Julian Assange Rape Allegations: Questions raised, some answered

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A debate with Jaclyn Friedman and Naomi Wolf:

Hat tip feministing.

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51 thoughts on “Julian Assange Rape Allegations: Questions raised, some answered

  1. Carol M, the term “hat tip” is a phrase used commonly by bloggers to indicate where a story was originally seen, or by whom a story was originally suggested, directly or indirectly. It is a way of giving credit to a source. In this case, I first saw this video on the blog “Feministing.” If you click on the link, that will bring you to that blog post. This is a commonly used Internet courtesy.

  2. Stephanie Z: lies? You need to stop getting your information from the mainstream media. Dislike Julian assange all you like that’s your deal but don’t propergate rubbish just because you heard it on the news. Neither women wanted to press charges, neither woman went to police to press charges and no charges have been laid. Why do youthink that is??

  3. There is enough male abuse of women and for women to be TRULY offended but to be knee-jerk gullible about every accusation is a sign of insecurity and victimhood than working to fight the patriarchal system that is the underpinning of the contents being leaked.

    Considering Sweden of all places to have sexual charges to appear was suspect the minute it popped up as it was the country Assane was looking to apply for citizenship and Sweden is very sexually liberal. Nothing added up except a calculated framejob.

  4. From the reports I read what they really wanted to was for Assange to be tested for Aids. Given his icky leaks this seems a reasonable request and given how freely he seems to be banging away without a condom it seems like a good idea for all concerned.

    The Swedish authorities decided to prosecute. At first I suspected some influence from the USA, but now I think it is just more publicity houndism. Everyone wants to be on the news.

  5. By the way, a credible source is also one that accounts for the fact that Assange isn’t blaming any kind of government acting behind the scenes for the charges against him. He’s blaming…wait for it…”revolutionary” feminism. You really do need to read the link in comment 3.

  6. I tend to side with Naomi Wolf’s interpretation rather than Jaclyn Friedman’s. The context of the entire situation, at least as it has been reported, does not look like rape but perhaps more like poor judgment in choosing partners (on both sides). The women got together and compared notes and didn’t like that Assange had been with both of them on the same trip. I understand that originally their concern in going to the police was to force Assange to take an HIV test. Using a torn condom apparently falls under Sweden’s draconian sexual assault laws, it doesn’t make it sexual assault as generally understood in the U.S. at least (that is, forcible rape). And I have read that it’s just a misdemeanor even if he were to be convicted. For this he must be under house arrest and fight extradition? It’s POLITICS.

  7. jaytee, you’re repeating the lies too. Why? For the record, the charges against Assange:

    She said the first complainant, Miss A, said she was victim of “unlawful coercion” on the night of 14 August in Stockholm.

    The court heard Assange is accused of using his body weight to hold her down in a sexual manner.

    The second charge alleged Assange “sexually molested” Miss A by having sex with her without a condom when it was her “express wish” one should be used.

    The third charge claimed Assange “deliberately molested” Miss A on 18 August “in a way designed to violate her sexual integrity”.

    The fourth charge accused Assange of having sex with a second woman, Miss W, on 17 August without a condom while she was asleep at her Stockholm home.

    Would you like to explain what about that isn’t rape?

  8. Listened to the debate and read the article which is linked to comment 3.

    The only person stating anything about fear is Jaclyn Friedman, and she was not there.

  9. I think we are seeing a situation here which is much like that we saw two Junes back when we talked about rape in wartime.

    Rape has become something it was formerly not, by any reasonable cultural or legal definition. And quickly. We are undergoing this transition as we speak, actually.

    A man forcing someone to have sex needed to be doing so with a woman that did not know the man, or was at least very vaguely known if at all, with violence and/or a serious threat of violence, and of course total lack of consent. The guy with a knife in the parking long. Today, acceptable sexual interaction must be consensual, and that consent is normally something that is developed prior to the intimacy and maintained by rechecking or tacit consent thereafter.

    This transition certainly happened within the lifetime of many of the commenters on this blog. The transition has involved a large percentage of involvement of women’s role in the cultural, social, and legal parameters. In other words, prior to this transition, women who were raped by their husbands, for instance, were not victims. A woman who found herself being groped in the morning by a man who she is a bit surprised to find herself in bed with, who pushed him off and went for a cup of coffee instead of … whatever … was a bitch or a prude. Now, the woman forced to have sex with anyone, or who is not fully engaged in the consent, is actually a victim.

