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Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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121 Responses

  1. gretel
    gretel December 8, 2010 at 11:46 am |

    The fact that she’d post something like this after coming out about her experience of sexual harassment by the all-powerful Harold Bloom is confusing to say the least.

  2. alynn
    alynn December 8, 2010 at 11:58 am |

    In fact, it is totally possible to support the WikiLeaks project and to think that the international response to Assange and the project is thoroughly fucked up and to think we should withhold judgment on whether or not Assange is actually a rapist and also to think that we should withhold judgment on whether the women are lying, and to not discredit the women involved, and to not create a hostile climate for rape survivors, and to not play into every tired old stereotype about women and rape.

    This is the battle I’m facing w/ a male friend on FB right now…He’s having a hard time understanding why I found the way he described the situation in question as “totally consensual” as offensive. I called him out and he’s not getting that I am ALSO against how Assange has been targeted by Interpol, but maintain that the assault charges against him should not be downplayed. I’m not trying to argue the former w/ him, just the latter.

  3. Sam
    Sam December 8, 2010 at 12:02 pm |

    Jill,

    you’re right, all that is possible at the same time.

    However, the feminist gut response seems to see victim blaming and rape-culture apology in every allusion to how strange everything looks, and yes, that *includes* what it is known about both the accusers behaviour (removing twitters, writing about revenge, etc.) and the prosecutors (dropping charges, picking them up again, looking for whatever…). Assange stayed in Sweden in August for three weeks, waiting to be interrogated. He wasn’t. He called the prosecutor (admitted by herself) and wondered if he was allowed to leave the country, which was granted, because the charges had apparently been dropped. Then they suddenly appeared again. The prosecutor herself apparently also has a bit of a history in rape-related cases allegedly once calling for all men who are merely accused of sexual misconduct to be arrested in order to give the alleged victim “room to think”. And apparently, according to a German news source (you read German, right? http://www.zeit.de/politik/ausland/2010-12/wikileaks-assange-schweden?page=2) even the feminist party group Anna Ardin, one of the accusers apparently belongs to, is said to now believe the case looks largely manufactured – not by the alleged victims or the US, but by a crusading prosecutor.

    I’m not sure this is an ideal case to use as a case study to discuss the intricacies of consent (as you tried to yesterday). This case may very well become a huge liability for people who are advocating against sexual violence, if it should turn out to be manufactured. Sure, Assange could be a rapist. But given the oddness surrounding all this, I think feminist calls to solidarity with the accusers should include an extra “in dubio pro reo”.

    By the way, that $715 fine you mentioned, I couldn’t find any official source for that. The (I think) relevant clause of the Swedish penal code mentions up to four years of prison. That’s the flipside problem of the “consent is not as black and white”-argument you made yesterday. Sexual offences may not be prosecuted easily, and verdicts may be even more difficult to get – but that is likely a consequence of the fact that the penal system is not intended to educate people, but to punish them hard for misconduct. And when it comes to lack of consent, even if “marginal”, then it’s a case of rape.

  4. Beth
    Beth December 8, 2010 at 12:05 pm |

    Time Magazine has pronounced this an infowar. The first casualty of war is the truth. Regardless of how one regards Wikileaks, the spinmeisters are making sure that adage is correct. The women are the weakest link, so Wiki supporters go for them. I find that disturbing.

  5. Ruth
    Ruth December 8, 2010 at 12:14 pm |

    I think this article is pretty good about calling bs on those smearing Assange’s accusers: http://www.salon.com/news/politics/war_room/2010/12/07/julian_assange_rape_accuser_smeared/index.html

  6. Linnea
    Linnea December 8, 2010 at 12:14 pm |

    Assange left the country and then when the charges were picked up again, he refused to come back. True, he did say he would submit to questioning at an embassy from his location, but he would not come back into Sweden. According to Ny, the prosecutor, she could legally not fly abroad and question Assange, so that’s why it didn’t happen. Whether it was a miscommunication or a case of not co operating on either parts, I will leave up to you to decide.

    No one is accusing (apart from the women he allegedly assaulted, of course) Assange to be guilty of this crime. We’re just asking to please not trivialise sexual crime charges and give these women the respect and consideration that is due anyone who accuses someone of sexual crimes. It is a hard enough process with the odds statistically being against them reaching a verdict in their favour, and the statistics being in favour of this actually happening, so to resort to smear tactics is just not justified regardless of how crazy all these rumours make the case out to be.

  7. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable December 8, 2010 at 12:23 pm |

    Sam: However, the feminist gut response seems to see victim blaming and rape-culture apology in every allusion to how strange everything looks, and yes, that *includes* what it is known about both the accusers behaviour

    Really? Because I only see rape culture when we tell a woman she cried rape because “he didn’t call her back.”

    We’re all saying alleged rapists aren’t hunted down every damn day. We’re all saying shit looks strange. We’re not on board with saying that clearly means the victim is full of shit. What exactly are you complaining about?

  8. Comrade Kevin
    Comrade Kevin December 8, 2010 at 12:25 pm |

    The whole matter with Wolf seems to be that she has fallen in love with her own words. We all have something to learn and no one’s viewpoint is beyond correction or improvement. I blame ego here.

  9. Mike
    Mike December 8, 2010 at 12:38 pm |

    Jill, you rule.

  10. Sam
    Sam December 8, 2010 at 12:41 pm |

    Pretty Amiable,

    “We’re not on board with saying that clearly means the victim is full of shit. What exactly are you complaining about?”

    It doesn’t “clearly” mean that. But – based on what is know about Ardin’s management of the case, deleting Tweets, etc. – it is certainly a possibility. And I don’t really think it’s helpful to not recognize that. It creates camps – one that cannot fathom that Assange could have raped her, and one that is trying to call every scepticism about the women’s accounts and accusations “rape apology” or “victim blaming”. Both is not appropriate.

  11. Matthew
    Matthew December 8, 2010 at 12:50 pm |

    Sam: I don’t really think it’s helpful to not recognize that. It creates camps – one that cannot fathom that Assange could have raped her, and one that is trying to call every scepticism about the women’s accounts and accusations “rape apology” or “victim blaming”. Both is not appropriate.

    Sam– In the original post, Jill wrote, “we should withhold judgment on whether or not Assange is actually a rapist and also to think that we should withhold judgment on whether the women are lying”. So there’s no disagreement here, ostensibly.

  12. KMayer
    KMayer December 8, 2010 at 12:54 pm |

    And to think we’d come so far. Assange can very well be an internet guru and a prick and a rapist, or any combo of those identities. One is not mutually exclusive of another. Shame on Wolf for discrediting all, and considering none.

  13. norbizness
    norbizness December 8, 2010 at 1:04 pm |

    Our CIA-trained remote viewing program is succeeding beyond our wildest expectations!

  14. Kathleen
    Kathleen December 8, 2010 at 1:13 pm |

    Jill: Yes, yes, yes. Perfect, thank you.

    Sam: Jill has covered all of your objections — so why are you still objecting? It seems to me that withholding judgment is *not* a position you find comfortable after all.

  15. matlun
    matlun December 8, 2010 at 1:16 pm |

    Now, I don’t doubt that Interpol’s response to the sexual assault allegations against Assange were politically motivated

    A kind of nitpicky comment here: If there was political motivation here, it was on the side of Swedish authorities. Once the Swedish authorities made a formally correct request for the red notice it was granted by Interpol. Since Sweden has an extradition treaty with the UK, Assange’s arrest was pretty much a given once the Swedish arrest warrant was granted.

    Whether the actions here are politically motivated (as in driven by US interests) is a bit unclear to me. Sure, the behavior of the prosecutor in charge (Marianne Ny) has been very strange indeed. She seems to have been trying to make as much trouble as possible for Assange rather than trying to solve the alleged crime in a professional manner. Still, when it comes to her reasons we can just speculate for now.

    Also, as noted in the other thread, the small fine refers to the other, lesser charge of harassment that Assange is also facing and not the rape charge.

  16. Sam
    Sam December 8, 2010 at 1:26 pm |

    Matthew, Kathleen,

    yes, you’re right. I should have read more carefully.

  17. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub December 8, 2010 at 1:35 pm |

    Not to mention our advanced methods of mind control via vaginas!

    norbizness: Our CIA-trained remote viewing program is succeeding beyond our wildest expectations!  

  18. matlun
    matlun December 8, 2010 at 1:37 pm |

    Ok, since everyone seems to be speculating about whether the women are CIA agents, I will too.

