Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Progressives and the Julian Assange Rape Allegations

I thought I really had no meta-theoretical update to my previous comments on developments. Yet it turns out l that I did have something in mind, especially after seeing Richard Adams' essay at The Guardian, "#MooreandMe: the hashtag that roared." It's not easy, but I'm genuinely flabbergasted at progressives' uncritical and superficial response to Sady Doyle's campaign. And Adams here is just prostrate. It's almost comical. I'm picking him as he explains Michael Moore and Keith Olbermann's responses:

WikiLeaks

For a week, Moore didn't respond to the tide of protest. Olbermann did, foolishly and petulantly, only to make matters worse – boasting that "Feminism has no greater male supporter in TV news than me", and at one point proclaiming he was suspending his Twitter account "until/if this frenzy is stopped", although he failed to take his own good advice.

Other writers waded in and got caught in the fallout: the journalist Moe Tkacik posted at the Washington City Paper, describing #MooreandMe as "near-homicidal #rage" while naming the two women (something the Guardian and New York Times have avoided as a matter of policy), only for her editors to yank the piece. The blogging pioneer Dave Winer produced an artless car-crash of arguments that might have worked as parody. Naomi Wolf continued her upside-down defence of Assange – as can be heard in her debate with Jaclyn Friedman on Democracy Now. And so on.

In the end, though, it was Moore – without addressing #MooreandMe directly – who gave way, with his appearance on Rachel Maddow's show. Olbermann ...
RTWT at the link.

And notice Adams' mention of Moe Tkacik. I had a revealing Twitter exchange with her, and wrote it up
here. What I like about her is that she wants to think things through --- to put intellect over ideology --- and to resist the obtuse and frequently mendacious herd mentality of the hardline feminists. That's something we don't see much of in political debates these days, and it takes a lot of courage. Moe of course paid with her job, and Sady Doyle's bleating non-apologies after the fact are now legend. And now I'm seeing this piece at New York Times, which is refreshing, "Is It Rape? It Depends on Who Is Asking" (via Echidne and Memeorandum):
Is it rape when you have sex with someone who didn’t tell you it was O.K., but told you it was O.K. earlier that night?

The allegations of sexual assault by two Swedish women against Julian Assange, the founder of the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks, have raised a series of questions, some silly (Is a broken condom a criminal offense?), some preposterous (Were the two women on the C.I.A. payroll?), but at least one worth mulling: What, today, constitutes sexual violence?

According to a leaked police report, Swedish prosecutors want to question Mr. Assange on allegations of rape in only one of the two cases: The woman in question, a WikiLeaks groupie, let him spend the night at her apartment and had consensual sex with him at least once (reportedly with a condom). She then testified to falling asleep and being woken later by him penetrating her (without a condom).

She only went to the police days afterward, when she discovered by talking to another woman with whom Mr. Assange had stayed that the second woman, too, felt violated after he was reluctant to use a condom and then allegedly “did something” to make it break. (The allegation here is sexual molestation.)

In recent conversations, reactions among my girlfriends — all in their 30s, and most in steady, heterosexual relationships — were forceful, and almost unanimous.

“It cheapens rape,” one said.

“Why get the police into the bedroom over something like this? Grow up,” said another.

“He sounds really sleazy,” said a third, “but not exactly like a rapist.”
That's just the introduction (so RTWT). But this reminds me Andrea Grimes' essay, "Girl Talk: Who Will Rape Me?" Whereas those at the New York Times essay take the big picture, progressive feminists make essentially extremist arguments that in the end work primarily to shut down competing perspectives. And this is what I find so fascinating. I don't doubt that Assange may have committed rape (especially if he pinned down Ms. A). But to even raise the point is to summons the progressive left's neo-Stalinist commissars, most prominently Sady Doyle. Here's the query from a woman on Twitter I last night:

Photobucket

That's a really powerful question-cum-indictment, and it triggered a series of Tweets from Ms. Doyle (scroll down to December 28th). Basically, she claims she's a victim. After being called "hundreds of names" she snapped, because "I thought feminists had my back." The problem, of course, is that if you're the bully you can't expect folks to "have your back." If coercive power isn't enough, "friends" will defect. Ms. Sady's effective, though, and persistent. And she's obviously impressed loads of less aggressive women who wanted to be a part of the "movement." And apparently this movement is way more "revolutionary" than what Assange has on offer, at least to hear this guy Bill Weinberg make the case:

Demonizing "revolutionary feminism"

The most blatantly irritating thing is abject demonization of the women who have made the charges of sexual abuse against Assange. In any other context, the summary dismissal of a woman's rape accusations would be seen as utterly politically incorrect. But Assange gets away with anti-feminist rhetoric that would do Rush Limbaugh proud. In an interview now receiving widespread coverage in the British press (e.g. The Telegraph, Dec. 26), Assange says: "Sweden is the Saudi Arabia of feminism... I fell into a hornets' nest of revolutionary feminism." Assange added that one of the women who said she was assaulted took a "trophy photo" of him lying naked in her bed. (TMI, Julian.)

