The rape charges against Julian Assange have inspired a massive flareup of pure bushittery on the net, amongst Men’s Rights troglodytes and liberal bloggers alike, vilifying the accusers and dismissing their charges as politically motivated revenge schemes. The gist of it all: the charges are false, and it wasn’t even real rape, and the women charging him are evil feminist harpies and might be working for the CIA.
And, as Kate Harding points out in a Salon piece that is the best thing anyone has written about any of this so far, all this speculation is based on … a whole lot of nothing. We don’t know the specifics of the accusations, and much of what little we do know of the case comes second-hand from tabloids and other unreliable sources. One thing is clear: the few new details released today indicate that he’s being charged with real rape all right, so let’s move on from all the indignant and uninformed talk about “sex by surprise.” (Feministe has the only really intelligent discussion of the “surprise” issue I’ve seen.)
Harding sums it up:
The fact is, we just don’t know anything right now. Assange may be a rapist, or he may not. His accuser may be a spy or a liar or the heir to Valerie Solanas, or she might be a sexual assault victim who now also gets to enjoy having her name dragged through the mud, or all of the above. The charges against Assange may be retaliation for Cablegate or (cough) they may not.
Public evidence, as The Times noted, is scarce. So, it’s heartening to see that in the absence of same, my fellow liberal bloggers are so eager to abandon any pretense of healthy skepticism and rush to discredit an alleged rape victim based on some tabloid articles and a feverish post by someone who is perhaps not the most trustworthy source. Well done, friends! What a fantastic show of research, critical thinking and, as always, respect for women.
So let me make a radical proposal: Until we actually know shit about what really happened, let’s suspend our judgment about Assange’s guilt or innocence. Liberals want to support Assange because, you know, he’s fighting the power and shit. (Even Naomi Wolf has joined the pro-Assange chorus.) But the fact is, sometimes politically admirable people do bad shit to women. Men’s Rightsers want to vilify the accusers because the primary accuser is a feminist. But the fact that someone is a feminist doesn’t mean that she can’t get raped.
The low point of the Men’s Rights discussion of the case so far is probably this blog post by ScareCrow, who took a few moments from posting comments here to write up the strangest attack on the accusers yet. ScareCrow first demands that everyone assume that Assange is “innocent until proven guilty,” conveniently forgetting that those of us not actually serving on juries are entitled to come to whatever conclusions we want on criminal cases, for whatever reasons we want. (Heck, we’re allowed to disagree with jury verdicts: I have no problem calling OJ a murderer, even though he wasn’t convicted as one.)
Still, in this case, given that we have no real evidence to weigh, there’s no good reason to assume either guilt or innocence at this point.
It’s what ScareCrow does next that’s telling: after indignantly telling us not to assume Assange’s guilt, he spits forth an extended series of vicious “speculations” about the accusers, based on … what they look like in a couple of photos he’s seen of them. Of one accuser, he writes:
This woman reminds me of those women – to whom – everything is a simple “chess game”. Move and counter-move – guile and deceit. This type is what I like to call the “quiet” and “not so brainy” type. Smart when she was young perhaps, but upon hitting puberty, blamed her supposed “lack of attraction” on the fact that she was “no so brainy”. This lead to a contempt of men. I can see that in her face. A certain bitter frustration that her encounters with men did not proceed according to the “tea parties” she used to imagine as a small child – is what I see written on her face.
And of the other:
Ah yes. The look on this woman’s face is painful for me. Why? Simple – she looks like many women I have met – who consider themselves to be excessively attractive. Since they believe they are so attractive, they use that “feature” to hurt men. This type of woman was basically the “parasite” I encountered many times in my youth – at clubs, in college, and various other places where young men and women are supposed to “hook-up”. When being approached by a man, such women would usually respond with extreme callousness and uncalled for hostility and rudeness. Looking at her face, all I see is malice and hatred of men.
Yep, that’s right: she’s a dirty man-hating liar because … she reminds ScareCrow of women who
turned him down turned down other dudes (who definitely weren’t him) when he was in college. Absurd, to be sure, but not, in the end, all that different from liberal bloggers and Men’s Rightsers who, in the absence of evidence, have projected their own issues onto the case.
Go read the Harding piece.
EDIT: A new piece on Feministe critiquing Naomi Wolf’s idiotic blog post on the case.