    If you consider the chaos from the Swedish prosecutors (first opening an investigation, then dismissing it, then reopening it after appeal), it would seem that if this was a cunning plot from the start, then it was not competently implemented.
    This would seem to imply that any high level conspirators that are controlling the process were not prepared beforehand, which would then seem that the women are not part of any such conspiracy.

    Just speculation, obviously, but I felt this played well with Jill’s statement that even if this is all politically motivated, the women do not have to be involved.

  19. Bloix
    Bloix December 8, 2010 at 2:14 pm |

    “Assange left the country and then when the charges were picked up again, he refused to come back.”

    If he had returned to Sweden to be arrested there he would have faced extradition proceedings to the United States – a country in which prominent politicians and pundits have called for him to be murdered without legal process.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/law/afua-hirsch-law-blog/2010/dec/08/julian-assange-extradition-what-next

  20. Decidedly Confused
    Decidedly Confused December 8, 2010 at 3:29 pm |

    Why can’t we pass judgment after looking at the evidence, and concluding that these women are likely lying for nefarious reasons connected to Assange’s actions against the interests of the U.S. government? Just because somebody accuses another of a crime does not mean reason and common sense should get tossed out the window. Are we supposed to just bury our heads in the sand? Nobody doubts that sexual assault survivors deserve lots of support and resources, but simpling claiming to be a victim cannot be enough, when it’s likely that this is an attack on Assange to villify him.

  21. Decidedly Confused
    Decidedly Confused December 8, 2010 at 3:34 pm |

    matlun: Ok, since everyone seems to be speculating about whether the women are CIA agents, I will too.If you consider the chaos from the Swedish prosecutors (first opening an investigation, then dismissing it, then reopening it after appeal), it would seem that if this was a cunning plot from the start, then it was not competently implemented.This would seem to imply that any high level conspirators that are controlling the process were not prepared beforehand, which would then seem that the women are not part of any such conspiracy.Just speculation, obviously, but I felt this played well with Jill’s statement that even if this is all politically motivated, the women do not have to be involved.  (Quote this comment?)

    I don’t think anybody thinks the prosecutors themselves are involved in a smear campaign – I think the thought is that the women were (bribed, told?) to make complaints against Assange. The prosecutors obviously detected bullshit, which explains their hesitation.

  22. james
    james December 8, 2010 at 4:11 pm |

    “In fact, it is totally possible to … think we should withhold judgment on whether or not Assange is actually a rapist and also to think that we should withhold judgment on whether the women are lying, and to not discredit the women involved…”

    I do not have a clue what actually happened.

    But we are not ‘witholding judgement’. He has been in front of a judge. He is in jail for up to 21 days awaiting extradition. He will be held again when he gets to Sweden first for questioning, and then possibly until trial. This isn’t a trivial inconvienience and it’s because (although on a low burden of evidence) Swedish and English courts feel there is a case to answer.

    Again, I’m not commenting on the specific allegations – I don’t know. But Assange and his supporters think they do and they’re perfectly entitled to act on it. The defence doesn’t have to sit by and watch while the prosecution acts. If you were in jail in similar circumstances and felt this was unjust would your be so sanguine about ‘witholding judgement’ and waiting for things to play out? I don’t think so. You and your supporters would be trying to do everything to discredit your opponents, and there is nothing wrong with that. You’re perfectly entitled to try and weaken the case against you in order to win your freedom – that’s part of a fair system of justice. Assange’s allies under no obligation just to wait and watch things play out, it’s perfectly reasonable for them to act to try and help free someone they think is innocent.

    And yes, this is even true if it creates a hostile climate for rape survivors or plays into tired old stereotype. There’s no reason why people should be denied the right to trying to win justice for themselve just because this isn’t on message politically.

  23. B
    B December 8, 2010 at 4:27 pm |

    I wrote a long comment for Ontd_politics on this before realising that I cannot post there. Thought you might find it interesting instead.

    “…[F]or months now, his attorneys have offered to the Swedish police and to prosecutors to make him available for questioning”

    Except that ever since summer I’ve been reading about Assange and his lawyer’s statements in the Swedish media but when the papers asked the police and the prosecution he hadn’t called or contacted them nor has he come in for the questioning and dna samples they’ve asked for ever since August. It’s the law – they don’t make exceptions just because they’ve read something in the tabloids or a person is a celebrity. Head prosecutor Ny has also stated that she didn’t give him permission to leave the country, contrary to what Assange’s British lawyer said (the one who called rape “surprise sex”). Ny has also said that Assange is not to be extradited to the US.

    Wikileaks is doing a good job but unfortunately Assange misuses the platform this gives him in order to avoid being investigated and possibly tried in court for the case made against him. Ironic when he helps expose our leaders for believing that they are above and beyond the law.

  24. Jim
    Jim December 8, 2010 at 5:12 pm |

    Sam: not by the alleged victims or the US, but by a crusading prosecutor.

    That looks about. Apparently the prosecutor called the complainants in again after they have filed their complaint, and only at that point were the charges upgraded. That looks like the prosecutor either pressured them, or else maybe they had just gotten things clearer in their mnds. We can’t tell yet.

    I have not seen anyone assert one thing that even suggests either of the complainants lied about anything. Again, that may change, but so far there’s no evidence of it.

  25. History Punk
    History Punk December 8, 2010 at 5:28 pm |

    “No reasonable person is under the impression that Interpol regularly scours the continent for every man who is accused of assault — Interpol can hardly be bothered to track down big-time human traffickers who sell women and girls to men who pay to rape them”.

    That’s because reasonable people know that despite what movies like “The International” and the “Lord of War” tell us, Interpol does not seek out and arrest people. As for the rest of your statement, INTERPOL’s six priority crime areas include human trafficking and fugitive hunting.

  26. james
    james December 8, 2010 at 6:11 pm |

    “Are you under the impression that “we” — which is who I said should withhold judgment — are Julian Assange himself, or his defense lawyers?”

    No. That’s why I used the words supporters and allies. Reading skillz, plz.

  27. Kathleen
    Kathleen December 8, 2010 at 7:03 pm |

    James — I think the more important distinction, however, is that one can be a “supporter and ally” of *Wikileaks*; be quite aware that Wikileaks is being gone after by every means possible by the U.S. government and its allies, and still withhold judgment about the charges against Assange. Jill was very clear about this.

    Sure, Assange’s supporters can do whatever they want, including smearing people. But feminists, similarly, are perfectly entitled to object to two tired, familiar types of smearing:

    1) of women who bring charges of rape or sexual assault — as liars

    2) of feminists who take such charges seriously, no matter whom they are leveled against — as tools of imperialism, capitalism, the Man, as dupes or tunnel-vision obsessives, who just need to shut up so that the Manly Left can do its thang.

    This is bs, and we can call people on it. Every damn time something like this happens there is a chorus of lefty men insisting that somehow, if only the feminists would shut their fat traps about it, the empire would crumble!

    It’s really not *us* who misdirecting our energies. Instead of trolling feminist blogs, why not go donate to Wikileaks? Glenn Greenwald has a link at Salon.

    I am *withholding judgment* about Assange. At the same time, I know very well that Wikileaks is important and under attack. or, you know, what Jill said.

  28. james
    james December 8, 2010 at 7:22 pm |

    Also, I didn’t say that Assange’s supporters MUST withhold judgment. I said it is possible to think that we should withhold judgment — there’s a big difference.

    Maybe it’s just me, but I think even without trial, conviction and sentence the mechanisms of justice are still punitive. Particularly on the innocent. The guy’s probably looking at a fair bit of jail time before the case come to court. Still he has it relatively easy though: a month in jail and extradition to another country would absolutely destroy most people, whatever the outcome. They’d lose their jobs, wouldn’t be able to keep up the mortgage, would have a hard time explaining the gap on their CVs when released.

    Maybe I’m just a bleeding heart but the cry to ‘withhold judgement’ bothers me. It’s phony, you’re not doing anything of the sort. Judgment has been made (in Assange’s case jail while awaiting extradition) – so you’re not ‘withholding judgement’, you’re actually just provisionally accepting a judgement as the status quo which, if someone is innocent, is spectacularly cruel. If you honestly don’t really know what happened one way or the other, then how can you be happy with someone being treated like that?

    “And fine, if you think that it’s perfectly reasonable for Assange’s supporters to try to act to free someone they think is innocent. Do you also think that it’s equally as reasonable for others to try to act to help get justice for someone they think was actually raped?.”