Especially sickening is Naomi Wolf, who sneers in Huffington Post at the international "Dating Police" that have snared Assange. Flaunting her supposed creds as a "longtime feminist activist" in the opening sentence, she writes that "Assange is accused of having consensual sex with two women, in one case using a condom that broke." A Dec. 17 account in The Guardian (based on Swedish police documents that were—ahem—leaked) paints a rather different picture. (E.g.: "She told police that she had tried a number of times to reach for a condom but Assange had stopped her by holding her arms and pinning her legs.") John Pilger, who presumably wasn't there when the putative leg-pinning took place, nonetheless told ABC Sydney on Dec. 8 the case against Assange is a "political stunt." Wolf's glib dismissal of the allegations is especially ironic in light of her own sexual harassment claims against Harold Bloom, which many had similarly dismissed as spurious (e.g. Meghan O'Rourke in Slate, Feb. 25, 2004).

I've covered much of this already, but Weinberg's links open to news windows, so cruise around.

There are still some commentators who continue to go big on WikiLeaks' power to destroy sovereign state power, especially Glenn Greenwald. He's gotten so hysterical that he's now gone after Wired Magazine with a series of sensational allegations essentially claiming that the magazine's a tool of the national security state. The editors have responded here: "Putting the Record Straight on the Lamo-Manning Chat Logs."

So here we can see the big picture coming together again. Radical feminists have put progressive solidarity against rape culture to the forefront of the cause. Meanwhile, an anarchist-libertarian-progressive alliance of sorts has been promoting WikiLeaks as the model of 21st century quasi-journalistic accountability. And to be sure, there's been some extremely revealing --- and perhaps even worthwhile --- findings with this last batch of cables. But for the most part we've seen something of a nihilistic destruction of ordered relations among states and their agents. Just yesterday we learned that WikiLeaks had compromise the opposition movement in Zimbabwe. See, "How WikiLeaks Just Set Back Democracy in Zimbabwe," and "Morgan Tsvangirai faces possible Zimbabwe treason charge." And some say WikiLeaks is here for good? At this point I'm simply hoping for Assange's extradition. He can go up on charges under the Espionage Act as far as I'm concerned. The outcome wouldn't make me any more likely to take serious the left's charges of a "CIA honey-trap operation."

Image Credit: American Digest.


5 comments:

Octapussy said...

I'm a thirty something woman and I was raped when I was little older than three. My rapist was the head of the household so by the time I was old enough to try and find some kind of justice for myself, it was much too late. There was no way of proving anything happened. I've come to accept that's just how it is and life is not fair. I just need to continue to deal with the fallout of something that happened more than 30 years ago and never give in to temptation to just deny that it ever happened. It's just one of those things that others will never comprehend about me.

I am not playing a victim card by telling that story. On the contrary. I feel I need to stand up for myself, and people that had similar experiences like I had. It is an absolute slap in the face to read about the victimhood claimed by the feminists in the cases against Assange. WTF???? One of the hardest things I've had to learn becoming an adult was to enjoy sex with a man. I don't take kindly to women pissing all over sex with such absurd and childish games.

I get a sense of Shaudenfreude though at the prospect of the miserable sex lives feminists are undoubtedly having.

I am no fan of Assange. I suspect he has no respect for women. Any women that has self respect probably would have avoided him any way. The danger of claiming that women are never to blame for ANY part of being raped is that it teaches women to have absolutely no responsibility for their sexuality at all. Effectively, women have been taken out of sex. We've been made invisible.

Every case needs to be judged individually on merits. The cases against Assange seem to be incredibly trivial when one considers the damage that are done to women by some men.

Dennis said...

I guess I must look at these things differently. I see this as a gain for almost everyone except feminists and Assange. This is much like the AGW cultist's tortured logic in attempting to ascribe almost every weather event to AGW. At some point one is forced to ask is there any weather event, or in many cases any disaster, that does not denote AGW? That is the point where almost anyone with a functioning brain sees it for what it is.
The same could be said for feminists and rape. When everything becomes rape in the eyes of feminists then the charge of rape has lost most of its power to persuade or draw others into the radical feminist fold.
Most women are smart enough to recognize the damage that feminists are doing to rape as a crime and the fact that most women don't hate men and are not into misandry in the way that the feminists movement is further damages it.
As early feminists used to try to make the point that they were our mothers, sisters, wives, et al most women know that we are their fathers, brothers, husbands, et al. We may not understand each other to the degree we would like, but we both know that neither of us are evil and both deserve the respect that should be due to our status as human beings.
And another nice point is that it make Assange look very bad and affects how people see him and any endeavor he has a part. The more the feminists and Assange alienate the better it is for this country and humanity.

Dennis said...

Octapussy,
I sincerely hope everything goes well for you. Everyone deserves to be loved and to give love freely because they choose to do so. Take care and be well.

STORMBRINGER said...

This whole Julian Assange / Wikileaks thing is to rape what the Tea Party is to racism, i.e. Liberals crying Wolf.

Octopussy said...

@ Dennis, thanks.