[Trigger Warning for discussion of rape, including rape apologia by famous d00dz.]
[Also: please consider this post by Kate Harding your FAQ for the post here, and read it before commenting. TW: swears.]
In case you’ve missed the last five days in the feminist/progressive blogosphere, here’s the scoop:
Wikileaks frontman Julian Assange faces rape charges in Sweden, brought by two separate women. The New York Times has details, taken from the police report.
Regardless of facts, however, fauxgressive faces Keith Olbermann and Michael Moore trade rape apologia, smear the women involved in the Assange case, and trade flat-out falsehoods, including the “news” that Assange was actually charged with consensual sex in which the condom broke. (Which, as the NYT article makes clear, is patently false.) Olbermann went one better by re-tweeting the actual names of Assange’s accusers, putting them in real and serious danger of violence from Assange’s “supporters.”
Michael Moore also posted the following on his own blog:
“For those of you who think it’s wrong to support Julian Assange because of the sexual assault allegations he’s being held for, all I ask is that you not be naive about how the government works when it decides to go after its prey. Please — never, ever believe the “official story.” And regardless of Assange’s guilt or innocence (see the strange nature of the allegations here), this man has the right to have bail posted and to defend himself.”
(A full rundown of the Moore-and-Olbermann statements that triggered the #MooreandMe campaign is available here.)
In response, Sady Doyle of Tiger Beatdown pointed out the heinous misery of Moore’s and Olbermann’s rape apologia. In doing so, she realized that Moore and Olbermann can in fact hear us – because they, like so many of us, are on Twitter.
Thus, the #MooreandMe campaign, in which anti-rape folks are asking, via Twitter, that Michael Moore (@MMFlint) apologize for his rape apologia, retract his demonstrateably false statements, and perhaps donate $20,000 – the amount he contributed toward Julian Assange’s bail on the grounds that we should never, ever believes the claims of rape survivors – to an organization that supports rape survivors. #MooreandMe is an avalanche of tweets, sent by people all over the Internet, demanding that Michael Moore own up to the damage his statements have done to past, present and future rape survivors everywhere.
So far, Moore has been totally silent.
And “disappointing” doesn’t begin to cover the situation. Michael Moore has built his career on standing up for the little guy, on dragging the dirty laundry into the sunlight, and on telling people not to jump on the bandwagon, especially when the rights of the oppressed are at stake. Yet, when two separate women allege that Julian Assange raped them, Michael Moore decides to join the rape culture’s party line: That rape victims cannot be trusted to tell the truth about having been raped. Furthermore, Moore implies that not only are these women liars, but they are liars fabricated by forces out to punish Assange for his work on Wikileaks.
Assange’s own position is basically the same as Moore’s: that he wouldn’t be facing rape charges if ‘The Powers That Be’ were not “out to get him.” True, the fact that Assange is facing rape charges at all is unusual. Sady Doyle crunches the numbers:
“According to RAINN, about 60% of rapes aren’t reported. In those cases, there’s about a 51% chance that the 40% of reported rapes will have an arrest made. There’s an 80% chance of prosecution. And, given various factors including conviction and sentencing, there’s only about a 16.3% chance that someone who commits rape will serve time for that rape. Meaning: If we factor in the rapes that go unreported, only 6% of rapists ever serve time. EVER.”
Yet what both Assange and Moore are choosing to overlook is that it’s not the government accusing Assange of rape. It’s people. Two separate individual people, recalling events from two separate nights in two separate places. Moore and Assange are choosing to overlook that the women accusing Assange of rape are human beings.
By doing so, Moore and Assange are feeding directly into the rape culture. The rape culture that assumes victims who accuse powerful people of rape must be lying. The rape culture that assumes consent trumps non-consent, even if non-consent came last. The rape culture that just doesn’t think rape is that important. Never mind that 1 in 6 women and 1 in 33 men will be raped in their lifetimes. Never mind that rape leaves survivors with permanent physical, mental, and/or emotional injuries. Never mind that the only person who can prevent rape is not the victim, but the rapist.
Here’s the thing. I don’t know if Julian Assange is innocent or guilty. The only people who do know are Julian Assange and his accusers. But I do know that failing to take rape accusations seriously and failing to hold alleged rapists accountable makes the world a perilous place for anyone who may some day be raped.
We must all be in when it comes to dismantling the rape culture. We all have a hand in protecting rape survivors and in dragging rapists into the light.
Tweet Michael Moore (@MMFlint), using the #MooreandMe hashtag. Tell Moore that you will not stand for a world where rapists get a free pass, and neither should he. Ask for the apology due to the women involved in the Assange case and to all of us who have been or will be victims of rape, and who have or will watch our rapists walk free. Ask Moore to take this one small step toward changing the world on behalf of the oppressed.