaks. The same apologism and arsehattery is trotted out time and time again with high-profile rape investigations; this time, perhaps, I’ve personally seen more of it because even progressive types are getting in on the act when they can’t separate their adoration for WikiLeaks from their critical thinking skills.

But I’ve decided to put this clarification here, mainly to direct new commenters to if need be.

If you want to know where I stand, it’s here:

  • WikiLeaks is, very generally speaking, a force for good.
  • I have no opinion on whether or not Assange is actually guilty of rape. How could I possibly know enough to form such an opinion?
  • There is no reason to suspect that rape allegations made by two Swedish women would result in international media attention, Interpol involvement, and all-round international legal system hoop-jumping, if it weren’t for some strong political motivation.
  • Political motivation for pursuing charges, or the timing of them, is not evidence that the rapes never occurred and shouldn’t be treated as such.
  • Most rapes that are reported don’t end up in court. Sweden is not some feminist Utopia when it comes to this: this does not mean that law enforcement shouldn’t follow up on these particular allegations, it means they should follow up on all rape allegations, including this one. Hurting one set of alleged victims in order to treat them just as badly as other alleged victims is not just and it doesn’t make sense.
  • Assange deserves proper legal representation and consular assistance where appropriate, like any other citizen.
  • Assange does not deserve more than is afforded to other citizens; he should not get to circumvent legal process in any way simply because some people can’t stand the cognitive dissonance of ‘does good things + possibly does bad things.’
  • Publishing the names and addresses of the alleged victims and besmirching their reputations is a hideous, sexist tactic and a high-profile example of the very thing which contributes to the low rate of reporting of rape and sexual assault (and by extension, the low rate of convictions).
  • Anyone who accepts that Assange may be guilty but feels that in defense of WikiLeaks his alleged victims should nonetheless shut up and ‘take one for the team’ is not the kind of person I ever want to talk to, converse with online, or know in any form.
  • This issue hasn’t caused an explosion in corners of the blogosphere, online communities and mainstream media because feminists are whiny: it’s because rape and talking about rape sensitively and centering the rights of survivors and fighting a pervasive culture of silence and fear around rape and ending the tragically high incidence of sexual violence perpetrated against (mostly) women is important work and it should be at the center of the progressive agenda, not easily cast aside when it becomes inconvenient.

For some excellent, lucid commentary on this, see Kate Harding’s post about the twitter campaign to convince Michael Moore to apologise for his employment of rape myths when expressing support for Assange:  Why I’m on Board with #Mooreandme

She also wrote the excellent Some Shit I’m Sick of Hearing Regarding Rape and Assage which, frankly, says all I wanted to say here.

For details about the inception of #mooreandme and how it is unfolding, you can search the hashtag on Twitter, or see Sady Doyle’s extensive commentary at Tiger Beatdown, beginning here.

**Probably goes without saying that there are trigger warning galore needed for those links — and be warned that there are some trolls posting rape threats and other revolting hate speech in the #mooreandme thread on Twitter.



Filed under Feminism, Meta/Linkage

6 responses to “In case you were wondering

  1. Rhiannon Saxon

    Thanks for basically putting into words what I am thinking. Well done (I admit that saying well done for writing something which I agree with is rather self-congratulatory.)

  2. Iris

    thank you. In your warning re: the trolling, threats and triggering language etc in the other posts I got a reminder that because of the stance you have taken, I can choose not to engage with those sources (a choice I’d feel differently about if I didn’t also feel that I can trust this blog as a source of information and critical analysis).

  3. I completely agree – the two issues are totally separate and the outpouring of rape apology is totally unreasonable because let’s face it, good people can do bad things, and it shouldn’t distract from the fact that rape is a serious crime and that every time someone says ‘oh but you know its just been made up’ there’s a chance that another victim won’t come forward, that another life will be silently damaged all because some people can’t see that there are two sides to this story

    Good post

  4. Perpetua

    I completely agree with you. I just wanted to add that the victims (and those who defend them, like Sady Doyle) are not just besmirched, their identities revealed, and harassed – they are actually being threatened. People write to them with threats of real violence (including rape). Anyone who doesn’t quite get why this is so important (ahem! Michael Moore!) needs to think about people being terrorized and threatened for simply advocating that Assange’s trial be discussed a) factually and b) with basic respect for the victims.

    • Quite right. When I wrote this post, I was thinking more in general terms about the way that all of us, even those of us far removed from the case in question, are hurt by the perpetuation of rape culture. But it is also important to note that the actions of some have put the alleged victims’ wellbeing at risk and that is completely unacceptable. It is already difficult — too difficult — for women to report rapes. Now people who are raped or assaulted by powerful people have even more reason to fear coming forward. I know I would be terrified, frankly. And even if we are someone given proof that the two Swedish women are lying about what happened, that outcome will remain the same. Rape victims are suffering and will suffer because of the callous and careless words of some popular people. It’s a terrible shame.

  5. Rhiannon Saxon

    I was pleased to see your blogpost ‘Who hears you’ quoted in Melinda Tankard-Reist’s blog. It was about as well said as it gets.

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