Social Justice Saturday, a bit early: Five Myths about #mooreandme

17 Dec

Parts of this post may be triggering. I’m not cutting it because I kind of want everyone in the world to read it.
So here’s the thing, I’ve been tweeting away on #mooreandme busily, busily, and I feel so sad. I kind of feel sad every time someone I follow makes a tweet that *isn’t* succeeded by #mooreandme. I feel sad that @RHNZ and #totw have both trended in New Zealand in the last 24 hours, because people want free books and free chocolate, but we don’t care enough about rape culture, about ending rape culture, to make #mooreandme trend. I feel sad that maybe another explanation is that Twitter doesn’t want #mooreandme to trend.

Five Myths About #mooreandme, or, #mooreandme and me

5. You’re just doing it cos you hate Michael Moore/Keith Olberman/Wikileaks and you want them to go away. Or you’re being manipulated by the right wing media.

Here’s Sady Doyle:

 

So now I’m outside the tower and I’m telling you, Michael Moore, I’ve known you my whole life, my mom showed me your movie to prove that it was a good thing to stand up to the bullies, we watched every episode of TV Nation together, I got to stay up late, I was in high school when Columbine happened and I was eighteen years old and voted in my first Presidential election and I watched everything get taken away, and you were what hope looked like. Michael Moore, I’m outside the tower, we all are, and I know because I’ve talked to my friends about it that I’m not the only one who had this happen. I’m not the only one you meant this much to. We’re outside, all the people who relied on you, and we’re asking you just to come down. Just to talk. Just to prove that these little voices matter, that you really did mean it, that you should wait outside Roger’s office because for a man to do all that damage and not speak to a sufferer of it is a terrible thing, for a person to wait outside for the man in the tower with just his one small voice was the right thing to do, I’m just asking you, we’re outside, come down. We sound angry. We sound angry because we are angry, because you did a bad thing, several terrible things, over and over again and on TV, and you should apologize. And I mean, Keith Olbermann, honestly, didn’t mean that much to me. I didn’t expect anything better from him. But from you. But from Roger & Me… We’ve been standing outside all day, I’ve been called a whiny bitch and a liar and stupid and an insult to real rape victims as though I was never sexually assaulted my own damn self, I’ve been told to “fuck off and die” with like five exclamation points, I’ve been asked why I’m not “in the kitchen” because that’s always new and witty, I’ve been called so many names, all day, and it’s cold and I can’t sleep, and I’m still waiting. So please, please, please prove that you believed that story. Prove that we were right to believe it with you. We loved the story, we needed the story, please, please, make the story end better this time. Make Roger come down. Please, please, please come down.

I mean, he’s coming, right?

The people involved in #mooreandme are Moore fans and Olbermann fans. We are almost universally on the left, frequently well to the left of the lefties engaging with them. We care about liberalism and progressivism. We vote. We’re educated about politics and about the media and we’re activists. We watch the Daily Show and the Colbert Report and sometimes think those guys are a bit sexist but it’s what we’ve got. We think Wikileaks is really important. We don’t want Michael Moore or Keith Olbermann to go away: we want them to talk to us.

As for the right wing media: I suppose it’s possible, but I am literally never directly exposed to right wing media. I don’t read newspapers or watch the TV news (and although I used “we” above I actually don’t watch the Daily Show or Colbert Report either). I don’t listen to the radio. I don’t visit Stuff or even Scoop and the most right-wing blogger I read regularly is Keith Ng. I can’t even watch television advertising because it’s so sexist, racist, homophobic and conservative. I have exaggerated this paragraph for comedic effect – I am not a total shut-in – but its broad thrust is true. I don’t think we’re being deceived here, and the reason I don’t think that is that the right wing media is a bastion of rape culture. It’s everything #mooreandme is fighting against and all of the people participating know that and criticise it for that all the time.

4. You don’t care about rape or have a history of rape activism.

It’s true that I don’t have a history of rape activism. But it’s not like Bitch Media, Ms Magazine, Jezebel or Sady Doyle are saying anything different than they usually do. It’s just that they’re saying it to people on the left wing. #mooreandme people are not being opportunistic: it’s actually Moore and Olbermann who are being opportunistic, taking advantage of rape culture to defend someone they admire.

3. You’re so naive about global politics. You need to read some international media.

I was actually told this by an American on twitter yesterday. Then he linked to that Daily Mail article (which I am not linking to, but lots of people are); the irony of an American telling a New Zealander I need to understand the international press better and then recommending the Daily Mail is not lost on me but was, I fear, on him. Listen, no-one is saying that the international movement on this is not politically motivated. It probably is. What we’re saying is, the political timing does not affect the veracity of the accusations, and it should not be treated as if it does.

