Content warning for discussion of sexual assault.
Y’all may have noticed I haven’t said much about the whole Wikileaks thing since this summer. While I strongly support the organization’s stated goal of “opening governments” and the ideals of transparency and justice to which whistleblowers in general are fundamental, I have doubts about the character of the current figurehead, and I’m generally pretty filled with rage about how the media and many folks around the interwebs have been dealing with the sexual assault allegations against him. I wrote this post up before hearing that he’d finally turned himself in to British police, but that doesn’t change any of the opinions below.
Obviously, he’s innocent until proven guilty in the eyes of the legal system – I don’t disagree in any way with that fundamental tenet of justice. But there are some aspects to the discussions surrounding the case which I’m finding really problematic. There’s a pretty good discussion of many of these issues over on Feministe, but the specifics that matter to me are:
- If you don’t do your damnedest to stop having sex with someone who has initially consented to sex with you but then withdraws consent, you have committed rape. Depending on the jurisdiction, it may be sexual assault rather than rape; I don’t really care about the semantics of it. It’s wrong and not OK in any way and you’re a douchebag if you think otherwise. Consent is an active, continuous process. If you don’t want active, enthusiastic consent from your sexual partners, please go fuck an inanimate object instead of wasting the time of a human being who has feelings, agency, and the right to have their boundaries respected.
- If someone consents to having sex with you on the premise that you are wearing a condom, and you don’t put on a condom (or you notice it’s broken and don’t stop), you may not be guilty of a specific crime (depending on the jurisdiction), but you’re a fucking asshole and you’re probably a sexual predator. Testing and violating boundaries is how sexual predators operate; this is a known thing. Also, see previous comments about inanimate objects.
- (added as news has come out of the bail hearing) Yeah, sex with someone who is passed out or asleep: also rape. (With obvious exception where it’s been specifically negotiated while conscious.)
While I realize that there are more serious issues around sexual violence in the world – rape as a tool of war, sex trafficking, and violent stranger sexual assault, for example – acquaintance sexual assault is still very serious.
I’m tired of apologism for some people’s inability to respect others’ boundaries. I’m tired of legal systems and police forces giving a free pass to sexual predators by doing a shit job of investigating their crimes. I’m tired of my friends being assaulted.
And I’d really like to some day live in a world without sexual violence. So let’s work towards that, ok?
Note about comments: as usual, I reserve the right to frivolously delete comments that annoy me, but for this post I’ve set comments to fully moderated, so expect a bit of a delay in posting. Let’s try to keep the discussion on the topic of sexual consent and how sexual assault is dealt with in the media, rather than about the folks involved in this specific case. And yes, I’ve read all the conspiracies theories about the Swedish complainants, kthx.
If you’re linking to this post, please use this Coral Cache link as my blog tends to fall over at the slightest provocation. My blog is now on wordpress.com and this is no longer necessary!