Posts Written by Antigone

Consent and sexuality – the murky waters of the Assange rape allegations

Hello all! Even though it has been extensively covered by the feminist community, I thought I’d post some reflections on the lessons for the Left from the Assange rape allegations. Enjoy!

Trigger warning: this article contains references to sexual assault that may cause distress to survivors.

When I heard reports that Julian Assange, co-founder of whistleblower organisation Wikileaks, had been accused of sexually assaulting two women I was shocked and reluctant to believe them. The possibility that someone so seemingly committed to holding governments accountable for their human rights crimes could themselves be a perpetrator of such a fundamental assault on a person’s autonomy is a hard one to stomach. As a community blogger from commented, “most people have a resistance to believing that people ‘like us’ – people who do things we like and admire – could be guilty of acts we don’t like or admire”. I was no exception.

And I was not the only one shocked or in denial about the allegations. Michael Moore urged us “not be naive about how the government works when it decides to go after its prey” and to “never, ever believe the ‘official story’”. Journalist John Pilger called the sexual assault allegations a “political stunt”, while Assange’s UK lawyer Mark Stephens stated “The honeytrap has been sprung”. Assange himself claimed to be a victim of “revolutionary feminism”. It was at this point that something seemed to have gone wrong. Two women had alleged that they had been sexually assaulted, ...

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