    One of the costs of this change is, of course, that we have to take the capitol R off of the word “rape” (we’re not throwing the “R” away, we’re just reserving it, but see below). Having someone be pushy in bed (attempting to have sex without full consent) is not the same thing as the person who brandishes a knife and chases after a woman on her way through the parking lot going home from the night shift. Both of these cases of “attempted sex” (as it were) are attempted rape, but they are of vastly different magnitude, and are in fact qualitatively different. The man who is put off in both cases can not be seen to have done the same kind of thing, or, perhaps, assumed to have learned the same kind of thing. The guy with the knife has learned to jump from the shadows a bit later, and the guy who was pushy in bed has learned a bit more about this consent thing, perhaps.

    Notice that I used the attempted, not completed, form of the act in that example. That is becasue correlating a woman’s level of injury from the two acts with the seriousness of the attempt is not direct, and in both cases the nature of the injury will depend on a retrospective view of the nature of the lack of desire of the woman and the prior relationship of the man and the woman and all sorts of other things. There has to have been fear in the parking lot. There may or may not have been with the guy who she took home last night and regrets seeing this morning. And so on.

    And that actually leads us to a very interesting and important point.

    The violent parking lot rape does not involve negotiation at all. There is no point at which the woman, being chased down the street by the guy with the knife, suddenly decides that maybe she would like to have sex with him after all, or turns to him and starts to seriously discuss terms. But the guy who is pushy in bed may in fact be a regular lover of the woman, and it may even be the case that this couple has a relationship in which him being pushy and her saying no, then they have sex, is what happens. During the “June Massacre” we had people explaining that rape was not rape becasue they personally raped their sig oth’s once or twice a week because that is the kind of sex they had. Assange is accused of intromission sonambulae, which is not terribly uncommon as a consensual sex act among couples. But existence of neither form of codified consensual rape-like activity within some relationships matters.

    The key point here is that the old-style concept or rape is the one where there is no negotiation, just a man forcing himself on the woman, and the new concept includes that PLUS the cases where negotiation towards consent does not lead to mutual consent but the man pushes on with a very incorrect idea that it will be easier to get forgiveness than permission. And sometimes he may even get forgiveness. Other times, he gets charged with surprise sex, or whatever.

    The truth is that not all forms of attempted rape (by our modern definition) are so bad, and some are in fact very close to what most would consider normal negotiation. At least, they are not as bad as, say, getting pushed down in the mud and robbed. But rape (beyond attempted rape) is special in that there is a point at which it is no longer attempted, and at that point, it is impossible to presume to assay the “badness” of that. Succumbing for whatever reason to a pushy man who somehow ended up in your bed might be more or less damaging to different women, at different times, in different circumstances, and it has the potential to be quite bad. This ambiguity is addressed by the legal system which is more thoughtful about these things than our cultural system tends to be. The penalties to the man at that end of the spectrum are usually mild, accusations rare (not always for good reasons), investigation uncommon, prosecution hardly every happens.

  10. a) 1″Neither woman has alleged they were ‘afraid’. They never allege they said ‘no’.

    Posted by: Sierrageckokilo | December 28, 2010 12:10 PM”

    b) 2″ Bullshit, Sierrageckokilo. Stop spreading lies about the women.

    Posted by: Stephanie Z | December 28, 2010 12:30 PM”

    c) 3 “Read this: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/in-depth/wikileaks/wikileaks-founder-baffled-by-sex-assault-claims/story-fn775xjq-1225976459286

    Posted by: Greg Laden | December 28, 2010 12:46 PM”

    I have both read and listened to the debate. And can only repeat that given the facts as laid out in the linked article and the debate, the only person who mentioned fear remains Ms Jaclyn Friedman, and she was definitely not in Sweden during the time frame in question.

    Stop moving the goal posts. It is not “spreading lies about the women” to point this out. Attacking people who happen to point out that you are inventing things is your standard approach. It does not make allies, nor make it easy for people to appreciate your point(s).

    Whle I personally think that Mr Assange is probably not a wonderful human being, the matter of whether rape occurred, or not, is in the hands of the courts, and he is currently out on bail,and still enjoys the presumption of innocence.

  11. MacTurk: I may be wrong, but I’m not reading Stephanie’s commentary here as insisting that Assange is guilty or that he does not enjoy the presumption of innocence. I think the issue here is rather that the women are being accused of false allegations, or being part of a conspiracy that has to do entirely with wikileaks being attacked by the CIA (or whatever) and were not the victims in a legal matter that has an accused and a victim as per usual.

    I don’t think fear has anything to do with it (see my lengthy comment above). Fear is almost a required, or at least, presumed feature of the old-style concept of rape. But that was then and this is now.

