Wikileaks, Julian Assange, and Allegations of Sex CrimesPosted: December 22, 2010 Filed under: Feminists, U.S. Politics, Violence against women, Wikileaks, Women's Rights | Tags: Julian Assange, power elites, rape, safe sex 95 Comments
For the past three days, I’ve been reading as much as I could about the claims and counterclaims about Julian Assange and his alleged sexual misconduct during a visit to Sweden in August, 2010.
I have to be honest: when I first heard about the charges, I thought they were extremely convenient for the governments and corporations who want Assange and his organization silenced.
It should go without saying that I do not approve of Assange’s behavior if the allegations against him are true. Nevertheless, I still believe the allegations are very convenient for the powers that be. The elites who control our government and the powerful multinational corporations that have been “victims” of Wikileaks couldn’t care less whether Assange committed sex crimes in Sweden. All they care about is stopping publication of leaks that so far have revealed and/or substantiated suspicions about some pretty shocking behavior by governments around the world.
Furthermore, now that we have at least some information (filtered by Swedish police and prosecutors and journalists) about the basis for the allegations of sexual assault, I think that reactions by conservative Swedish politicians and the media in the U.S. and Great Britain have been far out of proportion to the usual government and media responses to allegations like the ones described by the Guardian.
In fact, according to Amnesty International, Sweden usually is terrible at prosecuting and convicting accused rapists (h/t Dakinikat for the link).
…an Amnesty International report on rape in the Nordic Countries took Sweden to task last autumn for what the human rights organization saw as an abysmally low conviction rate for rape cases.
Released in September 2008, the Amnesty report – Case Closed – examines issues surrounding rape and human rights in Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland.
Despite Sweden’s considerable emphasis on women’s rights, currently ranking an impressive 3rd place in the UN global gender-related development index, instances of reported violence against women are showing no signs of abating.
Amnesty’s most damning criticism of Sweden relates to the considerable disparity between the number of rapes reported and the conviction rate.
Case Closed highlights the damning evidence that, despite the number of rapes reported to the police quadrupling over the past 20 years, the percentage of reported rapes ending in conviction is markedly lower today than it was in 1965.
There’s a lot more information at the link. BTW, anyone who has read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and the two sequel might have suspected that Sweden isn’t that good at dealing with violence against women.
Knowing Sweden’s usual treatment of rape allegations, are we really supposed to believe that suddenly Sweden is so deeply concerned about two women who had consensual sex with the same man followed by unwanted sexual behavior, that they asked Interpol to issue a red alert to find this guy?
Are we to believe that it is SOP for Great Britain, without being asked to do so by Sweden, arrests and imprisons the man before releasing him on hundreds of thousands of dollars cash bail based solely on these accusations by two women?
A number of self-described feminist bloggers (for some background, see this post by Valhalla at Corrente) are outraged that Assange has not voluntarily returned to Sweden–not to face charges, because there aren’t any yet–but to talk to a prosecutor who allegedly had refused to meet with him for the five weeks that Assange spent in Sweden waiting for the meeting to happen.
Where were these feminists in November when a young woman was violently raped in her high school Muncie, Indiana and school officials refused to even report it to police and allowed the perpetrator to leave school and go home and clean up and change clothing? What other rapes of powerless young women have these bloggers highlighted in the past couple of months? Maybe they’ve been busy doing this, I don’t know. But I’ve searched for blog links to the case in Muncie and haven’t found any posts by the bloggers who are now so outraged about Julian Assange.
I think the allegations against Assange and the effects they may have on Wikileaks itself are worth discussing. Personally, I’m not absolutely sure how I feel about all of it yet. But I’ll share my thoughts so far.
First, I think Julian Assange and Wikileaks have revealed a great deal of important information that has struck fear in the hearts of governments and powerful corporations. I see that as a good thing.
Second, I think Julian Assange is probably a very arrogant, egotistical man who is very likely lacking in social skills. I base that on what I’ve read about his childhood as well as quotes from people who have known him. I won’t go into that in detail here–I’ll just stipulate that he is probably difficult for other people to get along with. He may even be a complete a$$hole, for all I know. But he has accomplished something that I consider valuable.
Third, from what I know of the two women who accused Assange, they appear to be strong, powerful women who are capable of standing up for themselves. I realize that rape is traumatic for anyone. I’m just saying that these women are not poverty-stricken, homeless sixteen-year-olds like the woman who was raped in Muncie. These two women have good attorneys and they have powerful supporters, including a Swedish government official. I think it is a shame that they have been bashed on the internet and reportedly threatened by anonymous people. Unfortunately, women who report sex crimes against famous people often get treated pretty badly by the public and the media. But I’ll be willing to bet these two women knew that before they even got involved with Assange. If these allegations are true, then I hope they will both get up in court and testify against Assange. At the same time, Assange has the right to defend himself against their allegations. That’s how it works.
Fourth, as I said at the beginning of this post, these events are playing into the hands of both the power elites. The arguments in the media and on the internet about sex crimes charges is overwhelming the information coming out of Wikileaks to the point that I have seen a number of people actually claiming that nothing of importance has been revealed!
Fifth, the bloggers who are arguing so vehemently that Assange is a vicious rapist and must return to Sweden are also playing into Assange’s hands. He himself claims that the publicity over these charges has only helped him and his organization.
