Jaclyn Friedman and Naomi Wolf debate Assange

Jaclyn Friedman and Naomi Wolf went on Democracy Now this morning to debate the rape allegations against Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks. Part 1 of the debate can be found at the end of the latest episode, and part 2 can be found here.

A warning that this debate is incredibly triggering. I am quite frankly shocked by Naomi Wolf’s willingness to downplay the rape allegations in her attempt to defend Assange. What happened to nuance? Is Wolf completely unable to defend WikiLeaks and take rape allegations seriously as the same time? Wolf denies she’s victim blaming in this case, but I don’t know how to read this any differently: her argument falls apart in my eyes, but it seems to start from the place that if you’ve given consent once consent can be assumed from then on. Yeah, she’s basically saying, “Well, it’s complicated,” such an overwhelmingly standard rape apologist argument at this point it’s extraordinary to me someone with Wolf’s years of experience with the issue could speak like this.

Friedman actually has to say, in a debate with Naomi Wolf, “Consent is not a light switch. Just because you’ve consented to one sexual activity, say taking your clothes off, doesn’t mean you’ve consented to all sexual activity.” And further, “Every sexual person has the responsibility to get affirmative consent from their sexual partner.”

I really want to give props to Friedman. I don’t know that I could have responded to Wolf’s opening statements without flipping my shit, and Friedman does an extraordinary job of pushing back against rape apology from a self-identified “feminist.”

You can’t give consent while you’re asleep. This is obvious. So is the fact that states are acting in a politically motivated way when it comes to Assange. I believe a feminist should be able to hold both these realities in their mind at the same time.

Update: Privilege Denying Naomi Wolf. For self care purposes.

Boston, MA

Jos Truitt is Executive Director of Development at Feministing. She joined the team in July 2009, became an Editor in August 2011, and Executive Director in September 2013. She writes about a range of topics including transgender issues, abortion access, and media representation. Jos first got involved with organizing when she led a walk out against the Iraq war at her high school, the Boston Arts Academy. She was introduced to the reproductive justice movement while at Hampshire College, where she organized the Civil Liberties and Public Policy Program’s annual reproductive justice conference. She has worked on the National Abortion Federation’s hotline, was a Field Organizer at Choice USA, and has volunteered as a Pro-Choice Clinic Escort. Jos has written for publications including The Guardian, Bilerico, RH Reality Check, Metro Weekly, and the Columbia Journalism Review. She has spoken and trained at numerous national conferences and college campuses about trans issues, reproductive justice, blogging, feminism, and grassroots organizing. Jos completed her MFA in Printmaking at the San Francisco Art Institute in Spring 2013. In her "spare time" she likes to bake and work on projects about mermaids.

Jos Truitt is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Development.

Read more about Jos

Join the Conversation