    I didn’t point to the link above to specify a particular thing that happened or did not happen. What I do find interesting, though, is that I read “rape” when I read that piece, and it all comes form Assange himself.

  12. Lie 1: “We know what the women have said.”

    No, we don’t. We don’t know what’s in their statements. They haven’t been released. We have a few assertions running around the internet that come from sources like Assange’s Australian attorney, who has been demonstrated to be spreading incorrect information about the charges Assange faces.

    Lie 2: “Fear is relevant to charges of rape.”

    Greg covered this one quite well. If you still don’t understand, ask questions.

    Lie 3: “The women didn’t experience fear.”

    From the information that even Assange’s supporters are spreading, the women, both before their sexual encounters (by insisting on condoms) and after (by trying to get Assange tested for STDs) demonstrated a great deal of concern for their personal safety. Do you want to get into an argument about what degree of concern becomes fear?

    Lie 4: “The women didn’t say no.”

    Which part of no consent without a condom is a difficult concept? Would anyone care to posit the exact magical words that are required to translate women’s actual consent or lack thereof into “Yes” and “No” for guys who don’t want to hear “No”? Be warned, it’s got to work, and you’ll never again be able to argue whether it was rape once the magical words are used.

  13. What seems to be going on here is argument by inuendo and argument by hear say. “I am a feminist, therefore I believe the women.” I for one am willing to treat the women as adults and to treat their claims exactely the same as I would a man’s.

    Police reports (which are generally raw data) have now surfaced, they make certain alligations. These allegations may or may not be true, that is what a trial is all about.

    At this point Assange hasn’t been formally charged with anything. However, this sure does divert people’s attention away from the merits of the WikiLeaks documents doesn’t it?

    I do not think that it is totally unreasonable for people to wonder about the motives of these women. Particularly, given the timing of these allegations and the ferocity of the attack by the governments involved.

  14. Greg, it’s worth noting that “Rape has become something it was formerly not, by any reasonable cultural or legal definition” required cultures and legal systems that denied women ownership of their own bodies. Otherwise, you will be pulling down on your head the wrath of those who don’t understand that “reasonable” is generally determined by the powerful. Or would like to assume that you don’t know that.

  15. I’m sorry Stephanie I did not realize that I was required to believe that someone is guilty until he is able to prove that he isn’t. Perhaps it is that way in Sweden.

    In the meantime, am I not permitted to take a look at what else is going on with Assange? Am I not permitted to, with the same amount of information you have, wonder about the interesting coninsidence in the timing of all this?

    Finally, I am treating these women as adults, you are demanding that we simply believe them. That is not how one treats adults.

  16. Stephanie, that’s why I said it like I said it. As an interpersonal crime, rape is rape. Women had significantly less voice in shaping mainstream cultural or legal systems up to very recently in our society*, which is tied very closely to the fact that the worst sexual crime against a woman was against a woman carrying some man’s baby, or married to some man, etc. etc.

    Think about assault. If you own a slave and the slave looks at you funny, you can have him or her whipped. That’s legal, culturally acceptable, and in fact, if you don’t do it, it may be culturally a bad thing. In the early 19th century in Alabama. Plain and simple, what now would be assault was then normal. The slave’s perspective was not culturally powerful or legally extant.

    You’re right, there could be those who would misunderstand what I’ve said, and then we can have the old fight about who’s fault it is when our communication does not involve the perfect transfer of thoughts, concepts, data, etc. from one brain to another.

    *And it is still true and will be as long as most elected leaders are men, but it is less true because of the domino effect of having “guaranteed rights” for all citizens, with the main way of keeping some (most, initially) citizens out of that promise being to either classify some (women, blacks, non-land owners, whatever) as not citizens, or others (gays, felons, immigrants, whatever) as beyond the pale.

  17. Assange believed that a woman took a trophy picture of him in bed. He believes, therefore, that she views him as a trophy. Maybe she does. That, apparently, and according to a very straightforward interpretation of what he’s said, allows him to stick his dick inside her body while she is asleep.

    Nice going, Julian. Yes, lawguy, the context …. the WikiLeaks context …. has everything to do with what happened. If you are really going to be a cult figure, after you’ve had your fun with the women whom you initially impressed, keep your mouth shut. Or, don’t write down your thoughts in a secret diary and then scream at every single person in the world that there can be no secrets.

    Chicken, roost. Roost, chicken. Have a nice day.

  18. From what I can tell from Greg and Stephanie. all the allegations made against Assange are absolutely irrevocably true then right?

    Well then I guess the only thing to do is to go straight to sentencing, we can always have the trial later.

  19. lawguy, where have I said that Assange is guilty? Find it for me, please.