Finally, I think Julian Assange is right to fight extradition to Sweden, and I hope he continues to do so. I think it is highly likely that if he does return to Sweden, the Swedish government will hand him over to the U.S. Officials in the U.S., including Vice President Biden, that have deliberately referred to Assange as a “terrorist.” A number of U.S. politicians have state publicly that Assange should be assassinated. The President of the U.S. claims the right to detain indefinitely and even assassinate anyone from any country whom he designates as a “terrorist.” Therefore, if I were Julian Assange, I would fight tooth and nail to stay out of the hands of the U.S. government.
Those are my initial reactions after spending much of my time for a few days reading everything I could about these issues. Let’s talk about it here at Sky Dancing. Maybe we can manage to look at more than one side of these issues and draw some reasonable conclusions.
Before we get started, please watch these two videos from Democracy Now. They consist of a debate between Naomi Wolf and Jaclyn Friedman, two self-described feminists with different points of view on Assange and the sex crime allegations.
Democracy Now interview with Naomi Wolf and Jaclyn Friedman, part 1
Democracy Now interview with Naomi Wolf and Jaclyn Friedman, part 2
Have at it! What do you think?
Here’s an interesting revelation from Wikilinks: US criticises court that may decide on Julian Assange extradition, WikiLeaks cables show
That’s our country that practices torture, rendition, indefinite detention, and summary assassination. Our country.
thanks bb for your thougjts on the matter and esp for the interviews posted by democracy now…jave to say, i’m erring on the side of jaclyn on this one… lots to think about… well done..and about time someone put up a genuine debate and genuine opinion.
Very thought provoking BB! I’m glad you’re really researching this instead of just blindly quoting tabloid stories.
They’re probably preparing that executive order that gives the all seeing eye that sees everything the right to imprison ‘terrorists’ for ever without a trial with Assange’s named inked in
Yup, thanks for researching and putting forth a good ‘have at it’.
Oh, also these two cases:
Jerry Brown DIDN’T Interview THREE WITNESSES, Sharia Law requires four??? (((Shaking head))) Look to Jerry Brown running for President again and look to SILENCE again from those asking for Assange’s head.
SF Puma has covered the above case extensively and tweets updates too. Note that both cases involved minor and nowhere is there the word ‘molester’ as with Assange and the two adult women involved. Also, in both cases the witnesses were threatened and in the De Anza Case the ‘WEALTHY’ were never charges and the article in Wikipedia was attacked and put in for deletion, before the 20/20 piece was done.
So, yup, one does wonder why some get attention and others don’t??? 😦
Also, I am upset that if you even ask about a ‘fair’ trial and about the possibility of a hold to a country that does have the DEATH PENALTY you are called a ‘Rape Apologist’, while these very same people never took the time out of their respective lives to fight for rape victims and taken attacks while doing it. This has upset me, and only people that know me personally know how unfounded the accusations are.
So, thanks BB, for putting this together.
Feminist blogs did write about the Richmond case, but I don’t know if any of them are continuing to follow it.
SF Puma is still on the case and doing a good job too, as not to many are following it and what happened to this teenager is horrid.
I didn’t just write about it, I got on the phone, and I said on that day, where in the hell were the women to help support this girl. Just as she was jumped, many of us jumped to getting her money, to get her the hell out of that community. I called every damn rape center within 100 miles to see what they were doing, and begging them to get it together
and show up at that high school.
I’ve been following it, only to learn that the police department did not follow proper miranda rights, and to learn that one of the men’s lawyer said she was consenting.
And here’s the thing, no one stopped it, just like the New York case where Kitty Genovese was raped and killed as dozens watched and did nothing. As just as in the case of the woman while being raped on a subway platform, is looking into the eyes of a security officer, begging for help, and all he does is hit his alarm button.
We are watching, we see, we know.
good for you!!!
Yeah, Yeah…Me too! Thanks BB
Oh and as far as women reporting rape and dealing with powerful celebrity like men, lets not forget Kobe Bryant. Ugh!
I’ll never forget our little sister from Richmond, never! People tend to forget because those girls live in the ghetto. Even the school adminstration will tell you it’s a bad area to live in, and this is what you can expect.
Puma might think of doing another rally in that city, keep the action going,
because we will never forget.
I’ll never forget that one either. Thanks for what you did, Fannie, and please keep us posted on developments in the case.
BB, I’ve got to thank you for bringing this to the table. I recall that their were no lights in the area where the student was raped. I want to know have they placed lights there now? The other part of the problem is there was 400 students at the homecoming, and 4 officers (2 left early) and 2 adult supervisors. What has the school board done to change security to protect students. The other thing, what have they done to help all those students in the class room, in addressing issues of rape and of standing by and doing nothing while someone is abused. For these students to do nothiing speaks to the “snitch” syndrome. What are they doing about that. How are the parents having input in these needed changes?
Lot’s of questions, that I will try to followup with telephone calls to the schools, to the board, and to the rape centers to see what they are doing.
or bill clinton
Another country heard from. Amanda Marcotte writes at Slate: The women accusing Julian Assange of sexual assault deserve to be taken seriously.
Earth to Amanda: the women are being taken so seriously that Assange was hunted down by Interpol, jailed in Great Britain and only released after paying 200,000 pounds CASH bail. How much more seriously could the allegations be taken? And all this for what is basically a misdemeanor, no jail time attached.
Annanda wants the general public to believe the women, but what’s forgotten in all this is the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. That Assange is using every right available to him, including extradition is not an indication of guilt, imo.
Amanda was raped awhile ago. I can only imagine this kind of trauma influences her greatly. It would be hard for it not too. She’s said she feels it parallels her case.
I’m very sympathetic to that. I just don’t see how much more seriously the charges could be taken by the authorities.
