[This post talks about rape]
Even if all the other papers in the world ran article after article admitting defeat and extolling the virtues of the Sunday Times and confirmed, repeatedly, that the Sunday Times ran the best articles in the history of journalism and that people who didn’t read it ate their own bogies for Sunday lunch and peed in cat litter not because they couldn’t afford a toilet but because they preferred it. Even if every paper in the world declined to report any news at all except the news that the Sunday Times was the best paper in the world. I. Still. Wouldn’t.
I am, of course, over-stating the case, because I can find the following crap in virtually any newspaper in the world (excuses for copying it all out here; the Times paywall prohibits a simple link*):
‘…I have no strong feelings about Julian Assange, who in the past few weeks has become the softest of targets. Perhaps this is why I am growing so tired of women of my acquaintance boldly stating that Assange is a rapist, a misogynist and a danger to women.
‘Here’s what I think: if somebody stalks you at a party, tweets about how excited they are to be with you, invites you into their bed and has sex with you, then it is perfectly reasonable for you to assume that they quite like you.
‘If you assume that they quite like you, then you may also assume that they would not be sickened to their very soul by a repeat performance in the morning. You may be assuming wrongly; you may have made a wrong call; you may be slightly autistic and bad at reading the signals; you may have rubbish manners. Certainly, you should have asked first. But the idea that your making this assumption is a sickening, woman-hating enormity is ridiculous. Being grabbed by a stranger and raped behind a tree is a sickening enormity, and to say the two are comparable is a piece of stupidity.
‘The Assange case isn’t about domination or misogyny. It’s about assuming that a person who has sex with you is quite into you. I’d say that wasn’t such a giant assumption to make.‘
Well, I hear you ask: where to start? Because even for a rape culture, India Knight has taken the ‘not rape rape’ argument to dizzying heights by referring to a specific case and then totally ignoring the specifics of the specific case.
But for starters.
I’m as certain as certain that others – far more eloquent than I – have already made this analogy, but clearly, it bears repeating.
I like chocolate cake. Many a time, I have eaten a piece in front of a gentleman of my acquaintance, even in front of relative strangers. Sometimes, in a spirit of making conversation with people I barely know but have found myself partaking of high tea with, I have made a ”Hmm, yuum’ sound and baldly stated what a particularly lovely piece of cake it was.
Not one of said gentleman has ever taken that as his cue to grab the rest of the cake and start ramming it down my throat.
And if one ever did, I’m pretty sure that not one person of my acquaintaince would shake their head and say, ‘Well, you did say you really liked the cake. And it’s not like he forced you to eat fruit cake.’
Is this making anything clearer? If only for the food-lovers amongst us?
Then let’s deal with the revelation – thanks, India! – that to count, rape has to sicken you to your very soul. It’s news to me, too, but if you somehow manage, by sheer force of will, to deny a rapist the ability to detroy your life absolutely, then well, just shut the fuck up! Your soul is not sickened! Be off with you! Stop wasting police time, loser!
Now, I’d hate to turn into Ms Analogy or anything, but.
‘My car’s been stolen! Am I upset? No, not really. I wasn’t very attached to it to be honest and I never liked the colour and I don’t need it for work and I don’t drive it very much and, frankly between you and me, I’m glad to see the back of it. What do you mean I shouldn’t report the theft then? Are you fucking insane? IT’S STILL A FUCKING CRIME TO STEAL MY CAR REGARDLESS OF HOW MUCH I’M GOING TO BE AFFECTED BY IT!’
Seriously, any clearer?
And then let’s segue into the particular facts of the case in question, in so far as we ‘know’ them. It’s been fairly well established by now that both women involved had consensual sex with Assange; indeed one of the woman spoke to a Swedish newspaper and stated:
‘In both cases, the sex had been consensual from the start but had eventually turned into abuse.’
It’s also fairly well established one of the women’s complaint was that Assange had had sex with her without using a condom, despite her telling him he had to use one. It’s also fairly well established that the whole formal rape allegations arose when she sought advice as to whether she could legally require Assange to take HIV and STD tests.
So let’s talk ‘sickening enormity’. Because according to Knight – thanks, India! – somebody raping you who you’ve previously had sex with is not a sickening enormity. Being raped by somebody entirely new who does it behind a tree is. Got that? Good. I’m assuming the logic here is that, somehow, once you’ve allowed access to a penis, well, what’s one more time? I’m assuming that even though it seems insane, but is the only assumption that fits.
But here, the essential nature of the assault had nothing to do with the familiarity of the penis in question and everything to do with what it was wearing. Or not. What it wasn’t wearing leading to the very real possibility (Assange is, according to some ‘acquaintances’, very promiscuous), that the woman had contracted HIV or any other of a wide range of STDs. Would being given HIV count as a ‘sickening enormity’? Would HIV count, but not genital herpes? I’m fucking glad it’s not me policing the line of ‘sickening enormity’, India! Would the months of worry about the possibility of contracting HIV before a test could be definitive count? Questions, questions, India! I am laying money that you don’t have the answers because these questions flow from your basic premise and your basic premise was fucking stupid.
All this from only four paragraphs. Fitting such vast amounts of stupidity into such a small space is contortionist stupidity and shouldn’t be attempted at home.
*At this point you may be asking yourself how I managed to read this article, the answer being that certain people of my ‘acquaintance’ (and I use the term loosely) read the bloody thing.