Sunday, January 09, 2011

Naomi Wolf Wants To Out Rape Survivors?

Julian Assange's sex-crime accusers deserve to be named The shielding of sex-crime accusers is a Victorian relic. Women are moral adults and should be treated as such.

Oh, Naomi, I think your use of the word "relic" is entirely misplaced. For relics are old and dead, and sexism, honor killings, and the vilification and hatred of women, are not.

1. Wolf asserts that the idea a woman is fragile and unable to withstand public scrutiny is a core reason for not naming sex-crime accusers back when women still wore corsets every day, but ignores the idea that a woman's 'honor' was considered so vital that she was perceived as, by being "sullied" through the crime committed against her, as having shamed her entire family in addition to herself.
2. Wolf asserts that not naming a sex-crime accuser makes the crime harder to prosecute. I'm not sure that it does, but if you accept that premise as true, the anonymity of the accuser is not the problem, nor the cure, but a symptom of a system that is unwilling to take sex crimes seriously. Endemic sexism and sweeping accusations under the rug will not go away by allowing accusers names to be published so that they can be vilified directly and by name as part of the process of a sexist system sweeping them and their accusations under the rug. The problem is the system, not whether the accuser's name is published.
3. In fact, publicizing an accuser's name will enable the prosecution to be swept under the rug through trying, judging, and executing the accuser in the aforementioned court of public opinion, by slut-shaming the woman, and thereby dismissing her and her accusations. Ergo, publishing her name doesn't improve the perceived situation, it just allows women to be disregarded in a particular way. Come, come, if there's anything the experience of being a woman subject to some sort of sexual assault has taught us, it's that no woman is safe from the rending claws of being judged a slut in the court of public opinion, or, having her assault treated dismissively ("oh, come on, it wasn't really *rape*"), or, incomprehensibly, both at once.
4. The examples Wolf gives are disingenuous - she conflates accusations within a private university and the military-sexist complex with a criminal case in state or federal court. How, when someone has been charged with a crime and is being prosecuted, does not publishing the name of their alleged victim(s) stop that process from going forward? It's already going forward.
5. Not publishing the name of a victim protects their privacy and protects them from #3 listed above. It is the *accused* who has the right to see and cross-examine his accuser in a court of law (at least in the U.S.), not "everybody else."
6. Wolf says that publishing the names of rape victims helps show others that anyone can be raped. Disingenous again, as the class of persons most often victimized (women) know this already. We are taught it every day.
7. Wolf asks, "Can judicial decision-making be impartial when the accused is exposed to the glare of media scrutiny and attack by the US government, while his accusers remain hidden?" - her implicit answer is 'no', but how is it rectified by publishing his accusers' names? After all, can judicial decision-making be impartial when the accusers are exposed to the glare of media scrutiny and attack by the crushing weight of a patriarchal system, while the accused's 'honor' remains untouched? Or he's even considered, approvingly, as a 'stud'?
8. "It is no one's business whom a victim of sex crime has had sex with previously, or what she was wearing when attacked. Laws exist to protect women from such inquiries." And yet, still, she is judged. And vilified. And threatened. And treated like she is the criminal. Anonymity is not the cause of those behaviors.

The problem isn't that women should be treated like adults (moral or otherwise). The problem is that women aren't treated like, you know, men.

Honestly. What crap will I read next?

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