Well, according to the stories, the accusation wasn’t the highest level of assault, it was what, 4th level and wouldn’t even warrant jail time? That has to factor into some of it besides the Swedish authorities SOP on rape as cited by the Amnesty International story.
I will also say that I agree with Marcotte that the actions described in the Guardian article are wrong. Nevertheless he has a right to fight extradition and especially try to avoid going to a country that might torture or kill him (the U.S.).
But Marcotte is misrepresenting what Naomi Wolf said. I disagree with some of what Wolf said, but she didn’t claim that the women had no right to cry rape after they had already had consensual sex with Assange. She tried to explain why these kinds of situations can get complicated and she argued that women have a responsibility to be clear about saying “no.”
Again, I don’t agree with Wolf on everything, but I do agree with her that sometimes in these situations women are being infantilized rather than treated like responsible adults.
I’m still trying to look at that Democracy now debate and figure out what’s up.
Dak & BBoomer —
I’m replying here to Dak’s comment on my previous comment on a previous thread bc it’s easier to put it altogether on this one.
Actually, I’m not thrilled about the mass use of the word “rape” either, I prefer the term “sexual assault”, since at the very least, “rape” has a very specific legal definition (in the US and in Sweden) which the allegations may or may not meet the elements of. “Sexual assault” is the broader term. It also has a specific legal meaning but it’s still broader.
The whole — there isn’t even jail time for these allegations is just truthiness propagated by 1) Assange’s defense attorneys; and 2) The Daily Mail (which seems to have depended primarily on — guess who? Assange’s defense attorneys!).
Here is the Swedish code. Assuming the max Assange would be charged with is “sexual coercion” (what he’s under investigation for), if he is convicted he could be imprisoned for up to 2 years.
Also, the Swedish criminal codes doesn’t really organize itself around levels. There are several different sections within the code dealing with sexual assault, each addressing a different type of crime. There is only one section dealing with the same type of allegations as made here, rape, which carries a higher penalty. In any case, though, these are not misdemeanor or otherwise nuisance changes.
On your previous response to me in another thread, there actually is quite a conversation about the accusations among Swedish feminists.
For people puzzled by Sweden’s low conviction rate (I was puzzled too), this link goes to that DKos post by a person familiar with both Sweden and the US which details not only the advanced ways in which Sweden handles sexual assault cases (compared to us, anyway), but the problems in relying on conviction statistics with crimes like sexual assault where there are significant obstacles to reporting:
Second: This is especially true for rape. I don’t think I need to lecture on this site about how ‘traditional values’ have long lead to stigmatization and shame for rape victims, to rapist husbands walking free. Saudi Arabia has one of the lowest rape statistics in the world. Do you really think it’s because there’s that much less rape there?
So, is it any wonder then that the number of reported rapes has increased? No, that’s a good thing, and also a completely predictable result of the active campaigning. I don’t view the fact that Sweden has a high number of reported rapes as a bad thing. The fact that the conviction rate has dropped is an equally predictable consequence, since women have become less hesitant to report ‘doubtful’ cases, and prosecutors have starting pursuing cases that they would previously not.
Third: There’s no solid evidence that the actual number of rapes has increased. To quote Jerzy Sarnecki, a well-known criminologist in Sweden: “They may have dropped, even.”
This is another situation in which two things can be true: 1) Sweden is actually rather advanced (relative to other countries) in its efforts to handle sexual assault cases; and 2) its conviction rate is still appallingly low.
That same article states something I’ve seen other places, but can’t find the original source for right now, this is one of the ways in which I would consider Sweden ‘ahead’ of the U.S. in handling sexual assault cases:
Bboomer — the least sensationalistic account I’ve seen is that Guardian article which details the actual allegations. It doesn’t cover everything, but it at least doesn’t read like a Fox news report. If the allegations are true with respect to the sequence of events in terms of how the women ended up in contact with each other, going to the police, and so on (and I don’t know if they are true, but neither does anyone else), then I would find it completely plausible that the two women’s reports have nothing to do with attacking or hurting Wikileaks but that various authorities chose the existence of the allegations as leverage to go after Assange.
Finally, most of the “self-described” feminist blogs I linked to over at Corrente are actually feminist blogs. I spent quite a while looking into them while writing up that roundup, they all cover the gamut of feminist topics. I don’t really think an absence of outrage on their part about the sexual assault in Muncie shows anything much about whether they are really “feminists”. It really looks like the Muncie assault was only reported locally. You can’t really compare it to an internationally headlined case in which “progressives” came pouring out of the walls to annouce they knew the women were lying. Hell, even I missed the post about Muncie, and I read Skydancing routinely AND I pay a lot of attention to sexual assault cases. (I’m not actually sure how I missed that post). One of the blogs I link to is Australian, I seriously doubt it even came to their attention, when so few here found it of note.
I’m asking a completely different question about Assange, which is where were all these celebrity “progressives” with their overwhelming concern about the serious crime of rape and Sweden’s low conviction rate for like the past 30 years? Suddenly, millions of people worldwide who haven’t evidenced a single thought about the appalling handling of sexual assault cases worldwide are having the vapors — complete with lectures to women how insulted they should be by the women who made the allegations — over Sweden’s low conviction rate? Srsly? Where have all these people been? Certainly not at the Take Back the Night marches I ever went to. I don’t mean you or this blog, btw.
On the high bail — the amount of bail is related to the seriousness of the allegations (not their credibility) , the likelihood the accused will flee, and what amount is high enough to realistically prevent flight. The last bit is usually based on the resources of the accused. In other words, the amount of bail in this case really doesn’t signify all that much. The Brits could have easily refused bail altogether. Both bail and extradition focus on primarily procedural and not substantive legal elements.