    I am saying the people who are smearing the women are applying a disgusting double-standard and frequently using rape myths to do it. I’m saying they’re every bit as guilty of rushing to judgment as the ones saying Assange is guilty.

    Only I haven’t been able to find anyone who says Assange is definitely guilty. The only thing I’ve been able to find are people saying that the charges against him need to be taken as seriously as any other charges. Would you care to point to any examples of people saying anything else, or do they all exist in your head, like your certainty that I’m claiming Assange is guilty?

  20. I love that “coincidence of timing” argument, by the way. When, exactly, would be a good time for criminal charges to surface against Assange? When was he planning to take a vacation from pissing off powerful people?

    Beyond that, why is the scrutiny that Sweden will receive not a very good incentive to do everything necessary to demonstrate that they don’t treat the powerful better than the powerless?

  21. From what I can tell from Greg and Stephanie. all the allegations made against Assange are absolutely irrevocably true then right?

    I’ll let Stephanie speak for herself, but I’ve said (above, and elsewhere) that of course he is innocent until proven guilty. That’s an American concept and he is not American, the alleged victims are not, and the American system is not involved, but I’m pretty sure there is a similar concept at work.

    The only thing I’ve been able to find are people saying that the charges against him need to be taken as seriously as any other charges.

    Yes, but also, people are implying it would seem that this particular type of “sex crime” is not real, valid, or legitimate. Rape that is not the guy in the parking lot with the knife is not rape.

    Stephanie: the people who are smearing the women are applying a disgusting double-standard and frequently using rape myths to do it. I’m saying they’re every bit as guilty of rushing to judgment as the ones saying Assange is guilty.

    I would agree with that.

  22. Lawguy: Really, then why do you seem to accept what the women say at face value?

    That was directed at Stephanie, but I think it points to something interesting. The reason I put that link in comment 3 was in part to show what Assange is saying.

    The way the law works (and I know you call yourself lawguy and stuff, but I’m pretty sure I know a lot more about the law than you do) is that we simultaneously have a presumption of innocence (and due process) and a face value thing going on at the same time. When a judge is asked by a prosecutor to remand a suspect, the defense can not say “Innocent until proven guilty!!!” as a counter argument. The face-value of the charging officers, witnesses, etc is taken together with other factors to determine if bail should be granted. The seriousness of the crime is considered in whether a given suspect is held or released. How is that possible in a system where “innocent until proven guilty” is the ONLY way of viewing a situation?

    I assume that if you really are a law guy, it’s patent law or something, right?

  23. Stephanie Z 12:35 p.m., 12:46 p.m. But at any rate then you are telling me that you do not accept what the women say at face value? You do wonder about the conicidence of the timing of the alligations?

  24. I would not take the timing of the events at face value. Almost all the time we see that as evidence for something, there isn’t anything there. It is the foundation of the average conspiracy theory, not the foundation of reasoned arguments. How have we eliminated, for instance, confirmation bias? Why was there not a rape charge at the time the Iraq videos were released? The Afghanistan material?

    But seriously, I’ve read ALL of the LeCarre books, seen more than half of the MI-5 shows, one season of 24, and a bunch of other stuff on TV, and I can tell you that this is NOT how it would be done. “He tried to fuck me when I was sleeping”??? Seriously? How hard is it to get a witness to throw in a reference to a weapon, or to have a dead body, or to have the “victim” be a 12 year old boy? I mean, seriously. “He ripped a condom” is NOT the CIA or anybody else.

    I mean, really, US Military Intelligence and the CIA managed to get everybody to believe that Muammar al-Gaddafi was responsible for Pan Am 103, when he actually had nothing to do with it. Do you seriously think any actual nefarious forces are going to carry out an operation in which they make an arch enemy look like a clueless dick?

  25. lawguy, I don’t see what you’re pointing to. Quotes? The first date stamp you mention is referring to information that came from Assange supporters, not anything from the women themselves, because as I’ve noted, we don’t have their statements. (Although you suggest we do, I haven’t seen a link.) I don’t attest to the fact that it’s accurate, but it doesn’t match the description being thrown around.

    Your second date stamp doesn’t exist in this discussion.

    I am telling you that if you insist that Assange’s guilt or innocence is a matter for the courts, so is the women’s. Why is this a difficult concept for a “lawguy”?

  26. Lawguy: So your answer to my question to Stephanie is that you do take what the women are saying at face value?

    Holy crap, man. You have the answers you want to see and you insist on seeing them. Way to go.

