Posted on | December 23, 2010 | 48 Comments
“I’m not particularly interested in debating What Assange Did or Whether Assange Is A Rapist, and I’d appreciate it if we could steer clear of that in the comments section. Rather, I’m interested in pushing back on the primary media narrative about this case, which is that women lie and exaggerate about rape, and will call even the littlest thing — a broken condom! — rape if they’re permitted to under a too-liberal feminist legal system.”
– Jill Filipovic, “Some thoughts on ‘sex by surprise’”
What Dan Collins calls a “kerfuffle” began with my reaction to that Dec. 6 post at Feministing. Understand that what inspired Filipovic’s lecture was commentary from progressive defenders of Julian Assange who evidently bought into his version of the Stockholm incident that led to the rape accusations against him.
Filipovic claimed she was doing a pushback on a “media narrative . . . that women lie and exaggerate about rape,” but if there was any such narrative about the Assange case, I must have missed it. What self-evidently was developing was that Assange’s defenders (notably including Keith Olbermann) were twisting themselves into pretzels and resorting to conspiracy theories — promoted by a Holocaust denier! – to explain how their International Hero of World Peace™ could not possibly also be a craven exploiter of women.
This, you see, was the occasion for Filipovic to launch into a lecture about “no means no” and “stop means stop,” and to generalize about a supposed media trend toward minimizing the seriousness of rape.
Perhaps you understand why that pissed me off. As I said, it reminded me of Whoopi Goldberg arguing about whether Roman Polanski committed “rape rape.”
Running Around With Sharp Sticks
The Swedish authorities were prosecuting one man — an idol of the anti-American Left — and yet here was Filipovic trying to turn it into an online Take Back the Night rally, frightening readers with a dystopian nightmare scenario where, were it not for the Courageous Vanguard of the Progressive Sisterhood, every woman who agreed to cuddle could be penetrated in every manner imaginable, against her will, without any legal recourse.
Angry at Filipovic’s blatant attempt to hijack the Assange case (and distract readers from the “mind-bending contradictions” it exposed), my initial reaction was sufficiently flawed that even some of my regular readers complained and I felt compelled to walk it back, among other things adding this critique of Filipovic’s variety of “pro-sex feminism”:
Let us stipulate that any situation where a man and a woman are alone together could conceivably expose the woman to harm by the man. Nevertheless, some situations are more obviously risky than others, and the woman who consents to sex with a man she barely knows — as Julian Assange’s Swedish accusers did — is more at risk for harm than women who avoid such casual hook-ups.
Rather than cautioning women against casual hook-ups, however, the pro-sex feminists say, “Go for it!” — and then attempt to absolve themselves of responsibility for the inevitably harmful consequences of their doctrine by, among other things, lecturing us endlessly about the protocols of consent.
Anything bad that happens to women as a result of following feminist advice is the fault of the Oppressive Partiarchy.
If everything Assange’s accusers have said about their “dates” with him is true, then the International Hero of World Peace™ is most certainly a creep and quite possibly guilty of rape or sexual assault. This is not something I have ever disputed; anything that puts Julian Assange behind bars is fine with me.
Yet it is also the case that if everything Assange’s accusers have said about their “dates” with him is true, their own actions were extraordinarily foolish. They put themselves at risk.
Where in all of Jill Filipovic’s lecturing about the Assange case was there any caution to women against putting themselves at risk?
Where is Filipovic’s warning against inviting a man to stay at your apartment, letting him stroke your leg during tea and not voicing any objection to such intimacies until after he has begun to undress you? (Which is the case as alleged by 31-year-old Anna Ardin.) Where is Filipovic’s warning against going to bed with a man two days after you first met him? (Which is the case as alleged by 27-year-old Sofia Willen.)
Until Hell Freezes Over
This was my target: The “pro-sex feminist” philosophy that enthusiastically endorses the casual promiscuity of the Hook-Up Culture while attempting to evade responsibility for the (entirely predictable) bad consequences which ensue when that philosophy is enacted in the real world, where not everybody is operating in scrupulous accordance with the Jill Filipovic Protocols of Consensuality.
My aim at that target was unfortunately inaccurate. I offended people I did not mean to offend with a flawed argument that was subject to misinterpretation. And so after a couple of days of trying to dig myself out of a hole that only grew deeper in the process, I stopped digging.