The Swedes’ investigation taking 5 weeks isn’t all that remarkable, either. It’s not like on tv where a crime is committed, the perpetrator caught, questioned, charged and convicted in an hour, at least not if the Swedish system is anything like the US.
There’s plenty to be suspicious about in terms of timing and attention on this one case. But there are a number of pretty unremarkable circumstances (the 5 weeks, bail, review of the lower level prosecutor’s decision) that are being plucked out of context and treated as if they are guilty anomalies. If Assange weren’t famous, or was famous for something other than WL, it’s perfectly possible that Swedish, British and Interpol authorities would not have taken this case as seriously as they have. But that’s not really an argument for them to not take it seriously now. The remedy for neglectful treatment of sexual assault allegations in the past can’t possibly be continuing to fail to take them seriously now and in the future.
Sigh. The whole thing makes my head ache.
Oh crap! I don’t know how I messed up all the quotes in my comment like that. Can someone help fix them? I can’t edit my comment. 😦
Thanks for coming back and sharing all this research that you’ve done. I’m a bit sleepy at the moment, but I will read all that you have written tomorrow.
I just want you to know that I’ve always admired you I love your writing. I was sincere when I thanked you for coming by and I did read your post a couple of days ago.
I understand the points you are making and agree with a lot of them. My problem is the timing of these allegations and the convenient distraction the provide from the leaks themselves. That doesn’t mean that I’m denigrating these women or minimizing what Assange may have done.
Again, thanks for coming by, and I hope we can continue to talk about this. I think it is much more useful when people engage with each other and share information than when people just take sides and shout at each other.
Valhalla, what do you need fixed?
Hey Val: Did I fix the quotes okay? and do you have some links to the swedish feminist sites? I was looking through the Stockholm paper for discussions on the laws and the complaints women had about the system.
Ha, we posted at the same time Dak. I was looking at Valhalla’s comment and you must have already fixed it…
dualing editors!!! cue the banjos!!!
Hey, as long as I don’t hear the distant sound of squealing pigs drifting faintly along the watery edge of the river, that is fine with me!
Have you ready any of this background stuff on the prosecutor Marriane Nye? She’s evidently trying to get Sweden’s Sexual Assault laws changed because she’s argued they infantilise women.
I think a large proportion of the public (if they are paying attention) does believe the women.
I think you’re right, and I also think it’s in part because Assange looks creepy. If he had the looks and social skills of a JFK Jr or George Clooney, maybe it’d be different.
or the money and marketable, in demand skills of a Kobe Bryant.
Personally, I don’t think he appears that creepy, but a lot of people have said that. I saw him on MSNBC this afternoon and he came across to me as highly intelligent and thoughful. Just reading the BBC article, I thought he sounded pretty arrogant and egotistical, but you would have to be pretty self-confident to do what this guy is doing.
I think that people that are highly intelligent weird a lot of folks out.
I have an open mind about wikileaks and Assange.
After reading the accusations of sex misconduct, not rape, I do not believe the women. The two women lost all credibility by their own actions, i.e., waiting a week to file a complaint, giving a party for the accused, allowing the accused to stay for no apparent reason in the apartment of one of the accusers. Methinks their motives are corrupt.
I’m not sure what their motives are. I’m willing to assume they acted honorably when they reported being harmed. However, only one of the women actually went to the police. A friend of Miss A. revealed Miss A’s confidences to police. Since no charges have officially been filed (this time–the charges have been dropped twice now), I think we should wait and see what happens.
However, I can’t blame Assange for wanting to stay out of the hands of the U.S., a country that tortures, has no habeas corpus rights for anyone declared a terrorist, and whose president claims the right to assassinate citizens of any country if he wishes to.
I find it hilarious that certain bloggers are claiming that the U.S. will do everything legally in dealing with Assange and Wikileaks. Give me a break!
Very good article, BostonBoomer, and I find all your subsequent comments here quite helpful and thoughtful and well-reasoned, also.
Thank you very much, Pilgrim.
All the reasons you mention are issues that have bothered me, too. In addition, what man has ever had two rape accusations, other than serial rapists? Were these women approached by someone? Did they know each other? Something doesn’t make sense here. It reeks of collusion to me.
Something else that bothers me here:
While I don’t know–and probably only Assange knows–whether or not either of these women were what used to be called a “tease”, if you send a man mixed messages about your willingness to have sex, you shouldn’t be surprised if he thinks that when you say “no” you don’t really mean “no”–especially if you’ve already said “yes” more than once.
The two women got together and compared notes before going to police. I don’t know much more than that. I would really like to hear directly from the women instead of all these people who are interpreting the events without knowing much at all.
Maybe we’ll eventually hear from them. We’ll have to wait and see, which most people don’t seem to want to do.
In the meantime, the material coming from Wikileaks is still of some interest, despite Assange probably being an A$$hole. That’s just my opinion…
Sometimes I feel like I must have been born in the 19th century and just happen to be living in the 21st century. I’ve never discussed my sex life with anyone and can’t imagine ever doing so, much less comparing notes. Sigh….
I call bs on the “tease” business. That’s what they always say. No means no. If, in the unlikely event she “doesn’t really mean it” and he doesn’t proceed, that’s her problem and good for him.
Unfortunately, neither of these women actually said “no,” according to one woman’s self-report and the other woman’s second-hand report through a friend.
I agree with you that being “a tease” isn’t an excuse for rape.
