news read: feminists debate the Assange rape allegations (and they are allegations, not charges!!)

This is worth a read: Jaclyn Friedman v Naomi Wolf, feminists debate the Assange rape allegations, on Democracy Now. The preamble transcript gives a good overview of the facts, if you’re a little in the dark still (and confirms no charges have been pressed, they’re allegations only).

Jaclyn Friedman argues the sexual assault allegations shouldn’t be dismissed just because they’re politically motivated, while Naomi Wolf says by going after Assange, the state is not embracing feminism, it’s “pimping” it. Friedmans says:

Rape is a very serious crime, and it’s also one of the most underreported crimes across the globe. And one of the reasons is because every time the issue comes up in the media, people come out of the woodwork to blame the victims and to minimize the crime. And unfortunately, when we see someone who is a progressive hero, like Assange is, those critics, those people who are doing that minimization and that victim blaming often come from the left, as well as the right. And we’ve seen that across the board. Unfortunately, with—Naomi Wolf has participated in that, as well as Michael Moore, Keith Olbermann, Glenn Beck—of course, plenty of people on the right are participating, as well.

Wolf rebukes by pointing out that there was consent from the two Swedish women. But also that the allegations will never get off the ground:

So, because I take rape seriously, because I’m aware that in 23 years, you know, in Sweden, which has been criticized by Amnesty International for disregarding rape, for letting rapists go free, because you have a better chance in Sweden, if you’re a rape victim, of, you know, dying in an accident or getting breast cancer than having a serious rape allegation prosecuted or getting any kind of legal hearing, according to Amnesty International’s report “Case Closed”—it’s because of that that I know that these charges are utterly, utterly atypically handled. In 23 years, I’ve never seen any man in any situation this ambiguous, involving this much consent, have any kind of legal process whatsoever.

I think they both miss a point. And it’s one a lot of people are scared to say. And that is that these charges ruin it for women with what I consider far more authentic and serious charges to lay. Rape cases can’t afford to be treated with rolls of eyes around the world. Sad. But true. It’s unfortunate this case has been knotted up in the broader political issues. Wolf’s argument speaks to this. But weirdly she doesn’t quite say it as such.

What do you think?

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