Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Is Julian Assange a Rapist?

The only reasonable answer to this question at this point is that - aside from the alleged victims and Assange himself - nobody knows. Unless an investigation has run its course and, possibly, a trial has taken place, nobody is justified in offering any judgments. We weren't there, so we can't know. What has become sadly obvious, though, is how powerful sexist myths and attitudes still are. Even seemingly progressive people like Naomi Wolf and Keith Olbermann have made nasty sexist pronouncements on a case they only know through rumor, tweets, blog posts, and tabloid articles.

To say that rape is a crime that goes massively underreported everywhere in the world is an understatement, if there ever was one. A woman who reports being raped needs to prepare herself for a victim-blaming assault that will shame her, analyze her "motivations," her sexual history, her clothing choices, drinking habits, and as we can see in Assange's case, even her travelling history, her tweets, and e-mails. Rape is an egregious violation of human beings. Of course, this simple truth is accessible only to those who manage to remember that is has now been scientifically proven that women are human beings. If on hearing that a person reported a rape your first reaction  is to analyze her "motives," then I have news for you: you are a sexist jerk.

In short, the rape accusations against Assange have proved to be a very reliable jerk-meter. Many people who seemed completely normal and even progressive have revealed their deep-seated sexism. Anybody who believes that feminism has served its purpose and there is nothing for feminists to fight for any longer needs to think again. Women who report being raped still need to be prepared to be vilified and judged, often even by some losers who believe they know all there is about a rape that allegedly took place on a different continent.

People who have been pouring over every nasty tabloid "development" of this story need to get a life already, let the investigation run its course, and in the meanwhile think about why hearing the word "rape" makes them react in unhealthy ways.


KT said...

I don't know how "rape" came into the issue.

If the details reported in this news story ( is anything to go by, it was consensual sex between Assange and each of the women at different times during one weekend. The problem started when the two women discovered each other. We know what they say about a woman scorned.

It explains why "feminism" began afterwards to creep into the argument. One of the women had written something on a blog about how to get back at men (or something similar) a few weeks before.

That's what I think Beck and Olberman agreed on even if they would never agree on what to do with the man himself.

Clarissa said...

My dear friend,

Daily Mail is a disgusting, chauvinistic tabloid. It simply cannot be trusted on anything it publishes. On this blog, I analyzed several of their articles and found them to be filled with outright lies. There is no way I will ever trust a word they publish. It just isn't a reliable source.

Clarissa said...

Here are some of my posts on the Daily Mail rag:

They are not a source of information, they are a source of anti-women propaganda.

Lindsay said...

@KT -

Assange is charged with sexual assault. Both of the women say that they initially consented to have sex with him, but when they wanted to stop the encounter (in at least one case because he wasn't wearing a condom, and the woman had only agreed to have intercourse with him on the condition that he wear one), he kept going. Continuing a sexual encounter after one partner has asked you to stop --- or otherwise withdrawn their consent --- is a form of sexual assault under Swedish law.

Tom Carter said...

Lots of good points, Clarissa. I don't think any of us knows whether Assange is guilty of anything under Swedish law. What I've read of the allegations sounds pretty serious, but again, a court hasn't found him guilty yet.

It's true that people's biases show through in their reactions to the charges against Assange. Rape is a real and very serious crime, and no one should be judging the alleged victims or the accused without knowing the facts.

Even if Assange is innocent of the sexual assault charges in Sweden, his arrest may end in his being extradited to the U.S. on espionage charges. I, for one, would like to see that happen.

el said...

Whether he did or didn't, I am 99% sure had the governments not been interested, we wouldn't have heard of this story. Read Pandagon (Amanda's article is highly recommended) and found some interesting comments there, like:

- This story's role is to initially put him in jail. Afterwards, more accusations of (different?) crimes will follow.

- If it's fabricated, the people in charge have chosen the right crime (rape) to divide his supporters in the Left and hurt his credibility. The commenter wondered whether they considered between this and declaring him a pedophile.

- There is a history of wrongly accusing unwanted people of all kinds of crimes. Using rape accusations thus, as a political tool, hurts real rape victims (how public perceives them).

I am a woman, consider myself a feminist, but personally, I understand why many people view the story with skepticism. If several governments, including the most powerful USA, want you in jail, you'll be in jail. (A Sweden citizen at Pandagon talked at length about his country's politics and why it would do USA bidding.) Had he committed zero crimes, something would've been fabricated anyway. How can anybody doubt that? People had been accused by planted evidence, f.e. drugs, for much less.

You probably haven't talked of those people, but some may follow the story closely because of thinking free speech is going to suffer, if he is wrongly convicted, sending a clear message to future JAs.

On a completely different subject, I've seen this old link in my Favorites and thought you would enjoy this fellow academic's blog:

Clarissa said...

el: I just wrote a new post addressing some of the thigs you said here.

Clarissa said...

"Whether he did or didn't, I am 99% sure had the governments not been interested, we wouldn't have heard of this story."

-I don't think anybody disagrees with that. But, honestly, so what? The rape charges need to be investigated anyways.

V said...

I hope the charges are investigated properly. I also hope he will not, under any circumstances, be extradited to the United States.

Mas said...

I really think they should just chuck the charges out andgive the women a good kick up the backside.

There is enough evidence to suggest there is no case to answer to as was initially agreed to by the Swedish Court.

Sweden it seems needs to have a really good look at its sex laws and will be scrutinised and pilloried by a lot of countries. Sadly it will be Sweden that will go on trial.

oi!oi!oi! Aussie Aussie Aussie!

Clarissa said...

Go beat your head against the wall, you stupid pathetic castrated loser.

Abbey said...

Here's a question that I haven't heard anyone address yet: if you're going to frame someone for a crime, why choose a crime that has one of the lowest conviction rates and is one of the hardest to prove?
Seriously, where is the benefit of framing someone for a crime that has a good chance of ending in acquittal?

I mean, the involvement of INTERPOL is certainly fishy, and there's no doubt that certain governments are going to try to use this situation to their advantage. But wouldn't it have been easier and more effective to plant drugs or child pornography on Assange?

Anonymous said...

well Carissa,
I was a bit shocked that you as a woman, didn't look at this matter as a woman and realize whether or not these women have made allegations, their rights are to be protected till this matter comes to a final conclusion.
I suggest Police on average don't arrest individuals unless they have a strong case of a crime committed.
To conclude, "Time will tell all" on this matter.

Clarissa said...

Anonymous: I never realized there were any special ways of looking at things "as a woman". As far as I know, eyesight is not gender-specific.