Almost Diamonds has two interesting posts on the Julian Assange sexual assault/rape accusation/charges. I want to make a comment on part of the second post, but this may not make a lot of sense to you until you read both of them. They are concise and compelling so you will not regret the time you spend on them:

Assange and the Presumption of Innocence
Assange and the Victim Conspiracy

The issue is that of jealousy or resentment. Some Assange defenders, for some reason, seem to feel the need to point out suspicious or negative aspects of the women, their actions, reactions, decisions, etc. One of these issues is the idea that each of them agreed to at least some degree to have sex with Julian (though what happens after initial activity may have gone off track) and then only after learning of each other’s plight, pursued a complaint. Stephanie, in her post, goes into detail on this issue including questioning the legitimacy of the premise, but that’s not what I want to comment on. I want to comment, rather, on the idea that if they experienced jealousy or resentment that this is somehow to their detriment and indicates a weakness in their subsequent decisions, and perhaps even invalidates their complaints.

It does not.

I don’t want to go all Evolutionary Psychology on you but bear with me. Sexual jealousy is there for a reason. I’m pretty sure the extent, nature, and details of sexual jealousy in typical humans is culture-dependent, even if this behavior makes use of deep limbic emotions. I’m also pretty sure that sexual jealousy is shaped in some cultures to enhance certain behaviors (and allow them by others not directly involved but who know about them) that are abhorrent. The fact that there are societies in which women are routinely tortured or killed over issues of sexual access gives sexual jealousy a rather bad name. But that is humans, and human culture, making the worst of it as often happens. There is a good argument that a certain degree of sexual propriety and it’s concomitant emotional bells and whistles makes good sense for human beings in cultural contexts where these emotional tools can be used sensibly, which to me includes both egalitarian foraging societies and progressive middle class European subcultures (which are very similar to each other in many ways).

Consider a hypothetical case that is NOT what happened here in magnitude but may be what happened here qualitatively. Imagine yourself (as an unattached person) meeting someone and sleeping with them. Then two days later the next person you meet who knows that person mentions that they just slept with that person. Then a few days later, the next person you meet who knows this person mentions that they slept with that person. And so on and so forth.

As an aside, I’d like you to think about how this would play out, in terms of judgments we or others may make about people, if you are a heterosexual male and the person who seems to sleep with everyone you met is a heterosexual female. Then re-imagine this with the sex roles reversed. Then re-imagine this with you and the other person being gay men, then lesbians. If you like, throw in bisexuality but I recommend not because this is going to take forever as it is.

Well, that exercise is not the main point I want to make but in thinking this through you may have exposed a multi-standard (like a double standard but with more standards). Maybe not for you, for how you judge other people, because you would never misjudge anyone I’m sure, but how society might. The admirable stud vs. the whoring slut themes come to mind. A digression, but a worthy one.

Back to the point: If you did not know that your one time lover was about to sleep with every third person s/he met over the coming weeks, or just had over the previous weeks, you might be suddenly shocked or at least surprised. You will probably not have a purely intellectual response to this new knowledge. There will be shades of something that one might call jealousy even though you two never discussed or expected commitment, but it is called sexual jealousy only because that is the name we use for it, and it invokes questions of commitment only because our culture tends to make the link. What is really happening is that you are experiencing an evolved and generally useful off-putting emotional reaction designed by selection to do a number of things, including limit disease exposure and avoid potentially dangerous social situations. Also, you charge for your intimacy (we all do). Intimacy of any kind has costs and risks. You just found out that your one time partner is shopping at Good Will while you’re shopping at the Gap. If you were merely friends, that should not really matter. But if you are shopping together, that’s a conflict.

Of course these woman would experience sexual jealousy. If they were men, many who are pointing this out would not have seen that as something they were doing wrong. Of course men would be negative about the sluttish behavior of the chick they just bagged, right? But as women, their sexual jealousy is seen as unseemly or inappropriate or a poor reason to develop bad feelings, but in fact, such feelings are a prerequisite for narcing on someone. Their assessment of Julian Assange dropped, their estimate of their own cost and return from their relationship was quite properly re-calibrated, and their sense of risk was heightened. At face value, I’d say they acted in an entirely appropriate manner when they thought of making a case after finding out about each other, if that is in fact what happened. That’s what any reasonable person would do.

Comments

  1. #1 peter
    January 1, 2011

    “One of these issues is the idea that each of them agreed to at least some degree to have sex with Julian (though what happens after initial activity may have gone off track) and then only after learning of each other’s plight, pursued a complaint.”

    my question regarding your posting: what has that to do with a “legal” remedy? Since when is jealousy a supporting argument for a rape or sexual assault charge? Where is assault in this case? Ever husband now going off the track can with that logic charged with assault?