What went on here is that Assange was invited into both women’s homes and allowed to stay in each home for more than a week. The women had uncomfortable experiences with him, but didn’t kick him out or say “no” to him. It’s not even clear if they women wanted him charged with anything. They told police they wanted him to be tested for STD’s.
After the events took place, these women tweeted that they had had sex with the coolest guy in the world, or something like that. These descriptions certainly suggest a difficult prosecution.
The events were not that similar to what happened to Marcotte, but I can see why she was traumatized by hearing the descriptions. In Marcotte’s case, the attack was clearly unwanted and a deliberate rape attempt. And she says her attacker was convicted. Maybe Assange will be convicted in Sweden too. But he doesn’t deserve to be tortured or killed, IMHO.
This discussion is so much more thought provoking than the knee-jerk reactions that are going on everywhere else. And while I am quite certain I don’t have an answer or a clear opinion, it does make me think about how I as a woman would act and want to be treated in this situation.
Though I too do not agree with everything Wolf said, the most important message that I take from it is that “No” needs to be very clear and it is a duty of women to be clear about their consent or non-consent. It’s been making me so uncomfortable reading people’s opinions that it is ok to charge someone with rape, (what should be thought of as) a very serious crime, when consent was given. That women can decide at any time, before, during, or long after that they have been raped and that it can be a surprise to the man, which according to Assange it was. And this sort of ambiguity gives no guide to a best practice in sexual relations. It resuscitates the argument of “No sometimes means yes” when we let the ambiguities of “Yes sometimes means no” through the door.
It makes me feel like power is being taken AWAY from women by the argument that it’s not within her power to state her wishes clearly not to have sex. And while it is most certainly true that there are situations in which a woman is overpowered or feeling unsafe to say no, I have been in situations and have had it expressed to me by other women the reluctance to say no for being disliked or called a tease or what have you. This is some of the feeling I get when I read Miss A saying “I let it go so far already” so she proceeded with tacit consent. Not as a shaming device or punitive measures, but women should be encouraged to say no and to be held to as much responsibility as males to be very clear. I believe that women do have that power. And that is what I take away from your excellent post.
The Guardian story of the leaked police documents is just strange and tangled. It’s hard to know what to make of the entire thing. That’s also quoted in BB’s story above. It’s got to be a tough case to take to a court. There’s a lot of odd behavior on everyone’s part if you can believe this report.
Actually, the majority of rapists do act serially. Would would be more suspicious is that ONLY two women have come forward, if it were not for the obstacles and social pressure not to report sexual assault to begin with.
Again, the Guardian article which has the details of the allegations (link above), including the sequence of events and the contents of the accusers’ actions. Their descriptions of what happened are quite plausible (note, “plausible” does not nec. equal “credible” or “must be true”). You should read it.
Good, reasoned opinion…
We have to let the justice system play itself out.
bb, like you I am conflicted about what to believe. Still trying to determine whether this is a good thing or a bad thing. Throwing in the sexual allegations, to me at least, speaks volumes when the “crime” involved between two consenting adults may lay more in his overall behavior toward them then as a criminal complaint at large. I just don’t know what to buy anymore when it comes to the “news”.
Assange probably is a moron in how he deals with women. But is that a crime unto itself? It is just so murky that it becomes rather difficult to sort out the truth from what is being played out.
I am more bothered by the fact that each of these women were still associated with him even after they maintained that they were harmed by the activities. But again, I don’t know how I feel about this whole mess until all the facts come out. So far we have been issued only enough information that just seems to continue to muddy the waters.
The powers that be want the water muddied. Men need to learn to take no for an answer. That’s an huge issue for any woman. But none of this–to me–is empowering that discussion. We’re getting everything in response from slut slamming to the idea that every man will lurk in the bushes to attack a random woman. Neither model furthers rationale discussion AND it takes away from the content being released by the Wikileaks.
Really good post BB. Very thought provoking.
The discussion between Naomi Wolf and Jaclyn Friedman is very interesting.
Yup, it sure is.
Thanks, MABlue. I tend to disagree with Naomi Wolf a lot of the time. But I think some of the things she said made sense.
I’m sure Friedman has a lot of good ideas, but I guess it’s hard for me to see sex as something you formally bargain with someone about ahead of time. It doesn’t seem realistic to me. But I’m from a different generation.
My generation had to fight to get any kind of sexual abuse taken seriously. We didn’t even have names for the things that are done to children, and there was no one to report child abuse to, no one would listen.
Today there is so much more awareness. Even in the case in Muncie, the police acted responsibily. It was the school officials who tried to cover up the rape. Younger women have no clue what it was like for women back in the ’50s and ’60s.
Totally agree, BB. When I was in college unwanted pregnancies were the big issues because of abortion restrictions. The pill gave college women a whole new freedom, and I used to quietly chortle at the women I knew who would explain that their doctors had prescribed the pill for them due to “complexion problems”. No woman felt comfortable, back then, admitting that sex could be fun and that she wanted to feel free to enjoy herself–not, at least, until the feminist movement took hold in the seventies. It wasn’t until much more recently, when AIDS and STDs became an issue, that condoms made a resurgence in sexual activity.
Thank goodness I lived in the pre-condom era. I thought it was pretty funny that one of those women said she couldn’t tell whether Assange was wearing a condom or not. There is a huge difference.
I’m lesbian and I was prescribed the pill when I was only 16 to regulate my periods. I had no desire for sex with men and naively was totally shocked when some women said yeah, the pill was to regulate your period and burst into sudden raucous laughter. I was so shocked I didn’t mention it again for years. The type of pill I took was the sequential type which was later removed from the market for killing so many women. It did wonders for my complexion.
