Monday, 17 October 2011

I'm a woman. I'm excluded from the 99%

Trigger warning: this post contains some of the transcript from the Assange appeal hearing

I thought I was part of the 99%. I’m on an average income, and even though I own my flat, this is thanks to a first time buyer initiative from Labour. I’ve been on the dole and I’m from a (legally) single parent family. I have a lot of privilege – I’m white, able-bodied, cis-gendered and middle class (with a good degree) but I still fit that 99% model. I believed in a movement that was saying it wasn’t acceptable that so few controlled so much of the wealth, and used it so irresponsibly. I believed in a movement that was about collective action.

But then I heard about members of the movement calling women c**ts and b***es and denying that there is a problem with hate language (http://fortyshadesofgrey.blogspot.com/2011/10/occupations-safe-spaces-and-privilege.html - read this post if you read nothing else).

And I heard that accessibility was not really considered or noted (http://www.thefword.org.uk/blog/2011/10/we_are_the_49).

And that 99%-ers on Wall Street had set up a Tumblr showcasing all the ‘hot’ women involved in the movement to try and encourage more men to take part (http://me.lt/3AFhd).

And, in the straw that broke the camel’s back moment, I learnt Assange was invited to speak by the organisers of the London Stock Exchange occupation. Never being one to eschew the spotlight, speak he did.

And I realised that as a woman, I felt excluded from the 99%.

Assange is currently waiting to hear the results of his appeal against extradition to Sweden on two charges of sexual assault. Now, there has been a lot of debate in the lefty liberal media about whether what he allegedly did was actually sexual assault. So here’s a reminder of what the defence said at his appeal hearing:


‘AA felt that Assange wanted to insert his penis into her vagina directly, which she did not want since he was not wearing a condom … She did not articulate this. Instead she therefore tried to turn her hips and squeeze her legs together in order to avoid a penetration … AA tried several times to reach for a condom, which Assange had stopped her from doing by holding her arms and bending her legs open and trying to penetrate her with his penis without using a condom. AA says that she felt about to cry since she was held down and could not reach a condom and felt this could end badly.’



The defence also tried to explain how, despite being asleep, and therefore unable to consent, AA actually did consent to sex with Assange:



'They fell asleep and she woke up by his penetrating her. She immediately asked if he was wearing anything. He answered: "You." She said: "You better not have HIV." He said: "Of course not." She may have been upset, but she clearly consented to its [the sexual encounter's] continuation and that is a central consideration.’

http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/blog/2011/jul/13/julian-assange-extradition-appeal-hearing-day-two-live-coverage

http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2011/jul/12/julian-assange-extradition-live-coverage

Now, if you don’t believe that someone penetrating another person when they’re asleep isn’t sexual assault, isn’t rape, then you have a pretty poor understanding of what constitutes a violation of someone’s bodily autonomy. The same goes for the first description. Remember, this isn’t the prosecution talking. This is his defence. His defence is trying to redefine rape.

The prosecution said:

“they did not freely consent without coercion" but agreed to sex because of physical force, or consented "already having been trapped into a position where they had no choice, and they submitted to Mr Assange's attentions".”

Now, Assange is innocent until proven guilty. But I find it distinctly troubling that the people who booked the speakers thought it was appropriate to invite someone who is facing rape and sexual assault charges. Because by doing so, they isolated a lot of the women who supported the movement. This decision said to women, and to survivors and victims of sexual assault, that they didn’t matter. The movement no longer feels welcoming. It no longer feels inclusive.

Inviting Assange is part of the continued history of left-wing politics where women are expected to ‘put up’ with sexism and misogyny for the “greater good”. In Nat’s blogpost above, she was expected to put up with being called a c**t for the “greater good”. The women who are being objectified and shared on Tumblr are being expected to give up their image to encourage more male members – for the  “greater good”. And women are expected to listen to an accused rapist for the “greater good” because after all, he’s a left wing hero who Bianca Jagger and Jemimia Khan like.

And yet, all these actions exclude women. All these actions entrench sexism. One of these actions stinks of rape apologism.

What’s the point of a greater good that excludes women? Why are women being sold out by the left? Again?

