Julian Assange, Tony Benn & rape…
Posted August 23, 2012on:
My take on the Julian Assange debate raging at the moment, written hastily so apologies for any errors.
I am absolutely gutted that Tony Benn has waded in and revealed himself not to be the man I thought he was. [Edit: he actually waded in some time ago, back in 2011, but the video only seems to be getting attention now.] He has said that the allegations are that “it was a non-consensual relationship…. well that’s very different from rape”. Now I don’t know all the legal ins and outs but from what I have read Assange had gone to bed with one of the women in question and had consensual sex with her, then had woken up and had sex with her without a condom, despite her protestations. That’s pretty much rape to me.
The thing that’s muddying the waters here is that many believe the charges have been trumped up or that the women have been coerced into pressing charges in order to serve the political interests of those in power who find Wikileaks, and therefore Assange, dangerous/a threat. This has led to a split amongst left wingers who like freedom of speech (e.g. Wikileaks) but don’t like rape (obvs), and has sadly led to comments from the likes of prominent left wingers such as Tony Benn and George Galloway along the lines of ‘non consensual sex is not the same as rape’. Reminiscent of Whoopi Goldberg’s comments a few years ago that when film director Roman Polanski gave drugs to and sodomised a 13 year old (which he admitted to) it wasn’t ‘rape rape’. Hey, she did look older and he is really good at films, after all…
Here’s the thing, and it’s very simple really: non consensual sex is the same as rape. If you’re unsure if someone wants sex, it’s best to ask them. If you’re mature enough to have sex, you’re mature enough to talk about it.
Whether Assange is being pursued for political reasons and the charges are false is a completely. different. debate. and one which definitely needs to be had. But the debate isn’t whether penetrating somebody who clearly doesn’t want you to is rape or not. That can be answered easily: it is.
So please, Tony Benn and the rest of you, stop redefining rape. Concentrate on the injustices you believe Assange is suffering by all means, but keep the two things separate.
And that’s my two penneth.