Letter to John Pilger from an Assange Hater

22 Feb

Dear John,

I am writing to you as someone who had long admired you, just as I had admired Ken Loach and Noam Chomsky who join you in their unwavering Assange support, in your pursuit for “justice, freedom and truth” against imperialism. As my close friends will know, I had especially admired the three of you (that is, yourself, Loach and Chomsky) for your devotion for the largely forgotten Western Sahara cause. Yet, as Shakespeare said, lilies that fester smell far worse than weeds, and my deep admiration has turned to deeper disappointment.

In your V-Day (the international day of the global campaign to end violence against women) piece in The Guardian, you described Julian Assange’s “allies” as devoted to “an epic struggle for justice, truth and freedom.” Sadly, this piece disappoints me so much that I cannot even find it in myself to respond sarcastically, which is my normal reaction to opinions that displease me. I consider myself as anti-imperialist, pro-transparency and generally devoted to “justice, freedom and truth.” However, within my commitment to “justice, freedom and truth” I tend to include “justice, freedom and truth” for women.

Right now, in the UK and elsewhere in the world, the singular issue where “justice, freedom and truth” is most lacking, in my opinion, for women, is that of rape, or “sexual misconduct”, as you might put it. I find that, in my daily life, I am constantly preoccupied by the threat of rape, of Schrödinger’s Rapist (the stranger, who takes it upon himself to approach me, for example by cat-calling, in public, and who may or may not turn out to be my future rapist), and by the weighty “rape culture” in which a number of my actions may, in future, be considered to be “asking for” my own rape.

You claim that the allegations against Assange of “sexual misconduct” (is that a softer way for you to say “rape”?) are “falsehoods”, and imply that, since the women that accuse him had previously consented to sex with Assange, their accusations of rape are dismissible. As a woman, I find this offensive. The idea that any man with whom I have previously consented to sex can come and hump me at will – with or without a condom and certainly without my express consent – does not sit well with my idea of “justice, freedom and truth.” This idea does, however, sit well with the wider rape culture that permeates our society, in which women are expected to follow rape prevention tips if they wish to avoid being blamed for “causing” sexual assault.

I will fight for Western Sahara’s self-determination to the end, yet I will denounce the hushing-up of claims made by Saharawi women of rape by their compatriots (not that this is any worse than the lack of justice for rape survivors anywhere else, the UK included), just as I support the cause of the Palestinian people whilst simultaneously being disgusted by the placing of women’s rights in second place to those of the Palestinian nation as a whole, (which, to me, implies that the Palestinian nation is only for men). Likewise, I support efforts, such as those of wikileaks, to call out government and corporate corruption, but am equally committed to calling out Julian Assange for his lack of respect for women.

I cannot think of a situation where I would not feel hatred towards a rapist. I hate Assange for disrespecting women’s autonomy over their bodies. Therefore, I am a member of the, what you call in your article, “Julian Assange Hate Cult”. Yet, I am not a US government ally “out to crush someone who has revealed its dirty secrets.” Not everything is black and white, a dichotomy of goodies and badies. You can be an anti-imperialist and a rapist. You can be an investigative, leftie journalist and a misogynist.

Yours sincerely,

Assange Hater.


11 Responses to “Letter to John Pilger from an Assange Hater”

  1. Liz Terry February 22, 2013 at 9:54 pm #

    Some good points, and I entirely agree with you about the scandal of victim blaming and covering up that goes on around cases of rape and sexual assault. However, although I may be wrong here, as I must admit to not having followed his case that closely, I thought that so far, Mr Assange has been accused of rape, not charged or convicted. If this is the case then I think you may be getting yourself into hot water by calling him a rapist on here. Feel free to correct me!

    • NaturalWoman February 22, 2013 at 10:02 pm #

      You’re right, he hasn’t been convicted in any trial. However, his own defense lawyer’s description of what happened (not paying attention to the prosecution) indicates rape (obviously not in everyone’s opinion, as some people believe if you consent once, that counts as consent forever).

      There is no option to charge him or convict him since he is too cowardly to leave the Ecuadorian embassy and face his charges.

      This is a personal blog. I can say what I want, right?

      • NaturalWoman February 22, 2013 at 10:04 pm #

        In any case, thanks for reading and thanks for your comment. It’s good to be challenged! 🙂

  2. Liz Terry February 23, 2013 at 7:38 am #

    It is your own personal blog, yes, but it’s still a public access one. I completely agree with you about Assange, he is a coward, but the fact remains that if you call him a rapist on a public access blog, then you could be accused of libel. I’m concerned for you, definitely not for him!

    • NaturalWoman February 23, 2013 at 4:26 pm #

      But to be accused of libel, the statement would have to be defamatory – damaging to Assange’s reputation. I think Assange has such a terrible reputation (save amongst rape apologists, who are unlikely to change their view of the man based on my argument anyway) that he wouldn’t get far in a defamation case.

      Also, the statement would have to be false. Based on the transcripts I have read from Assange’s defense lawyer, I don’t believe I have said anything that is false.

      Since Assange is a public figure, he would have to prove malice – that I’d said something I knew to be false on purpose. As I say above, I don’t believe I have said anything that is false.

      That said, I’m no lawyer, so who knows.

  3. NaturalWoman February 23, 2013 at 4:39 pm #

    Blogging on what Assange’s defense says: http://studentactivism.net/2011/07/12/assange-lawyer-concedes/, and on how the survivors’ voices have been ignored by the media (amongst a simultaneous flurry of interviews with Assange): http://studentactivism.net/2011/01/05/assange-accusers-newspaper-interview/

  4. Liz Terry February 24, 2013 at 11:10 am #

    Thanks for the blog articles. I think you may be right, his own lawyer’s statement is bizarre! Whatever the outcome of his case (if he ever comes out of hiding and actually faces the music) he is clearly an odious man.

  5. Richard Kerr May 11, 2013 at 12:06 pm #

    Hello, I’ve been enjoying your blog this afternoon. I’m interested to know if your opinion on the Assange case would be changed if you discovered that one of the women in question went out to dinner with Assange on the night following the alleged rape. Also, if you found out that both women went to the police, not to report rape or misconduct, but to ask about forcing Assange to take an STD test. They tried to withdraw their enquiries once they realised what was being made of them. Pilger and others are putting their neck on the line because this case has such obvious political origins and motivations and it’s sad that one-time supporters are falling for this large-scale orchestrated smear campaign.

    Out of interest, I once woke up to find a woman having sex with me. Rather than think of it as rape, I found it quite charming. The Swedish woman’s behaviour afterwards suggests that she felt the same way.

    • NaturalWoman May 12, 2013 at 9:00 am #

      Hi Richard. I’m glad you’ve enjoyed reading the blog and thanks for taking the time to comment. But no, none of the above changes my views. No consent is no consent is rape.

  6. NaturalWoman September 9, 2013 at 12:17 pm #

    I should also add that views along the lines of “it can’t have been rape because the women seemed fine about it immediately afterwards and only reported it much later” show, for me, a total lack of understanding of how rape affects people and how survivors often deal with it.

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