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Naomi Wolf: The latest contributor to “Caught in the Undertow” - Piano wire. [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
The richest girl in town.

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Naomi Wolf: The latest contributor to “Caught in the Undertow” [Monday, Dec. 20th, 2010|08:20 pm]
The richest girl in town.
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So, back during the 2008 presidential election campaign, after witnessing such mind-bogglingly bad politics in writing by so many well-respected feminist Clinton supporters, it occurred to me that I should publish an anthology called “The Second Wave: Caught in the Undertow.” I’d forgotten about that tag to some extent until today, while pouring over the “#MooreandMe” campaign on Twitter. (For a quick rundown on what that is, read this article on Salon.com by Sady Doyle, who began the campaign on Twitter and her own blog, Tiger Beatdown.)

Right now, I don’t really want to talk about Michael Moore, and his entirely misinformed and irresponsible behavior over the last week. Suffice to say, he repeated obvious and already-debunked untruths about the rape allegations against Wikileaks figurehead Julian Assange, helped further publicize the names of the accusers, and openly mocked the accusations.

Nor do I really want to talk about Keith Olbermann, who, like Michael Moore, further spread misinformation about the allegations and about the women accusing Assange of assault, and since has given us all an object lesson in how to completely alienate a bunch of your fans and also undermine your own credibility with the handy-dandy tool known as Twitter.

I don’t even want to talk about whether or not Assange raped those women. Because that’s not even the point here. The point is two women reported having been assaulted and have since been publicly named and smeared. Whether or not the investigation of Assange is politically-motivated is also not what I want to talk about right now. I believe it is, most definitely, because generally no one gives this much of a shit when a woman reports being assaulted. But, again, that’s not what I want to talk about.

No, the person I want to talk about right now is Naomi Wolf.

Back in the olden days, Naomi Wolf was my hero. This was back when I was a junior in high school, and I chose to read her first book, The Beauty Myth, for my humanities class. I was blown away by her words, even those that I would realize later, when I was a more seasoned feminist, were problematic and really not about all women and definitely not women like me. But that was later. At the time, it was Naomi Wolf and her book who began to form the foundation of my blossoming feminism.

About a year after I read The Beauty Myth, I was raped. I was raped by a boy I knew, who lived in my building, with whom I’d made out. I was raped when this boy locked me in his room and held me down on his bed and put a pillow over my head until I stopped struggling. When it was clear that running for the door and saying no and putting up a physical fight wasn’t going to get me out of being raped, I asked him to at least put on a condom. The only thing I wanted less than to be raped was to be impregnated or given HIV while being raped.

At the time, I knew it was rape, and yet I didn’t know. I knew I’d had no choice, and yet I blamed myself anyway. I was angry that he’d taken my virginity and ashamed of myself. I told no one about it for years.

(Apparently, the boy didn’t realize he raped me, either. On Thanksgiving of this year, a full 17 years later–half my lifetime–he contacted me via Facebook as though we were just old friends who had fallen out of touch. As though he hadn’t raped me.)

But back to Naomi Wolf, my first feminist hero. Since I read The Beauty Myth, my reading list has expanded a lot. Wolf has been displaced by bell hooks and Audre Lorde. “Feminist” has been slowly purged from the ways I identify myself after years and years of being alienated by white feminists. My disgust with trying so hard to belong to a movement that has made it clear it doesn’t want me as a member has led me to abandon mainstream feminism and look for more inclusive communities committed to the goals of dismantling the kyriarchy, not simply replicating patriarchy when it benefits them to do so.

But all that said, it still never occurred to me that Naomi Wolf would at some point rewrite the definition of rape for the sole purpose of protecting a leftist man accused of rape. It never occurred to me that Wolf would actually fix her mouth to say that having unprotected sex with someone who is asleep counts as consensual sex. It never occurred to me that Wolf would say that having unprotected sex with someone who is asleep and has made it clear while awake that she will not have unprotected sex is consensual.

But she did.

No, really. She did. Really. Click that link. There’s video.

What’s really disturbing here, aside from the actual case in question, is Wolf’s implication that if a woman does not specifically say “no” to sex, she’s consenting. The absence of “no” is consent. The absence of “no” is “yes.” Our default position on someone having sex with us is apparently one of consent.

So, apparently when I’m sitting on the couch with my fiancé watching television, I’m saying yes to sex. When I’m sitting at my desk in my office, I’m consenting to sex. When I’m driving across the Bay Bridge, walking to the BART station, eating dinner at the Mexican restaurant a couple of blocks away, I’m saying yes to sex. I’m always, ALWAYS, consenting to sex. Always. Until I say no.

Thanks, Naomi, for clarifying.

Mirrored from www.laurenwheeler.com.

linkReply

Comments:
[User Picture]From: fengi
2010-12-21 05:16 am (UTC)
Wow. Just wow. I can't even.

I got lucky - I read bell hooks and Lorde first, thanks to my poet uncle and some teachers in college.
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[User Picture]From: lilmissnever
2010-12-21 06:00 am (UTC)

I really believed that Noami Wolf was personally speaking to me for my first couple of years in high school. Reading her article in the Huffington Post, in which she essentially says that because most rape charges are summarily ignored, and the only reason these were not is because of political motivations, therefor these charges mus be dropped out of respect for all of the women who have been raped and never got any justice, killed a little piece of my childhood.