A movement that doesn’t challenge sexism; that actively invites the presence of an accused rapist; that excuses hate language; that treats women as objects – that movement is not fighting for a better world. It is upholding and entrenching the same old patriarchal world. You cannot fight capitalism and not fight patriarchy. Otherwise you will only change things for some, not for all.

And the same applies for a movement that is not questioning its own privilege by not considering accessibility and intersectionality.

If we want to fight for a better world, then that fight has to include ending sexism. That fight has to include holding misogyny and violence against women and girls to account. That fight has to condemn sexism and misogyny. That fight has to include women.

We shouldn’t have to put up and shut up. We should be included. Listened to. We shouldn’t have to put up with being called c**ts, or have our bodies used, or have to listen to an accused rapist tell us how to create a better world.

As @incurablehippie tweeted yesterday:

I mean it. Where's the revolution that doesn't invite people awaiting trial for rape to speak? That has an access plan? #wheresmyrevolution


Women make up most of the world’s (and UK’s) poor. Women are being hardest hit by the government’s spending plans. Women do 2/3 of the world’s work, earn only 5% of its income and own 1% of its property (http://www.unifem.org/gender_issues/women_poverty_economics/facts_figures.php). Any movement to redistribute wealth, any movement that aims to highlight the inequalities of wealth, this movement cannot risk isolating women.

Inviting an accused rapist to your event has made this woman feel that she is not part of the 99%.

And I'm not the only one.

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think you should at least consider the possibility that Assange was the victim of a honey pot.

You may or may not be aware of the tried and proven technique employed by Western intelligence agencies - of neutralizing politically sensitive targets by smearing them with some kind of sexual misdemeanour – for married men it’s infidelity. Married men with homosexual tendencies are particularly vulnerable. The KGB are the only agency to admit using homosexual agents to ensnare such targets. In Assange’s case a rape allegation was the perfect fit. It’s ugly and public. What better way to take down the creator of an organisation that genuinely threatens the political status quo of the West, questions the legitimacy of Western democracy, exposes its corruption and so on. A CIA assassination team or perhaps one from an allied nation would have definitely been the next stop for the world’s greatest super power - having exhausted all other means of destroying their public enemy number one.

But this is all just boys club speculation perhaps. A brief look at one of Assange’s accusers is required to give the theory more weight. Anna Ardin organised Assange’s speaking engagement for the Christian brotherhood. She offered for him to stay at her apartment. It is also well documented that she instigated the reporting of the alleged rape to the police – encouraging the other girl to initiate proceedings while distancing herself from the process – until it looked as if it would collapse - at which point she detailed her own complaint. There is of course Anna’s inconsistent behaviour post the assault – her pro-Assange tweets – and of equal significance her flawed attempts to remove them from the public record. I understand victims of rape are quite capable of putting on a brave face for several reasons – hiding the trauma from themselves, from others BUT in conjunction with other facts – Anna’s behaviour is rightfully interpreted as suspicious.

Anna Ardin is in my view rather obviously a Swedish intelligence operative. Her employment history is a clear give away. In her earlier days she was in the service of the Swedish foreign office – I believe in Washington. But as agents prove promising they are distanced from obvious government connections and placed in the field where their talents for intelligence gathering and espionage are best exploited. They penetrate any organisation with a ‘neutral’ presence in places of interest around the globe. A little research into the Christian brotherhood will explain Anna’s affiliation with them. However Anna’s biggest covert blunder is her affiliation with the ladies in white – a Cuban based anti-Castro movement now exposed as a front for the CIA.

So in summary – you are suggesting that this woman – with her documented affiliations – was raped by a man who just happens to be public enemy number one of the world’s greatest super power – and for the assault to occur at a point in time that proved so coincidentally opportune for the United States. It’s honestly an absurd proposition. I’m not for one minute saying Assange is a saint – or even innocent of what he’s been accused of – being sexually forceful – rape by your definition. And there’s no doubt the CIA would have exhaustively profiled Assange’s sexual habits before setting up the honey pot. So I think you’re being more than a little naive if you believe the American political machine to be above exploiting a man’s darker side to suit its own political ends.

