Twenty links about Assange, consent, and rape

[Crossposted on Alas and on TADA. Anti-feminists, conservatives, “feminist critics,” and MRAs may post in the comments on TADA, but not in the comments on Alas.]

Here’s how James Joyner describes the accusations against Julian Assange:

Assange had consensual sex with two women, unbeknownst to one another, who were friends. They had hurt feelings afterwards and confided to a female police officer that Assange had engaged in sex with one of them without a condom, having worn a condom the night before. In the case of the second woman, Assange’s condom broke but he continued to climax, anyway.

Now here’s how the Press Association describes the charges:

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been remanded in custody in London after appearing in court on an extradition warrant.

The 39-year-old Australian is wanted by prosecutors in Sweden over claims he sexually assaulted two women. [...]

Gemma Lindfield, for the Swedish authorities, told the court Assange was wanted in connection with four allegations. She said the first complainant, Miss A, said she was victim of “unlawful coercion” on the night of August 14 in Stockholm.

The court heard Assange is accused of using his body weight to hold her down in a sexual manner.

The second charge alleged Assange “sexually molested” Miss A by having sex with her without a condom when it was her “express wish” one should be used.

The third charge claimed Assange “deliberately molested” Miss A on August 18 “in a way designed to violate her sexual integrity”. The fourth charge accused Assange of having sex with a second woman, Miss W, on August 17 without a condom while she was asleep at her Stockholm home.

I guess I just don’t find anyone in this case trustworthy. A lot of the press accounts — like this article by Mark Hosenball, which Glenn Greenwald called “informative, credible” — seem very biased. The first two pages are filled with anonymous claims. Buried on the third page, Hosenball finally mentions the actual charges against Assange by saying:

Tuesday, a lawyer representing the Swedish government laid out for a British judge four specific charges of sexual misconduct, three related to Miss A and one related to Miss W. The word “rape” was not part of the charges but “unlawful coercion” and Assange’s alleged reluctance to use condoms was.

Funny how Hosenball doesn’t mention that Assange is being accused of physically holding one woman down with his weight during the alleged sexual assault, and of having sex with another woman while she was asleep.

Although I’ve had opinions about some cases in the past, I don’t have an opinion in this case. But I’m really bothered by the way the apparent charges against Assange are being soft-pedaled, including by some liberal sites, and by big-name feminist Naomi Wolf.

Anyway, here are some very good posts about this case — or really, most of the time, not about the case itself, but about the way people are discussing and framing the case.

  1. Almost Diamonds responds strongly to the “she didn’t act like a rape victim! She socialized with Assange afterwards!” argument: How Must She Behave to Have Been Raped?

    What did I do when I was sexually assaulted? I went on with my plans for the evening, which were to lose my virginity. Yep, that’s right. Within hours of being sexually assaulted, I had consensual sex.

    Why? Hell if I know that either. I do know it doesn’t make any sense, but that’s because I wasn’t rational. I’ll remind you that I’d just been assaulted (and suffered another type of betrayal right alongside it). I had no idea what to do. I did the easiest thing, which was to go along as though it hadn’t happened.

  2. Jill at Feministe’s post is especially good, focusing on legal questions around rape, consent, and withdrawal of consent.
  3. Kate Harding’s post at Salon is the best post I’ve read responding to the smears against the accusers.
  4. Feminism and Tea has a good post about how rape myths are coming up in discussions of Assange’s case.
  5. An Open Rant Against the Perpetuation of Rape Myths
  6. Sexual Offense Laws of Sweden (Not sure if this is complete or not.)
  7. When you assume about Assange, you make an ass of you and me
  8. Feminism, Assange rape charges, free speech, and Wikileaks
  9. Assange Arrested Because Of “Radical Feminist” Bitches
  10. On Consent
  11. Julian Assange, the arrest and why we should not protest. Yet. | The River Fed
  12. A Feminist Lawyer on the Case Against Wikileaks’ Julian Assange
  13. Pandagon on how it’s possible to both admire Assange’s Wikileaks activism, and not automatically dismiss any sexual assault charges against him as baseless or a conspiracy.
  14. Right-Wing Blogger on Date Rape: ‘You Buy the Ticket, You Take the Ride’
  15. The arrest of Julian Assange – a reality check
  16. Naomi Wolf really needs to read the internet
  17. Feminist Conspiracies and Julian Assange
  18. Wikileaks and Rape (and left wing hypocrisy)

(Due to posts added in future edits, the number of links no longer adds up to 20. Sorry!)

