Sisterhood Blog

About Those Rape Charges Against WikiLeaks' Julian Assange

By Sarah Seltzer

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It’s been another “bang your head against a wall” kind of week for progressive feminists. Many of us may appreciate the fact that Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, has done a service for transparency and government oversight and is probably being persecuted for political reasons. But we also fervently believe that the outstanding rape accusations against him in Sweden — for which he is now sitting in a British prison — should be taken seriously, as all rape accusations should be, until the evidence is marshaled and heard.

We’ve watched in horror as the false meme that Assange was accused of having sex without a condom or “sex by surprise” or having a condom malfunction was picked up, spread and run with by erstwhile feminist (and a Jewess who claims to have had a vision of Jesus) Naomi Wolf and progressive heroes like Michael Moore.

In fact, as Jezebel’s Anna North writes, the charges are very serious: “[T]he British extradition hearings make it clear that Assange is accused of such crimes as holding a woman down during sex, and having nonconsensual, unprotected sex with a woman while she was sleeping.”

Jaclyn Friedman makes the excellent case at The American Prospect that due to the persistence of a rape culture, it’s hard for people — even progressives —to grasp the fact that yes, the rape prosecution being picked up by Interpol is probably politically motivated, and that at the very same time, the rape accusations may also be founded in truth. Because let’s face it, if “the authorities” wanted to “frame” Assange to put him behind bars, why make up charges about the difficult-to-convict crime of rape, which in Sweden carries a fairly light sentence?

The whole fracas is absurd, disappointing and distracting. Assange is being made into a folk hero, as the brave soldier actually alleged to have leaked several documents sits in brutal solitary confinement. The saddest aspect to me is that all it would take for Assange’s defenders to get themselves off the hook is a simple sentence of disclaimer: “Rape is a serious crime and we should hold off on our judgments until we know the truth about Assange’s actions. In the meantime, back to the import of WikiLeaks, which extends beyond one person.”

Is that really so hard?


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