Sorry, Victim Blamers: Julian Assange's Lawyer Confirms That "Disturbing" Sexual Acts Occurred
[Trigger warning for sexual violence, rape apologia, and victim-blaming.]
Hey, remember when the rape allegations against Julian Assange were first made public, and Very Important Men (and Women) were falling all over each other to mendaciously misrepresent the charges and discredit the complainants and peddle conspiracy theories and defend Assange on the basis that he does Important Work and, more importantly, he doesn't SEEM like a rapist to them, right, Daniel Ellsberg?
Sex charges against Assange are grave, but having heard his account personally, I believe they're false and slanderous.
Whoooooooooooops! They are—SURPRISE!—in fact not false and slanderous. Angus Johnston has the latest from a London court, where Assange is contesting an extradition order:
[Assange lawyer Ben Emmerson provided] accounts of the two encounters in question which granted — at least for the purposes of today's hearing — the validity of Assange's accusers' central claims. He described Assange as penetrating one woman while she slept without a condom, in defiance of her previously expressed wishes, before arguing that because she subsequently "consented to … continuation" of the act of intercourse, the incident as a whole must be taken as consensual.
In the other incident, in which Assange is alleged to have held a woman down against her will during a sexual encounter, Emmerson offered this summary: "[The complainant] was lying on her back and Assange was on top of her … [she] felt that Assange wanted to insert his penis into her vagina directly, which she did not want since he was not wearing a condom … she therefore tried to turn her hips and squeeze her legs together in order to avoid a penetration … [she] tried several times to reach for a condom, which Assange had stopped her from doing by holding her arms and bending her legs open and trying to penetrate her with his penis without using a condom. [She] says that she felt about to cry since she was held down and could not reach a condom and felt this could end badly."
As in the case of the first incident, Emmerson argues that subsequent consent renders the entire encounter consensual, and legal.
I don't guess I need to point out that retroactive consent does not magically make a sexual encounter not rape.
I will, as an aside, note that, contrary to pervasive narratives about women who "feel guilty" after a consensual act inventing rape charges, the reality is that women who feel shame, or fear, or regret after an actual rape frequently re-imagine the encounter as consensual, because admitting rape even to themselves is so difficult. Rapists are exponentially more likely to indirectly benefit from women "consenting" after the fact as a survival strategy than are innocent men likely to be victimized by false rape charges.
Supposing Assange's victims did actually "consent" to the continuation of acts of rape, about which I am profoundly dubious, Assange's own attorney now concedes that was, at best, what happened here: His victims gave "subsequent consent" to sexual activity for which explicit consent was neither sought nor given, after having been assumed, for months, to have invented the act of rape out of revenge or because they were government operatives or whatthefuckever.
I think I may have pointed out once or twice or three million times in this space that the people who benefit from rape apologia and victim-blaming, of the precise sort that we've seen with regard to the accusations against Julian Assange, are rapists.
Which is a pretty strong incentive not to engage in it, if you don't like rape or rapists.
But somehow it's never strong enough to deter the invocation of the same old tired rape culture narratives when it comes to defending an Important Man Doing Important Work.
Whoops. You defended a rapist.
I'm sure some of Assange's defenders, whether they publicly admit it or not, are furious that Assange made them look stupid. Well, don't worry your Important Heads about it, Very Important Rape Apologists: I can assure you that you looked stupid already.
Read more from Angus Johnston here.