I've got to get some sarcasm out of the way first. Are you consenting? I'm not going to use protection in this article. You are free to stop at any time, but I'm going to keep going.
I once had a woman tell me that she kind of liked waking up to sex. In other words, she gave me "permission in advance," telling me that if I woke up and felt the urge, and could manage to get something going while she was still asleep, she thought that was hot and thought that she'd love to wake up to... well, you get the idea. This woman enjoyed sex and was not shy about that fact. She once climbed on me and initiated sex while she was still asleep. In other words, she acquaintance-raped me in her sleep. She then woke up, realized what she was doing, and started screaming and grabbed the phone to call the police to report herself. I'm lying. Of course she didn't do that. She woke up, realized what was going on, and rode me like a god-damned circus pony until we both fell back asleep in a sweaty heap. Fuck, that was hot. Excuse me. I'll be in my bunk.
Technical question: if she tells me the night before that she likes this, and I wake up before she does and manage to stick it in her while she's still asleep, and she seems to be getting into it in her sleep, but she's actually having a dream in which the two of us are having sex, and she asked me to use a condom in the dream, but the condom breaks, and she asks me to stop in her dream, but I don't stop in real life, am I guilty of real life dream rape? Or is she guilty of real dream coitus interruptus, which is a crime in Sweden? I'm just asking. They're just questions. In answer to your query, Leon, they're written down for me. It's a test designed to provoke an emotional response. Shall we continue?
Have you seen that wild movie... what's it called, Intromission? It's about multiple levels of reality. Interruptus? Intercession? Well, I'm sure it'll come to me.
What if she doesn't remember her dream the next morning and cooks me a bitchin' breakfast of deep-fried blintzes with applesauce and herring? I'm just trying to clarify things so I know what to expect during the trial.
Like, when she texted her friend and said "guess who I did last night," what she really meant to type was "HELP ME I WAS HORRIBLY ASSAULTED AND I AM A SOBBING WRECK." Or we find out that she texted "guess who got off last night but didn't seem to care that I didn't," she'll be able to bring me up on charges under the very progressive "failure to bring your partner to orgasm first" law.
Yes, I'm being flippant. Rape is an extremely serious subject. That's why I'm being so god-damned flippant at this god-damned circus.
Also, who breaks condoms? Are they using silicon abrasive carbide for lube? Are they buying expired condoms at the dollar store? They can slip off, yes, but break? You know you can blow these things up to the size of a refrigerator, right? You can stretch them down a broom handle to the bristles, and that's a real test the manufacturers do. Someone's doing it wrong, I think, and it isn't me. I mean, there's lube, right? And if it's so rough that you're going to tear the thing, perhaps a little more foreplay is in order? I need less caffeine. Maybe it had something to do with those crayfish at the party. Those claws are sharp.
But seriously. What the hell am I getting at?
There is bad faith all around in this matter. There are agendas all around in this matter. I wasn't in the room and wasn't in the heads of the people involved, but what I'm hearing makes me very unhappy. Let me just throw out a few points.
1. If your consent revolves around your faith in, or the integrity of, a piece of latex, you're not actually taking responsibility for your sexual behavior.
Lots of people would love to live in a utopia where we could all screw each other at will without risk of disease, without risk of pregnancy, and without messy things like jealousy and bad sex. When we're young and our bodies are lithe and sexy and no one has indigestion or a headache, this all seems possible. It's an illusion. You can't eliminate risk entirely. Condoms aren't magical. You should not trust your life to them. That's idiocy. If avoiding pregnancy is really of paramount importance to you, as opposed to maybe something you'd just prefer, well, you know what to do. And sleeping with International Man of Mystery there isn't it.
I'm not saying that anyone who consents to sex with a condom has then consented to sex without a condom, or consented to having the man continue after a condom breaks or slips off, or consented to getting poked in the middle of the night without one after he agreed to use one -- if in fact he did, or if it was really discussed in detail.
But condoms are not magical, and a lot of feminist critics are speaking as if the condom somehow magically enabled her consent and the consent somehow vanished when plan A didn't work out, and suddenly it became rape, and I think that's maybe a little silly.
2. Screwing two groupies who are already friends, and who are likely to compare notes, is not really advised, unless you manage to nail both of them at once.
In other words, jealousy exists. Also, revenge is a powerful motive. That ought to be self-evident.
3. Rape victims don't generally cook their assailants breakfast, throw him a party the next day, invite all their friends, and then host him for a few more days.
Or maybe they do. Who understands kids these days?
4. Decent human beings don't generally take advantage of their momentary fame to bang hot chicks.
Or, to put it another way,
5. You can't spell Assange without first spelling Ass.
He's 39. He ought to be over the wild oats stage. I admire his work, I admire his contributions to the open source community, but let's face it, he's no role model. He's Eurotrash. Usually, we get to admire our heroes for a while before we find out about their Achilles heel. In this case his rise to momentary fame and the rape allegations are emerging, in the overall scheme of things, almost simultaneously.
Which brings us to:
6. Wikileaks should consider investing in a new spokesmodel.
Seriously -- if he considers himself a journalist, he should be aware that most of the great investigative journalists and whistleblowers I admire from years past generally took at least some care not to allow themselves to become the story. I mean, the media always tries to make them the story, but it helps if you don't give anyone obvious blackmailable activities to work with, right?
And, I'm sure the slutty Assange knows this, but his slutty playmates apparently did not:
7. Attempting to rewrite your history by deleting blog entires, or tweets, or whatever, is impossible in the age of Google.
This is almost all I have to say on the matter. I'm not defending Assange per se. What he did or didn't do is almost irrelevant at this point. I suspect it did not rise to the level of what most of us would consider rape, even those of us who consider ourselves to be enlightened and feminist to one degree or another. Unsatisfying sex is not rape. Awkward sex is not rape. Confusion or miscommunication during sex is not rape. Failure to set clear guidelines is not necessarily rape. Failure to follow someone's unclear guidelines is not necessarily rape. It's what we used to consider in my wild oats days an evening to regret, especially since alcohol was involved all around, and not a way to join the media circus and get paid to do interviews. Just because a guy is what used to be called a cad, and sleeps with your best friend, that doesn't mean you were suddenly retroactively raped. When you're playing around at this, acting at 39 the way I might expect more reasonable people to get out of their systems 20 years earlier, you're playing with getting hurt. The stakes may be a lot higher, especially if you've come to believe that you're entitled to be 19 forever. Mixing slutty behavior and regret and entitlement and confidence and anger and jealousy and desire for revenge and dishonesty and hungry lawyers and bad law and bad feminist legal theory is not going to end well for anyone. Except for the media earning money on page views.
Seriously, no one looks good here. His accusers have already shown their willingness to change their stories by deleting evidence. I suspect I will never have confidence that we know what actually happened. The political and financial incentives for his accusers to lie are simply overwhelming. So all we can do is stick to our principles and watch what unfolds -- but keep these points in mind, and watch with a very, very skeptical, even jaundiced, eye.