I was going to be lazy and not post anything today, but I was so moved by Sady’s post about the way she’s been stressing herself out with the #mooreandme campaign, that I had to say something in support. This isn’t, for me, about Michael Moore posting Julian Assange’s bail. Or coming down affirmatively on the subject of Assange’s guilt. I’ve maintained, in the face of great pressure to be stupid about this, that we can be intelligent people who can handle the thought that Interpol being ridiculous doesn’t mean that the accusers are lying. (I’ve also often pointed that O.J. was framed, and he was guilty. You can plant evidence on a guilty man, and often the police do because they get upset that someone guilty might go free.) We can do it! We can believe that Assange is being targeted for something other than the actual rape charges, and that it’s still wrong to engage in standard issue rape apologist crap aimed at the accusers. And that, by the way, is the main problem with Michael Moore—not that he posted bail. (Which is good, imo, because Assange was being badly treated in captivity, if for no other reason.) He went full blown rape apologist, including dismissing the charges with “the condom broke”, which is not the charge and, contrary to what right wing British tabloids say, it’s not a crime to have a truly accidental contraception mishap in Sweden.
Anyway, obviously what’s happening with #mooreandme now is that it’s being flooded with rape apologists—some only whipping it out for this occasion, but many who just automatically support accused rapists and denounce rape victims. And I have no doubt that Michael Moore, along with Keith Olbermann, are waiting this out, letting the overt woman-haters and rape-supporters wear down the feminists keeping #mooreandme alive. So there’s another black mark against Olbermann and Moore—they’re playing the patriarchal game of letting the overt misogynists do their work for them, so they can feel good about themselves while benefiting from sexism. Ironically, this is basically the way rape works in the real world. Few misogynist men are rapists, but those who aren’t rely on rapists as a threat to keep women in line, such as when RS McCain made it clear that he supports rapists as a vigilante force punishing women who are sexually liberated with men that aren’t RS McCain.
This situation has other parallels that Sady talks about eloquently and angrily:
That’s why Ben Roethlisberger walks free today. His accuser eventually refused to go forward, and her lawyer’s letter said that it wasn’t because the accuser hadn’t been raped, she still maintained that had actually happened to her and he had done it, it was because pursuing the case, no matter whether she got a conviction or not, would be so dangerous and so traumatic for her that it just wouldn’t be worth it.
Read the whole thing, but she makes a good case the shutting women up about the injustice of rape apologism is paralleled to the shutting of women up about actually being raped. It’s all about using sexist stereotypes and lies against women to wear them down until they’re forced to decide between justice and self-preservation.
Ironically, this is how the powers that be are trying to shut Wikileaks down—by making people involved choose between self-preservation and justice.
The people who try to force this choice often justify it to themselves by suggesting those clamoring for justice need to just get over it, as if the reason people clamor for justice is simple revenge or about creating karmic balance. In reality, it’s much more pragmatic than that. I had a relatively easy go of it when it came to pressing charges against the guy who assaulted me—I had supportive family and a supportive boyfriend, the police and prosecutors believed me, there was an eyewitness—and even then, pressing charges was at least half the reason the whole situation was so traumatic. In the best of circumstances, a rape victim will be accused of lying and will lose friends, because people find it unpleasant to be around someone who is trying to rectify an injustice instead of just letting it go. In worse circumstances, the victim will have no allies and be completely alone. So why do people push forward? Vengeful harpies, or is there a rational reason?
Since I start with the assumption that women are people, I’m going to go ahead and suggest that the vicious stereotype that women are vengeful harpies should be set aside, and that there is an entirely rational reason to seek legal recourse against a rapist. (Though I will point out that few would be upset with a man pressing charges against a friend who robbed his house because it’s so unpleasantly revenge-oriented.) It’s so he doesn’t rape again. For me, the only thing that pushed me into picking up the phone and calling the cops was being reminded that rapists who aren’t stopped will rape again. Because rapists rape because they enjoy the act of rape. What made me pick up and keep going when I was feeling beat down was thinking about the next woman who was rape-available that crossed his path, and how she might not be as privileged as I was in terms of having support and safety.
Rape apologists may not be rapists (though I have to point out that statistically, many pretty have to be), but they nonetheless are why rape happens. By making the price of speaking out too high for the majority of victims, they make sure that no one holds rapists accountable. Which is basically blanket permission to rape. Which is why rape is so damn common. Sady isn’t doing this because she’s got some overwrought sense of vengeance. It’s because as long as every rape victim who speaks out knows she will meet a sea of rape apologists that will grind her down, then many won’t. And if they don’t speak out, there are no consequences for raping. And so the rapists who go unresisted will just rape more. And while not resisting rape apologists doesn’t mean it’s your fault if they keep making the world safe for rapists, it doesn’t feel that way. Just as I knew that if I kept silent about my own sexual assault, and then the guy who assaulted me went on to rape someone else, I would feel that this was, on some level, my fault. And I couldn’t live with that. So, at the end of the day, it’s self-preservation vs. another kind of self-preservation. And with Sady, I think Michael Moore might have found someone who has quite a bit of the latter in her.