None of what I’ve said is an attempt to diminish the importance of the points you make. But I think you have to be careful you’re not playing into the hands of the Western intelligence agencies – attacking the man at the expense of what he potentially stands for – a seismic shift in political history.

sian and crooked rib said...

I'm sorry, but no.

I disagree with all of the points you have raised and you have no evidence to support any of them. Particularly your spurious claim that ana ardin is an intelligence operative.

Sexual assault is a lot more common than international conspiracy theories to put rich powerful white men in Scandinavian prisons.

Penetrating someone when they cannot consent because they are asleep is not forceful sex, is not my definition of rape, it is rape. As is the other accusation. His lawyers have basically stated that he raped two women.

I have published your comment because you have been polite and not used language that breaks my mod policy, and because it is useful sometimes to remember how far people go to deny and defend men accused of sexual assault.

But I wont publish any further conspiracy theory comments.

MediumRob said...

I would like to post an informed and considered response to Anonymous's post but really all I could come up with was HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA.

Which is a bit rubbish.

Oh and that I would like inform you that Scarlett Johansson (actress) actually is a clone from original person Scarlett Galabekian, who has nothing with acting career. That clone was created illegally by using stolen biological material. Original person is very nice (not d**n sexy),most important – CHRISTIAN young lady! I’ll tell you more,those clones (it’s not only one) made in GERMANY – world leader manufacturer of humans clones, it is in Ludwigshafen am Rhein, North Bavaria, Mr. Helmut Kohl home town. You can not even imaging the scale of the cloning activity. But warning! Helmut Kohl clone staff strictly controlling all their clones (at least they trying) spreading around the world, they are very accurate with that, some of them are still NAZI type disciplined and mind controlled clones, so be careful get close with clones you will be controlled as well. Original person is not happy with those movies, images, video, rumors and etc. spreading on media in that way it would be really nice if we all will try slow down that ”actress” career development, original Scarlett will really appreciated that. Please remember that original Scarlett’s family did not authorize any activity with stolen biological materials, no matter what form it was created in it was stolen and it is stolen. It all need to be delivered to authorized personals control in Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. Original Scarlett never was engaged, by the way!

I hope that you're all suitably warned.

gherkingirl said...

So Assange is the victim of a honey pot/stitch up by vindictive woman? And the reason a rape allegation was chosen was because he's got a reputation for trying to put his penis where it isn't invited? That would still make him an alleged rapist whichever way you spin this.

Being accused of being a rapist doesn't discredit men as much some of them would think. Look at Polanski or Mike Tyson or DSK or Kobe Bryant or Ben Roethlisberger or Tupac Shakur or William Kennedy Smith Even kiddie fiddling isn't a total reputation killer if you're Woody Allen or Michael Jackson.

If you want to discredit someone like Assange you don't accuse him of rape to do it because his buddies and bros in arms will still invite him to play at political protest and post bail and write nice things about how their idol (who they've never met) couldn't do something like that. Bet you wouldn't do that if he'd been accused of reading the Daily Mail and cosying up to lobbyists and ministers or buying politicians' favours.

That's how you discredit a left wing hero. Both right wing and left wing men don't really give enough of a crap about women to write someone like Assange off for rape. The two sides just victim blame the women in slightly different ways.

Which you've done beautifully about one of Assange's victims. You don't even consider that rape is a plausible reaction from a man like Assange who comes across as egotistical, meglomanical, not used to hearing no and extremely domineering. I do not know if he's a rapist, but more than one rape victim I work with has mentioned his behaviour are exactly like their rapists behaved.

Oh and that little line about 'rape by your definition'? I imagine if anyone had ever tried to penetrate you while you were being held down or asleep you'd be wanting people to call it rape too. Because that's what those behaviours are. They aren't just bad manners. They are rape. To call them anything else diminishes them hugely.

sian and crooked rib said...

Thank you gherkingirl for your comment. You are completely right in every word. I am just so saddened we have to say this again and again.

And rob - ha!

cim said...

"and for the assault to occur at a point in time that proved so coincidentally opportune for the United States."

