The World

Sep 5, 2017

Razer: criticising Assange for his admittedly shit takes on feminism misses the point

It is true that Assange has lately shown himself to be an unscholarly, unverified baby about the matter of my sex. But for Christ's sake, there's more important things happening here.

Helen Razer — Writer and broadcaster

Helen Razer

Writer and broadcaster

Last week, publisher WikiLeaks released the latest batch of documents in its Vault 7 series. Those few reporters and readers not captivated by the open hostility of US President Donald Trump found, again, within the set of hitherto closed files, the true and current record of warfare. As the President scours what remains of his mind for new names to call Kim Jong-un, the Central Intelligence Agency continues its systematic work of developing electronic weapons to point at the people.

Private companies, private individuals, essential state services and all entities reliant on the internet become more vulnerable to attack by the agency’s arsenal. Even if you’re the sort who has been, to date, fairly comfortable with the appointment of the USA as World Sheriff, you may not feel so easy knowing that any organisation, no matter its provenance, has the capacity to turn all parts of the planet into a battlefield — one over which that obscene tweeting President currently has ultimate command.

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38 comments

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38 thoughts on “Razer: criticising Assange for his admittedly shit takes on feminism misses the point

  1. Decorum

    “To critique … Assange on this matter is akin to critiquing a toddler for not yet having attained full control of his central nervous system.” No, it isn’t. No toddler has full control of its central nervous system; Assange *chooses* to be, ah, uninformed, on feminism.

    1. Helen Razer

      Joke, Joycey.
      I guess you missed the bit where I openly and ardently critique Assange’s peculiar thought on my gender?
      And the bit where I say that this does not change the nature of the leaks, which currently reveal a far greater horror than the words of a person who is an infant when it comes to feminist thought?
      Still. Call it out online. Do your but to smash sexism on the Internet by chiding someone we already know has no authority on the matter. Nothing can be more important than obfuscating what WikiLeaks continues to do.

  2. Nudiefish

    Vexed question. If Shakespeare were a serial killer would he still be the poet the world believes him to be? Was Bill Cosby never ever funny because it turns out that he was very rapy?

    I agree, in his latest version, Assange is a great big jerk – he’s also working on some good and positive things. For myself, I do wish he wouldn’t go into the wilds of feminist theory without a map and fucking compass.

    1. lykurgus

      To be fair, Assange is a literal prisoner who’s clearly going stir-crazy; Cosby’s just an entitled perv.
      As to wether Shakespeare was the poet the world believes him to be (or a plagiarist who talked about his codpiece), that one’s a bit over my head.

  3. dirtysnowball

    Having a go at Assange because he’s a fascist arsehole distracts us from the more important business of attacking History’s Worst Person Hillary Clinton.

  4. mark petrolo

    Did he really equate women to feminists? I’m not sure why but I’m having some trouble finding the precise comments he has recently made. I imagine he’s very salty since I t’s very hard to find a feminist who doesn’t think he should have faced his rape charges in Sweden. It’s kind of mind blowing when people think nothing of the Swedish government’s aggressive pursuit of a possible rapist long after they’ve left the country. Like as if it’s something governments normally do.

    1. Woopwoop

      It wasn’t what would be regarded as rape in any other country. It was consensual sex about which one party had second thoughts.

      1. lykurgus

        Specifically, his reluctance to wear a rubber (general arsehole behaviour in the bedroom is illegal in Sweden). Both women described themselves as having been railroaded (they have pretty impressive command of English idiom) into making the more serious charges, when they explored the prospect of compelling an STI test.

        1. AR

          Not to mention that they only became pissed when they realised they’d both bedded him within hours.
          Sounds more like women being their “sisters” own worst enemies.

  5. Ruv Draba

    Helen, Wikileaks could easily have been made a credible journalistic platform simply by visibly subscribing to and actively committing to a well-accepted journalistic codesof ethics. It’s that subscription alone which separates ethical journalism from other selective, information-referring professions such as lobbying, advertising and espionage.