  2. #2 Stephanie Z
    January 1, 2011

    peter, if you want an answer to your questions, how about you address what is alleged to have happened to result in charges, rather than grasping onto the phrase, “off track,” and hyperventilating over that.

    Beyond that, you completely missed the point of Greg’s post

  3. #3 Greg Laden
    January 1, 2011

    my question regarding your posting: what has that to do with a “legal” remedy?

    Nothing, I think. I can’t see any possible connection.

  4. #4 Deen
    January 1, 2011

    Ever husband now going off the track can with that logic charged with assault?

    You think husbands going off the track shouldn’t be allowed to be charged with assault? No matter how far they go off the track?

  5. #5 Domestigoth
    January 1, 2011

    Infidelity can be considered a form of abuse, especially if the person doing the sleeping around isn’t taking care for their health and the health of their partner(s), and is being dishonest about it.

    If a person has sex with you and gives you HIV, and they didn’t warn you beforehand that they might be infected, it’s rape. The same applies within a relationship where one or both partners are seeking sexual gratification elsewhere — without honesty and openness about your sexual activities and proper precautions being taken (condoms, people!), you can end up killing somebody you love in one of the most horrible ways possible. And it’s abusive, plain and simple.

    All that aside, though, it seems that peter has completely missed the point being made. Greg was merely providing a more accessible example, one that people would find it more easy to relate to. It’s hard to relate to a rape victim if you’ve never been raped yourself. It’s easy to think of a situation where you might react in a jealous manner. This is just an exercise in empathy-building, not an examination of the legal system.

  6. #6 kevin.ross
    January 1, 2011
    Their assessment of Julian Assange dropped, their estimate of their own cost and return from their relationship was quite properly re-calibrated, and their sense of risk was heightened.

    That doesn’t sound like rape or assault. It sounds like someone realizing a person they slept with, without knowing well, turned out to be a flawed human being.

    You don’t have to make any judgments about the people involved to be concerned about re-defining rape to mean anything that leaves a sexual partner feeling emotionally shortchanged.

  7. #7 Stephanie Z
    January 1, 2011

    kevin, you’re talking out your ass exactly the same way peter was. Why don’t you read the comments before yours before embarrassing yourself that way?

  8. #8 kevin.ross
    January 1, 2011

    Stephanie Z. I did read the comments and I stand by what I wrote. I don’t feel at all embarrassed by pointing out how wrong you are.

    The original Swedish charges were for Sexual Surprise- a term that doesn’t have an equivalent here in the US and that carried a $750 fine. There is nothing in the original post that supports a charge of rape or assault–if you define rape as an act of sexual violence and assault as an act of physical violence.

    the point of the post seems to be that ‘any reasonable person” would consider jealousy and resentment a valid basis for filing criminal charges of rape and sexual assault. Is that what you are defending??

  9. #9 Azkyroth
    January 1, 2011

    Just so I’m clear on this, we’re not seriously proposing that lying to someone or withholding information in order to get them to sleep with you should be treated as sexual assault/rape, are we?

  10. #10 Stephanie Z
    January 1, 2011

    kevin, Greg specifically pointed out in the comments that that was not the point of the post. I pointed out that peter had missed the point of the post. Yet you’re clinging to the same idea of what the post is about. That’s idiotic. Most people would find it embarrassing.

    On the other hand, you’re still repeating the lie about “surprise sex” charges that Assange’s Australian attorney started. There is no such charge under Swedish law. The term is a Swedish euphemism for rape. If you’re actually interested in what the charges are, instead of in perpetuating misinformation, you can read the second post that Greg linked to–the ones he recommended reading, which are thus incorporated by reference.

    Otherwise, you’re really not fit to partake in this conversation.

  11. #11 Stephanie Z
    January 1, 2011

    Azkyroth, it depends on what that information is. Some places already treat lying/withholding information on HIV status as assault.

  12. #12 Azkyroth
    January 1, 2011

    Azkyroth, it depends on what that information is. Some places already treat lying/withholding information on HIV status as assault.

    I would say that expanding the definition of “sexual assault” beyond, you know, sexual assault, is a big mistake. Lying about HIV status ought to be covered under felony reckless endangerment instead.

    But, other than about HIV status…?

  13. #13 Azkyroth
    January 1, 2011

    …like, for instance, should it be considered rape to have sex with a partner to whom you’ve falsely claimed you’re taking birth control pills faithfully, when you’re really flushing them down the toilet?

  14. #14 Stephanie Z
    January 1, 2011

    Aside from that, who is “we,” and what have you seen them say?

  15. #15 Greg Laden
    January 1, 2011

    Yes, go an dread the two posts linked to above. Here, I’m addressing one single very narrowly defined issue. Miss’s A and W’s allegations have been said to be invalid for the reason that they did not make these allegations until after they had communicated. I’m saying that this does not invalidate their charges. If you don’t like their charges for other reasons, whatever, that is not what I was talking about.