This entry posted in crossposted on TADA, Rape, intimate violence, & related issues. Bookmark the permalink. 

13 Responses to Twenty links about Assange, consent, and rape

  1. 1
    Elusis says:

    The quote from #7 that I find particularly salient: “sometimes politically admirable people do bad shit to women.”

    Just today I wound up in a Wiki-hole for a while reading about John Lennon, and was rather stunned to find quotes from him admitting that he used to be violent and abusive with Cynthia and other female partners before he met Yoko and acknowledged he needed to take responsibility for his actions if he wanted to be a leader in the peace movement.

    Good people can do bad things. This does not have to involve some heroic feat of cognitive dissonance.

    The other thing I have been thinking on is that yes, it is very suspicious that *Interpol* got involved with hunting down someone accused of two somewhat murky, not necessarily physically violent rapes. Because it is next to impossible sometimes to get even local authorities to take action against acquaintance or domestic rape, never mind international law enforcement. This in no way “proves” that his accusers were lying; it is entirely possible that they are telling the truth, AND that their accusations created a very convenient and much more legally clear path to arresting a man that the capitalist, war-mongering, rape-culture-saturated kyriarchy really, really wants to take down.

    (ETA: Oh, Pandagon says it perfectly: “If we treated rape seriously even when the accused aren’t people that are embarrassing the U.S. government, rape would probably be far smaller of a problem. “)

    All parties involved here deserve their day in court.

    Slut-shaming and performing rape mystification on the accusers is just despicable, and I’m appalled to see it coming from supposed feminists.

  2. 2
    cim says:

    6. Sexual Offense Laws of Sweden (Not sure if this is complete or not.)

    It’s not quite. http://www.regeringen.se/sb/d/3926/a/47455 is a full English translation.

  3. 3
    Silenced is Foo says:

    I think the problem a lot of people outside of the feminist community have with his crimes are that… well… they aren’t what people think of as rape.

    They’re not even date-rape. People imagine date rape being getting a woman too drunk or drugged to express rejection.

    A lot of men out there have been, at one point or another in their lives, asked to stop having sex when moments from completion. I know it’s happened to me. And I’m ashamed when I think how long the moment was between her request and when I stopped.

    “There, but for the grace of God, go I.”

    So people hear stories like this and I’m not surprised that the reaction is “wait, that’s what they’re arresting him for? Seriously?”

    It’s the same as racism, as every modern sin. By villifying rape and racism and everything else into demonic evil crimes, nobody can admit to themselves that what they’re doing is part of it. “I’m not racist, I’m just sick of all those customers that won’t tip.” “That wasn’t rape, I just needed another minute to finish.” “That wasn’t abuse, she’d been shouting at me for four hours – nobody could stand for that without freaking out.”

    Basically – I’m not surprised by any of this. Assange did something wrong… something that probably would’ve gone ignored by law enforcement as an impossible-to-prove tedious edge-case… but because of WikiLeaks, he’s getting busted. The news knows the situation, and especially in the online freedom-of-speech-enamored blogosphere, is thus downplaying his crimes to support their narrative. And the feminists are calling them on it, and nobody will listen because people see feminists as a stopped clock.

    It’s just… sad.

  4. 4
    LizardBreath says:

    Funny how Hosenball doesn’t mention that Assange is being accused of physically holding one woman down with his weight during the alleged sexual assault,

    Part of what’s confusing me about the case is that I haven’t seen anything that states the allegations against Assange in the form of a clear narrative. If the allegation is that he held a non-consenting woman down with his weight and had sex with her despite her non-consent, that’s an allegation of rape: not gray or confusing at all. But when the story broke initially, the only allegations I saw were about the broken or missing condom, and I’m not sure where the ‘physically holding one woman down’ allegation fits in to the story in terms of consent or non-consent. I haven’t seen a narrative that says what the woman involved says happened clearly.

  5. 5
    Simple Truth says:

    In the news stories I’ve read before today, it’s the government people think are lying about the rape charges. I’m not sure if that changes the dynamic at all, but it seems far less about what might have occurred and far more about the government lying to get what they want.