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[User Picture]From: sparklydevil
2010-12-21 06:07 am (UTC)
Count me in as another who latched onto the Beauty Myth in high school. What the hell has gotten into her?
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[User Picture]From: elusis
2010-12-21 02:00 pm (UTC)
Thirded. I can only think of that old saw about how a conservative is a liberal who's been a victim of a crime or grown up or whatever dumb-tarded thing is supposed to make you abandon your principles and turn into a jackass, because jesus fuck. Gloria Steinem making an ass of herself over Clinton vs. Obama, totally expected, thank you third wave for getting me ready for that. Naomi Wolf siding with an accused rapist against his accusers, what the FUCK.
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[User Picture]From: pantryslut
2010-12-21 06:08 am (UTC)
I missed the Naomi Wolf boat entirely, and I've never really regretted it.
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[User Picture]From: zoe_trope
2010-12-21 04:10 pm (UTC)
Seconded.
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[User Picture]From: lula_neith
2010-12-21 05:06 pm (UTC)
Thirded.
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[User Picture]From: tuckova
2010-12-21 07:01 am (UTC)
I love your last paragraph.

I would really like to see words like "pimp" and "porn" not get used by sensible people to describe anything other than pimps and porn.
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[User Picture]From: elusis
2010-12-21 02:05 pm (UTC)
I would really like to see words like "pimp" and "porn" not get used by sensible people to describe anything other than pimps and porn.

Word. I don't have the same level of sentiment around "porn," but I am utterly humorless around "pimp." Causing no end of Facebook drama recently when the latest NPR report on underage trafficking in Oakland prompted me to mention it.
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[User Picture]From: olamina
2010-12-21 08:21 am (UTC)
Wow, I can't. I just can't I was fortunate enough to never even have messed around with most of these lauded rock star white feminists, so I never had to be let down by this kind of shit. Shame on her.
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[User Picture]From: olamina
2010-12-21 08:31 am (UTC)
and then of course I had to go there...

So, again and again and again, Assange consulted with the women about what they wanted, and they didn’t say no.

SO the absence of a "no" actually means "yes, go ahead. yippee, i can't wait!"?

MY GOD.

ok, you know what? please do go forth and roast this woman over the coals on the internet. i BEG you. thank god Jaclyn Friedman gave her what-for, but Naomi Wolf clearly is going to need repeated shaming.
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[User Picture]From: sajia
2010-12-21 06:24 pm (UTC)
I skimmed through "Fire With Fire" a few weeks before the Assange case broke, and I gotta say, the signs were there from the very beginning. Good "power feminist" versus evil "victim feminist"? check. If she ever cared about women of color, it was just to stick it to the Second Wave. At least Amanda Marcotte does some decent vegetarian recipe blogging which can concretely improve people's lives.
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[User Picture]From: fightingwords
2010-12-22 09:27 pm (UTC)
I only skimmed Fire with Fire and then pulled the ripcord. I did read Promiscuities and let a lot of what bothered me about it slide as it was at least promoted as being more memoir than anything else--and Wolf grew up well-off in the Haight Ashbury district of San Francisco in the 60s, so there was a lot to take for granted there.

Still, this is some other shit she's on right now.
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[User Picture]From: und1sk0
2010-12-22 11:47 am (UTC)
AFAIK the facts are these:

Assange is wanted for questioning but is not charged with anything in Sweden.

Olbermann was wrong to publicize the name of one of the accusers.

Assange turned himself in as soon as there was a valid arrest warrant in England.

Olbermann apologized for having retweeted the alleged victim's name.

Assange is innocent until proven guilty.

Olbermann is.. frequently a hot-head, often wrong, but I believe ultimately means well.

Having said all that, I hope the work of WikiLeaks continues even if Assange is fairly tried and found guilty. WikiLeaks is more important that one man.
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[User Picture]From: fightingwords
2010-12-22 07:23 pm (UTC)

I set straw men on fire, just so you know.

Assange is wanted for questioning but is not charged with anything in Sweden.

- Didn't say anything different. So this is relevant here why?

Olbermann was wrong to publicize the name of one of the accusers.

- Yes, and he still has yet to acknowledge that he did so, much less that it was wrong.

Assange turned himself in as soon as there was a valid arrest warrant in England.

- Yes, and? He also made it clear that the reason he remained in England was because he didn't want to show up for the scheduled interview in Sweden he had previously agreed to.

Olbermann apologized for having retweeted the alleged victim's name.

- Actually, no he didn't. Ever. He said, on Dec. 7th, that if the author of the piece claiming the accuser was a CIA agent was a Holocaust denier, then he repudiated him and apologized for re-tweeting the article from Biance Jagger. That's it. It's a conditional apology that doesn't acknowledge that whether or not the person who authored that hit piece was a Holocaust denier or not, it was wrong to 1) further publicize the accuser's name and 2) further publicize misinformation that could have, with less than 3 minutes on Google, be shown to be false.

Assange is innocent until proven guilty.

- Didn't say otherwise. And again--this is relevant here why?

Olbermann is.. frequently a hot-head, often wrong, but I believe ultimately means well.

- This has absolutely nothing to do with his intentions. This has to do with his actual actions and the consequences of them. I don't give a shit if he's "a nice guy." He was so quick to defend Julian Assange that he spread extremely dubious information and broke a pretty standard journalistic rule with regards to preserving the privacy of those who allege sexual assault. And people ran with the information he disseminated because he's a trusted journalist. His refusal to admit that what he did was wrong, and why, is the reason he's lost a lot of respect and credibility this past week.

Having said all that, I hope the work of WikiLeaks continues even if Assange is fairly tried and found guilty. WikiLeaks is more important that one man.

- I have far more complicated views of Wikileaks and its potential value, but again. That has nothing to do with what's been written here.
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