    More precisely, I’m talking about the role of the emotional calibration that intersects with what is called sexual jealousy and pointing out that emotional responses can go hand and hand with, as opposed to antithetical to, rational evaluation of risk and circumstances.

  16. #16 wmdkitty#83021
    January 1, 2011

    Speaking from my own experience, it’s easier to see abuse and assault for what they are, and recognize that your abuser is, in fact, abusing you, when you see or hear that he has done or is doing the same to others. It’s hard to see abuse when it’s coming from someone you love. It’s even harder when they have you so mind-fucked that you don’t know if it’s really happening or not.

  17. #17 Gopiballava
    January 2, 2011

    I think that there is perhaps a broader theoretical question: Is it legitimate to want to push for prosecution of somebody because of things they have done that are, arguably, unrelated to their crime?

    (I am considering this exclusively from the perspective of the putative victim, not society or prosecutors, etc. Also, I am not entirely sure how, formally, a victim actually asks the police or prosecutor to do or not do something)

    If somebody stole my old, beaten up bike, I may not feel like pushing the police to go after the person. Let’s say that the next day the thief insults my hairstyle. Would it be bad of me to decide to call the police and tell them that I really want to press charges? What if I found out they were a birther, and walked around with picket signs asking where Obama’s birth certificate was?

    Looking at this specific case, I’m going to assume that the women in question have kept to the same facts of their stories, and that all that has changed is how they feel about what happened. Clearly, the two incidents are separate events and the criminality of one does not impact the criminality of the other.

    Why is rape prosecuted? Why are any crimes prosecuted? The physical impact on the victims is considered. The emotional impact is, as well. A threat of violence often makes a crime worse even if the physical end result is the same. In this situation, it seems that the realization that he had done the same thing to somebody else made these two women more unhappy. I don’t think that this is a problem or a bad thing at all. Knowing that the same crime was perpetrated multiple times is, IMHO, a perfectly fine reason to be angrier and more interested in going after somebody. If a vandal threw eggs on five cars before yours, would it be wrong to try harder to catch him than if he only went after your car?

    Sorry for writing so much. I would hone my thoughts down to something pithier if I had the time and patience :)

  18. #18 Mark
    January 2, 2011

    Wow, this argument has to be the most confused, illogical and cynical that I have read in months. Just trying to think of sex in terms of “recalibration”, “return” and “Good Will” shopping caused me pain.

    I’ll try to paraphrase your argument (perhaps you’ll sy I misunderstood it, but with all it’s tangents and bad anecdotes, that would be forgivable). You seem to say that discimination against promiscuous partners in natural and healthy.You also say that it’s accepted when done by men, so women should join in too. Lastly, that if their “”assessment” of their lover has dropped, then any subsequent action is justified.

    Firstly, the vast majority of people are not as judgmental as you think. Those wiuth a maturity level above age 14 understand that everyone has the right to the sexual lifestlyle of their choosing, and that a one-night stand does not give one the right to dictate their number of partners. Those without that maturity spend their Saturday nights alone. Sexually jealous pepple are usually lonely people. So yes, if they were men, people would still say they were wrong.

    Secondly, even if “slut shaming” is commonly practiced by men, that doesn’t maker it any more acceptable for women. If a man is “negative about the sluttish behaviour of the chick they just bagged”, they would be hypocritical creeps. That would make Ms. A and Ms. W hypocritical creepettes.

    Thirdly, how do you get from “return from the relationship was quite properly recalibrated” to “acted in an entirely appropriate manner”. Thar seems to translate as “if you dislike someone enough, then anything you do to them is O.K.”. Husbands who have adulterous wives stoned in Iran will be delighted to hear this. The way they acted should stand on it’s own merits, and such serious matters not be influenced by sexual jealousy.

    Lastly, is the metaphor using Good Will and Gap shopping actually meant to make sense? Or is it like a David Lynch movie, where you ponder and examine, realizing there’s no meaning at all?

  19. #19 Greg Laden
    January 2, 2011

    Gopiballava: Yes, good point, and I have a pretty firmly held opinion on that. The criminal justice system should not. Period.

    But, that is entirely different from the question of whether or not one pursues charges. In my view, if someone voids charges because they are a totally nice person who makes a single error of judgement while a person who abuses other around them and is a total dick all the time does the same thing and a person pursues charges because they did the thing AND they are a dick, then the world is a sane place.

    I am NOT talking about making up charges, or pursuing charges that are frivilous. I’m talking about someone comitting a crime worthy in and of itself of charges, but whether or not a complaint is made being entirely in the hands of a private citizen (as if often the case).

