Misogyny and the Backlash Against Assange’s Accusers

December 16, 2010

Below is a collection of articles that discuss the internet backlash against the two Swedish women who have accused Julian Assange, editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks of sexual assault. These charges come just after WikiLeaks publicly released 1500 of 251,000 secret U.S. diplomatic cables to the outrage of the U.S. Government. With the release of the documents, Assange has become a high profile media figure embroiled in global controversy bringing him both powerful enemies and loyal fans.

Unfortunately however, his fans (including many on the progressive left) and the media have taken to victim blaming. The women have been subjected to all manner of digital harassment – everything from accusations of concocting a CIA ‘honey-trap’  to publishing their identities (photos, writings, names, addresses, twitter accounts) all over the internet.

Like most women who make allegations against powerful men, these women have been lied about, harassed, and generally dragged through the mud. It would be nice if various justice systems took allegations of sexual assault as seriously as they have with Assange, but the global resources and effort is not about the care and regard for a fair and legitimate trial but seems more like a cynical and opportunistic attempt to punish WikiLeaks.

This case reminds us of the lack of respect and down right misogyny that is hurled at women who dare to report abuse.  Just as we should treat the accused as innocent until proven guilt, we should withhold judgment of these women and take allegations of sexual assault seriously.

If you have found any other articles or interviews that discuss the backlash please post links in the comments.

1. Assange Defenders Attack Rape Accusers for No Good Reason by Amanda Marcotte
on Slate.com, December 8, 2010

2. The rush to smear Assange’s rape accuser by Kate Harding
on Salon.com, December 7, 2010

3. Assange rape allegations: treatment of women ‘unfair and absurd’
by Amelia Gentleman
on Guardian.co.uk, December 8, 2010

4. C’mon, we can do this acting like grown-ups thing by Amanda Marcotte
on Pandagon.net, December 7, 2010

5. Whatever the Assange arrest is about, it’s not about how much women suck by Maggie Koerth-Baker
on BoingBoing.net, December 7, 2010

6. Some thoughts on “sex by surprise”
by Jill Filipovic
on Feministe.us, December 6, 2010

7. Naomi Wolf says “Assange captured by the dating police”?
by Jill Filipovic
on Feministe.us, December 8, 2010

8. No one gains from this ‘rape-rape’ defense of Julian Assange
by Libby Brooks
on Guardian.co.uk, December 9, 2010

9. What the Assange case reveals about rape in America
by Jessica Valenti
on WashingtonPost.com, December 10, 2010

10. How AOL News Started The “Sex By Surprise” Lie
by Jessica Valenti
on Jessicavalenti.com, December 10, 2010

11. This week in crazy: Naomi Wolf
by Mary Elizabeth Williams
on Salon.com, December 11, 2010

12. Jaclyn Friedman (Women, Action & the Media) and Katrin Axelsson (Women Against Rape) on the BBC’s World Tonight (radio interview at approx 15 minutes)
on BBC Radio 4, December 14, 2010

UPDATE: I’ll post all new or recommend articles here.

13. What We Talk About When We Talk About Rape by Jaclyn Friedman
on Prospect.org, December 10, 2010

14. About Those Rape Charges Against WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange by Sarah Seltzer
on blogs.forward.com, December 15, 2010

15. On #Mooreandme, Fucking Up, and Apologies by Miranda
on womensglib.wordpress.com, December 16, 2010

16. Tweet #MooreandMe if You Hate Rape Apologists! by Kelsey Wallace
on BitchMagazine.org, December 16, 2010

17. Talking About Julian Assange Has Become Utterly Terrible by Anna North
on Jezebel.com, December 16, 2010 (note: I am reluctant to post articles from Jezebel since last week they irresponsibly published the real name, twitter and photo of one of the accusers. As of December 16th, 2010, the info has not been removed.)

18. Some Shit I’m Sick of Hearing Regarding Rape and Assange by Kate Harding
on kateharding.info, December 16, 2010

19. Swedish feminists defend Assange accuser with #talkaboutit campaign by Jessica Valenti
on JessicaValenti.com, December 17, 2010

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10 Responses to “Misogyny and the Backlash Against Assange’s Accusers”

  1. I wrote a post today about this:

    And Now For Something Completely Different: Why Talking About Rape Matters http://carrieoncarrie.wordpress.com/2010/12/16/assange/

  2. Hi, I wrote about this Dec. 3, before the links you have above, and I wrote about it again this week. I’m a former journalist with a master’s in women’s studies.

    WikiLeaks founder & consent (by Suzie)
    http://echidneofthesnakes.blogspot.com/2010_11_28_archive.html#3423522638937068358

    Question revolution, or still more on Assange (by Suzie)
    http://echidneofthesnakes.blogspot.com/2010_12_12_archive.html#3294638833985376386

  3. http://www.ultimahora.com/notas/388122-Indignaci-… (it's in Spanish, sorry!)

    The article itself doesn't say bad things about the women, but the comments! OMG! Openly treating the women like whores… Simply appalling!

    I guess I just needed a rant… Keep up the great work!

    MJO Reply:

    Comment sections really oughta be prefaced with "Abandon Hope All Ye Who Read Past This Point."

    The separation of Wikileaks Wikileaking and Assaunge's alleged transgressions cannot be emphasised enough. So too the disconcerting way the two complainants have been vilified. We're a society who holds that each person has the right to a fair trial, on the understanding that a jury of one's peers will decide whether a person has committed the crime they're accused of. Not because of media speculation, not because one spokesperson said one thing and another said the opposite, but because of evidence. Until then, Assuange is innocent until proven guilty. That's all that should be said on the matter.

  4. [...] happened with the #MooreandMe protest in the last week, this post is incredibly comprehensive, and this post has a great number of links to articles and blog posts about [...]

  5. I don't think Assange is, himself, that great a guy. I am somewhat skeptical about the charges against him – especially considering the changes and uncertainty of the actual accusations combined with prior mutterings from influential figures that Assange should be taken out of the picture. It's convenient – not in the paranoid sense that this was planned – but that he betrayed two romantic partners at a time when quite a few movers and shakers would like him off the map.

    There should be some distinction between legal victims of rape, and victims of dating people who turn out to be assholes, I think. From what little I know of the scandal, I don't think it's the fault of either women, but I also don't think that Assange committed a sexual crime.

    Lauren Reply:

    have you read through the links? have you read the recent Gardian (http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2010/dec/17/julian-assange-sweden) piece which outlines the charges?

    what he is being accused of is definitely rape.

    Mike Reply:

    Yikes, I hadn't read that.

  6. [...] taken seriously,” Señor Moore. It’s been said before, and we’ll say it again: it [...]

  7. http://www.popmatters.com/pm/column/148575-bursting-wikleaks-bubble/