Okay, I know not everyone is into the feminist blogosphere. That’s fine. But if you’re a big name feminist like Naomi Wolf – if you’re publishing books, doing speaking events, and writing articles about the movement and its issues – then you sure as shit need to pay attention to what’s up online. Because if you don’t, you might end up writing something really embarrassing and offensive, like this.
As a longtime feminist activist, I have been overjoyed to discover your new commitment to engaging in global manhunts to arrest and prosecute men who behave like narcissistic jerks to women they are dating. I see that Julian Assange is accused of having consensual sex with two women, in one case using a condom that broke.
…Thank you again, Interpol. I know you will now prioritize the global manhunt for 1.3 million guys I have heard similar complaints about personally in the US alone — there is an entire fraternity at the University of Texas you need to arrest immediately. I also have firsthand information that John Smith in Providence, Rhode Island, went to a stag party — with strippers! — that his girlfriend wanted him to skip, and that Mark Levinson in Corvallis, Oregon, did not notice that his girlfriend got a really cute new haircut — even though it was THREE INCHES SHORTER.
I’m sure Wolf thought she was being clever and pithy by writing that Assange was arrested by the “dating police.” But for those of us who have been paying attention to the case – be it by tweeting, blogging, or taking the two seconds it requires to Google what the actual charges are – it just comes off as victim-blaming and callous.
Because Assange was not accused of having “consensual sex”- he’s accused of assault. From the BBC:
One of the charges is that he had unprotected sex with a woman, identified only as Miss A, when she insisted he use a condom.
Another is that he had unprotected sex with another woman, Miss W, while she was asleep.
I’m fairly certain that Wolf would agree that “having sex” with someone while they’re asleep isn’t sex at all, but rape. And even if you’re iffy on the consent/condom question, Jill at Feministe breaks it down for you. Basically, if someone agrees to have sex with you with the condition that you use a condom, and then you remove said condom and continue the sex or if you continue the sex despite your partner’s protestations – that is straight up assault. And I’m betting Wolf would agree with that as well.
When I met Wolf in Copenhagen last year for a conference on International Women’s Day, she told me that she rarely spent time online and didn’t really know anything about feminist blogging. Which is too bad; if she was even keeping up slightly with what was going on online she probably never would have written this piece for HuffPo. Because she would have known that getting information from a Daily Mail article (and one that calls women “radical” and “militant” feminists, no less) was a terrible idea. She also would have seen Jill’s great piece and known that feminist bloggers have been writing about consent issues like this one for years and perhaps used that to inform her post, rather than snark. (I also imagine that when moderating the MORE young feminist panel recently, she would have known was ‘cisgender’ meant.) At the very least, she would have made damn sure that she knew all the available facts of a sexual assault allegation before penning a sarcastic piece about it.
Because as a prominent feminist, Wolf’s words matter. I guarantee you that her glibness about this case will be quoted by rape apologists the world over – something I’m sure Wolf will be horrified by. So prominent feminists, I beg you – get online! You don’t have to start a blog or have a Twitter account; you just have to pay attention.