Thursday, December 09, 2010

Answering the question




Julian Assange is the face of WikiLeaks, he is not all of WikiLeaks, just one part of the organization. He has been accused of rape and sexual assault. He is innocent at this point and may remain so (and if there is no trial, then the matter ends with him innocent). But the women making accusations are innocent at this point as well. And smear jobs -- there's basically one which all the losers refashion and repeat -- on the women are smear jobs on all victims of rape because these attacks encourage and lead to other attacks. The attackers?
As Joan Wilder (Kathleen Turner in Romancing The Stone, screenplay by Diane Thomas) observed, "But if there was one law of the west, it's that bastards have brothers who seemed to ride forever." And they seem to thrive on sexism. Yes, as with Tuesday's snapshot and Wednesday's snapshot, we have to deal with the attacks on two women over rape charges. Faux feminist Nicole Colson (US Socialist Worker) declares, "Rape and sexual assault are very serious charges that deserve investigation. But it's impossible to take the charges against [Julian] Assange at face value given the nature of the attack on him by the world's superpowers." What is about Colson that forever finds her attacking women? Throughout 2008, she used sexism to trash Hillary but then women only pop in Nicole's writing to be trashed. She might want to take a look at that. She might also want to take a look at "impossible to take the charges . . . at face value." Marina S. (It's Not A Zero Sum Game) observes:
No, what this is about, as Cath Elliott wrote on Lib Con a few days back, is how quickly all pretensions to feminist sympathies give way to a "bros before hos" attitude among men on the left once one of their own is in the dock (though in fairness she expressed it with more class). It's easy enough to march at the back, mumbling feminist slogans out of time because you don't quite know the words, when it's some sleazy capitalist or smarmy Republican in the firing line; statistically, it's more likely to be one of those guys in some jacuzzi showgirl snorting scenario, anyway.
But one of ours? Julian Assange, fearless defier of the Keystone Cops wannabes that are US officials trying to wipe the egg of their faces? Courageous snook cocker at misspeaking power-drunk bank functionaries? Heroic exposer of all that is ignoble and slightly ridiculous about contemporary diplomatic statecraft? Impossible! It's a conspiracy! A politically motivated witch hunt! A miscarriage of justice! A honey trap! Fame seeking! Misuse of Interpol resources!
And let's move over to Cath Elliott (Liberal Conspiracy):
When an article suggesting that a man accused of sex crimes is himself an innocent victim, it feeds into the prevailing misogynistic anti-woman narrative that says that all women who accuse men of rape are lying, and that there's no such thing as rape, there is instead just bad sex, or as John Band put it "poor bedroom etiquette".
And we join in with that 'lying women/bad laws' shtick, we're just adding our name to a whole host of sites and other media organisations keen to deny women's experiences, and that basically tell women that the men are sticking together again therefore this is a site where we really don't belong.
That's why I felt it important to speak out about this issue. Not because I believe Assange to be guilty, but because as a feminist I think it discredits us to just blithely assume that he's not.
Both of the women above reside in the UK. On US shores, it's so very telling that all the same sexists (and liars) from 2008 can be found trashing the women. Take Dave Lindorff -- no link to trash but you can find his garbage at David Swanson's site (and maybe David can explain why he's posting attacks on two women?) -- who puts the term rape in quotes as he reidicules the women. This is Dave Lindorff, please remember, who was a Barack supporter who used sexism to trash Hillary and whose 'reasoning' for supporting Barack was suspect at best: "a black candidate who has risked jail by doing drugs". As those paying attention throughout 2008 quickly grasped, the sexism is coming from men and women on the left, not just men on the left. (I'm not interested in the right-wing for this conversation, let them police themselves. But on our side we're supposed to care about equality.) Naomi Klein's also weighed in with as much as she can manage -- a Tweet. Leading to this response Tweet from Clare Cochrane:
@NaomiAKlein true, but defending #Wikileaks does not necessitate mysogyny & being a defender of freedom does not mean u escape a #rape trial
This, right here, is what makes rape an insidious crime. Those we admire, those we respect, we tend to minimize, deflect, or outright deny such a charge against them. What we as a society have got to come to realize is that a rapist can do good in other areas and still have raped someone. A rapist can be someone who does works we admire. A rapist can be someone whom we have previously respected, and whose political and ideological beliefs mirror our own. Which is why an organization or political thought should stand alone, divorced from its most vociferous defenders and/or creators. Wikileaks needs to stand or fall on its own merits, and we need to defend or decry Wikileaks on its own merits (or lack thereof). What we cannot do is excuse Julian Assange from even having to defend himself against a charge because such a charge may hurt his organization. Which is where Klein is wrong again. Yes, women's freedom was used as a battle cry in Afghanistan. Yes, it was the wrong cry, not in the least because we have done a piss poor job of securing the safety and freedom of women since entering Afghanistan. But Julian Assange may have actually committed rape. And there are laws against rape. And he can and should be charged with the crime. This isn't some nebulous "protect teh women" battle cry.
I don't know if Julian Assange is or is not a rapist. I know he is being held in connection to a crime. I know that the support he is receiving from Klein is, to be frank, beneath her. As Jessica Valenti highlighted, one of the charges facing Assange is not merely that he had sex with a woman without the condom she required but that he engaged in sexual intercourse with a sleeping woman. That last one? That's describing rape, pure and simple. It's rape, because a sleeping woman does not have the ability to consent to sex. These two women deserve their day in court. If their accusations are true, they deserve every measure of justice that can be awarded to them.
As we noted last week, Naomi Klein is not a feminist. Her entire life has been about rejecting her mother (a feminist). She's still an angry little child (hilarious photos taken by Wally in DC today of Naomi which will run in Friday's gina & krista roundrobin, FYI). She's done nothing for feminism. Just because she's left and a woman don't wrongly assume she's done a damn thing for feminism. It's amazing what an issue the attacks are in England while in America . . . So much silence. And we find that the same women who were silent on the sexist attacks on Hillary are again 'taking one for the team' and sitting this out. Laurie Penny (New Statesman) observes:
I have no idea whether Assange, who firmly denies the accusations, did or did not commit sex attacks in Sweden last August. But just as we would condemn anyone who pronounced him guilty at this early stage, should we also not be concerned that many liberals, some of whom would count themselves feminists, have leapt to the conclusion that Assange must be the innocent victim of a smear campaign? Some have gone further, actively attacking the women in question and accusing them of colluding in a conspiracy to destroy Assange. This plays easily into the narrative that most women who accuse men of rape are liars, and most men who attract such accusations are just saucy scamps with, as the commentator John Band put it, "poor bedroom etiquette".
The attacks need to stop and the number of people calling out the attacks will continue to increase. Robert Knight, Ray McGovern, et al think they're helping Julian Assange by attacking two women. They're not and they're not helping the left as we see just how sexist so many of the men -- and a large number of the women as well -- can be.

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