While I was (and still am) willing to fight feminists until hell freezes over — and then fight them on the ice — the matter became complicated when Tommy Christopher decided to jump on the dogpile:
Popular right-wing blogger Robert Stacy McCain (The Other McCain) has used an examination of Julian Assange’s sexual assault allegations as a springboard to a jaw-dropping assessment of the right of a woman to withdraw consent for sex.
But I didn’t say anything about women’s “right . . . to withdraw consent.” My argument wasn’t about “rights” at all. Rather, my target was the absurd impracticality of Filipovic’s doctrine when I wrote:
I think many people who look at life from a practical, common-sense perspective will react to Jill’s fine scruples about the process of ensuring mutual consent much like I did: Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?
Is this what all that ’60s “sexual liberation” rhetoric has wrought?
In an era when some 40% of U.S. births are to unmarried women, in a culture where “Girls Gone Wild” and “hook-ups” are normative, where threesomes, bisexual experimentation and amateur video-porn orgies have become a virtual rite of passage for many young Americans, where chlamydia and herpes are pandemic — in this era of rampant sexual decadence, I say, does Jill Filipovic (J.D., NYU) seriously expect horny strangers to negotiate consent calmly on an act-by-act basis while they’re knocking boots, making the beast with two backs, in flagrante delicto?
One does not undermine a woman’s “right . . . to withdraw consent” by observing that such a right may prove exceptionaly difficult to protect under the typical circumstances prevailing when people engage in recklessly promiscuous behavior.
Does Tommy Christopher believe that caveat emptor is bad advice in the sexual marketplace? Isn’t it wise for women to be cautious in choosing their partners, and also in choosing the circumstances under which intimacy occurs? Or is the time to be concerned about a woman’s rights only after her rights have been violated? Is rape an exception to the old adage that an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure?
Of ‘Hooey’ and ‘Filthy Whores’
Well, so much for Tommy Christopher, for now. As I say, the argument I actually made wasn’t quite the same as the argument I intended to make and my invocation of Hunter S. Thompson’s maxim — “Buy the Ticket, Take the Ride” — particularly offended people. Recognizing that I was in violation of the First Law of Holes, I stopped digging. And then a blogger I never heard of compared me to serial killer John Wayne Gacy, falsely describing me as part of the so-called “Men’s Movement.”
This kind of “dogpile” reaction bothered me, but there was other news to write about. And then on Tuesday, apropos of nothing that I’d done in the previous two weeks, feminist* Republican Anna Tarkov put up a blog post with the provocative headline:
To which I responded in part:
It’s a he-said/she-said situation, and how did Assange’s victims get themselves into that predicament? By hooking up with an asshole. . . . In what alternative universe am I a “misogynist” for pointing out the erroneous judgment involved in that decision? As I said in response to Amanda Marcotte, “this is like saying I’m in favor of third-degree burns if I warn children not to play with fire.”
Tarkov linked Tommy Christopher in her post,which is rather suggestive of where she got the idea to lash out at me for a two-week-old post. This occurred after an intense furor over Michael Moore going on Keith Olbermann’s show to dismiss the rape accusations against Julian Assange as “hooey.” So while other conservatives were popping popcorn to enjoy that left-on-left meltdown, it seems, Tommy Christopher was feeding me to the feminist sharks.
And then it got worse when a Republican communications strategist sent out this Tweet:
Holy freaking crap. Do you see what I’m talking about? It’s like the telephone game. On Dec. 7, Tommy Christopher tendentiously excerpts my Dec. 6 post. Two weeks later, a feminist* Republican blogger even more tendentiously excerpts the same post, and now this “deconstruction” (!) is promoted on Twitter as a “must read” by a Republican communications strategist.
Let regular readers of this blog think how many things I’ve posted here that they would consider “must read” items. A helluva lot, I hope you’ll agree. Here was a (rather influential) Republican promoting as “must read” a leftist* Republican who concluded her post by declaring: “I’d like to hear some explanations now on why anyone should ever read another word this disgusting misogynist ever pens. I know I won’t.”
* My confusion about Tarkov explained below.
When I saw that on Twitter, of course, my reaction was “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?” And the Republican communications strategist then sent me a series of questions to which I responded in a post bluntly titled: “Rape: I’m Against It.”
