Michael Moore has come down from his tower, Keith Olbermann's tower may actually be constructed of his own ego, but then there is this exchange between Naomi Wolf and Jaclyn Friedman that I wanted to get down to, because I heard bad things. Actually, first, I read a couple posts by Wolf at Huffington Post, which I hoped would be sorted out more fully in this exchange, only....they weren't. The first part of the debate is here:
(Link to transcript at this link.)
I have been finding a lot of what she's been saying a little difficult to take, but it isn't just the what--it's the how. (Has she been taking notes over here--only, with the actual intent to be be derailing?)
I don't know if I can critique the whole argument, but the big issue I have is that, yes, while it is true that she has 23 years of working with and supporting rape victims--she does have to know she isn't in a position to speak for the personal experiences of every victim. And while she may know of some victims who are critical of the circumstances, and while she may have her own suspicions, she does not have the experience of "being in the room" with these women. Or "being in their heads". She has the Guardian's account to go on, and I think she is interpreting what is there very loosely:
NAOMI WOLF: I mean, all I can say is if a man or a woman who’s engaging in a sexual act that they think is consensual never hears "no" and hears "yes, yes, yes—yes, let’s go ahead without a condom; yes, let’s go ahead"—that insults rape victims.
Oh. Because I read it, and Jaclyn Freidman read it, and probably we both looked at the parts where what was specifically nonconsensual is detailed. This is the account of Miss A:
Her account to police, which Assange disputes, stated that he began stroking her leg as they drank tea, before he pulled off her clothes and snapped a necklace that she was wearing. According to her statement she "tried to put on some articles of clothing as it was going too quickly and uncomfortably but Assange ripped them off again". Miss A told police that she didn't want to go any further "but that it was too late to stop Assange as she had gone along with it so far", and so she allowed him to undress her.
According to the statement, Miss A then realised he was trying to have unprotected sex with her. She told police that she had tried a number of times to reach for a condom but Assange had stopped her by holding her arms and pinning her legs.
Wolf sees a lot of "yes", there? And here is Miss W:
Early the next morning, Miss W told police, she had gone to buy breakfast before getting back into bed and falling asleep beside Assange. She had awoken to find him having sex with her, she said, but when she asked whether he was wearing a condom he said no. "According to her statement, she said: 'You better not have HIV' and he answered: 'Of course not,' " but "she couldn't be bothered to tell him one more time because she had been going on about the condom all night. She had never had unprotected sex before."
She was unconscious when he began. That is actually good enough for me to say, no, consent was neither obtained nor possible for that instance.
I think it insults victims to assume that they are not being "moral adults" if they respond with something less than a full-throated scream in every situation. And I think it's an insult to men as moral adults not to expect them to understand that a woman's body is hers, and that her consent to the terms of their relations is not to be disregarded or taken for granted. And what's worse is, I think she knows that. This odd thing she's doing, where she's somehow implying that there is a "real rape" and if the victim doesn't meet certain criteria--
If she has one night stands, you know. If she still associates with the man socially. If she doesn't report it right away. If she seems to have some agenda. If she's insisting on some personal preference like a condom (who does she think she is?) and worried about disease--and let's not forget, the accused thought he had the right. What then?
Please. That all sounds to me like "Rape Apology for Dummies". And she is no dummy.