    Yes. I think it’s reasonable to try and get justice. But I don’t think having someone jailed for three weeks without a proper trial or hearing of the evidence for reasons of administrative convienience is justice.

  29. Kathleen
    Kathleen December 8, 2010 at 7:29 pm |

    it’s also interesting the outpouring of energy that has gone into “we must all circle the wagons around Assange for the good of Wikileaks” versus the relative silence around sticking up for currently imprisoned alleged leaker Bradley Manning. could it be that the gay alleged leaker appeals rather less to macho lefty male sensibilities than the het alleged rapist Assange? b/c arguably support for leakers is more important to the continuance of the networked wikileaks project than is support for its founder.

  30. RD
    RD December 8, 2010 at 7:41 pm |

    Sam: Jill,you’re right, all that is possible at the same time.However, the feminist gut response seems to see victim blaming and rape-culture apology in every allusion to how strange everything looks, and yes, that *includes* what it is known about both the accusers behaviour (removing twitters, writing about revenge, etc.) and the prosecutors (dropping charges, picking them up again, looking for whatever…). Assange stayed in Sweden in August for three weeks, waiting to be interrogated. He wasn’t. He called the prosecutor (admitted by herself) and wondered if he was allowed to leave the country, which was granted, because the charges had apparently been dropped. Then they suddenly appeared again. The prosecutor herself apparently also has a bit of a history in rape-related cases allegedly once calling for all men who are merely accused of sexual misconduct to be arrested in order to give the alleged victim “room to think”. And apparently, according to a German news source (you read German, right? http://www.zeit.de/politik/ausland/2010-12/wikileaks-assange-schweden?page=2) even the feminist party group Anna Ardin, one of the accusers apparently belongs to, is said to now believe the case looks largely manufactured – not by the alleged victims or the US, but by a crusading prosecutor.I’m not sure this is an ideal case to use as a case study to discuss the intricacies of consent (as you tried to yesterday). This case may very well become a huge liability for people who are advocating against sexual violence, if it should turn out to be manufactured. Sure, Assange could be a rapist. But given the oddness surrounding all this, I think feminist calls to solidarity with the accusers should include an extra “in dubio pro reo”.By the way, that $715 fine you mentioned, I couldn’t find any official source for that. The (I think) relevant clause of the Swedish penal code mentions up to four years of prison. That’s the flipside problem of the “consent is not as black and white”-argument you made yesterday. Sexual offences may not be prosecuted easily, and verdicts may be even more difficult to get – but that is likely a consequence of the fact that the penal system is not intended to educate people, but to punish them hard for misconduct. And when it comes to lack of consent, even if “marginal”, then it’s a case of rape.  

    OH, they wrote about REVENGE, that MUST mean the everyone had a good time and their desire for revenge had absolutely nothing with, oh, being sexually assaulted. And somebody deleted something they said on the internet, how incriminating. And to top it all off, a prosecutor dropped some charges and then picked them back up again. Not like that happens all the time, right? PLEASE.

    What is most sickening to me is your assertion that men who commit rape under a consent-based model are doing it for “marginal” reasons and just need “education.” A man who has “sex” with someone who doesn’t want to, including holding her down/shushing her/whatever after she asks to stop when the condom breaks…just doesn’t know what he’s doing? No. He just refuses to care. Ditto a man who puts his genitals on another bare when she wanted and expected a barrier, as Jill put it (really well).

    There’s all this bullshit about “fake accusations” “lying bitches” and now “marginal cases.” I think this is what it really stems from: “if a woman feels violated by something either I do or see as minor in my mind’s eye when I imagine myself doing it, she must be crazy, lying, exaggerating.” I think anyone who thinks that way is so incredibly selfish and lacking in empathy and any hint of caring about the experiences of other people, that they are dangerous. A danger to society and anyone in it they want to fuck. So really it doesn’t matter if they want to think of themselves as rapists or not. Its really not their decision.

  31. makomk
    makomk December 8, 2010 at 8:12 pm |

    matlun: Interestingly, an ex-head of the appropriate CPS division reckons their extradition attempt is questionable and may suffer from obstacles because technically the Swedish police haven’t actually charged him with anything.

    Also, “the chaos from the Swedish prosecutors (first opening an investigation, then dismissing it, then reopening it after appeal)” is a reason to believe it’s not a CIA plot? Have you taken a look at the history of CIA plots? If it is one of their plots, it’s actually amongst the more competent ones – they’re a bunch of bungling idiots a lot of the time. A bunch of dangerously malevolent bungling idiots who’ve killed and discredited a lot of people, but still hugely incompetent.

    Kathleen: it’s a bit more complicated than that. There’s a long and nasty history of rape allegations being used as a political weapon, one that predates feminism and that a lot of feminists appear to be annoying unaware of. Even if the claims are true, this is another example of that – witness how all the politicians and news organizations who’d normally be first in line to trivialize rape are kicking up a huge fuss.

    This kind of use as a political tool never seems to help get rape in general taken more seriously, because it just helps to reinforce the idea of rapists as evil and Other and not like Nigel next door. For example, I’ve seen a lot of comments by readers of various sites about how it’s not surprising that Julian Assange is a rapist because it’s obvious based on Wikileaks that he doesn’t respect people’s boundaries, or that he’s egotistical, or any of a number of similar attempts to tie the two together.

    (There’s also a couple of obvious issues with “take such charges seriously, no matter whom they are leveled against”, but it’s getting late.)

  32. makomk
    makomk December 8, 2010 at 8:53 pm |

    Also, technically I should probably cite this letter to the Guardian by Katrin Axelsson of Women Against Rape regarding my previous comment. Sorry, forgot.

  33. GallingGalla
    GallingGalla December 8, 2010 at 8:53 pm |

    Kathleen: it’s also interesting the outpouring of energy that has gone into “we must all circle the wagons around Assange for the good of Wikileaks” versus the relative silence around sticking up for currently imprisoned alleged leaker Bradley Manning.could it be that the gay alleged leaker appeals rather less to macho lefty male sensibilities than the het alleged rapist Assange?b/c arguably support for leakers is more important to the continuance of the networked wikileaks project than is support for its founder.

    Quoted for fucking TRUTH.

    james: And yes, this is even true if it creates a hostile climate for rape survivors or plays into tired old stereotype.

    As a rape survivor, I’m asking you, you’re totally ok with this? To the point that you can’t *possibly* consider that we can support wikileaks AND support assange’s right to a fair trial WITHOUT slut-shaming the complainants?

    What is it with all the men coming onto this thread to tell us that Assange is totally some kind of GOD who couldn’t possibly EVER do anything wrong? People are a bit more complex than that, dudes. Someone (and I’m not just talking about Assange here) really can be a major whistle-blower and a rapist at the same time.

  34. Havlová
    Havlová December 8, 2010 at 8:57 pm |

    I have had a hell of a time “talking” with men who insist that Interpol, COINTEL, the NSA, the CIA, and lying feminazis have all teamed up to destroy TRUTH and JUSTICE as singularly embodied in the physical body of Julian Assange.

    The heavily hinted at assumption is that untrustworthy “tools of the system” feminists are partly to blame for Assange’s incarceration. We are literally being repainted as Eve by some of these rapid conspiracy-theory types.

    Check out this vomitous thread on commondreams [trigger warming for misogyny and mockery of rape victims].

    I agree with Jill and some of the commenters here: I am pro Wikileaks, and I believe that Assange’s work with Wikileaks has done massive amounts of good. I agree that this situation is clearly showing signs of political manipulation. I admit to the possibility these allegations are false. However, I also think that rape victims need respect. I think it *is* possible that rape could have occurred, and I hope that the victims get as fair a hearing as possible, given the messed up circumstances.

    I also strongly believe that Assange’s work, or Wikileaks’ mission, should not come at the expense of women and their rights.

  35. gussie
    gussie December 8, 2010 at 9:18 pm |

    I’ve read quite a few articles about the charges against Assange, which thoroughly qualifies me to issue judgement on the case. My verdict is I am holding out for further evidence, possibly even a trial, in a court with all the trappings. I also believe it possible to believe that even if the accusers are CIA agents, that doesn’t necessarily mean they weren’t raped. It is possible to be both a CIA agent and a rape victim. Either one is difficult but being both must be a real bummer.

    As a socially disfunctional metrosexual male I am highly qualified to expound on the gut-level reaction of feminists. Conveniently they present a single front on all issues. Too bad the type of “front” is from warfare and mutual fighting takes place across it. My preferred side in this battle is the other side of the world. The only thing that scares me more than a furious woman is getting caught in the middle between women furious at each other.