    *Edited – I orginally used “slut-shaming” and I decided I don’t really care for the term at all. Sorry!

  6. 6
    a_little_cloud_all_pink_and_grey says:

    Here’s another important link.

  7. 7
    Ampersand says:

    SiF wrote:

    A lot of men out there have been, at one point or another in their lives, asked to stop having sex when moments from completion. I know it’s happened to me. And I’m ashamed when I think how long the moment was between her request and when I stopped.

    You seem to be assuming that of course if Assange failed to stop upon being told “no, stop! Stop!,” it was just a matter of a few moments, and not, say, several minutes or more. Otherwise your comment — which implies that you have some knowledge of what he’s being accused of, and it’s not something people think of as rape — doesn’t make sense. (Unless you’re saying that continuing on for several minutes after consent is withdrawn isn’t what people think of as rape).

    So do you have any such knowledge — that were talking about just a few moments here, not an extended period of time — and if so, can you tell me where it’s coming from?

  8. 8
    LizardBreath says:

    Again, that sort of question is what’s so frustrating in this case: as far as I can tell there’s no clear public narrative of what Assange is alleged to have done, so anyone talking about the details of it is speculating. Even assuming the truth of whatever the factual allegations are, I can (speculating) come up with narratives compatible with the vague versions that have come out that are clearly rape, and narratives that are less clearly something I would think should be criminally punished.

  9. 9
    AlanSmithee says:

    Damn, Amp. I just looked at some of your pictures, and you are SUCH a handsome man. I know I’ve been banned from this site and all, but I just had to tell you how genuinely good-looking and well-groomed you are.

    Oh, and on the subject of Assange, I’d never suggest that just because I agree with someone’s politics that means that no one should take accusations of sexual abuse against him seriously. I’d never be that much of a douche.

  10. 10
    Jenny says:

    And now reportedly, one of the rape victims has stopped cooperating with the police:

    http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2010/12/assange-accuser-stops-cooperating-police/

    Emphasis on reportedly, of course.

  11. 11
    Richard Estes says:

    The obvious problem here is that we have no idea what Assange has been charged with, as the Swedish arrest warrant does not allege any charges at all, but merely requires his arrest and return for questioning. So, people are free to manipulate the the rumored facts to support their preconceived notion of the situation. For example, Assange’s attorney says that the Swedes aren’t even looking at rape now, but something called “sex by surprise”, which is subject to fine of just over 1/4 the amount of the fine for parking in a fire lane here in California ($75).

    Meanwhile, if the Swedes have a case, they should charge him now. If not, they should release him. Instead, the warrant is clearly serving the purpose of keeping Assange in custody while the US government is working to develop charges against him associated with his wikileaks activities. I don’t know if the Swedes will ever charge him, but, even if they do, I doubt that he is ever going to be tried on the allegations, as Sweden will only be a way station on his way to the incarceration in the US.

  12. 12
    Webspin says:

    A woman that invites a man into her bed is by definition agreeing to sex. The idea that a man could be found guilty of a crime for not stopping once intercourse has started is ridiculous and the charges alleged aren’t even that serious! We are all adults here and few of us can just snap out of a heated passionate state be it sex, fear, laughter, anger, hunger or slumber. Imagine if it were a crime of food passion and a chef had cooked your favorite food, asked you to taste/eat some and upon you placing in in your mouth, changed his mind and ordered you to spit it out or you’d be arrested for theft. I’d say the chef is 100% wrong and an asshole.

  13. 13
    Mark says:

    “A woman that invites a man into her bed is by definition agreeing to sex.”

    Not by definition agreeing to any and every form of sex, though.

    If she tells him she agrees to sex only with a condom and then invites him into her bed, that doesn’t mean she consented to him pinning her down filling her uterus with semen after the condom breaks.

    Likewise, for some non-Assange examples:

    If she tells him she agrees to oral or vaginal sex only and then invited him into her bed, that doesn’t mean she consented to him pinning her down and shoving it up her anus.

    If he tells her he agrees to sex only if she’s on the pill and then he invites her into his bed, that doesn’t mean he consented to her lying about being on the pill and conceiving with him instead of being honest about her fertility.

    When you invite someone into your bed, are you really consenting to absolutely every sexual thing that person could do to you no matter how much it would hurt you and endanger your long-term health?