Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Defending the rights of men, denying the voices of women.

Since the arrest of Julian Assange last week, there has been a lot of discussion about several important issues. Some of this discussion has been amazing, but some of it has been really disturbing. I spent a few days reading a variety of blogs, articles and opinion pieces on the issues and even after all that research, I was still unclear as to what was really going on. What I was sure of is that a great many people are confused. They seem to believe that defending Assange is akin to defending free speech. But the complication here is that they’re defending someone who has been charged with several counts of sexual assault. So if they believe that these allegations are a plot to have him extradited to the USA, they are ignoring a very important factor: the women who accused him of sexually assaulting them are real women who he did indeed have sex with. If we instantly assume he is innocent, we by default assume these women are making false allegations and that they are tools of the state. The problem with this is that feminists have been working really hard for several generations to have our voices heard, to be believed when we disclose that we have been assaulted, and to have the criminal justice system take appropriate action. I thought we were getting there, but after this, I realise that I’m wrong.

There are several issues at play here:
that two women have made statements to the police that they had sex with Assange, and that he did things during sex that they did not consent to (eg: he didn’t use a condom, did not stop having sex when he was asked, and used his body weight to hold one woman down when she tried to get up). These allegations are serious criminal offences in a country that has relatively progressive rape laws. This isn’t about not using a condom, like so many have assumed. It’s about not using a condom without consent. See the difference?
that several countries were hoping that they would catch up with Assange at some point to hold him accountable for holding governments accountable. It could have been anything that eventually got him arrested. But it was this.
Assange is not Wikileaks. Wikileaks should be defended, that is without question. Governments and big business should be held accountable, but Assange is not Wikileaks. Wikileaks existed before him, and it will continue without him. Let’s not drag these women through hell to defend freedom of speech.

Let’s not silence all victims of sexual assault in order to defend freedom of speech.

If we assume these women are making false allegations, we call into question all women who make allegations.

Driving home from work last week, after thinking of nothing else but this for 8 hours, I tried to figure out why this was affecting me so. Why had I trawled through what seemed like an endless blogosphere, feeling so infuriated and alienated that I didn’t even take my lunch break? I’ll tell you why. Because I was sexually assaulted in the same way that these women were. I had agreed to sex, but then I changed my mind. I withdrew consent. I asked him to stop but he didn’t. He raped me. He knew I said stop, and he intentionally continued. And you know what? I didn’t do anything about it because he was my boyfriend and how could I possibly prove it? I was young, and I had no idea where to go. I eventually did speak up – publicly in fact. And whilst some people were supportive, others weren’t. One person even said ‘I don’t believe that someone like you would let themselves be raped’. So this, with Assange, this is personal. This is about me as much as it is about these two women in Sweden.

The stuff with Assange has triggered me in a way that even working with survivors for 10 years hasn’t. It has silenced me, it has alienated me, it has terrified me and it has set woman back years. So many rape myths are being perpetuated, people are making jokes about ‘rape parties,’ ‘feminist rape victims’ and ‘CIA ties’. It’s crazy. It’s indefensible. What message are we sending to women and girls who have been assaulted? Why do people think it’s ok to joke about rape, to belittle these women’s experiences and to assume they’re lying? Why are we victim blaming?

What I hope we get out of this, at the very least, is some further understanding about consent. Women know that rape is not always about force, but it is always about consent. 1 in 3 women are sexually assaulted in their lifetime, most of us by people we know. These women knew Assange and had consented to sex with him. When that consent was withdrawn, the sex should have ended. The very second it didn’t, it was rape. This is not a complex concept by any stretch. Sex without consent is a crime. Let’s not make light of it, ever.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

make me a mix tape

when i met you i had just returned home, and was getting ready to leave again. we didn't actually meet, but i saw you. and you saw me and we smiled.

so i made you a mix tape and sent you an email and asked for you to make me one too.

our tapes were almost the same so we had coffee. too much coffee. and you made me nervous.

i miss that about us - the cute smiles and shy conversations. these days it's all 'did you get nappies?'

it's been almost 5 years and our daughter is almost 2 and it's been hard but mostly it's been funny and i still love you.


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

punks should only date punks

we met at a gig, but i'd seen her around. i had a girlfriend, aly, but things weren't going well with her at all. one night, i was out with her and kristen was staring at me from across the bar. she wouldn't look away. for an hour, just staring. she made a bee line for me and introduced herself;
'hi, i'm kristen'
'oh...i'm ada'
'i've seen you around'
i felt very uncool.

that night lasted for years. she paid a lot of attention to me. told me my name's hot. she was winning me over, which sucked. i just wanted to be in my crap relationship and deal with all the problems that that presented. i didn't have the energy to be attracted to someone else.

aly and i ended up in a terrible fight and i drove home at sunrise, furious and hurt.

kristen and i had a lot of email contact over the next few days. she asked me "so that girl you were with at ding dong, was she....your girlfriend?". i didn't want to answer. i didn't want to stop playing this game. it was fun. and kristen was awesome.

i had made aly a mix tape for her to take with her on a trip to pakistan a few months earlier. she had retaped it, deleting the songs she didn't like. not cool. she had no respect or knowledge of punk culture at all. she didn't care to learn. kristen though...she knew what the mix tape meant. and she'd already made me one.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

living with you

It's been over a year since he left me alone with a 4 month old baby and no way of coping. He was gone for 6 weeks. It wasn't long, but the unknown of it was eternal. I never thought i'd be a single mum. But for 6 weeks i was and i was terrified.

When he came back, i learned a lot about what life was like for him. And it took a lot for me to open up to the truth of it. He lives with depression. Depression is considered the 'common cold' of mental illness. This is what we're taught at uni - they send social workers out in to the world to minimise the significance and devastation of depression. But living with depression, or living with someone who has it is full on. There's nothing common about it.

He isn't overly articulate about what it's like for him, but if i open my eyes, i can see. He sometimes seems inauthentic, like he is pretending to have a reaction of a 'normal' person. This is when he's feeling numb. He can't sleep, because his brain wont quieten down. He has his fathers voice in there telling him that's he's a failure. He forgets things, get's annoyed easily, hates certain noises. He's defensive, frustrated, despondent. And none of it is his fault.

For me, living with some with depression is really hard. I find it hard to connect with him, and worry that he over estimates his abilities. I worry that i'll catch him in a bad mood and end up in a fight with no outcome. I worry that he's doing too much, so i'll try to protect him from it and end up exhausting myself. I want to have another baby, but he struggled with me during my last pregnancy and i often felt unsupported. There are a lot of unknowns in our future. And sure i'm scared that he's going to leave again without warning, but i love and trust him and want to support him through this.

Depression is so pervasive and so significant. It is not pedestrian, run of the mill or commen.
It manifests differently in different people and is profoundly underestimated. My family lives with it everyday, as do many of our friends.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

almost a year

it's been almost a year since i last posted. i want to write about all that's happened, and i will.

except that last night i saw the weakerthans play at the northcote social club and i cried. i still feel like crying. i've never been so moved. i can't stop thinking about it. i'm blissed out and in love.

over the next few weeks, i will write to you and let you know what life has done to me. but for now, i will leave you with this: http://www.theweakerthans.org/audiovisual/