Sunday, December 19, 2010

Not so light.

I usually (recently) like to keep my posts pretty light.  But sexual assault has been an issue my SO and I have been discussing quite a bit in the past few weeks stemming from the Julian Assange debacle over on the other side of the Pacific.

One time J asked me if it was "normal" or "typical" to make such a big deal over extradition of an alleged sex criminal.  I couldn't really think of any examples - mostly drug or Mafia lords or mass murderers who sought shelter in South American countries.

Another time J said he hadn't quite believed the sexual assault charges until he read about Assange's OkCupid profile.  He said he couldn't believe that the WikiLeaks founder (someone so influential and smart) could be capable of sexual assault.  I took a breath and chalked this up to J's own gentle nature and inherent trust that all people are good.

I then started in on my whole rant on how nearly ANY man is capable of sexual assault.  All it takes is a "miscommunication" of consent.  I started going on how men RARELY take sexual assault seriously enough and one of the reasons it's treated so lightly in society is because it is, in fact, MEN who are usually in the positions of authority that could DO something about sexual violence (police, doctors, investigators, prosecutors, legislators, etc.).  I don't mean to say there are NO good men out there doing their part against sexual violence and to help but that, in general, it seems that the individuals who are in positions to "do something" about sexual violence are men, themselves.  Would it really be different if women were in charge?  If women were the authority figures who could take charge of crimes of sexual violence?

I'm not calling for a rogue band of justice-wielding women going around cutting off penises left and right.  But I am saying, that men (in general) don't seem to take sexual violence as seriously as I think they should.  I think that very few men can ever really understand the terror that accompanies sexual violence.  Men don't seem to get what years of "be careful after dark," "never be alone after dark," "don't trust strange men," and "call me when you get there" from concerned mothers and fathers does to a woman.

Men don't seem to feel that same powerlessness and fear of being controlled.  This is not just the physical aspect, although that's a huge part of it.  Admittedly I am overly paranoid, but I am a huge ball of nerves when walking alone at night or taking the subway after 11pm.  I have my fingers wrapped around my keys in one hand (sharp objects to scratch an assailant's face) and the other flexed around my phone or iPod - anything to make my fist harder than it is.

Anyway, the catalyst for this post was J sending me a link that led me to this piece by Naomi Wolf in the Huffington Post (highly recommended).  She has worked with battered women and victims of sexual violence for many years and goes over what a travesty the current Julian Assange case is.  The fact that it has become SO high-profile and that the authorities are suddenly taking a sexual assault allegation so seriously is, in Wolf's own words, "a slap in the face."

In my own quick search for information and links for this post, I came across some headlines and stories that the sexual assault allegations are part of a conspiracy backed by the US government - revenge for leaking confidential US documents.  If conspiracy theorists knew ANYTHING about sexual assault, they would know that is possibly the WEAKEST allegation to bring Assange down.  There is a ridiculously sad history of sexual violence going un-prosecuted and given a virtual blind eye.

"Keep Assange in prison without bail until he is questioned, by all means, if we are suddenly in a real feminist worldwide epiphany about the seriousness of the issue of sex crime: but Interpol, Britain and Sweden must, if they are not to be guilty of hateful manipulation of a serious women's issue for cynical political purposes, imprison as well -- at once -- the hundreds of thousands of men in Britain, Sweden and around the world world who are accused in far less ambiguous terms of far graver forms of assault.
Anyone who works in supporting women who have been raped knows from this grossly disproportionate response that Britain and Sweden, surely under pressure from the US, are cynically using the serious issue of rape as a fig leaf to cover the shameful issue of mafioso-like global collusion in silencing dissent. That is not the State embracing feminism. That is the State pimping feminism."  J'Accuse: Sweden, Britain, and Interpol Insult Rape Victims Worldwide

I just totally agree with Ms. Wolf that the powers that be are using the sexual assault allegations as the main prongs for some other retributive motives.  And I find that completely repulsive.  Sexual assault deserves to stand on its own as a truly serious and repugnant offense against humanity.

No comments: