Trigger warning: this post discusses rape and links to some nasty examples of rape apologism
The latest in the saga of rat-faced probable rapist Julian Assange: having lost countless extradition appeals, he has skipped bail and is trying to skip the country to go to Ecuador.
I have written before about how Julian Assange and Wikileaks are two mutually exclusive concepts, and that Wikileaks has never raped anyone, but Assange probably did based on what his own defence lawyers have said. It’s also a remarkably silly decision for a self-proclaimed hero of free speech to decide to go to Ecuador.
The thing about Ecuador is that they’ve got a pretty bad record on letting journalists speak their minds, unless they’re thinking about how thoroughly brilliant government is. Assange is, I suppose, fairly chummy with the Ecuadorean president, so maybe this relationship can work, and our self-proclaimed hero of free speech can live out the rest of his days as a state propagandist. If his plea for asylum goes through, I suspect Wikileaks will never publish anything remotely critical of Ecuador again. So much for free speech.
Usually for the excuses Assange is using–that he might face the death penalty in the US for his work with Wikileaks–the place you would probably want to seek asylum is Sweden. Sweden is pretty fucking good on not extraditing people: their law means they cannot send someone to a country with the death penalty or for political offences. And they take CIA rendition flights very seriously. Simply put, Sweden would not extradite someone like Assange for his work with Wikileaks.
So why won’t Assange go back to Sweden, where he is still phenomenally unlikely to find his arse extradited? All that is left, once the smoke and mirrors of the inflated threat of extradition from Sweden clears, is the fact that Assange raped two of Sweden’s citizens. And of course, Assange’s fans are still banging the rape apologism drum.
They fundamentally (probably wilfully) misunderstand consent, one site thinking that a sleeping woman should have probably expressed non-consent if she didn’t want to be raped while asleep. Another, an incoherent mess suggesting that the site was put together by run-of-the-mill rape apologists rather than the hackers, laments Sweden’s “gender politics”, considering the whole thing to be some sort of big feminist conspiracy to get men to wear condoms. And of course, the survivors are dragged through the mud again and again, and my heart goes out to them. Not only do they suffer the utterly vile abuse of the fans, but they are instrumentalised in a both real and perceived international power struggle by a reboant chorus of cunts who can’t tell the difference between a rapist and a website.
The rape apologism shows the last resort of people with no other form of argument. The US extradition threat from Sweden is flimsy, but Assange wants to evade any form of accountability for his actions.
Which makes things difficult. In my ideal anarcho-utopia, there would be no courts and no extraditions (for there would be no borders). Sexual violence would be addressed through transformative justice and community accountability, with the needs of the survivor put first. But here’s the pinch: it requires engagement from everyone. It requires the Assanges of the world to stop running and start to accept that they have crossed boundaries. It requires the rape apologists of the world to shut the fuck up and stop spinning conspiracies, expressing deep misogyny and outright lying about survivors.
It is due to people like this that we are stuck with the current system we have, deeply flawed and often harmful. They are doing themselves no favours.
Big thanks to @gwenhwyfaer, who pointed out to me how Sweden’s usually going to be the place you want to flee to if you’re in trouble politically.