Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Oh, that does it

When a friend asked me last week how I felt about the whole Julian Assange thing, the best I could come up with was 'conflicted'. Wikileaks good, treating women like sh*t bad. Worse, everything I'd seen or read suggested to me that a reckless disregard for consequences seemed to be one of the things that his political activism and his sexual behaviour had in common.

I spent an hour yesterday in the Rare Books room of the Adelaide University library (stay with me, this is germane) reading the journals of one of South Australia's unsung heroes, Robert Gouger. Gouger died at 44, after suffering what his contemporaries call 'a mental malady' for some years, with steady deterioration of his faculties. If, as they argue, it was a total mental breakdown brought on by the stresses of his life, then goodness knows the stresses of his life were more than enough to do it.

But as anyone who's read The Fortunes of Richard Mahony knows, when men in the 19th century went mad and then died, there was always a chance that the reason was undiagnosed, untreated tertiary syphilis, contracted years earlier. And when it comes to tertiary syphilis, going mad is one of the less unpleasant symptoms.

So if a man has unprotected sex with (at least) two different people inside a week, it seems to me reasonable to be concerned that he might be spreading something icky. When he dismisses that concern as just a couple of silly women 'getting into a tizzy' and then being stupid enough to be 'bamboozled' by police, it severely undermines whatever confidence I might previously have had in his judgment.

13 comments:

M-H said...

Yes. Exactly. The press reaction to the Swedish charges seems to focus our attention very clearly on Assange as wronged hero. Even at my liberal and left-wing workplace, people are sneering at the Swedish law and at the women for bringing the charges, not because they are don't approve of women having sex but because they want to defend Assange.

It seems to me that being martyred for this offence suits his purposes very well.

Lucy Sussex said...

And now we have AFL's finest upset about nude photos being posted of them online! See what it feels like, guys, and learn.

A very wise women said Wikileaks was like THE FIRST STONE all over again. But worse, I suspect.

Kerryn Goldsworthy said...

Yes, I've thought about TFS quite a lot in relation to that. Much of it comes down to the definition of sexual assault. I'm really impressed with the Swedish law's concept of 'sexual integrity' and the violation thereof.

My response to the AFL kerfuffle was exactly the same as yours. If the Saints had half a brain between them they would have known the wisest public response would have been to laugh it off and proudly claim their superfit bods.

That young woman is going to be savagely punished, but she sounds as though she's got the guts to keep kicking and screaming.

Kerryn Goldsworthy said...

Um, among. Among them.

Legal Eagle said...

I am TOTALLY with you, PC and M-H. Glad it's not just me!!!

Stephanie Trigg said...

I find that on this matter I don't have anything nice to say about Assange, the AFL or the AFL girl, and so I won't say anything at all.

Kerryn Goldsworthy said...

If my darling ma were still with us, she would be nodding in furious agreement with Stephanie. And God knows being waspish has got me into a disproportionate amount of trouble just lately.

Fine said...

I saw 'The Social Network' yesterday and got the gut feeling that Assange and Zuckerberg might have few things in common. Undoubtedly highly intelligent men who probably believe that this gives them a pass to treat other people as they wish.

I feel sorry for the so-called 'AFL girl'. Yes, she's gutsy, but I suspect she's coming from a place of deep pain and grievance and that her behaviour isn't going to help her.

Mindy said...

I think AFL girl will be learning the harsh lesson that no matter what it is, no matter who has done it, a woman is likely to attract more of the blame.

tigtog said...

Nodding furiously here. The "into a tizzy" remark just dropped my sympathy level for Assange to almost zero.

I wonder what else he thinks women get into a tizzy about"?

Amanda said...

But a black person told him he was like Martin Luther King!!!1!

You hysterical women really need to learn to see the big picture.

Link said...

Its getting fairly clear that Assange is an incredibly vain man and probably does have a little 'trouble' with the lydies. I guess if you'd never had unprotected sex before you might be a bit appalled, at not being able to choose aforehand. Hard to know. People are tacky and vain period.

Michael Moore has done some research and it's interesting--doesn't necessarily vindicate or damn Monsieur Assange. (I think Michael Moore is a first class feminist.btw)

http://www.michaelmoore.com/words/mike-friends-blog/dear-government-of-sweden

Ann O'Dyne said...

This post has valid criticism of US feminists selective attitude. Having been raped 20 years ago, I am repulsed by Law & Order SVU appearing to be entertainment, and this blogger has a go at that too. Worth clicking through.