    I think to most people the crime of rape is very real and people claiming to be victimized by it are taken seriously, to merit hearing at the least whether belief does or does not follow. On the other hand, all of this took place in Sweden a country which to me here in America, has always seemed a little off and ridiculous by nature. Uf Da bork bork.

  36. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable December 8, 2010 at 9:33 pm |

    FYI, saying “You weren’t raped; you’re just mad he never called you back” is the same as saying “You’re full of shit.” It’s ridiculously clear, and if it’s not, you need to take a time out and think about what is consistently said to rape survivors on a daily basis in the western world. This is rape culture. If you’re unfamiliar with it, go to a 101 site. This isn’t the place where victims are going to educate you about it.

  37. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable December 8, 2010 at 9:36 pm |

    gussie: I think to most people the crime of rape is very real and people claiming to be victimized by it are taken seriously,

    What part of the US are you living in?

  38. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan December 8, 2010 at 10:39 pm |

    The only thing that scares me more than a furious woman is getting caught in the middle between women furious at each other.

    PrettyAmiable, he apparently lives somewhere where the absolutely scariest things around are angry women. …Sign me up!

  39. tinfoil hattie
    tinfoil hattie December 8, 2010 at 11:09 pm |

    The only thing that scares me more than a furious woman is getting caught in the middle between women furious at each other.

    Well! Aren’t you just a little privileged, misogynist jackass!

  40. meg
    meg December 8, 2010 at 11:17 pm |

    I never comment here because i generally think others ‘have it covered’ but just wanna say, after lengthy online debates about this today, thanks for covering the old ‘walk and chew gum’ off. it really isn’t either or on this one.

  41. JP
    JP December 8, 2010 at 11:29 pm |

    Kathleen: “[It is a smear to call] feminists who take such charges seriously, no matter whom they are leveled against — as tools of imperialism, capitalism, the Man, as dupes or tunnel-vision obsessives”

    You are equivocating here. If “no matter whom they are leveled against” is meant to be read as “no matter whom, including arbitrary male left-wing activists,” then the claim is clearly intellectually unsupportable, and a smear. The propagation of this claim is, in fact, detrimental to left-wing political causes.

    But if it is meant to be read as “no matter whom, including Assange in this particular instance,” the claim is not clearly a smear – given the specific political circumstances surrounding the case, it is at least a prima facie defensible position. Whether one ends up accepting the argument for this position will depend on a number of things, including one’s prior political commitments and one’s views of the putative nefariousness of the US. It is at least not immediately obvious that all feminists would (or should) come down on a particular side of this issue.

  42. Kathleen
    Kathleen December 8, 2010 at 11:58 pm |

    JP — I actually couldn’t follow what you intended to say. What?

    Makomk — can you cite some specific cases? I’m genuinely interested.

  43. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. December 9, 2010 at 12:04 am |

    PrettyAmiable: What part of the US are you living in?

    tinfoil hattie: Well! Aren’t you just a little privileged, misogynist jackass! tinfoil hattie

    I think Gussie may be engaged in that “sarcasm” thing I hear all the kids are into these days.

    gussie: As a socially disfunctional metrosexual male I am highly qualified to expound on the gut-level reaction of feminists. Conveniently they present a single front on all issues.

    Maybe.

  44. Niveau
    Niveau December 9, 2010 at 12:25 am |

    gussie: As a socially disfunctional metrosexual male I am highly qualified to expound on the gut-level reaction of feminists. Conveniently they present a single front on all issues.

    Given that this post written by Jill [a feminist] discusses statements made by Naomi Wolf [a feminist] and disagrees with them, I cannot fathom how you can think that “they [feminists] present a single front on all issues.”

    The very post you are commenting on disproves your statement.

  45. JP
    JP December 9, 2010 at 12:28 am |

    Jill: I’m not sure it’s even fair to characterize this issue as having clear sides

    The issue I was referring to in that sentence is: ought one as a feminist in this particular case give more public credence to the accusation of rape, or to its denial, given the predicted political consequences of each. I can think of at lest three clear positions (two being obvious, and the third being that considerations of political consequences is or should be irrelevant to our choice of public statements on such matters), none more self-evidently feminist than the other.

    Jill: I think what should be obvious to any feminist is that it’s not ok to suggest that women routinely cry rape because their feelings are hurt or because a dude didn’t call them back.

    I fully agree, and think that this is implied (or at least strongly suggested) by what I said in the first paragraph of my comment. I should add that my comment was a response restricted to Kathleen’s general claim, and not a response to your assessment of Wolf and her piece.

    I am not a Wolf exegete, nor have any particular interest in reading her charitably, but someone arguing in her defence should clearly press on the notion that she claims women “routinely” do so, as opposed to merely claiming that the particular women involved in the Assange case did so (her last paragraph is the most decisive in gauging the plausibility of this reading). The badness of the latter should be evaluated separately, if it is the correct reading.

    Jill: It’s not ok to assume, based on very little information, that these women are definitely lying because they’re bimbos. And that’s what Wolf did here […]

    Not being a telepath, I am unable to judge based solely on her text whether she assumed it, or inferred it as the best explanation of the fact that (as she believes) Assange is innocent. An assumption in this place would be nothing short of disgusting, but an inference could be merely a bad inference (since there are clearly better explanations for why the charges may be false). So there are two quite different failures that Wolf could be guilty of – one moral and one intellectual – neither of which leave her looking good, in my opinion. Maybe you know her thought processes better than me and can on that basis assess which interpretation is more likely. I just feel that the existence of the two possibilities is worth pointing out, for the sake of completeness (I hasten to add – only in a comment; I’m not taking any issue at all with your original post).

  46. JP
    JP December 9, 2010 at 12:54 am |

    Kathleen: JP — I actually couldn’t follow what you intended to say. What?

    Let me try re-phrasing.

    It is obviously wrong, and an obvious smear, to claim that (1) in general feminists who publicly give higher prima facie credence to accusations of rape than the denials of rape when those accusations are made against male left-wing activists, are thereby unwittingly helping imperialism/capitalism/etc.

    It is not obviously wrong, and not obviously a smear, to claim that (2) in the particular case of Assange, feminists who publicly give higher prima facie credence to his accusers than to his denial of their accusations are thereby unwittingly helping imperialism/capitalism/etc.

    For example, a feminist might hold that the US is sufficiently nefarious that the prima facie higher credence normally given to putative rape victims is far outweighed by the credence given to a putative set-up in a case where the US has obvious political interests. Therefore, such a feminist may conclude that, prima facie, Assange is more likely to be innocent, and that if his cause is positive enough, his claims of innocence should be publicly supported.

    Another (probably more implausible) feminist, might think that Assange is guilty, but that publicly supporting his claims of innocence is justified by the greater good of the damage putatively done to the patriarchy by Assange’s organisation, which would be diminished by his imprisonment.

    To be clear, I am not endorsing claim (2), or any particular argument one might use to support it. I am, however, arguing that asserting (2) is not obviously wrong, or a smear, or even anti-feminist. My general concern (in my infrequent comments) has been that some people have a restrictive picture of what counts as feminist – a picture that is not necessarily wrong, but that should still be defended with argument, or at least explicitly assumed.

  47. JP
    JP December 9, 2010 at 12:58 am |

    But anyhow, my repartee with Kathleen is somewhat off-topic, since the discussion should probably be limited to Wolf’s piece. Apologies! I’ll shut up now.

  48. Unree
    Unree December 9, 2010 at 1:43 am |

    Lefty d00dz agree that rape would be a terrible crime, if it ever happened. But each accuser in this case–and that one, and that one–is crazy, vengeful, bitter, or paid to lie by the U.S. government. Speaking as a feminist, Naomi Wolf agrees with them.

  49. anonymous
    anonymous December 9, 2010 at 2:42 am |

    1. He hasn’t been charged with any crimes
    2. The warrant was issued in order to interview him regarding allegations
    3. The victims do not claim rape, but the violation of the Sweden’s law against sex without using contraception.

  50. Martine Votvik
    Martine Votvik December 9, 2010 at 4:12 am |

    I hope this case, as all rape cases should but far too often dont, get a fair trial. The bottom line for me is, I don’t care about exactly why the women decided to come forewards, they did and they deserve to be taken seriously, far too few women even in “feminist” sweeden get proper support when they report their rapists.

    All that asside, I don’t see a lot of people talking about why it is good for Assange to be taken to sweeden pending rape charges, as opposed to being taken to the US for other reasons. He’ll be protected within the sweedish legal system while this case is going on and even if he’s found guilty sweedish prisons are nothing like US prisons.