    No, it is not. My answer, however, referred to the nuanced nature of the law, the dichotomous nature of criminal justice, the pragmatic difficulty of taking accusations seriously and at the same time seeing to due process. These are concepts that I suspect are beyond the mental ability of a rather dull 14 year old who calls himself “lawguy” (just a guess, but I’ll put mone on it).

  27. You’re joking right? Well, you can call it whatever you want, but it does appear that you are taking the allegations more seriuosly than the denials. And are more than willing to believe that Assange would be capable of them. I guess I could be wrong, but I truly doubt it.

  28. From Feminisnt » The feminist left versus Julian Assange: how a fanatical belief in every sex crime allegation hurts everyone

    Note: Link not entirely safe for work.


    “‘Victim one’ bragged about bagging Assange, threw a party for him the day after he “raped” her, and only decided she’d been “raped” after finding out she wasn’t his only lover. Earlier this year, her blog also promoted an article about how to exact malicious revenge on the unfaithful. (That series of events apparently could sound suspect only to a woman-hating rape-apologist?) Once two jilted Assange groupies discovered each other, the women who’d previously stayed friendly with Assange even after their “assaults” (while thinking they were his only girl) got upset and decided to go to the police. And, even then, they didn’t go to press rape charges at first, they went to see if they could force Assange to undergo STI testing. After there wasn’t enough evidence to charge him with anything, and then after repeat tries got the charges thrown out of court, one woman escalated her claim and said that, yes, actually, she did recall that he held her down with his bodyweight when they had sex. The rape hysterics have been holding that part up as the new lynch pin in the case.”

    There is quite a bit more to read there… Me, I’m just trying to ascertain the time line of events.

  29. There’s also the whole jerk thing, which goes along with the cult worship we are seeing.

    Julian Assange by his own evidence, by the things he says, is a jerk, was a jerk to these women. Most people would figure that if you’re going to be a jerk, if bad shit rains down upon you due to that jerkines, you deserved at least some of it. But what we are seeing here are strident efforts to make sure that the whole jerk thing not apply to Assange.

    As is generally the case with cult leaders.

    I hasten to add that I don’t actually think Julian Assange is trying to be a cult leader. Maybe, maybe not. But he’d being treated that way, and the young man is too naive and uneducated in the ways of the world to see this happening, and seemingly unequipped to say something sensible to the would be cult followers. The guy is NOT John Lennon.

  30. I have several concerns about these accusations
    1) They were not reported until several days had passed.
    2) They were only reported when each “victim” found that Assange had been fucking with the other (with the assumption that NO reports of assault would have been made if both were ignorant of Assange’s dalliances).
    3) Both victims continued to associate with Assange after the alleged assaults. One letting him stay at her apartment and throwing a party for him.
    4) Assange was in Sweden and available for questioning for several weeks after these accusations were made, and it appears the previous prosecutor decided there was no criminal case to be made, allowing Assange to leave Sweden with a “clean record”. The current prosecutor appears to have resurrected these complaints AFTER Wikileak’s latest data dump.

    The whole thing STINKS of political manipulation by the US, UK and Swedish governments so that Assange can be held until the USian AG can drum up some charges and request Assange’s extradition to the US.

    As soon as that happens, I’m betting the Swedish government will drop its extradition request or cede priority to the US.

    As to the allegations:
    I’m very troubled by his refusal to use a condom and agree with both women that Assange should have a full STD screening with any positive results reported to the women.

    The rough sex one seems to be a she said/he said situation with the woman’s credibility greatly diminished by her late reporting and continued friendly association with Assange.

    I have several pleasant memories of being woken by a morning rider after a night of consensual sex. Was I being assaulted then?

  31. Martin, three things, just off the top of my head.

    1. Why is it your concern instead of the courts? Why are you trying the women in the arena of public opinion?

    2. You need this: “How Must She Behave to Have Been Raped“.

    3. No, of course you weren’t raped, you idiot. You’re stating here that you were consenting. The partners who woke you up that way, however, were risking committing rape.

  32. I have blogged a conspiracy theory version of this; it seems to me date rape would be a *smart* thing for EvilShadyGovernmentAgency to play with here, not a dumb one – you place Assange anywhere near a dead 12 year old boy and no-one’s going to believe it. Changing-definitions-of-rape actually works at splitting his base.

  33. Rough sex isnt rape, lying about not having a condom to get unprotected sex when she wants sex too much to stop you isnt rape, Being an ass afterwards doesnt turn the sex you just had into rape… Rape is rape, this is not rape.

  34. With all the talk about him being promiscuous…and these women having a fear of getting a STD…UM..then why did they bang a guy they really do not know, if they are so worried about a STD. Makes no sense.

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