Commenters asked me to identify the Republican communications strategist, but there is no need for that. And for that matter, forget about Assange, forget about his accusers, forget all about the “he-said/she-said” at the heart of this case in Sweden. We can get back to that in a minute.
Instead, focus your mind on the process by which I ended up becoming Scapegoat Of The Day on Dec. 21 for an offensive post I’d written on Dec. 6 — a post which I had walked back almost immediately after I first posted it!
Don’t Tell Me It’s Raining
Future Bloggers of America, beware: If you ever post anything that contains two sentences which can be used to suggest that you hold obnoxious opinions, those two sentences will be endlessly cut-and-pasted around the Internet so that, if all anyone knows about you is what they read on the Internet, you might as well have those two sentences tattooed on your forehead.
And it doesn’t matter, by the way, how many millions of other words you might have written that would tend to contradict your Dreaded Two Sentences of Obnoxiousness.
It’s the telephone game, you see. The fact that I was responding to Jill Filipovic, and the nature of my disagreement with Filipovic’s feminist philosophy, got lost somewhere in the Tommy Christopher/Anna Tarkov exchange that resulted in my Dreaded Two Sentences of Obnoxiousness (OK, maybe it was more like four paragraphs, but let’s not quibble) coming to the attention of the Republican communications strategist.
Mea culpa. My original post was badly argued, as I freely admit. I further admit the possibility that reasonable people can disagree with my opinions, although I insist that it is mere name-calling to label me a “misogynist” or a “rape apologist.”
And that dude who compared me to a serial killer has thereby put his name on a short list he probably doesn’t want to be on.
Again: Mea culpa. If I write something stupid, this is nobody’s fault but mine, and I cannot blame people who hate me for taking advantage of my own stupidity.
“Never give ‘em a stick to beat you with,” one of my mentors often advised, and if nothing else, I’m guilty of having disregarded that advice.
But the person who picks up that stick and beats me over the head with it, and then starts passing the stick around, inviting others to take a whack at me, is not my friend.
* * * * * * * *
Now, there are some link-backs owed to the good people who defended me in this “kerfuffle,” and I’ll add those in updates in a little while. But first, some appropriate music.
UPDATE: Just dandy. Yet another screw-up. Having described Anna Tarkov as a “leftist,” I now discover that she’s some kind of Republican.
Mea culpa all over again. Ever had one of those days when you get everything wrong?
But what was that thing about her posting the Assange video? Also, how is it that Tarkov (according to her LinkedIn profile) is connected to 47 people who are connected to me and yet none of them schooled her for having denounced me so viciously? Why is it that so few of my friends ever speak up for me when I’m on the receiving end of this kind of beatdown?
UPDATE II: Honest, I am going to get around to doing those link-backs, but first I want to point out why it was so easy to jump to the (evidently erroneous) conclusion that Anna Tarkov is a leftist/feminist.
Generally speaking, I am known to conservative bloggers as a fellow conservative and, while we don’t always agree – e.g., when I got into it with Jim Geraghty, et al, over the Delaware Senate primary — our Red-on-Red arguments seldom start with somebody I never heard of calling me a “disgusting misogynist.”
When I’m going toe-to-toe with leftists (a category that certainly includes Jill Filipovic), my typical response to any sudden incoming fire is to return fire for maximum effect on the reasonable assumption that the source of the incoming fire is hostile.
When you’re a Jet, you’re a Jet all the way
From your first cigarette ’til your last dyin’ day.
If you want to be a Jet, don’t stab me in the back while I’m fighting the Sharks.
UPDATE III: “Not that Stacy isn’t a creep sometimes,” begins Little Miss Atilla’s rather ambivalent response — and that’s OK. She’s my friend. Friends can criticize friends and then Atilla can buy me beers at the next CPAC to apologize. And she makes a relevant point:
Here’s the thing: I don’t want to live in a world in which every ill-considered, regrettable drunken hookup by 20-year-olds can be recast as an assault if one party (usually the woman) has misgivings the next day.
Having once been a 20-year-old, I am aware that “ill-considered, regrettable” is very closely correlated to “drunken hookup.” The amazing thing about Julian Assange’s Less-Than-Excellent Swedish Adventure is that apparently all of the participants were sober. And none of them were 20 years old.