  51. Daisy
    Daisy December 9, 2010 at 5:39 am |

    No reasonable person is under the impression that Interpol regularly scours the continent for every man who is accused of assault — Interpol can hardly be bothered to track down big-time human traffickers who sell women and girls to men who pay to rape them, so it’s not like they got their act together because Assange’s alleged predatory behavior was so horrible that they had to act swiftly and thoroughly.

    so why aren’t key feminist voices coming out loudly and angrily to demand similar treatment by Interpol for all sexual assault charges involving international borders?

  52. Mikey
    Mikey December 9, 2010 at 6:17 am |

    Regardless of everything that has gone before, we need to remember that Mr Assange has not been charged with any crime.

    Surely due process dictates that before he be extradited, or even spend time in prison on remand, he be charged with an offence?? Has anyone spent time in a prison? Do you not understand just how horrifying that prospect is?

  53. ellid
    ellid December 9, 2010 at 7:32 am |

    Personally, I think Julian Assange is a major league skeeve, and have since he started using Wikileaks to promote himself. I have some serious problems with Wikileaks itself, but finding out that the accusations against him include having sex with a woman while she was asleep bother me immensely, since something similar happened to me during the waning days of my marriage.

  54. Gray
    Gray December 9, 2010 at 9:12 am |

    Jill:
    Also, just to be clear, I was talking about a legal standard that requires proof of force or threat of force. That’s a fairly high bar.  

    Indeed, a high bar, and fair, Jill. But then, there is no case against Assange! Both women said in their testimony he was neither violent nor did he threaten them.

  55. Gray
    Gray December 9, 2010 at 9:18 am |

    LinneaTrue, he did say he would submit to questioning at an embassy from his location, but he would not come back into Sweden. According to Ny, the prosecutor, she could legally not fly abroad and question Assange, so that’s why it didn’t happen.

    Sweden has a rather generous extradition treaty with the US. And Assange has to fear the WH trying to get him arrested for spying. So, of course he doesn’t want to go to Sweden after the authorities there raised dire concerns about their impartiality!

    And the prosecutor doesn’t have to fly anywhere. Assange can give a notarized testimony at the Embassy. The prosecutor can even relay questions in real time via video conference. No problem! And that should be more than good enough to prove that she doesn’t have a case, Because there’s only testimony against testimony, nothing else. And then, in “dubio pro reo”!

  56. Kathleen
    Kathleen December 9, 2010 at 9:31 am |

    what unree said. JP, perfect use of enough rope.

  57. JP
    JP December 9, 2010 at 10:04 am |

    Kathleen: what unree said. JP, perfect use of enough rope.

    Now I’m having a hard time understanding you. In particular, the connection between your two sentences is unclear to me. Is it that I have used just enough rope to hang myself in my comments, and unree demonstrated that?

    This reading is problematic, as I am hard-pressed to see how unree’s comment engages with anything I’ve said (though if I’m reading it correctly, it may well be possible to develop it into such an engagement; the question would turn on how exceptional a given case has to be for it not to be classified as a part of a clear trend, and on choosing the right reading of Wolf – which is a matter I took no position on).

    On the other hand, if you’re endorsing unree’s post because you think that a general, and generally not undeserved, swipe at “lefty d00dz” applies to me, that would be rather disappointing, since you have no ground whatsoever in which to base assumptions about my gender identity, and very little ground to guess my political affiliations.

  58. Paraxeni
    Paraxeni December 9, 2010 at 10:12 am |

    @gussie

    >As a socially disfunctional metrosexual male I am highly qualified to expound on the gut-level reaction of feminists. Conveniently they present a single front on all issues.

    Whatever you’re smoking, I want some.

    Listen – you’re a man. Neither your social dysfunction nor your ‘metrosexual’ affect make you a not-man, let alone a woman who’s an SA survivor. So no, you’re not qualified to mansplain to us or ASSume the mantle of “one of the girls, really I am, I even wear pink sometimes”. Also, Mr ‘My First Mysogynist’ Ken doll, your tired tropes about catty, infighting women contradict your “united front” nonsense.

    Bugger off.

  59. Thomas MacAulay Millar
    Thomas MacAulay Millar December 9, 2010 at 12:05 pm |

    Every time this happens we see a horde of fauxgressives show their true colors — people who are only against sexual violence in the abstract, not when it actually happens.

  60. makomk
    makomk December 9, 2010 at 12:54 pm |

    Kathleen: well, the example that Katrin Axelsson refers to is the use of rape as an excuse to lynch black men in the US. I was also thinking of the use of rape allegations as wartime propaganda, which apparently dates back to the War of Independence in the US. Then you’ve got things like Saddam Hussein’s supposed “rape rooms”, various interesting first and second world war propaganda materials, etc. There’s also stuff like the different handling that rape by soldiers on the winning and losing sides has received: show trials and executions for the losers, mostly swept under the rug by the winners.

  61. Lurker
    Lurker December 9, 2010 at 1:59 pm |

    Mikey: Regardless of everything that has gone before, we need to remember that Mr Assange has not been charged with any crime.Surely due process dictates that before he be extradited, or even spend time in prison on remand, he be charged with an offence??Has anyone spent time in a prison?Do you not understand just how horrifying that prospect is?  

    I’d like to note that in Nordic justice systems, “charging” is similar to indictment in the US. Mr. Assange is being investigated (misstänkt) for seksuell ofredande. The burden of proof at this stage is something like “reason to believe a person has committed a crime”. The indictment happens only after the police complete their investigation and the prosecutor decides what charges will be applied. However, the international treaties allow for the extradition of the suspect already at the investigation stage.

    However, I’d like to note that while the maximum term of imprisonment seems to be four years, the Nordic sentencing practice usually means that the sentence is about one fourth of the maximum term. Of that, only a part is served inside the walls because first-timers are paroled after serving one half of their sentence. And usually, short prison terms are probational. It is likely that Assange would not go to prison at all, even if he is convicted. However, he would be likely to be deported from Sweden and Schengen area.

    In Sweden, there is no bail. The court will decide whether a suspect is kept imprisoned until trial or whether they are released during or after the investigation to await indictment and trial.

  62. Kathleen
    Kathleen December 9, 2010 at 3:59 pm |

    makomk — I’m looking for examples of famous white male public figures brought down by false rape allegations. Got any?

  63. makomk
    makomk December 9, 2010 at 4:27 pm |

    Further to my previous comments, I notice that a major feminist site has been making the “of course he must be a rapist because he leaked secret government documents that embarrassed the US” argument I referred to above. I quote:

    “I’m sorry, but why on earth is it so hard to believe that Assange is the kind of guy who power trips on women by promising to use a condom and then slipping it off during sex? This is one of the most common kinds of sexual assault there is, and a favorite way for guys with power issues to get cheap thrills at the expense of women, who they often feel are contemptible and weak. Are we to assume that someone who clearly gets a rise out of making the most powerful nation on the planet scramble around in a chickens-with-heads-cut-off manner doesn’t have a tendency to ego trip?”

    Kathleen: ah, you’ve got more specific. Not sure. I suspect it’s only recently that this has actually become a viable tactic against famous white male public figures, and even then only under incredibly narrow circumstances. Traditionally, false accusations of homosexuality worked a lot better.

  64. Kathleen
    Kathleen December 9, 2010 at 4:36 pm |

    “only recently” has it become a “viable tactic”.

    so it’s like a trend? post-2000? I don’t mind if the names you name are all recent, and restricted to “incredibly narrow circumstances”. just name some names.

  65. makomk
    makomk December 9, 2010 at 6:02 pm |

    Kathleen: could well be the first example of this against a really high-profile white male target, who knows? Also, only just noticed that you said “false rape allegation” – my argument doesn’t actually require the allegations to be false. Could be true, could be false, and we’ll almost certainly never actually be able to tell either way because details like that always seem to get lost in the overall narrative.

    I think Julian Assange’s charges may be breaking new ground in terms of rape prosecutions within Sweden anyway – based on what I can find out about their laws, it’s taken some clever maneuvering by a skilled prosecutor to cram these charges within the slightly narrow limits of what Swedish law considers as “rape”.

  66. Manju
    Manju December 9, 2010 at 6:21 pm |

    Kathleen: well, the example that Katrin Axelsson refers to is the use of rape as an excuse to lynch black men in the US.

