Ah, did you hear that? It’s the sound of a feminist tornado occuring on your laptop.
If you’ve been at all active on Twitter, Facebook, or any blog; if you have read the news- or watched it, or even watched not news, like Keith Olbermann’s show perhpaps; if you have taken a gender class, or a sociology class, or an anthropology class- you get my drift. Chances are, you heard it: the massive swirl of four entirely large personalities (or I guess five, since the whole thing is about one man). They are Michael Moore, documentary filmmaker; Keith Olbermann, political talk show host; Naomi Wolf, feminist author; and Jaclyn Friedman, editor of Yes Means Yes! (and, admittedly, one of my own feminist sheros). All of these people are speaking out on the topic of Julian Assange and the rape allegations brought against him internationally.
Let’s start with a quick summary: Julian Assange was finally put in jail for the allegations (he avoided them for a while), and then celebrities- including Moore and Wolf- posted bail for him. Moore went on Olbermann’s show to discuss it and the two men ended up opining (and tweeting) about the “rape” and using words like “hooey” and lots of “quotation marks.” What occurred then was a shitstorm: Olbermann shut down his account on Twitter after receiving an abundance of criticism, and Moore has simply ignnored the voices talking united under the hashtag #MooreandMe.
And so, round two: Wolf and Friedman appear on Democracy NOW! with Amy Goodman and talk about the case, from woman to woman and famed feminist to another. How disappointing, then, that it was actually a debate on the merits of the allegations and how seriously they should be taken. Some excerpts from a transcript:
JF: No is not enough. Every sexual person has the responsibility to get affirmative consent from their partner.
NW: He then consulted with her and asked her what she wanted and she did not say no, she continued to have sex with him.
JF: She was afraid. He had held her down. She was in a state of fear. Many many women,this happens over and over — you talk to rape survivors I can’t believe you don’t know this. Many women are in a state of fear and unable — they’re in a panic situation, this is so common as to be laughable, and the reasons they don’t take these [fears?] seriously is because you tell them that. I travel–
AG: We have ten seconds, ten seconds, Naomi, you can respond.
NW: All I can say is that if a man or a woman who is engaging in sexual activitiy and never hears no, and hears “yes, yes, yes”, yes that’s go ahead.
The battle is between Wolf, Olbermann, and Moore- who say the prosecution of the case is misleading and politically charged, full of misunderstandings and unworthy of media attention, and unindicative of Sweden’s traditional rape process (which is not having one) – and tons of angry voices demanding justice for two women who are now jumping through hurdles to convince people they’re not motivated by conspiracy, government business, and fame. Sound just? Not quite.
Here is what’s just: the right, for both Assange and his accusers, to a fair trial; the right, for all rape survivors past, present, and future, to not be bogged down by their pasts, job occupations, friends, and lifestyles, and be given the right to assert what happened to them regardless of who it effects and what its implications are; and the expectation that media attention on rape cases not detract from the horrors of the act and the need for survivor’s voices.
The attention being paid to this case is unusual, but it is also important- to break the silence and to stop celebrities from always getting away with crimes of this nature. Assange’s case is his business, and it’s also the business of the women involved- it should not belong to Michael Moore’s wallet or to political pundits. Justice is letting justice be served by those who understand the law, and not hot air.
So get back to Twitter, folks- more work should be done. (Use the hashtags #MooreandMe and #TalkAboutIt to get in on a larger discussion, and watch our Twitter feed for updates!)