As if that was not enough, the woman went out a couple of days later, completely ignoring all the criticism people had given her and wrote that this time Interpol, Sweden, Britain and USA accuse rape victims world wide. In this article she invokes her knowledge about rape survivors and describes the entire thing as a "theatre." There is no doubt to a lot of feminists and other people that the hard crackdown on Julian Assange allegedly as a consequence of these accusations are politically motivated. That is not, however, because we automatically assume them to be false, as a lot of other people seem to do, but rather because a lot of us are aware that rape survivors and sexual assault victims rarely get due consideration and any form of sexual assault accusation is unlikely to lead to a verdict against the perpetrator. Instead, the survivor/victim often finds him/herself in the role of defending oneself from all type of accusations: why was (s)he walking there at that time of night, what was (s)he wearing, didn't (s)he know better than that!? There is a justification needed for every step of the way why this should be called sexual assault or rape, rather than something one just brought upon themselves. The survivor/victim thus finds him/herself in the role of the perpetrator; a nasty "bitch" who wants to bring down a man's reputation and resorts to falsely accusing men of rape as a tactical choice. The irony in the entire thing lies in the fact that because conviction rates are so appallingly low in most countries, it is a very ineffective way to "take someone down."
But I digress. Wolf points out, rightly, that rape accusations are seldom taken seriously nationally and internationally and it is a slap in the face to other survivors that one should have to accuse someone famous in order to get an accusation taken seriously. This does not, however, mean that we should bring these accusations against Assange to the level of other accusations, it means that authorities need to take all rape accusations seriously. This goes for everyday people as well, who because of different states' willingness to use these accusations to fit into their political agenda, automatically assume that these accusations are invalidated. Just because these accusations fit neatly into the US political agenda does not mean that they are orchestrated by the US government, CIA or any other US organ. It could be possible that the US is capitalising on events already happened without holding the strings. It should be possible to hold two thoughts in a brain at the same time, something which seems that a lot of people are completely incapable of, including Michael Moore and Naomi Wolf.
So today when Naomi Wold wrote another article bashing the Swedish legal system called "Sweden's Serial Negligence in Prosecuting Rape Further Highlights the Politics Behind Julian Assange's Arrest" I started wondering if she was just plainly ignorant. Wolf points out some pretty important criticism against the Swedish legal systems, the prosecutors in particular, saying that they are quite terrible at properly prosecuting rape accusations. There is an appallingly low number of cases that ever reach a verdict, and rape survivors in Sweden has to go through the usual amount of victim blaming and rape apologia from prosecutors and authorities that happens in every culture. So a lot of the criticism Wolf dishes out is very valid and something I hope that Swedish prosecutors, authorities and other people otherwise involved in rape cases take to heart. But then she goes on...
But none of the media outlets hyperventilating now about how this global-manhunt/Bourne-identity-chase-scene-level treatment of a sex crime allegation originating in Sweden must be 'normative' has bothered to do any actual reporting of how rape -- let alone the far more ambiguous charges of Assange's accusers, which are not charges of rape but of a category called 'sex by surprise,' which has no analog elsewhere -- is actually prosecuted in Sweden.Wolf obviously has not done her home work. There still isn't such a thing as 'sex by surprise', and this is still not what Assange is wanted for or accused of! It's still a phrase used to trivialise rape, and has now been spread and reinforced by a self-proclaimed high profile feminist. What is more, Wolf blatantly ignores parts of the reports by BRÅ that she herself cites in the article. In their reports, BRÅ have acknowledged that Sweden has very high accusations of sexual crimes, and they have also asked why, something Wolf completely fails to do. The conclusions were that because of new legislation on sexual crimes clubbed through in the late nineties and onward, the definition for sex crimes, among them rape, have been broadened and now Sweden has a broader definition of some sexual crimes than other countries do. They also said that it cannot be concluded that sexual crimes are not on the uprising in Sweden, but it is hard to determine because of the widening of sex crime legislation. (Sift trough BRÅ's publications here, specific report here, they're generally in Swedish but some (most?) have summaries in English). By picking and choosing in the information and leaving out crucial parts, Wolf has made herself guilty of the same fault as a friend of mine accused Michael Moore for - one-sided arguments. As a journalist Wolf should be able to do better, and as a feminist, especially in this case.
It is a shame that high profile feminists are not doing their home work, not investigating this issue good enough and, as a consequence, start feeding into rape myths and rape apologia. I think that what Wolf is doing might ultimately harm rape survivors across the world more than the slap in the face they are receiving from governments for taking this case especially seriously to promote their own political agenda. Hopefully something can be learned from that - that sex crime accusations all deserve to be treated with seriousness, because they are serious accusations. What Naomi Wolf is teaching is that it is fine to disbelieve and dismiss rape and sexual assault accusers, as long as you strongly believe that the person accused has done something good. This is one of the oldest rape myths in the book - that a person that is well-known and well-liked cannot commit a crime, and Wolf is not even capable to see through it.