    True, but this example also cautions against JP’s position, ie the you-can-ignore-rape-and-still-be-a-feminist loophole. As long as your ignoring results in more damage to the patriarchy, capitalism, and imperialism, than to the individual victims, you’re good to go.

    Or as JP puts it:

    Another (probably more implausible) feminist, might think that Assange is guilty, but that publicly supporting his claims of innocence is justified by the greater good of the damage putatively done to the patriarchy by Assange’s organisation, which would be diminished by his imprisonment.

    Well, JP just summed up how Jim Crow lasted as long as it did, ie the infamous gentleman’s agreement between northern dems and their southern counterparts. Since approximately the turn of the century (when dems became more progressive than repubs on issues outside of race) to 1964, mainstream liberal dems justified their collusion on these grounds.

    For example, FDR refusal to pass anti-lynching legislation because he did not want to put the new deal at risk. Or JFK and LBJ making sure ike’s civil rights bill did not end the regime, so they could win the WH.

    It certainly took an LBJ, but not just for doing what Sec. Clinton thinks he did.

  67. Jim
    Jim December 9, 2010 at 7:17 pm |

    Linnea: We’re just asking to please not trivialise sexual crime charges and give these women the respect and consideration that is due anyone who accuses someone of sexual crimes.

    I am about tired of all this speculation about CIA ties and rad fem articles and anti-Communist activity. It has no bearing on a rape investigation, or two in this case, unless and until someone shows a actual connection based on demonstrable facts. It’s one thing to raise the question but it is something else again to keep repeating that question until it gets accepted just because people have heard it so often. That is what is happening, it’s a lie (so far) and it is an illegitimate attack on these two accusers.

    Havlová: I agree that this situation is clearly showing signs of political manipulation. I admit to the possibility these allegations are false.

    Both may be true; the second is relevant, the first is not, not at this point. Investigate the accusations. Then we’ll see how much political pressure there has been, and form whom.

    Paraxeni: Bugger off.

    “Bugger off”? I recognize the dialect. I thought you people were the ones always congratulating yourselves on your exquisite sense of irony.

  68. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable December 9, 2010 at 7:36 pm |

    … Has anyone else noticed a massive increase in MRA-like activity on this site?

  69. Minerva
    Minerva December 9, 2010 at 8:18 pm |

    I agree that judgments need to be reserved on both the accusers and the accused. And that it is possible to be both a sinner and a saint. In this case, supporters of Wikileaks do more harm than good by putting Assange on a pedestal and ripping the two women apart, just as Operation Payback activists are not helping the cause of Wikileaks, regardless of the truths Wikileaks has exposed to the general public. But then can one really expect cool heads to prevail in these explosive times?

    But having said that, I must say that the Swedish prosecutors have been extremely unsavvy in the handling of this case. Given the intense publicity, scrutiny and support generated by Wikileaks, their lack of clarity in communication (e.g. according to according to Swedish officials, Assange is being wanted for, not rape, but “sex by surprise”) has certainly not helped. And did they (prosecutors and the famous lawyer retained by the two women) really think, given the timing of the arrest warrant, that there will not a firestorm of controversy, or that doubts will not cast on the accusers or their information on them will not be unearthed by “cyber-sleuths”? They seem wholly unprepared, and naive, and I blame them for not protecting the women, and causing them distress (if indeed what the women are telling is true).

    At the end of the day, it is all going to come down to “he said, she said” thing (CIA plot or not), and Assange, whether pronounced guilty or not, will either be the victim or be vindicated i.e. he is in a win-win situation. And if the two women are indeed telling the truth, even if justice is served at the end, it will be but a hollow “victory” (if one can call it that) for them.

  70. RD
    RD December 9, 2010 at 9:23 pm |

    PrettyAmiable: … Has anyone else noticed a massive increase in MRA-like activity on this site?  

    YES

  71. Bloix
    Bloix December 9, 2010 at 10:22 pm |

    “Investigate the accusations. Then we’ll see how much political pressure there has been, and form whom.”

    And just who is going to do the investigation? What we have here is a situation of radical uncertainty in which there is no trustworthy arbiter of truth.

  72. anonymous
    anonymous December 9, 2010 at 10:25 pm |

    Mikey: Regardless of everything that has gone before, we need to remember that Mr Assange has not been charged with any crime.Surely due process dictates that before he be extradited, or even spend time in prison on remand, he be charged with an offence??Has anyone spent time in a prison?Do you not understand just how horrifying that prospect is?  

    I tried to make the same comment, but it’s awaiting review since last night. He has not been charged with any crime.

    Jill:
    It’s not ok to assume, based on very little information, that these women are definitely lying because they’re bimbos.

    I’d say it’s also not ok to assume based on very little information that the man is a rapist, like many of your readers are doing, when the person hasn’t been even charged with any crime.

  73. Niveau
    Niveau December 9, 2010 at 10:32 pm |

    PrettyAmiable: … Has anyone else noticed a massive increase in MRA-like activity on this site?

    So it’s not just me thinking that, then? I was wondering, but for the longest time I only read the posts themselves, not the comments here, so I couldn’t be sure if this was new.

  74. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. December 9, 2010 at 11:49 pm |

    Niveau: So it’s not just me thinking that, then? I was wondering, but for the longest time I only read the posts themselves, not the comments here, so I couldn’t be sure if this was new. Niveau

    Its a wave thing…they come and go. A couple of posts on menstruation, child birth, or some other topic that doesn’t directly challenge their privilege should get rid of them. But they’ll just skitter back to derail any conversations about the oppression of women at the hands of men.

  75. Blacky
    Blacky December 10, 2010 at 2:54 am |

    matlun:
    [..]Sure, the behavior of the prosecutor in charge (Marianne Ny) has been very strange indeed. She seems to have been trying to make as much trouble as possible for Assange rather than trying to solve the alleged crime in a professional manner. Still, when it comes to her reasons we can just speculate for now.  

    Well, Ny is specialized in sexual assault cases, and catching a celebrity like Assange would surely look good in her records.

  76. MartynInEurope
    MartynInEurope December 10, 2010 at 8:59 am |

    Pretty appalling comment from Naomi. Just a pity that it isn’t so surprising.

  77. Samantha b.
    Samantha b. December 10, 2010 at 11:33 am |

    Um, no, anonymous. That hasn’t happened. We aren’t asserting that we know Assange is guilty. We *are* asking for the converse- that the default assumption not be that these women are lying, scorned bitches. And saying that the consistent re-definition, by self-identified progressives, of what constitutes sexual assault is pretty disturbing.

  78. Sojourner
    Sojourner December 10, 2010 at 11:35 am |

    “Further to my previous comments, I notice that a major feminist site has been making the “of course he must be a rapist because he leaked secret government documents that embarrassed the US” argument I referred to above.”
    Eh makomk? From the same article “I don’t know if Julian Assange is guilty, of course”. Are you being intentionally obtuse? Or are you THAT stupid?

  79. Kathleen
    Kathleen December 10, 2010 at 3:12 pm |

    do we have to pick just one?

  80. makomk
    makomk December 10, 2010 at 5:35 pm |

    Sojourner: she says that, and then right afterwards she argues that his work for Wikileaks makes him exactly the kind of guy who goes and rapes women, as though the two are casually connected. Sure, she’s not saying that running something like Wikileaks makes you a rapist, but… where the metaphorical “but” is carefully written to communicate what she’s made clear she’s not actually saying. Old rhetorical trick.

    I’m not the only one who thinks this; if you read the first few comments, it’s clear other people also think so and agree with what she’s implying.

  81. Lucien
    Lucien December 10, 2010 at 7:29 pm |

    Kathleen: neither of those is smearing.
    1 is a logical possibility if one evaluates the circumstances. Drawing such a conclusion is a matter of debating whether a valid argument for it exists.
    2 is a distortion. The Left is not Manly. Some adherents to feminism, like to any other ideology (raw food veganism, the medieval papacy, religion, communism, the republican party, etc) can be so rigidly committed to an idea they won’t consider logical possibilities or alternatives they think subversive. They don’t even have to undermine the commitment, only look similar enough to trigger minds to close and not actually think.

  82. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable December 10, 2010 at 7:33 pm |

    Blah blah blah, feminists aren’t a monolith, some might think he fucks women without consent, some are waiting for a legal answer. Assuming he’s a rapist isn’t part of a massive societal trend, so a handful of people making snap judgments isn’t like the sudden creation of “rapist culture” (as opposed to rape culture, which actually does exist).