Now that you mention it, I do recall that regulation of irregular periods was another use of the pill–don’t know if it still is. And yes, a happy side effect was that it *did* improve a woman’s complexion. However, even when the pill first came out there were concerns about using it, unabated, for even 5 years straight, so I doubt that any reputable doctor would have prescribed the pill solely to clear up youthful complexion problems–especially if that same woman might want to use the pill a few years later for family planning within marriage.
I don’t know if it’s still used for period regulation either. It was just prescribed for a few months. What I remember more than anything was the shock and shame I felt at such a young age from those women’s reactions and how I shut up about having used the pill and for what purpose for years after that.
yes, both my daughters were put on the pill for that reason and severe cramping, etc. I sent them both off to planned parenthood in high school while their father wanted to remain in denial.
Looking back on it, I can laugh at how shocked I was, but at the time it was mortifying.
But there was no denial involved in my pill use, Dak. Both the doctor and my mother were fully aware that I was not sexually active with boys. It was just for period regulation.
Yes, I took those too. When I started on the pill they were loaded with estrogen. They did make my boobs get a lot bigger, but there were plenty of negative side effects too.
Yes, that Wolf/Friedman discussion is interesting and makes you think…that is what’s good about it.
MM, they both agreed on one thing, that this case is motivated by politics.
No matter, whoever, however, and whenever one does talk about rape,
it’s torture of the mind and body, and it’s mainly women who bare the blame, because they are perceived as “careless”. There is where you get your grieving and fear. We can thank our masculine society for that.
Here’s the rope around my neck, there was discord in their consenting sexual activities. All is not well when the one woman allowed him to stay on, and she made no effort to leave the house. She must have loved the sweet talk, because she threw him a party. What was she thinkinig? Couldn’t she have asked him prior to sex, what his intentions were, and safe sex. Why didn’t she say no condoms no sex?
He paid no mind because he was already sleeping in her bed, and then he begins to rape her, so she went along with it, and did not kick him out of the bed?
It doesn’t feel good to read this, because I don’t know what the hell they were all thinking.
I find the women’s accounts credible AND Assange, from a legal standpoint if not in the court of public opinion, innocent until proven guilty. It’s true that the timing is convenient for the state, but remember that these women are supporters of the Wikileaks movement, and at least at the time, admirers of Assange. For them to be colluding to trap him, they’d have had to have been “plants” long before.
It’s the women’s admiration for Assange and his cause that fully explains their hesitation and apparent confusion. It’s just such a familiar story, from Presidents on down: Powerful man with admiring fans turns out to be a creep who takes advantage of supporters’ trust. Should I tell? Is it just me? What will the others think? No amount of woman power makes one immune from peer pressure and self doubt. Had Assange not gotten greedy, abusing two women in close proximity and time span, his (alleged) predatory proclivities might have gone unreported for years.
You’re absolutely right, BB. The allegations of two women — or two hundred or two million — would never merit this much international law enforcement attention. That’s a tragedy that bears not one iota on the women’s claims. From what I can tell, all their supporters want to see is their allegations fairly addressed. If Assange can be questioned without extradition to Sweden, fine with me.
As for the extradition hyperbole, I find it overblown, and particularly laughable from Ms. Wolf, who recently rated Obama “Christmas and Hannukah and New Years rolled into one,” and now paints him as a murderous dictator ready to consign her latest HEro to everlasting torture in Guantanamo. Please. If the U.S. government really wants Assange disappeared, his location is no object. In fact, it would be better for them if he’s not in the U.S. when he goes missing. Geez, just assign one of their “honeytrap” CIA plants to drop a little something in his drink.
Excellent comment. I agree that the women’s accounts are credible and that they would have had mixed feelings because of their admiration for Assange. I also think he’s the type of person who probably isn’t very aware of other people’s needs. People who have worked with him say he’s extremely self-centered and treats people badly. But he did stay in Sweden for five weeks in order to talk to the prosecuter, but she (not “he” as some bloggers think) couldn’t find the time to interview him. He requested permission to leave the country and was granted it. Then they suddenly loosed Interpol on him.
I have big problems with Naomi Wolf too. But I did find the discussions between the two women interesting. I have problems with both of their points of view. I really can’t take a side in this, except that so far I think Wikileaks is doing a good thing.
There are a lot of conspiracy theories popping up around the internet now. One far left writer is even claiming the U.S. government created Wikileaks in order to assert more control over the internet. I doubt that. Our goverment couldn’t stop 9/11. They can only stop “terrorism” when the FBI talks the person into doing it and gives them the weapons.
Ha ha, well, not sure they would’ve wanted to stop 9/11. That’s the gift that keeps on giving.
Sadly, that’s true.
Frost over the World – Julian Assange
Assange in this clip discusses the case against him and about extradition to the US. Oh, the US does have the death penalty for spies.
fascinating watch … well worth the time, thx for posting it!!!
Why whenever this guy’s mug is in front of a TV camera does he specifically and singularly call out Hillary Clinton as the axis of evil? Whether it’s the underlying mission of the leaks, just his personal bias, or a clever dog whistle to ensure continuing adulation by prog-bot supporters, it’s what had me suspicious of Assange’s motives before ever hearing of assault charges.
Perhaps that’s why all I get from this interview is diversionary word fog, spiked with a hefty dose of narcissism.
