December 09, 2010

Now We're Just Haggling

The charges against Julian Assange were read out in a British court on Tuesday:

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.

Yes, "charges" is the appropriate word, used in both the applicable British and EU policies around extradition. Despite this, we continue to see people who insist, due to ignorance or some even less savory mental process, that no one should use that word until those charges are filed somewhere in Sweden other than the extradition warrant.

With all the rules-lawyering I'm seeing around what rape is, I kind of expected that. What I didn't quite expect, maybe because it was so early in the morning, was this:

A careful reading of the charges...would cause some people to conclude that, with the exception of the last, this is an argument about contraceptive methods during a one-night stand which has now achieved an international judicial dimension.

The last, if it occurred, would be rape.

I pointed out that if consent is dependent on use of a particular type of contraception, and that contraception is not used, there is no consent and asked whether he (of course it's a he) would care to explain why that's not rape?

As I thought about it more, though, I realized that it reminded me of an old, ugly joke. I retell it here in its modern form.

Him: Would you please sleep with me? I'll shower and treat you well. I'll make sure you enjoy it too, and I'll wear a condom to protect you. What do you say?

Her: Sure, why not.

Him: Let's do it without the condom?

Her: What? No! What kind of idiot do you think I am?

Him: Well, we've already established that you're a slut. Now we're just haggling over how I get to use you.

I don't think I've heard a bit of apologetics over the charges, including those indulged in by Assange's Australian attorney, that didn't amount to that in the end. Sums up the whole attitude toward women's sexuality pretty well.


outofthegdwaye said...

I'm curious as to why an allegation that Assange used his body weight to hold the alleged victim down is not a description of rape but just a question about consent and contraception. These people are making me angrier by the minute.

Stephanie Zvan said...

There's very little about this situation, from the parsing of "consent" to the idea of "star fucking" ("she'll fuck, but she won't fuck me") that isn't deeply, grossly appalling.

Greg said...

As I think about it, I think this is less about rape and people not getting that, than about Assange worship. Which still makes it about rape and such, but adds the additional means of accusing the victims of something ... star sex I believe is the term.

Which places Julian Assange and Roman Polanski in a similar boat, I suppose, except for the underage part.

I have mixed feelings about Wikileaks, and I'm very glad that they have done most of what they've done. But the simple fact that I refuse to uncritically accept Wikileaks as the best thing since sliced bread and the simple fact that I don't automatically worship Julian Assange (nor do I despise him .... just no opinion as yet) has lost me numerous friends among those I don't know that well, and it is starting to attrit my real life important friends as well.

I see cultism. Sorry if that bothers anyone, but if it does, before you go off on me just take one quick look at yourself.

Stephanie Zvan said...

Greg, I agree that there's a certain degree of cultism here. However, as far as the intersection with rape goes, all that does is tell me what these guys feel they would be entitled to if they were just famous enough.

Greg said...

Or, more to the point, those guys feel that this guy is more entitled. That's how it works, really.

Stephanie Zvan said...

As a woman, I don't really think that is to my point. Whether they think someone else is entitled to me, they still view me as an entitlement. That has implications for how they behave when they're feeling entitled (or at least where they rank their entitlements next to mine) that extend beyond the cult scenario.

Greg said...

I still think it matters. For instance, what if instead of Julian Assange this was Denny Hecker? There would be far less interest in finding ways to show that the women were making it up, or calls for assumption of innocence by the man along side disregard for the assumption that a charge by a woman should be taken seriously, etc. (For those not from the TC: Hecker is a recently vilified local car dealer and widely distrusted bad guy. Not even I'm defending him and he got me a car at cost onece!)

Stephanie Zvan said...

I think the cult status is an issue, yes. I think it elevates the entitlements of the person afforded cult status. It encourages identification and, thus, empathy.

However, there is no way for me to tell for any individual whether they're elevating the level of entitlement granted above that which the grantee claims for himself. The only information I have is that this person is capable of classing me as an entitlement. They'll be treated accordingly.

Hecker, being reviled, is generally considered to be less deserving of...anything at this point. What entitlements someone would not grant him gives me no information whatsoever.

Becca said...

Disagreements about what perks are appropriate recognition of fame is a personality cult issue.

Treating access to real, live, human individual's bodies as a simple "perk" is all about rapeculture.