    I’m not going to play the world’s saddest song on the world’s tiniest fiddle, because, as has been pointed out by someone on the other thread, there has been no famous white dude brought down by a fraudulent rape accusation. Ever.

    Maybe he’s a fucking-saint (wordplay, get it?), but I don’t give a fuck if it means the person making the accusation isn’t treated with the same respect being demanded for Assange.

  83. Lucien
    Lucien December 10, 2010 at 8:40 pm |

    Let’s say you’re physically involved with someone, and you say “no” to sex, but they start to have sex with you anyway and you’re either shocked or scared and so you freeze — no force involved.

    You’d have to at least take their clothes off and spread their legs. They don’t come off or spread by themselves, you know. Inserting a penis into an uncooperative vagina is also challenging. Some might say you have to&emdash;I don’t know&emdash;force them off, apart, in.

  84. nathan
    nathan December 10, 2010 at 8:59 pm |

    Lucien: You clearly have not been in such a situation. I was. I froze. No shit. It happens to people everyday.

    Rape and sexual assault does not require violent force.

  85. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable December 10, 2010 at 9:15 pm |

    lol nathan, are you under the impression that Lucien CAN’T be an expert on rape when it hasn’t happened to him and he’s clearly done no research on the subject? nonsense.

  86. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. December 10, 2010 at 9:32 pm |

    Lucien: Inserting a penis into an uncooperative vagina is also challenging

    I know I shouldn’t feed the troll, but just to blow up this myth…arousal =/= consent. Regardless of whether my vagina is cooperative, my brain gets to decide whether someone is permitted to insert a penis.

  87. David
    David December 10, 2010 at 10:00 pm |

    I think the wikileaks matter is more of an amusing sideshow than a real issue. Granted, its slightly more substantial than the non issue of the “ground zero mosque” brought up by American conservatives, but I do still find it hard to “dive into” in any substantial way.

    For one, it doesn’t really overlap too well with issues of free speech because we are talking about classified and restricted material kept by the U.S. gov. The intelligence officer who initially leaked the material to wikileaks had as much a right to leak that material as a bank employee has a right to leak SSNs and account information of bank customers to the public.

    That’s probably all I’ll go into, aside from adding to the chorus of people saying that rape is bad. Rape is bad, and again, it doesn’t matter if Assange is mother Theresa. If he raped someone he’s still a bastard. I think even Naomi Wolf would agree with this, yes?

  88. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan December 10, 2010 at 10:44 pm |

    lol nathan, are you under the impression that Lucien CAN’T be an expert on rape when it hasn’t happened to him and he’s clearly done no research on the subject? nonsense. PrettyAmiable

    I can think of one way he could be an expert…

  89. Lucien
    Lucien December 10, 2010 at 11:55 pm |

    I know I shouldn’t feed the troll, but just to blow up this myth…arousal =/= consent.

    Thanks for blowing up myths no one ever pushed. Feel proud.

    Free facilitation is consent. Imagine a chef is cooking a meal in front of you. You tell him to wash his hands or handle the food with clean gloves. He refuses and you don’t pursue the matter further. Now the meal is ready and you have a choice: turn it away or eat it. You eat it despite circumstances. Did the chef just make you a meal without your consent? The food certainly didn’t enter your mouth by itself.

    You can observe something not handled the way you prefer and still accept it (ie, consent). Particularly, remaining asleep during sex is unlikely. A woman can wake up, observe the sex breaches a prior agreement (no condom), and still accept it and even freely facilitate it to continue. The agreement breach and consent really are separate matters.

    The key question is did the act get her consent anyway or did it not? Unless she said ‘no’ or ‘stop’ or refused, how would you tell? An agreement breach doesn’t necessarily imply anything.

    In the other case, he’s accused of ‘using his body weight to hold her down in a sexual manner’. What is that even supposed to mean? He was on top?

    After that and the broken condom, she throws a party in his honor and they have sex again (4 days later). This just raises more questions. What wicked mind control powers does Assange have, and how do other men acquire them?

  90. Wednesday
    Wednesday December 11, 2010 at 12:08 am |

    Don’t feed the troll, &c., &c.; except that this is so fucking triggering I refuse to let it go without being a smart-ass.

    After that and the broken condom, she throws a party in his honor and they have sex again (4 days later).

    Because if someone is your social superior (your employer, when you’re a volunteer) it’s difficult to avoid them forever; and sometimes you’re too worn down to even make a pretence of saying fuck-off when you know it’s no use.

    [I’m not going to engage if that commenter replies. This case is, I think, so re-victimising for rape survivors. I don’t believe it’s just me. But I can be incensed, too.]

  91. RD
    RD December 11, 2010 at 12:13 am |

    Wednesday, its not just you.

  92. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. December 11, 2010 at 12:35 am |

    Lucien: Free facilitation is consent. Imagine a chef is cooking a meal in front of you. You tell him to wash his hands or handle the food with clean gloves. He refuses and you don’t pursue the matter further. Now the meal is ready and you have a choice: turn it away or eat it. You eat it despite circumstances. Did the chef just make you a meal without your consent? The food certainly didn’t enter your mouth by itself.

    This is ridiculous. This combined with your prior comments about clothing and spread legs confirms that you do not know the mechanics of PIV intercourse except in a vary limited context. A person (male or female) does not necessarily have to act to facilitate PIV intercourse. Perhaps you should do some additional research…although perhaps not with another person until you become more familiar with the concept of consent.

    A more apt analogy is often boxing. You shouldn’t hit someone in the face unless they explicitly consent the implication being that typically one does not want to be hit in the face. Similarly, it is better to assume that someone doesn’t want another person to penetrate/envelop their sexual organs, since as a general matter one does not want to be penetrated/enveloped.

  93. Athenia
    Athenia December 11, 2010 at 12:35 am |

    Naomi totally reads the internets—she completely understands the concept of a “page view.”

  94. Chally
    Chally December 11, 2010 at 5:05 am |

    Due to comments that made it through the mod queue and those I’ve managed to catch, Lucien has been banned. Ugh.

  95. Lovisa
    Lovisa December 11, 2010 at 5:55 am |

    Hi, I just want to point out something.
    The Swedish juridical system isn’t like american one. And our laws are specific swedish laws. So stop “solving” the situation by using your own laws. Now I’m directing this mostly towards people who find fishy stuff in how this has been handled (as in why Assange hasn’t left a testimony at the embassy). The people working in the swedish legal system are educated and skilled at their jobs, thankyouverymuch, and please do trust me that they are doing this by the book. Also remember that some of the fishyness is most likely standard stuff (like the warrant for Assange, issued in the Schengen countries) for a crime with a certain level of punishment, but we never hear about it. Normally it isn’t Messiah – sorry – Assange-type people who gets this on their ass. He didn’t show up when asked, so they issue a warrant. Nothing strange there.

    Also, sweden are one of the least corrupt countries in the world, we aren’t likely to just kill Assange off and try to pretend it didn’t happen, if US tells us to. Or even send him there, if he isn’t accused of a crime punishable by swedish law. And if this would happen, would it feel ok with you to let the women he (possibly) raped not get a fair chance at justice, just to save him?

    Reading the swedish news media I have to say that there is really not much strange going on. At all. And everyone is sick and tired of the CIA-stuff. :P

  96. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable December 11, 2010 at 8:15 am |

    Chally: Censorship! Witchcraft! Socialism!

    Did I miss one?

    Also, Wednesday, the constant victim-blaming whenever one of these stories makes the news(I really don’t think there’s ever been a famous case that has been unaccompanied by it) always makes me feel yucky for days. It’s not you. That’s what we get: Poor accused rapist, it must be tough to be victimized by the big, bad succubus of a woman. And it’s irritating.

  97. Greg Kuperberg
    Greg Kuperberg December 11, 2010 at 1:05 pm |

    I think that it’s important to study the straight record concerning the criminal charges against Julian Assange. There are two women, A and W. Ms. A claims that she told him very clearly, no sex without a condom, but he pinned her down and did it anyway. She also claims that he did something kinkier than straight sex that she also didn’t want. Meanwhile Ms. W claims that Assange had unprotected sex with her when she was asleep, without her permission.

    Both Assange and certain pundits have their own reasons to say that these charges have been trumped by “dating police”. So, either the charges are trumped up or they aren’t. If they are, then that’s unfair to Assange as a criminal defendant. If the charges are not exaggerated, then it’s date rape beyond any reasonable doubt. It isn’t at all like having a condom break during sex.

