[Trigger warning for Assange things, sexual assault.]
(If you want a recap of everything that has happened with the #MooreandMe protest in the last week, this post is incredibly comprehensive, and this post has a great number of links to articles and blog posts about it. And here’s another huge linkfest.)
On Rachel Maddow’s show last night, Michael Moore stated the obvious, which — unfortunately — is cause for minor celebration. He said that women’s allegations of rape must be taken seriously. It’s a crumb, in a way, but as Sady explains today, the mountain moved a little bit, and it’s because of the #MooreandMe Twitter campaign. Maddow wouldn’t have framed the issue the way she did if not for a week’s work of tireless tweeting, emails, and blog posts telling Moore that he needed to talk to us.
After most of the protesters had either gone to bed or taken a break last night, I was still up and on when I noticed that Keith Olbermann was tweeting away. This was at about midnight. I thought this might be a chance to actually get through to him, since my previous attempts at interaction that day had gone unanswered. I had asked him to please correct his claim that consensual sex without a condom is considered rape in Sweden. It’s immediately laughable, since, you know… how is there any population growth in the country then? Yet, this had gone uncorrected. I also wanted the lie about the allegations being only about a “broken condom” to be retracted. Here’s my first try, second try (with a bit of snark), and third try.
Here’s what happened when I finally got through.
And then he signed off for the evening. I was all shakey and really weirded out by the whole thing. I’ve watched this guy’s show every day for six years. The internet is a strange thing.
So, no, he didn’t say, “I’m sorry I stated something incorrect, I retract it,” but he did kinda-sorta say that the case was not about a broken condom. While doing this, though, he throws in something about “the story” changing which either refers to ‘what the public hears’ or ‘what the accusers claim happened to them’. I’ll be generous and hope it was the former.
The biggest thing I got out of this, though, which Sady’s most recent post talks about, is that a bunch of feminists with computers can actually affect what happens in “real life”. RAINN and more local anti-rape organizations got a bunch of donations (many in Michael Moore’s name), and two progressive leaders, Maddow and Moore, showed that you can support the guy’s organization without dismissing the likely event that Assange sexually assaulted two women.
Two women. That’s the other thing in all of this that I’m having trouble with. Rapists don’t have all of their assaults reported, nor do they just do it once. As blogger-journalist Andrea Grimes points out in her great post from yesterday , “Who Will Rape Me?”:
And you know what? The person who rapes me probably won’t even think I’m all that special since he’ll probably have raped seven to nine women, depending on what stats you rely on, before he’s ever put in jail.
It’s unlikely that this was the first time Julian Assange has sexually assaulted women. We also recently found out that he stalked a college student who expressed that she was not interested in him, sending her many emails and calling her home repeatedly.
With all that the two accusers have had to deal with – death threats, rape threats, people posting their full names, photos, home addresses, and more information online – it is very unlikely that another victim of his would ever come forward, if she or they exist. Besides that, this whole ordeal has been a lesson that women, should they be raped by a popular hero of the Left, they should shut the fuck up for the cause. Further, it showed all women that they are not to be trusted as reliable witnesses to their own assaults.
For all the damage that was done and will continue to be done, there’s a portion of women who saw the feminist blogosphere response and felt validated. Swedish women and feminists started #prataomdet (#talkaboutit) to discuss their own sexual assaults in the open. For the same reasons, “We’re Telling” was created. Finally, there was a national audience of millions who saw Rachel Maddow and Michael Moore denounce the unconditional support of an accused rapist who appears to otherwise be on ‘our side’.
Yes, it’s thoroughly sad that this is groundbreaking, but it’s not nothin’ either. Dismantling misogyny and rape culture happens chip by chip, and so slow that most of us won’t see the results of our work within our lifetimes. But we do it anyway, against all of the forces that say we’ll never be able to change anything. Well, chip chip chip.
Now, onto the next battle.