2. What he’s been charged with isn’t even rape in America or the UK or Australia or New Zealand or, like, anywhere.

Here’s the Guardian:

The first complainant, a Miss A, said she was the victim of “unlawful coercion” on the night of 14 August in Stockholm. The court heard Assange was alleged to have “forcefully” held her arms and used his bodyweight to hold her down. The second charge alleged he “sexually molested” her by having sex without using a condom, when it was her “express wish” that one should be used.

A third charge claimed Assange “deliberately molested” Miss A on 18 August.

A fourth charge, relating to a Miss W, alleged that on 17 August, he “improperly exploited” the fact she was asleep to have sex with her without a condom.

If you “have sex” with someone when she’s unconscious, that’s rape. Here and in Sweden. If someone says she’ll only have sex with you if you wear a condom, and then you don’t, that’s rape. Here and in Sweden. If you have to forcefully hold someone down to “have sex” with her? That’s rape: Here and in Sweden and everywhere.

1. The Assange case is different from other rape cases.

This is the one that makes me sad. Because actually, this isn’t different at all. Here’s what I think these people don’t understand: this is the thing that always happens. A man is accused of rape, maybe he’s charged, maybe he’s not. Maybe he gets arrested, maybe he doesn’t. But the second a woman or a man opens their mouth, the second this brave person says “I was raped”, people start looking for reasons not to believe. Maybe the accused man is powerful or beautiful or maybe lots of people admire him. Maybe he’s an activist and we can’t afford to lose his contribution. Maybe he’s a powerful conservative politician, maybe he’s a leader in his church, maybe he’s a policeman, maybe he’s a doctor. Maybe he’s a husband, maybe he’s a father, maybe he’s a brother, maybe he’s a family friend. Maybe he saves animals on the weekend or maybe he goes fishing with you on the weekend and you just know he’s a really good guy, he would never do something like that.

Maybe the woman is a feminist. Maybe she dyed her hair blonde, which means she wants attention. Maybe she wore high heels one time or one time consented to sex with this man or with another man or with a woman. Maybe she’s a sex worker, maybe she’s just an angry person. Maybe she met the guy in public and didn’t seem to be upset. Maybe she talked to someone else before speaking up, maybe found out that they both had the same experience, maybe that galvanised them because they were afraid for other women. Maybe she didn’t speak up, for days or months or years, because she was afraid or because she knew that in the US only 6% of rapists will ever spend time in jail, or because this man was a police officer and his friends were with him when he did it.

And this is old news. This happens every time. I read that Daily Mail article and I felt helpless and angry because this article could have been written about any woman who has ever been the plaintiff in a rape case and it has been. And that article and articles like it make life easier for rapists. They make it easier to be part of the 94%. They make it easier to be part of the 60% of rapes in the USA that never even get reported. And men were quoting this article at me like it was a fact; like people’s sexual history is relevant in a rape case; like this was unusual. Michael Moore said the charges were of a “strange nature”. He called them “hooey”. Michael Moore, if I was drugged and raped tomorrow and my rapists filmed it and that video was shown at the trial, there would be a lawyer willing to stand up and say that I was faking being unconscious because I wanted to make porn, and the men who raped me might not be convicted. That’s not a joke: that’s happened.That’s strange nature, if you like.

All of the behaviour, all of the questioning of these women, all of their uncertainty, all of their unwillingness to believe someone they admired could possibly be a rapist, is standard. It’s normal. This is rape culture, gentlemen, and you should not be helping it along. You should be criticising it. Even when it’s politically inconvenient, even when it’s hard, even when it makes you sad. 94% of rape survivors are counting on you.

 

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One Response to “Social Justice Saturday, a bit early: Five Myths about #mooreandme”

  1. ReasonExtremist 18/12/2010 at 4:23 am #

    I agree mostly – as someone who was ignorant at the beginning of this. I pursued, made comments, found out who the women were after a Swedish tabloid published their names, went muckraking etc. Found some information I thought was showing “they were making it up” without even realising the larger picture in that I am in a culture where this occurs and when its suitable people are able to comprehend digging up dirt to try to prove what we want to think. I feel guilt – I doubt that when confronted with this Michael Moore and Keith Olbermann won’t feel guilt as well. I wasn’t even aware until I read, but it’s hard for ‘tv heads’ to admit they are wrong.

    But as far as charges, he hasn’t been charged with anything re- http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2010/dec/17/julian-assange-sweden . Right now they are allegations (Guardian made a mistake, didn’t retract. Everythings fuzzy).

    I am fine with the case being dealt with and them coming to a verdict etc. But to me it is just as dangerous to assume that because Assange could have raped her that he did. But it is valid to point out that this does happen outside of Assanges case. I worry that it will become divisive but I suppose that is inevitable given that pro-institutional feminists are involved. It will be interesting to see Moores reaction – but I’m not sure anything will happen.

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