UPDATE IV: Donald Douglas at American Power was probably first in line for FMJRA action here, and I’m sorry he’s getting sloppy seconds — er, so to speak. First, there’s the obligatory video of Michael Moore making the requisite Maddow kowtow:
That was something I’d meant to blog when I first saw it, but didn’t. (Stuff happens.) Donald then blogged about the “rehabilitation” of Michael Moore — you may miss the inside joke there, if you aren’t a student of Marxism in action.
And now, mirabile dictu, Donald brings tidings that a female writer for Washington City Paper has been fired for an article critical of Assange’s accusers.
It’s like following the peregrinations of the “Popular Front” circa 1939-41: One minute no one can criticize Assange and his accusers are CIA stooges. The next minute, no one can criticize the accusers and Assange is the Worst Person in the World.
So now I just checked Memeorandum and saw this:
Please, leftists: Tell us what the party line is today.
Are we supposed to agree with Assange or with the idiots? At this point, we can play it either way.
UPDATE V: Reason‘s Cathy Young’s offers a late entry for Understatement of the Year: “Some feminists are not amused.” She writes:
[R]emoving any element of actual or threatened force from the crime of rape makes it too easy to criminalize miscommunications and morning-after regrets. Should non-consent require a firm “Stop!” or does it cover a hesitant or coy “Maybe we should stop” — perhaps accompanied by actions that contradict the words? . . .
[W]hen rape law is used to regulate “sexual manners” rather than sexual violence, it has seriously strayed from its purpose.
So Cathy Young is obviously into “rape apologism,” and maybe that means Professor Glenn Reynolds is John Wayne Gacy for linking her.
What evidently vexes Young is the attempt to re-define rape so as to maximize the potential number of women who can consider themselves victims. Tabitha Hale takes square aim at what she calls the “Culture of Victimhood” involved:
A rampant culture of victimhood does nothing to empower women, and removing them of all responsibility in every situation is demeaning. Again, women are not responsible for rape in any instance, and the “she was asking for it” argument is generally noxious. However, using [accusations of] rape as a weapon against someone you’ve decided you want to destroy is inexcusable, and should be treated as such.
Many who have looked at Assange’s alleged crimes in Sweden (including his defense attorney) have pointed to the belated nature of the accusations, and the fact that neither of the two women pressed went to police until they’d compared notes and realized he’d slept with both of them, as evidence that the accusations were motivated by vengeance.
Of course, it’s not an either-or proposition: It could be true that his accusers were motivated by vengeance and still also be true that Assange’s actions were criminal. Yet because of the he-said/she-said nature of the accusations, the ambiguity of the situation provides the “reasonable doubt” that will probably make it very difficult to convict Assange of rape.
If Assange were as smart as he thinks he is, he would exercise his right to remain silent. Anything he says or writes about the incident — trying to push back against his accusers in a media P.R. battle — can and will be used against him in a court of law, especially if he takes the witness stand in his own defense.
“But Mr. Assange, didn’t you tell the BBC . . .?”
UPDATE VI: Welcome, Linkiest readers!
Makes My Brain Itch laments the “pussification” of American men. Actually, there’s something more complex at work. “Pussification” goes hand-in-hand with the New Barbarism. On the one hand, you have guys who are totally intimidated by women, and on the other hand you have guys who are boorish thugs toward women. And of course, the thugs get more women, a phenomenon that inspires endless frustration for the pussified guys. What is increasingly uncommon is sturdy, reliable, confident masculinity.
Charles G. Hill awards me “Refudiation of the Week” and Da Tech Guy boils his response down to three words: “Don’t be stupid.”
UPDATE VII: Regular readers of this blog will perhaps be interested to know that you’ve been called “A Cult of Degenerates” — and the dreaded War Oath of Clan Cameron has been invoked.
- Rape: I’m Against It
- Your Daily Julian Assange Update: The Left’s ‘Mind-Bending Contradictions’
- Your Official Julian Assange Moonbat Kook Conspiracy Theory Guide
- Julian Assange, Victim?
- Assange: ‘The Worst Sex Ever’
- Larry Flynt Donates $50,000 to Legal Defense of Accused Rapist Julian Assange
- Julian Assange Wins; Swedish Appeal Denied; Will Be Freed on Bail
- Merry Christmas, America: Feminists Attack Michael Moore as ‘Rape Apologist’ Over Swedish Case Against Julian Assange
- International Hero of World Peace Julian Assange Is Also International Mack Daddy
- International Hero of World Peace Julian Assange Free to Rape Again? Not Yet