Rape Culture, Moore, and Me

I’m not going to do a long post on this, because I am in the midst of moving home for winter break but I just want to publicly voice my support for every single person participating in the #MooreandMe protest. This remark by Sady Doyle, creator of the protest and awesome feminist, sums up my feelings about the  situation:

“In an early post, I said that I was more likely to believe women who report rape, including the Assange accusers, than to disbelieve them. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this one, over the past few days, and honestly? At this point, I don’t know whether Assange is guilty or not, but I’m damn sure that it doesn’t matter. Because what matters is the right of women to report crimes against them, YES EVEN THE CRIME OF RAPE, without expecting that they will be harassed, smeared, bullied, threatened with murder, having their names leaked by the media, lied about, and misrepresented until the harassment and trauma is so intense that they can’t continue their cases any more. Get that? I don’t know whether Assange is guilty. I don’t CARE whether Assange is guilty. What I care about is the media’s accountability, and ALL of our accountability, for making the world unsafe for women and rape victims who report rape and try to have a fair, reasonable trial before a jury of their peers.” [Source. Emphasis mine.]

I used to have respect for Moore and Olbermann, I even referenced the work of both men on this blog from time to time… but no more.

I am horrendously dissappointed in both individuals for willfully endangering women’s lives by spreading the names of both survivors further. It doesn’t matter that their names had been published elsewhere first, every person responsible for making sure more people know these women’s names is responsible for the harassment that is taking place.

I am also horrified at the level of misinformation Olbermann was willing to report, and that Moore was willing to perpetuate (on Olbermann’s show and elsewhere).

“Keith Olbermann provided all of his 166,533 followers with the name of one of the accusers, via link, in a Tweet that was so widely linked as to exceed even that alarmingly large number of readers and potentially dangerous people. And, yikes, okay, Keith Olbermann also repeated the spurious and unprovable allegation that the accuser (who he indirectly named, thus exposing to potential harm) worked for the CIA, which would undoubtedly rile up any potentially dangerous people reading him. And yeah, sure, Keith Olbermann mis-stated the facts of the case, alleging that consensual sex with a broken condom could be considered rape in Sweden, and not retracting this statement — which, again, reached at least 166,533 people — when it was proven false.” [Source]

ALL that we want is an apology. An acknowledgment that not correcting the misinformation you report is WRONG when you are a f*cking journalist and people are relying on your for the truth. An acknowledgment that breaking journalistic ethics and publicizing (though twitter) the names of two women who are simply trying to report a crime commited against them, thus opening these women up to threats and attacks, is wrong and was something that you shouldn’t have done. And yes, we are hoping Moore (when he finally acknowledges the “frenzy” of badass activism going on) will donate $20,000 to a charity that helps survivors of sexual assault; considering he contributed that much money to bail Assange out, this doesn’t seem like an irrational request. Essentially, we want Keith Olbermann and Michael Moore to do their jobs as journalists which includes admitting when you massively screwed up, and then taking steps to make it right instead of throwing tantrums, blocking people on twitter, or ignoring us in the hopes that we will go away (Moore is sadly silent through all of this).

The saddest part of all of this is that Moore and Olbermann are simply a small (high profile) piece of the much larger issue of victim blaming. People who survive other crimes don’t seem to deal with this sh*t. I mean, victims of robbery don’t have to wonder if they will somehow be blamed for their own victimization if they go to report. People who have been mugged don’t have to worry about their names being whispered about in their community (or raked through the media, depending on how high-profile their attacker) if they stand up for themselves and try to get justice. No other crime victim has to worry about their entire history – their employment, beliefs, sexual past, etc. –  being aired in the public sphere (not to mention in the courtroom) regardless of its relevance to the crime committed against them.

Not only has this case made two specific women’s lives much, much harder than they ought to be… but it has sent a message to millions of people who have been sexually assaulted. A message that stops far too many people from getting justice because they believe, and rightfully so, that if they are to report the crime that took place against them they’d better be ready to air out their private lives in detail. They’d better be ready to receive criticism, comments, and doubt from all angles. They’d better be ready to have their reputation called into question. They’d better be prepared for threats from the people who think their rapist is just such a nice/important/attractive/whatever person… so they clearly couldn’t have done this. They’d better be ready, essentially, to go through hell for the slim hope that maybe they can scrape together enough evidence  to get their attacker behind bars for a few years… knowing all the while that, most likely, their attacker will walk free. [Check this post out for a more  personal and in-depth look at the idea of victim blaming.]

Mr. Moore and Mr. Olbermann have contributed to a climate that silences survivors and allows rapists to walk free through their breach of journalistic ethics and common decency… this is NOT ACCEPTABLE and we’re not going away, not until these men do their d*mn jobs and make amends.

ETA: This is how it all ended!

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