By Caitlin Johnstone
A few hours ago I stumbled across a tweet by Huffington Post UK editor Basia Cummings which made my blood boil. Actress and activist Pamela Anderson had just spoken to the press with WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson about their visit with Assange at Belmarsh prison, decrying the WikiLeaks founder’s cruel treatment and unjust prosecution. Basia Cummings took this opportunity to call her social media followers in to make fun of Anderson’s clothing.
“Pamela Anderson arrives at Belmarsh to visit Julian Assange wearing… a bespoke cape/blanket referencing ‘Cromwell’ and free speech’. It’s a look,” Cummings said.
But what really got me were the comments the tweet elicited.
“Is it possible to unwank over someone?” asked one user.
“Pamela Anderson arrives at Belmarsh to visit Julian Assange to supply him with some material for his cell wank bank,” said another.
“Cum blanket,” said another.
“She banged Kid Rock. Enough said,” said another.
This is just a small sampling from a quick skim. There are many, many others. I won’t quote them all.
I found this so deeply illustrative of the way mainstream liberals throw every value they claim to stand for right in the garbage as soon as it becomes an obstacle to their petty partisan attacks. They all warned that Trump was campaigning on a platform of xenophobia, homophobia and demagoguery, but as soon as he was elected they began launching phony Russiagate attacks which themselves were rife with xenophobia, homophobia and demagoguery. Liberal pundits who rightly criticized Bush for his unforgivable invasion of Iraq now attack Trump for being insufficiently hawkish toward Russia and its allies. These mindless automatons don’t actually stand for anything beyond blind partisan loyalty.
In the same way that they will happily wipe their asses with any of their pretend values the second it becomes politically convenient to do so, mainstream liberals will also fabricate grave, solemn concerns about things they never actually cared about before as soon as it can be used as an angle of partisan attack.
Feminist writer Naomi Wolf began her excellent 2010 essay titled “J’Accuse: Sweden, Britain, and Interpol Insult Rape Victims Worldwide” with the words, “How do I know that Interpol, Britain and Sweden’s treatment of Julian Assange is a form of theater? Because I know what happens in rape accusations against men that don’t involve the embarrassing of powerful governments.” Wolf argued that “men are pretty much never treated the way Assange is being treated in the face of sex crime charges,” and she was absolutely correct.
As a survivor of multiple sexual assaults, I have found it unspeakably infuriating the way this same patriarchal imperialist system which has allowed rape culture to thrive throughout the entirety of its existence has suddenly become deeply, deeply concerned about plot hole-riddled and completely unproven allegations against a man who just so happens to have published humiliating truths about that very same imperialist system. This same warmongering power structure which has never given a shit about women beyond our ability to fly a stealth bomber and squeeze new recruits out of our vaginas suddenly has the full force of its propaganda machine whipping liberals into a hysteria about allegations of acts that aren’t even illegal in the nations those liberals live in. Acts that these liberals have never even thought about pushing to make laws against in their own governments.
Do you know how you can be absolutely certain that anyone you see on social media rending their garments about Assange’s Swedish allegations is completely full of shit? Because no matter how hard you search through their post history, you will never, ever find any similarly enthusiastic push to ban the actions that Assange is accused of in their own government. In their own land, where their own daughters and sons will be impacted. They focus solely on shaky allegations against a target of the CIA and the Pentagon which are alleged to have happened in Sweden, a nation with very different sexual consent laws than the nations of these English-speaking concern trolls.
Without conceding that any part of the unproven allegations against Assange are true, it’s important to note that the United States, from which many of these Assange haters express their grave concern about Assange’s Swedish accusations, has no laws whatsoever about non-consensual condom removal, and other western judicial systems are barely even beginning to touch on the subject. None of these nations convict men for initiating sex while the woman is half-asleep, as Assange’s rape allegation asserts, and virtually every woman you know has had sex initiated with her by a sexual partner while she was half-asleep. Yet none of the blue-checkmarked journalists you see calling Assange a “rapist” on social media have ever written any articles demanding that laws be passed in their own countries calling for women to receive legal protection from this.
The people pretending to care about these allegations do not care about rape, and they do not care about women. I recently had my Twitter privileges suspended by someone who called me a “rape apologist” for not automatically subscribing to the “believe all women” meme in the case of a known CIA target, and, when I informed him that I myself am a rape victim, this man called me a liar. I went off on him, and he reported me. This man has never cared about rape or women, and it’s entirely likely that he’s done things to women that push the same boundaries on sexual consent he’s accusing Assange of doing, or worse.
I suspect that goes the same for a lot of the concern trolling Assange-hating men I encounter online whose suddenly holier-than-thou position on initiating sex with a sleepy woman you’ve just been intimate with probably does not line up all that well with their own sexual past. I mean, let’s get real. I’m a woman, my friends are women, I’ve been in a lot of book clubs and mom’s groups and out on a lot of girl’s nights and I know that if you want to get a conversation really fired up, just mention how annoying it is when a bloke wakes you up prodding you with his dick. It’s relatable and a rich vein to mine anecdote-wise. This is a universal experience for a western woman, and yeah, I think it’s rapey and gross and I would love for it to stop, but don’t pretend you care about that now any more than you did before you realized it was a way you could smear Assange. Be real. If you weren’t campaigning for it to be outlawed in your own state or country before, you need to at least be making noises about it now first, and you know and I know that that simply isn’t happening.
In fact, as the years pass, it is becoming entirely possible that the publicity around the allegations against Assange will not change one thing about rape law in any of the western countries which pretend to be so outraged by it other than to be considered a useful hack for smearing a journalist for exposing the patriarchal imperialist system under which rape culture continues to thrive. It has been nine years; nothing has changed. I think we can safely say that after nine years and no change that this has never been an honest concern for the health and well-being of the women involved and for women in general, because if it was then those laws would be ubiquitous across western democracies. Yet again, the suffering of women will be used by the powerful to hide their crimes and entrench more deeply the suffering for the women who work tirelessly as human shields protecting their children from the effects of war and poverty in a predatory capitalist system which is incapable of valuing women’s work.
Of course we should want these things to be illegal. Of course it should be illegal to deliberately have unprotected penetration without consent. Of course it should be illegal to initiate sex without fully awake and enthusiastic consent. Of course we should all want to live in a world where everyone is protected from any sexual interaction happening without their permission. But these people are not interested in creating that world. These people are interested in supporting the same rapey power establishment which has no regard for the sovereignty of entire nations, much less the individual sovereignty of womens’ bodies. They pretend to be on the side of women, but they are actually on the side of the worst aspects of patriarchy, because they have formed an egoic identification with the political structures which are built upon those aspects. That’s what concern trolling is.
This is just one of the many ways in which authentic feminism, authentic advocacy for the real interests of real women, has been co-opted for the benefit of a depraved establishment which has never cared about women and never will. We see it in the way the mass media celebrates women ascending to leadership positions of the military-industrial complex and the National Guard, and the way the presidential candidacy of a woman who embodies all the sickest aspects of the patriarchy was billed as a path to victory for feminism. The healthy impulse to elevate a gender that had an enslaved status in our society since the dawn of civilization has been hijacked by perverse agendas, and it needs to be reclaimed.
Whenever you see anyone claiming to be deeply, deeply concerned about the Swedish allegations against Assange, ask them what they’ve been doing to fight for legal changes which protect women from the things Assange is accused of doing. Then watch them squirm.