Naomi Wolf wants Julian Assange’s rape accusers named in the press, because it will, she claims, help women. This is the most self-serving piece of bull I’ve come across in I don’t know how long.
The convention of shielding rape accusers is a relic of the Victorian era, when rape and other sex crimes were being codified in what descended to us as modern law. Rape was seen as “the fate worse than death”, rendering women – supposed to be virgins until marriage – “damaged goods”. The practice of not naming rape victims took hold for this reason.
This is so not even true. First of all, she’s conflating rape shielding laws with the courtesy of not naming rape accusers, at least until after the trial, if the press feels like it. Rape shield laws are what stops defense attorneys from probing into the victim’s sex life to suggest that she’s really just a trashy whore, in which case juries often refuse to convict, even though they understand a crime was committed.
Both rape shield laws and the no-naming convention are recent developments in women’s rights and have absolutely nothing to do with the Victorian era stuff she’s blithering on about. She should already know all this because I know it and I’m way less educated and ten years younger, and I know all this just from being alive and having access to the media. But if she didn’t – if somehow being a feminist for all those years didn’t clue her in on this stuff – a simple trip to Wikipedia would have. She goes on and on about Victorian stuff for a while – really, just on and on and on – then argues:
Not only is this convention condescending, but it makes rape prosecutions more difficult.
Does it. Does it really.
In the US military, for instance, the shielding of accusers’ identities allows officials to evade responsibility for transparent reporting of assaults – and thus not to prosecute sex crimes systematically. The same is true with universities. My alma mater, Yale, used anonymity to sweep incidents under the carpet for two decades. Charges made anonymously are not taken as seriously as charges brought in public.
Say what? The accuser’s name does actually go into any records of what happened. Press anonymity, which is all we’re talking about here, doesn’t affect that. She seems to be suggesting that when the cops come to Yale to speak to the accused, Yale says, “We can’t tell you who he is” and the cops go “Oh, okay, have a nice day” and leave. (What really sweeps rape accusations under the carpet? When girls and women aren’t told: don’t start with your campus. If you’re raped, go to the police. Only the police are allowed to handle actual crimes. The campus dudes can help you break into your car if you locked your keys inside – maybe.)
As Feministe suggests, she really is just trolling at this point. I wouldn’t let this woman’s comments through here at Hathor if she said anything like what she’s saying in this article. But it gets worse:
It is only when victims have waived their anonymity – a difficult, often painful thing to do – that institutions change. It was Anita Hill’s decision in 1991 not to make anonymous accusations against Clarence Thomas, now a US supreme court justice, that spurred a wave of enforcement of equal opportunity law.
This is incredible. She’s trying to sidestep the fact that Anita Hill waiving the anonymity she never had* did not keep Clarence Thomas off the US Supreme Court with the allegation that Thomas getting away with sexual harassment led to a wave of equal opportunity laws, so, big victory! Even if that was true, which it’s not, Thomas is in a position to decide cases based on those laws, and help chip away at their very substance. Some victory.
(*Sexual discrimination victims do not enjoy the anonymity of the no-naming convention, so this is misleading at best, and more likely an attempt to deceive and confuse.)
The convention of anonymity, conversely, lets rape myths flourish. When accusers are identified, it becomes clear that rape can happen to anyone. Stereotypes about how “real” rape victims look and act fall away, and myths about false reporting of rape relative to other crimes can be challenged.
I guess she thinks there was no stereotyping in the MANY MANY YEARS during which they so totally did name the accusers whenever they felt like it? Oh, I can’t go on.
Forget about “reclaiming” words like bitch and slut, feminists. You’ll need to reclaim “feminism” from parasites like Wolf first.