    As an information entrepreneur Assange has been successful, but he’s not my candidate for Journalist of the Year, CEO of the Year or Australian of the Year simply because he lacks essential qualities for those roles. To amplify your observation, I believe that Assange’s extraordinary character deficiencies make him less a responsible if sexist citizen journalist than a narcissistic technosavvy manbaby whose self-absorbed insensitivity happens to extend to women as a special case of not understanding nor greatly respecting most everyone else anyway.

    To defend his character because of the historical place of Wikileaks is little more than defending the right of someone else to do a more responsible job of anonymised leak-warehousing in future. So, sure: 21st century journalism needs something like Wikileaks, but anonymised leaking no more needs Julian Assange than 20th century newspaper journalism needed Randolph Hearst.

    1. lykurgus

      Because journalism itself cuts such a fine figure in comparison

      1. Ruv Draba

        I think that works better as an observation than a rebuttal. 🙂

        1. lykurgus

          No.
          Your cargo-cult view of journalism as a trade, wasn’t lost on anyone else; even those who didn’t know that the Pulitzer Prizes were created by the father of yellow journalism.

          1. Ruv Draba

            Journalism isn’t properly a trade, Lykurgus, but a profession. A key difference is that a profession incurs an ethical obligation to use specialist knowledge for the public good. Hence, the additional ethical obligations accepted by medical practitioners, accountants, lawyers, jurists, scientists and so on. The Ethics Centre in Sydney discusses this. (http://www.ethics.org.au), and further support can be found in (for example) the Code of Ethics of the Society of Professional Journalists (http://www.spj.org/ethicscode.asp). Any privileges enjoyed by professionals — like client confidentiality, protection of sources — are solely justifiable by their ethical service for the public good.

            To contrast, advertising is by nature a trade, but journalism can only be effective as a profession. So you’ve quite accurately pointed out why trading in information isn’t necessarily professional. You need a transparent, accountable code of ethics or else it’s just commerce. This distinction was (and may still be) lost on Assange, despite him having received advice on it from eminent journalistic sources.

    2. Draco Houston

      “but he’s not my candidate for Journalist of the Year, CEO of the Year or Australian of the Year simply because he lacks essential qualities for those roles”
      Can’t see where Helen nominated him?

      1. Ruv Draba

        It’s figurative, Draco: Assange is demonstrably not a responsible citizen, journalist or corporate leader. One can no longer defend him on those grounds. All one could say is that an attention-seeking narcissist terrified of government persecution is still a citizen deserving justice: possibly censure, but fair, accountable and transparent rule of law too.

        Meanwhile, the question of anonymised leak-warehousing is bigger than Assange or Wikileaks, and is properly a matter for separate discussion.

    3. AR

      Sounds good,”… subscribing to and actively committing to a well-accepted journalistic code of ethics.” – unfortunately few, read ‘NO’, examples readily spring to mind.
      The last best hope was the grauniad but it has become a click-bait infected wankfest of luvvie PC.

      1. AR

        ….oops, end italics after “ethics”.

      2. Ruv Draba

        AR wrote:
        > unfortunately few, read ‘NO’, examples readily spring to mind.

        There are well-publicised, well-considered journalistic codes of ethics, and (still) journalists who seek to adhere to them. But controlling information flows became increasingly powerful in the 20th century and is no less powerful in the 21st. There’s no question that large communications corporates need greater civic accountability, and no real hope they’ll offer that voluntarily. So yes — there’s unfinished business here.

        But none of that privileges Assange as a journalist, citizen or CEO. He’s not a thought-leader on ethics, but a ratbag on the fringe, rock-chucking at targets of choice while avoiding accountability himself. As it stands, Wikileaks isn’t a solution to transparency, but simply a flawed demonstration of new capability. Lykurgus fell into the fallacy of false comparison above, and your point does the same, AR: an unethical communications sector does nothing to justify hero-worshiping an unethical information broker. It’s not like our world is lacking for Peter Pan techbros just now.

