Nov. 3rd, 2011

On consent

Nov. 3rd, 2011 07:58 am
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Last night I saw Geoffrey Robertson (well-known legal & TV figure) speaking about his client, Julian Assange. I immediately gritted my teeth, because after hearing Pilger et al. I've developed certain low expectations of what I will hear from Assange's advocates.

But I was pleasantly surprised. Robertson managed to speak on Assange's behalf, discussing the case and defending his client's right to a fair trial, WITHOUT playing the "lying sluts" card or the "well what he's accused of isn't REALLY rape". (His words on the latter were something along the lines of: "while this is termed 'minor rape' in Swedish law, let's be clear on this, all rape is heinous.") Nice to see somebody whose regard for women's rights does NOT become disposable as soon as their idol is accused of something unsavory.

Then of course I spoiled it by reading comments elsewhere, claiming that Assange is "not accused of rape" because "all he did was remove a condom".

First, that's NOT the only thing he's accused of (though I also fell victim to that myth at first - it's certainly being pushed pretty hard.) You can read the warrant here (thanks to Michi for the link) and note the other charges.

Second - and I've said this before, here, but I feel like saying this again - if all Assange had done was remove the condom, yes, that would be rape. Not "technically rape", but "rape". Some points on which people seem to be unclear:


If somebody consents to sex under specific conditions, and those conditions aren't met, you are having sex without their consent. It doesn't matter whether those conditions are "you have to use a condom" or "it'll cost you fifty dollars".

If somebody consents to sex based on information you've given them, and that information is a lie (deliberate omissions count), then you're having sex without their consent.

If somebody consents to sex with another person, and then you show up and impersonate that person in order to get sex, then you're having sex without their consent.

If somebody consents to sex and then withdraws that consent, then you're having sex without their consent. Even if they're being totally unreasonable about the issue and you really, really "need" to get laid.

If somebody does not feel they have the option of refusing consent, and having that decision respect, then you're having sex without their consent.

If you have sex with somebody without their consent, that's rape. End of story.

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