Unless, of course, he's a serial rapist (well, by definition he's accused of that, but I mean more than just the 2-3 times the Swedes are investigating) who has committed far more rapes than he's been publicly accused of. (Since most rapists are serial rapists, that's not implausible)

Combine that with "convenient time" being "any time in the last few years" and it stops being a coincidence at all.

I think you should at least consider the possibility that Assange was the victim of a honey pot.

If there was any actual evidence of this, I would imagine Assange's expensive lawyers would have been raising it at the extradition hearings, rather than making absurd claims that actions clearly illegal under both English and Swedish law (more illegal in England than Sweden, in fact) are, in fact, legal.

"I didn't do it" is a fair defence to rape, and one that is for the courts to decide.

"Even if I did do it, it was legal" is not, given the details of the crimes being investigated.

Elly said...

i'm a woman and I don't feel excluded by Assange speaking at the demo. You have to be careful not to assume you are speaking for all women.

However as a woman I *do* feel excluded from feminism and I left the 'movement' due to that sense of exclusion.

But you will not change your politics or who you share platforms with to accomodate me.

Life is complex!

Mike said...

So your excluding yourself from the 99% because like XX% especially this one man who infamous in his own right included in himself in that 99%.
Your the person to have a personal vendetta again all men for being men. Even before we move in to the murky waters of rape accusations.
Which is an opinion your totally aloud and who am I to argue with you on your blog.
I just wanted to point that, that 99% is made of of the 99% who aren't supper wealthy (and it's probably not even a accurate figure.)
A hell of a lot of different faction make up the 99% among other things (in the united kingdom in general) most of the BNP and there supports, drug dealers/trader/growers in general, most of the united kingdom prison population (if not the worlds), All the hate preachers in Britain. a surprising amount of footballers and other sport persons, a large chunk of the british media and journalism, bristols MPs.
Of course there'll be people in that figure that your dislike/despise/hate/loath but that no reason to count yourself out of the 99% simply because it includes people you loath.
I really doubt Assange will turn up to the Bristol occupies.
So why not come down and show solidity with the 45.9% of the non wealthy women of the uk!

~ me

P.S. the 45.9% figure come from the uk estimate of 61,838,154 people, of which is estimated that 51% (31537459) are women and of that 10% of that figure (3153746) are conceded extremely wealth (which is another estimate based on that ten present of the rich list are women) which bring the figure to 28383713 or 45.9% [(28383713/61838154)x100]

P.S.S I give my post a very short life span but I felt had to say it anyway.

P.P.S.S I'm doing GCSE Math so I felt compelled to come up with the useless (and probably false) statistic

Mike said...

I just realise I made a mistake that 10% should come from the 1% of the population. So the number of non wealth women in the uk should be more like 50.9%.

61838154 = estimate of UK's population
31537458.54 = estimate of UK's women population
61838.154 = estimate of UK's wealthiest women
31475620.39 = estimate of UK's women population after deducting the Uk's wealthiest women estimate.

sian and crooked rib said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
sian and crooked rib said...

Elly - you're back!

As usual, not speaking for all women, speaking for me. on my blog. about my views. And as usual i'm not sharing platforms with anyone really, unlike Assange.

Mike, have no personal vendetta against men or Assange. Just feel that of all the people to choose to speak they could have found someone who's own lawyers' statement says raped a two women.

And yes, i do understand how the 99% works. As my blogpost pointed out, women make up the bulk of the UK's and world's poor, and do 2/3 of the world's work whilst only earning 10% of its income and owning 1% of its property. You cannot have a movement to fight against the unfairness of poverty and exclude women. My concern is that the reasons i mention in the post, and the stories i have heard a lot of women tell about their experiences with the Occupy movement, women are being excluded by what some people call 'manarchism and mansplaining'.

The fight for equality has to include the fight for gender equality.

Elly said...

what I mean is , say the UK Feminista conference - I object to many of the speakers there. e.g. *OBJECT* and ex-sex workers who speak against prostitution as abusive, and anti-porn feminists.

But you would never advocate me being allowed to object to those speakers with a view to making feminism more inclusive would you?

Feminism *excludes* women. So your argument about feeling excluded is weak.

sian and crooked rib said...