    I also don’t see how Assange can connect the dots from the American military establishment to these accusations in Sweden. Is he saying that one accuser is Tokyo Rose and the other one is Mata Hari? No, I just don’t see it. He implies that his life follows a movie script in which all enemies are really the same enemy. That doesn’t prove him guilty, of course, but it does damage his credibility, both as an activist and as a defendant.

  98. April
    April December 11, 2010 at 2:43 pm |

    Bagelsan: lol nathan, are you under the impression that Lucien CAN’T be an expert on rape when it hasn’t happened to him and he’s clearly done no research on the subject? nonsense.PrettyAmiableI can think of one way he could be an expert…  

    We could at least have this conversation without accusing a commenter of being a rapist, can’t we?

  99. David
    David December 11, 2010 at 2:54 pm |

    Lovisa:
    Hi, I just want to point out something.
    The Swedish juridical system isn’t likeamerican one. And our laws are specific swedish laws. So stop “solving” the situation by using your own laws. Now I’m directing this mostly towards people who find fishy stuff in how this has been handled (as in why Assange hasn’t left a testimony at the embassy). The people working in the swedish legal system are educated and skilled at their jobs, thankyouverymuch, and please do trust me that they are doing this by the book. Also remember that some of the fishyness is most likely standard stuff (like the warrant for Assange, issued in the Schengen countries) for a crime with a certain level of punishment, but we never hear about it. Normally it isn’t Messiah – sorry – Assange-type people who gets this on their ass. He didn’t show up when asked, so they issue a warrant. Nothing strange there.
    Also, sweden are one of the least corrupt countries in the world, we aren’t likely to just kill Assange off and try to pretend it didn’t happen, if US tells us to. Or even send him there, if he isn’t accused of a crime punishable by swedish law. And if this would happen, would it feel ok with you to let the women he (possibly) raped not get a fair chance at justice, just to save him?
    Reading the swedish news media I have to say that there is really not much strange going on. At all. And everyone is sick and tired of the CIA-stuff. :P  

    QFT. Finally a response to this whole issue that makes sense.

  100. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable December 11, 2010 at 4:18 pm |

    April, I don’t know if you were being sarcastic. If so, ignore this.

    For that to be an accusation, someone besides Lucien would have to agree that he is a rape-expert. He’s not. He’s just a douchebag. There is the suggestion that in addition to those who study rape culture and individuals who have been assaulted themselves, there is another kind of person who could be an expert on rape, and Bagelsan’s not wrong.

    TL;DR: Lucien’s a jerk. Nothing more (god-willing), nothing less.

  101. April
    April December 11, 2010 at 7:20 pm |

    I wasn’t being sarcastic, and I do get exactly why it was said, and understand the words. But it’s so unbelievably irresponsible to even joke about someone being a rapist without any hint of an actual reason, not to mention seriously making the suggestion on a widely-read blog. Especially on a post about trivializing rape accusations, when other people are all up in arms about potential false accusations… I just found it inappropriate and troubling.

  102. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan December 11, 2010 at 8:05 pm |

    But it’s so unbelievably irresponsible to even joke about someone being a rapist without any hint of an actual reason, not to mention seriously making the suggestion on a widely-read blog.

    You’re absolutely right. My side-eye at his “expertise” in entering unwilling vaginas is clearly going to ruin a semi-anonymous blog-commenters life. 9.9

  103. Davd
    Davd December 11, 2010 at 8:10 pm |

    April:
    I wasn’t being sarcastic, and I do get exactly why it was said, and understand the words.But it’s so unbelievably irresponsible to even joke about someone being a rapist without any hint of an actual reason, not to mention seriously making the suggestion on a widely-read blog.Especially on a post about trivializing rape accusations, when other people are all up in arms about potential false accusations… I just found it inappropriate and troubling.  

    Look, April. I sort of wanted to defend him too because I think that he was trying to make a different point than the one that was perceived by most people, BUT, I can’t help it if the guy put his foot in his mouth and ended up saying stuff that was hurtful to other people. People made jokes about Lucien’s insensitivity, that was it.

    You’re probably right about that kind of joke being inappropriate, but that ship has already sailed. If you or I or anyone else would take a look at previous threads you can see that they’re filled with inappropriate analogies and jokes and posts. Its probably better for us all to grow a bit thicker skin rather than take them personally.

  104. RD
    RD December 11, 2010 at 8:39 pm |

    Bagelsan I had a comment saying you were right on but it didn’t make it through mod.

  105. GallingGalla
    GallingGalla December 12, 2010 at 9:47 pm |

    April: I wasn’t being sarcastic, and I do get exactly why it was said, and understand the words.But it’s so unbelievably irresponsible to even joke about someone being a rapist without any hint of an actual reason, not to mention seriously making the suggestion on a widely-read blog.Especially on a post about trivializing rape accusations, when other people are all up in arms about potential false accusations… I just found it inappropriate and troubling.  

    Speculating that a hypothetical person with Lucien’s level of woman-hating might perhaps have gained knowledge about “entering unwilling women” by, y’no, entering unwilling women – that is, by raping them – is not a rape accusation against Lucien.

    I’m not accusing Lucien of rape, because I am unaware of him raping anyone. I do agree, however, that there’s a pretty strong correlation between men who display this level of rank misogyny and men who rape, and therefore it’s valid for me to agree that a man who talks like Lucien might indeed have “gained experience” by raping women.

    There’s this thing called “nuance”. There’s also these things called “avoiding rape apologism” and “avoiding shaming victims of rape”. Which is, I think, the point of the OP in the first place.

  106. Wikileaks – My 2c, which I’m sure you don’t need | Blogger on the Cast Iron Balcony

    […] One writer after another has tried to explain that it’s possible for someone to do useful and effective activist work and be guilty of sexual assault (not pre-empting the court case, just trying to counter the popular notion that a folk hero can’t be guilty) and that one does not necessarily negate the other. Intelligent people should be able to hold more than one thought in their head at once. The point of this piece, once again, was NOT to speculate on whether Assange did or did not commit a crime — it’s to point out that the media narrative around this story has quickly become depressingly similar to every other media narrative around rape and alleged rape. (That is to say, ugly and victim-blaming.) […]

  107. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub December 13, 2010 at 10:41 pm |

    Christ, Lucien. According to you, women simply can’t be raped then. BTW, that crack about unwilling vaginas? Yeah, that was last trotted out in the seventies. Ah, retro misogyny. . .

  108. Donna
    Donna December 14, 2010 at 4:34 am |

    I was expecting him to suggest the old, “See if you can put your finger in the ring made by my thumb and finger”.

  109. Naomi Wolf responds: Case against Assange is “an insult to rape victims worldwide”

    […] And yet it’s entirely possible to believe that and still avoid acting like an anti-feminist asshole! It’s possible to point out that rape accusations are rarely taken seriously when the accused isn’t an internationally wanted man, without automatically dismissing the charges as “personal injured feelings.” It’s possible to lament the lack of justice for the many other victims of sexual assault, without assuming that the accusers in this case are lying. As Jill at Feministe said, “we can chew gum and walk at the same time.” […]

  110. Über die Verharmlosung von sexuellen Straftaten | Spreeblick

    […] vor gelassen und eine politische Motivation des Haftbefehls beiseite geschoben, halte ich es daher ganz mit den Worten von Jill Filipovic und bitte jeden, der sich zum Fall Assange äußern möchte, diese im Hinterkopf […]

  111. Peter Stern
    Peter Stern December 17, 2010 at 6:47 pm |

    Linnea: According to Ny, the prosecutor, she could legally not fly abroad and question Assange, so that’s why it didn’t happen.

    The Swedish Prosecutor doesn’t know how to use a telephone?

  112. Julian Assange, rape, and feminism « Feminéma

    […] is not to say there hasn’t been an American feminist response to the story.  Jill Filipovic of Feministe had the tidiest statement yet asserting that we can take rape charges seriously at the same time […]

  113. Keith Olbermann responds to #MooreandMe Twitter protest in the worst possible way

    […] is not at all what the #mooreandme tweeters have been demanding Olbermann apologize for. Many, many feminist bloggers have made it abundantly clear that you can question the political motivations […]

  114. Nahida
    Nahida December 21, 2010 at 11:11 am |

    How very disappointing. I quite liked The Beauty Myth. I suspect it might have even saved my life–or at least gave me a piece of its mind. I hope Naomi Wolf comes around, but so far it hasn’t been looking like it.

  115. Random Links And Observations : Lawyers, Guns & Money

    […] take on the Assange is arrest is definitive.   Of course, the priority put on his arrest is almost certainly political.   But that […]

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