Assange Can Be Both Hero and Rapist

14 Dec

[Trigger warning for sexual violence.]

I wrote an email to Michael Moore tonight, since his victim blaming is the final straw for me. I’m tired of progressives defending Julian Assange and discrediting his accusers. I can’t fucking take this any more. Consider this an open letter to any other defenders as well.

Dear Michael,

[Stuff about how I love and own lots of his films, etc… How his films were what first got me politically active, etc…]

Upon reading your reasoning for posting bail for Julian Assange today, I found myself disagreeing with one part — a very important part. I am not naive about “how the government works” because I refuse to wholly support Assange. I support Wikileaks, and, luckily, Assange is not Wikileaks. It is entirely possible for a man to do awesome things politically and also be a man who sexually assaulted women.

Again, I am not dumb. As a feminist and a blogger, I am more aware than most about how infrequently rape cases are prosecuted, let alone lead to convictions. I also know how common sexual assault is. Ask me, ask all of my female friends. The fact that Assange has been given inordinate attention for his alleged crimes is heartbreaking not because he’s innocent, but because he’s only being pursued because certain governments don’t like what his organization has done. They’re trying to get him on anything they can since what they’d actually like to get him on can’t be done (see also: Al Capone being imprisoned for tax evasion).

You are not the only progressive I have been disappointed in lately for their victim blaming in this case. Assange is accused of holding one woman down and raping her, and raping another woman while she slept. This is not “the condom just broke” or “she felt guilty the next day” or any number of other victim-blaming excuses. It seriously hurts to see you and others I thought were on “my side” act like there’s no way Assange may be guilty of a crime that at least 1 in 6 women experiences.

Really, what’s more likely… that the accusers are CIA operatives sent in by the U.S. government to ensure Assange is put in jail for a crime not normally taken seriously by law enforcement, or that a man raped two women?

Finally, I invite you to read the following articles and reconsider your previous impressions about the accusations.

“What We Talk About When We Talk About Rape” by Jaclyn Friedman at The American Prospect

“The Rush to Smear Assange’s Accusers” by Kate Harding at

After seeing your appearance on Keith Olbermann’s show tonight and screaming at my television before turning it off while my eyes teared up, I’m not sure I want to see your films in the future. I will be too reminded of your “doubts”, which in turn reminds me of the “doubts” of a million other rape apologists I’ve heard over the years.

I will continue to subscribe to your newsletter for a while longer in the case you alter your views about Assange’s accusers, which I certainly hope you do.


*Update (12/15/10): Shakesville and Tiger Beatdown have more on Michael Moore’s rape apologia.

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