But i have no power to advocate for you to speak or not. You seem to credit me with a lot more influence than i have.

And where i do have power to invite people to speak, e.g. bristol reclaim the night, me and the team invite a range of women. at this year's event, we have people from rape crisis, one25 (a charity that supports women in street based prostitution), the city council, the police, no women no peace, young people's services...

You say feminism excludes women and therefore my argument is weak. Well, surely that makes your argument that i am not exluded from their movement weak too.

sianandcrookedrib said...

'ex-sex workers who speak against prostitution as abusive'

Man, how dare those women who have had a negative and traumatic experience of an industry you support talk about their own experiences in public.

Elly said...

That's not my argument! Yes you are excluded from the movement that invited Assange to speak. And I am excluded from feminism.

That's my point! No movement includes everyone. So your suggestion that the 99% movement is somehow bad because it excludes you is very self-centred.

The '99%' is about the 99% of people who are not wealthy to the degree of the 1%. it is not saying its politics have to represent the beliefs of 99% of the population! That'd be impossible.

sian and crooked rib said...

And that's not my argument.

I'm not saying the occupy movement is bad because it excludes me, i'm saying it needs to look carefully at itself and take notice of whether its actions are challenging sexism, challenging patriarcy, and check their privileges to ensure it is accessible and inclusive to all of the 99%.

And the examples i give demonstrate that this isn't always happening.

A further example that I was informed of was *some* male attendees of occupy bristol sneered at Bristol Fawcett's campaign to report on the impact of the cuts on women in Bristol, and said that the women's issue was getting enough attention. When questioned about patriarchal capitalism, he replied we should call it maternal capitalism.

However have also heard that other Occupy Bristol attendees have been supportive of Fawcett's anti cuts campaign. So it shows that the important thing is being inclusive and recognising and realising that this is an issue that needs to include the fight against gender inequality.

Elly said...

yes and the fact is people disagree about what constitutes gender inequality!

sian and crooked rib said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
sian and crooked rib said...

Well, an example of gender inequality in the context of the 99% idea is:

'Women make up most of the world’s (and UK’s) poor. Women are being hardest hit by the government’s spending plans. Women do 2/3 of the world’s work, earn only 5% of its income and own 1% of its property (http://www.unifem.org/gender_issues/women_poverty_economics/facts_figures.php).''

Elly said...

I don't accept those stats.

You just parrot them without looking carefully at the research or the assumptions that underpin it. I am not going to follow suit and chant a load of stats about men's disadvantages in return.

You won't change your mind! I am just stating my disagreement for the benefit of readers.

sian and crooked rib said...

Ok elly. Cool. Thanks for sharing your views.

M said...

Sian, great post!
Elly's comments are quite ironic: she tries to exclude your viewpoints because you are casting light on excluded groups on the basis that you are excluding her (because it doesn't accord with her viewpoint). So for Elly, are the only legitimate critiques ones that accord with her personal viewpoints? Isn't that inherently exclusionary? Does she then say that because not everyone can be included, it is legitimate to exclude? I just can't reconcile her condemnation of you for being exclusionary and then justifying the Occupy movement for excluding because it is impossible to include. Gosh, what a mess! I hope that I have got it muddled because I shudder at the convulated mind that could produce such inconsistent comments. I would hope that we don't live in a world of strict dichotomies of inclusion/exclusion so that we can seek to improve society constructively instead of just rejecting others out of hand.

zaineylou said...

As a 37yr old woman who was raped age 17 wen out cold on drugs and alcohol was raped by 2men 1after other,20yrs ago my voice wasnt heard my cries ignored nor did i report these men as the attitude of those closest 2me at thaqt time thought it my fault 4inicially goin back wid these men.Sadly it doesnt look like enough has changed 4 women in last 20yrs.whoever u r,wat ever u do,ur body &soul do not deserve to b violated by any1.Thankfully iv found my way in wat was a very tough world where the only person 2 teach me about respect was myself &my wonderful children.As a mum 2 a teenage daughter it concerns me that many peoples views clearly remain the same as they did 20yrs ago.

sian and crooked rib said...

thank you for sharing your story. sending you solidarity x