UN to investigate treatment of jailed leaks suspect Bradley Manning | World news | The Guardian
Have you all seen this? I have been offline for a bit and need to catch up, but this just came out!
yup: I just put that on my thread up top dealing with the last wikileak releases on Bangladesh
Oh good, I have not had a chance to catch up. I’m watching this documentary on North Korea…geez, it is very disturbing.
It is such a pleasure to read a post full of referenced information and an admission of conflicted feelings instead of a full on one sided rant. Thanks for the good job, BB. Thanks also to those whose knowledge and opinions informed the comments on this post.
This is fast becoming my first non-economic go to blog each day! (no offense intended, Dak, to your economic/finance posts here)
Nope. It’s a team effort here and every one posts on what they’ve got some interest and background. I’m just one voice of a bunch now over here!!
Having come off a two-day battle with myiq at The Confluence (mostly under the Confidence Men post), I simply must commend your excellent analysis – intelligent and perceptive. Thank you.
BB knows how to do her research, doesn’t she? Good to see you!!!
There is a very good piece on assange and Sweden culture/womens rights. Sheds light on amnesty internationals findings. Backs up my impression of Sweden being very pro womens rights. It’s called an open letter (or just letter-sorry) to Michael Moore. I followed link from correntewire. Read your piece earlier BB, and just read this– on the run now — but thought this might interest.
kewl, thx! good to see you!! First comments always go to moderation. You can post anytime now and you can link to Dkos. It’s fine!!!
I saw that article yesterday. I didn’t link to it in this post, but I may write abot this subject again. Thanks for your input on this, and welcome!
Ah, letter is at dailyk (one of few times I’ve ever gone)
Letter on assange is called “dear Michael Moore” — sorry for inaccuracy.
Hmm, that’s interesting in light of what Amnesty International has to say about the country and its prosecution of sexual assaults.
Again, I think it would be useful for everyone to read The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo or at least see the movie. The author was writing about violence against women in his country, Sweden.
I actually have the book but haven’t read it. I just don’t have the time for fiction any more. I wish I did.
Ditto, Kat. But Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is exceptional and BB’s right, it reveals in stark terms Sweden’s attitude towards violence against women.
Rachel Maddow’s interview with Michael Moore and why he posted bail for Assange.
Also, he said that women that who file rape claims deserve to be taken seriously.
Glad he said it.
I understand, and have experienced, the milieu that I think was and perhaps is operating around Assange. I haven’t experienced it around him, of course, but my wild and misbegotten youth had many episodes of remarkable similarity to those the women describe.
I don’t think it’s rape. I do think it’s assault of some kind, IF he turns out to be guilty. I don’t think it’ll be easy to prove. I also don’t think it would have amounted to a hill of beans except that powerful people in government want Assange discredited and shut up, perhaps permanently. I’m astounded that will all the dirty dealings our government can do and has done that all they can produce is this.
So, Assange has been lately in many countries, a celebrity of some notoriety in all of them. What about women there? Any of them coming forward?
I want Assange to answer the charges and I want the women to have their day in court if that is what happens. BUT, I vehemently do NOT want Assange to be captured and turned over to the US to be disappeared and tortured. I am terrified that our government will make that happen. The treatment of Manning and others before him is a chain around the necks of ALL Americans. I’m sick to death of being one of the ‘protected’, protected from what? Knowledge?? Life?? Some nebulous danger that requires us to lower our values and standards and agree to torture and kidnapping and holding without recourse to law??
Hey everyone! I’ve given up on trying to nest on this thread, I’ll just throw everything out here. Yes, you guys fixed my appalling quote mistakes above (thanks!).
Dak and BBoomer — I was sad when you guys left TC until I followed you here and think you are doing great stuff. (And MMinx!). This is where I stop every day for the Morning Reads, plus the first place I go to understand the financial & economic news.
And yes, to MMinx — your one link to The New Agenda set me off. Well, just the headline.
I do think that Bradley Manning and the WL docs themselves are not getting as much attention as they should be. With Manning, and Assange, it’s important to keep the focus on them because much of the human rights violations the US commits it gets away with because it manages to hide them away from people. Plus I definitely agree it’s highly problematic that the Assange allegations seem to have eclipsed the contents of the cables themselves. At the end of the day, it shouldn’t be about Assange but about the WL work. I was very glad to see your article about the Bangladeshi (Bengali?) coal mines — that is atrocious and shameful. What’s worse is that this one atrocious instance seems to be completely ordinary business-as-usual for the U.S. If it were up to me there would be great attention being paid to that.
What makes me completely crazed, though, is the truthy war being fought against the two women in Sweden, where no falsehood or sexualt-assault-enabling trope is too much to use in Assange’s favor. Both because of reinforcing incredibly damaging narratives about rape AND just in general I can’t stand the intenet lie machine. It seldom seems to generate just random lies, but lies with a particular purpose, regardless which “side” they’re coming from.
That link to Sunny Singh about the Swedish prosecutor is one of them. It’s filled with Assange’s defense lawyers’ spin, and she strawmans all over the place. All the further links just go to more people who are either Assange’s attorneys, or to other people (deliberately) misconstruing Swedish law, or the allegations, or international law. I kind of think, if you have to make stuff up to support your side, then maybe the side you’re arguing isn’t very good. (I esp. hate the kind of strawman indignancy Singh comes up with). This kind of stuff is such poison, because perfectly reasonable people start repeating it and all of the sudden everyone “knows” things that just aren’t true.
Esp. since there’s no reason to have to go there. Assange could be a serial killer and it still wouldn’t change the value of WL, or the importance of stories like the Bengali strip-mining.
