Why the Backlash Against Assange’s Accusers?

Below is a collection of articles that discuss the internet backlash against the two Swedish women who have accused Julian Assange, editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks of sexual assault. These charges come just after WikiLeaks publicly released 1500 of 251,000 secret U.S. diplomatic cables to the outrage of the U.S. Government. With the release of the documents, Assange has become a high profile media figure embroiled in global controversy bringing him both powerful enemies and loyal fans.

Unfortunately however, his fans (including many on the progressive left) and the media have taken to victim blaming. The women have been subjected to all manner of digital harassment – everything from accusations of concocting a CIA ‘honey-trap’  to publishing their identities (photos, writings, names, addresses, twitter accounts) all over the internet.

Like most women who make allegations against powerful men, these women have been lied about, harassed, and generally dragged through the mud. It would be nice if various justice systems took allegations of sexual assault as seriously as they have with Assange, but the global resources and effort is not about the care and regard for a fair and legitimate trial but seems more like a cynical and opportunistic attempt to punish WikiLeaks.

This case reminds us of the lack of respect and down right misogyny that is hurled at women who dare to report abuse.  Just as we should treat the accused as innocent until proven guilt, we should withhold judgment of these women and take allegations of sexual assault seriously.

If you have found any other articles or interviews that discuss the backlash please post links in the comments. Thank you to Jonathan McIntosh of Rebellious Pixels for collecting many of these articles.

1. Assange Defenders Attack Rape Accusers for No Good Reason by Amanda Marcotte on Slate.com, December 8, 2010

2. The rush to smear Assange’s rape accuser by Kate Harding on Salon.com, December 7, 2010 
 3. Assange rape allegations: treatment of women ‘unfair and absurd’ by Amelia Gentleman on Guardian.co.uk, December 8, 2010

4. C’mon, we can do this acting like grown-ups thing by Amanda Marcotte on Pandagon.net, December 7, 2010

5. Whatever the Assange arrest is about, it’s not about how much women suck by Maggie Koerth-Baker on BoingBoing.net, December 7, 2010 

6. Some thoughts on “sex by surprise” by Jill Filipovic on Feministe.us, December 6, 2010 
 7. Naomi Wolf says “Assange captured by the dating police”? by Jill Filipovic on Feministe.us, December 8, 2010

8. No one gains from this ‘rape-rape’ defense of Julian Assange by Libby Brooks on Guardian.co.uk, December 9, 2010 

9. What the Assange case reveals about rape in America by Jessica Valenti on WashingtonPost.com, December 10, 2010
 10. How AOL News Started The “Sex By Surprise” Lie by Jessica Valenti on Jessicavalenti.com, December 10, 2010

11. This week in crazy: Naomi Wolf by Mary Elizabeth Williams on Salon.com, December 11, 2010

12. Jaclyn Friedman (Women, Action & the Media) and Katrin Axelsson (Women Against Rape) on the BBC’s World Tonight (radio interview at approx 15 minutes)
on BBC Radio 4, December 14, 2010

13. What We Talk About When We Talk About Rape by Jaclyn Friedman
on Prospect.org, December 10, 2010

This post originally appeared at Feminist Frequency

by New Media Days via flickr/creative commons
by Anita Sarkeesian


Ang H.
angie H7 years ago

because they have no pride, dignity, and femininity....because this timing is so.....PRECISE....because they all in their 30s knew the score....because she gave interviews to press and blogs. need more????
it all stinks.... It derides TRUE rape/molestation.....it will put genuine rape victims off.... such a joke...

Nick N.
Nick N.7 years ago

Well so much hype but I believe the position is different to what most have stated! I believe under Sweden’s law if a man has sex without the girls consent it is referred to as RAPE even though she may have c onsented on one occasion! It seems here that although the sex was agreed to during the night during the morning sex was taken while the girl was asleep and also without a condom! Here is a point if a girl was drunk - a lot of drink was apparently consumed- so being asleep when drunk sometimes is hard to wake the person! So if the male decides well it was OK last night lets have deserts without consent what is it???
I am not a girl but it seems if I woke with some guy on top and said stop- and he did not it is RAPE!
Why is everyone trying to bring a smoke screen by joining 2 issues as a poor defense. If he is in fact NOT guilty why doesn’t he front up for questioning as we all would have to do in a similar position? Why is he above us all using a smoke screen as a defense? He should be a MAN face what is there and stop trying to say a big devil is chasing him so he can't go? He was able to go with others money so he should go back first then when he proves or disproves the position then fight the other charges what ever they are! If he wants transparency why does he not show he also has transparency as a leader for transparency?
Or is it a case of do as I say not as I do? Some say it is political what reason? If guilty he can be extradited from both the UK

susan twentyeight
Past Member 7 years ago

The woman in question has notorious CIA ties from way back. The radical Cuban Patriot kind from Iran-Contra fame. Doesn't mean a corporatist spook can't be raped, but this stinks to high heaven.

They will trash his rep the best they can, force him to go on the run then just quietly disappear him into a black site while claiming he's still on the run til everyone forgets about him and there's nothing left in the wake but some more security-justified freedom-stripping legislation. Probably what we did / would do if we caught bin Laden (look what the hunt for him has wrought!), that is if he's not holed up in Crawford..

(either that or Assange will be convicted, we'll be told he was deservedly sent to a dark hole, then *he'll* disappear to Crawford to party with Dubya and OBL a la Donald's allusion, heh..)

Donald MacDonald
don MacDonald7 years ago

Don't forget now, nothing noteworthy has been released.

This whole thing has a bad odor.

Turns out Assange is being represented by an Illuminati law firm that has Rothschild connections.


Roger R.
Past Member 7 years ago

From 1963 and on....you can fool some of the people some of the time, but not all the people all the time....PERIOD!

The TRUTH shall set us FREE !

jane richmond
jane richmond7 years ago

Do we really know this man's agenda? History will tell.

Joshua I.
Joshua I7 years ago

This Is A Set-Up,.. It Is A Conspired False Charge,.. and These False Accusors should be exposed for the fraudulent conspirators they truly are. I know of this kind of Set-Up very well, because I have prevailed against it for 20 years...

Barbara Erdman
Barbara Erdman7 years ago


Ed G.
Ed G7 years ago

With all the brew ahah out of this I suspect that someone that it is in the government who is trying to cloud the issue up with Assange's supposed rape. In other words they are trying to change what people are thinking about the WIKILEEKS publication of government documents.

These are TWO SEPERATE ISSUES!!! I do not know if he is guilty of not of the RAPE charge. But people are trying to misinform people and get them to try and polarize on the RAPE issue rather than the issue of WIKILEEKS.

Carmen n.
Carmen n7 years ago

Haven't read beyond the first few comments, but I must mention, in case no one else has, that the Naomi Wolf article mentioned in your list is not the only one addressing the issue: she wrote two others, published in the HuffPost yesterday and the day before, brilliant in her analysis of how truly cynical the use of 'honey-traps' turns out to be. Please read these two articles before condemning Wolf's view.