        1. AR

          Dunno ’bout Lykurgus – though I doubt it -but, “hero worship”… moi?

          1. Ruv Draba

            > “hero worship”… moi?
            You’ve seem to have defended Assange’s heroism by arguing that he’s the world’s last best hope for restoring ethical transparency. Here’s the quote:

            >> Wikileaks could easily have been made a credible journalistic platform simply by visibly subscribing to and actively committing to a well-accepted journalistic code of ethics.
            > Unfortunately few, read ‘NO’, examples readily spring to mind.

            So perhaps like Christopher Nolan’s Batman, Assange isn’t the hero we want, but *is* the hero we deserve?

            I pass. 🙂

          2. AR

            #3=no, ergo the remainder is apparatchik talk of the wrong elephant in the tutu room.

        2. AR

          Ruv – you don’t read so good, do you? I wrote that “the grauniad” was the last best hope, which has failed, not JA.

          1. Ruv Draba

            So:
            1. AR believes journalism suffered a major ethical collapse before Assange (I agree);
            2. AR believes Assange has added nothing to restore or improve journalist ethics (I agree);
            3. Does AR also agree with my central thesis that collecting and disseminating leaks without embracing journalistic ethics cannot hope to improve democratic accountability sustainably into the future?
            4. If so, doesn’t this mean that the function of Wikileaks should enrolled in a discussion of journalistic ethics as a matter of urgency?
            5. If such a discussion were undertaken, would not any of Assange’s ethical failures as a CEO, journalist and citizen be relevant?
            6. If they are relevant then isn’t it fair to consider whether Assange’s immature character has not only damaged Wikileaks’ reputation, but also its vision and execution, and whether the social impact of this extends far beyond what appears to be some rather sheltered and attention-seeking sexism?

  6. Duncan Lannan

    I follow Assange on Twitter and his comments on women, feminism, or other such matters is nominal. Controversial perhaps, but nothing more than the beginning of an idea. That’s all that Twitter will allow, like sliding a note under a door crack. A casual scroll down his twitter feed reveals a restless interest in geopolitics and all the concomitant interpersonal issues tangled up in it: lying, deception, corruption, hypocrisy. Razor is right to remind us that we need to see the broader picture, but to also colour in, as she has with yet another feisty, eloquent piece, what Assange is blind to. But given his circumstances is it at all surprising that he’d want that from us? To see, to feel, and to know what he can’t behind those walls?

  7. AR

    It might not be in Revelations but it is arguable that an idol without clay feet is unlikely.
    Can anyone recall an expert or genius without flaws? (Personally I’d nominate Robert Graves but…)
    The simple fact that JA, to put it in technical terms, is ratfucked.
    Sooner, rather than later, he’ll be disappeared onto that big black bird – he’ll never again be able to walk down any street in the world, except possibly the Kremlin or Pyongyang.
    However, what he has achieved for the world, despite his personal flaws, is monumental.
    The refusal of the butthurt burghers of the dead tree brigade to access and explore the information made available by Wikileaks, esp Vault 7, simply confirms that Hanrahan was spot on.
    The only question is when the muzak stops.

    1. lykurgus

      Mate, we grew up in Australia. Clay-footed idols is our f*cking specialty! We don’t even give them a steel one to brace it (it was in the Nebucadnezzar story).
      We’re riddled with them; we just get all butthurt about having to deal with that fact, because Keating was right about our cultural cringe.

  8. old greybearded one

    Well well. the hero seems to me to be an arrogant, misogynistic, narcissistic prat. WikiLeaks is important, but I cannot stand the man.

  9. [email protected]

    I agree that Assanges particular foibles are irrelevant when compared to his contribution to FOI. Such is often the case with people who excel at one particular thing.

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