(as an aside on Manning — I don’t really have any evidence to back this up, but I think he probably did break the law and he seems to have been bragging about it, it sounds like the case of a very small cog in a big machine who was partially motiviated by suddenly being important — essentially just a kid who’s now swept up in the massive game of thrones).
What I’d like to be researching these days is the potential US indictment against Assange, because based on the little I know about international law and espionage law, the law is not on the US’s side, unless they can tie him to Manning through some sort of conspiracy charge. But the intertubz are so clogged with everyone’s uninformed “opinions” right now it’s pretty hard going. It’s a specialized area of law and not so easy to research.
On the Singh post, and the further links, I think it’s Singh who’s saying Swedish law (or reforms) are infantilizing, not the Chief Prosecutor. From what I’ve read, the discussions in Sweden are about changing the elements of sexual assault from basically “no means no” to “only yes means yes” in terms of consent. (this is a whole other discussion, but it really has to do with what consent means and isn’t about infantilization of women). I’m having a hard time looking into Nye particularly (those $*#)(*U#! Swedes! They insist on printing everything in Swedish!).
On the Singh post, here’s some stuff that’s just wrong:
“Sweden’s distinctly odd rape laws”
Well, not really. Here’s the Swedish penal code. They’re really quite ordinary.
“Instead what is more worrying are the epic twists and turns of Sweden’s rape laws which appear to be applied at discretion. Already this case has gone from being upgraded to rape, then downgraded to molestation, changed to rape by surprise, rape because the condom broke, and finally, yesterday’s he “used his body weight to hold her down,” (which is definitely rape, but strangely brought out only three months in to the legal process).”
First off, all criminal laws are enforced “at discretion.” Everywhere. Here, in the UK, in Sweden, everywhere. There is even a term for it, “prosecutorial discretion.” There are problems with it (a whole ‘nother topic), but no prosecutor’s office in the world can prosecute every claim reported to them. The only other alternative to prosecutorial discretion is to prosecute none of them. I trust Singh (and most of us) wouldn’t favor either alternative.
Next, the sequence of events and charges is baloney. At least one of the women went to the police, who notified the on-call prosecutor. The on-call prosecutor put out a warrant. The initial decision was overruled by another prosecutor. The English translation is a bit convoluted, but it reads as if the secon prosecutor didn’t shut the book on all claims against Assange, but only the “worst” one of rape (meaning the legal definition of rape in Sweden).
In sexual assault cases, sexual assault claimants can be assigned an attorney to represent them — the women’s attorney appealed the second prosecutor’s decision, and then finally Chief Prosecutor Nye overruled the second one. All of this, btw, began in August and was over before the big WL cable release. (links to timeline on Swedish prosecutors site, unfortunately google-translated, here, here, and this site, which seems to be pro-Assange but which contains links to all the prosecution updates.
There is no such thing as “sex by surprise”, and Assange was never charged with, or under investigation for it. There is no “condom-breaking” rape law in Sweden, and Assange was never charged with, or under investigation for that, either. There is no law against consensual sex without a condom in Sweden, either (that’s not in Singh’s post but is propagated by her reference links). The information about being held down wasn’t “only brought out three months into the legal process” in the way Singh implies; it was part of the original allegations, which were “revealed” by The Guardian 3 months into the legal process. It is not in any way unusual for prosecutors (in any country) to keep the contents of an investigation confidential while the investigation is going on. Defendants don’t have rights to discovery until the equivalent of the indictment and then the trial, and then the prosecution has to lay everything out there. And that’s a good thing.
“that the Swedish prosecutors themselves have asserted that the consent of the women is not in question”
This is just flat out untrue. (Singh doesn’t even bother to link to truthy references on this one).
Her indignant concern-trolling on behalf of “infantilized” Swedish women is nauseating. It’s an example of everything I hate about opinionating on the Internet — ranting and diatribes are a fine thing, but not based on made up stuff. Take the time to do research. And no, “research” does not mean just finding links to other people’s ill-informed opinions which happen to agree with the strawman you’re trying to build.
I’ve tried to chase down everything above and the most original source I can find for any of it is Assange’s defense lawyers. Again and again, it comes back to spin from his defense attorneys. In some sense, that’s their job and I don’t really have much to say about them spinning away, but I do fault the thousands of people who ran off repeating everything they say as if it was written by god on stone tablets.
Ok, now I have to run off to RL and wrap presents. Where are those d*mn elves when you need them???
Happy holidays to everyone!
Same to you and thanks!!! I actually think all rape allegations should be taken seriously and these rape allegations should be taken seriously. However, I also don’t think these women should be called ‘honey traps’ until the evidence is in or ‘victims’ until the evidence is in. That’s the role of the Swedish Criminal Justice System. I also don’t think they or Assange should be ‘victimized’ by either side of the Wikileaks imbroglio. The leaks should stand on their own merits. People that are using the sexual misconduct/assault charges on either side for grandstanding are victimizing every one in the process. Typical ad hominem political attacks! Wikileaks bad because look he’s a sexual predator. Wikileaks good because look, these women are sluts!!
I’m not being take in by any one’s spin at the moment. I’m more like fascinated and shocked by the various camps’ takes. I’m more like collecting it at the moment than using it for research per se. But, I would like to learn more about what Swedish feminists think of their sexual assault and battery laws and the conviction rates, etc.. I may just sit down and read Girl with the Dragon Tattoo this weekend. I have to work on something right now for my major professor. I’m hoping to get some stuff from him on the Bangladesh mining project in the process.
I’m more focused–as you can tell by posts–on analyzing the wikileaks releases.
Thanks for continuing to share you thoughts and research!! Have a great holiday week!!!