    This is not, then, a matter of the person placing charges doing something questionable or not. It is a matter of the person who did the act we are considering failing to develop the support of his fellow human because he treats his fellow humans poorly, and the chickens … his chickens and no one elses … coming home to roost.

    But again, the criminal justice system beyond that has to treat everyone the same way.

    The reason this is good and important is that much off what actually regulates our behavior is the social sanction, and this is the social sanction working. At the same time, once an event has occured, the criminal justice system has to take over for any decision of guilt or punishment to occur.

    I anticipate arguments that I’m suggesting something that is quite unfair and arbitrary. I’ll repeat that frivilous charges would be bad. I’m talking about when a person is wronged, has the right to press charges, normally could press charges, there would be nothing wrong with pressing charges, but they also have the option to opt out. Then, it makes sense for one to opt out if the person being charged has positive mitigating features, or to opt in, vigorously, if the person has exacerbating negatives.

    This is, in fact, implicigtly how the system works. Then, at the OTHER end, these mitigating and exacerbating features come into play again in most justice systems: Sentencing. That often actually involves people testifying as to whether the person was a dick or a great individual (I’ve done that myself, in fact).

  20. #20 Greg Laden
    January 2, 2011

    Mark: Goodness. you’ve made a dire mistake by preempting me from telling you that you mistook my argument. That was really stupid of you.

    “You seem to say that discimination against promiscuous partners in natural and healthy.”

    Yes, I did say something along those lines, but what you’ve done here is to simplify argument about a very complex human behavior into a single phrase. That is not a good idea.

    “You also say that it’s accepted when done by men, so women should join in too. ”

    No, I simply did not say that and only a total moron such as yourself could possibly think that. (You are a moron, right? Or am I wrong, and pre-empting me was really a smart idea? Huh, I don’t think so). No, I noted that there is a double standard here. Feel free to argue that there is no double standard, but don’t tell me that I didn’t say there is.

    “Lastly, that if their “”assessment” of their lover has dropped, then any subsequent action is justified. ”

    Sure. Any action. Like shooting them, pissing on them, running them through with a harpoon.

    No, I did not say that. Nice attempt at setting up a straw man. Actually, no, that was a totally sucky attempt at setting up a straw man.

    Regarding your “firstly” point: I agree, but you missed the part where I noted that what people are labeling as sexual jealousy is so labeled for their convenience. Note that no one involved ever mentioned that. What I’m talking about is a different but overlapping kind of reaction, where one learns about the character of a person and then makes a further judgment.

    Regarding your other points, you are so off base on your estimation of what I’ve said (and do see all the comments above yours where everyone else has clearly understood) that there is not way to respond other than to suggest you read more slowly next time and avoid entering into a discussion in the way you chose to do so here.

  21. #21 resident_alien
    January 2, 2011

    To the moron upthreads who repeated the fabrication of Assange being charged with “surprise-sex,punishable by a small fine”:Are you lying deliberately or are you simply misinformed?

  22. #22 MadScientist
    January 2, 2011

    Meh. I’m not god so I don’t have access to all the details and won’t say that “Person X is like this and doing like that”. I’m not a big supporter of Trial by Media Circus; you get a lot of claims from both sides and 0 facts.

  23. #23 SH
    January 2, 2011

    Sorry about my English. I am not a native speaker. I just have to pour my thoughts somewhere.
    I have spent my Christmas holiday combing the internet and trying to wrap my head around this Swedish sexual assault case. Result is that I have became growingly disappointed in people. Here is a sum up why:

    A: People who think that sex without condom is a crime in Sweden. If you don’t even care to find out the facts, please shut up.

    B: People who argue that because they once had “unwanted sex” with their spouse and it was nice and they did not go to police, Swedish women should not do it either. Idiotism.

    C: People who do not understand what a rape is. And these people are trying to defend Mr. Assange and there are plenty of these people. However, their arguments work against Mr. Assange. Because, more there are people who don’t understand the concept of consent, the more likely it seems that Mr. Assange doesn’t get it either.

    D: people who claim that rape victims don’t behave the way the Swedish women did. Making this kind of arguments is very reason why women hesitate to go to police. And then the statistics show that no rape victims behave that way…

    E: People who make such arguments that intercourse with a sleeping person without his/her consent can’t be considered as rape because then many women could falsely accuse a man a rapist because it is impossible to prove that a rape didn’t happen. This is the same argument that some people use to oppose gay rights, like “If gays can adopt children, soon all the people are gay and an extinction will follow!” Gladly this form of idiotism seems to flourish only in Finland.

    F: People that are trying to diminish the women’s accusations by questioning their motives. This what rapists always say. Like “She is just trying squeeze money out me” or “She is just seeking revenge”. Note: Rapists are not saying that “Yes, she said let’s have sex” or “She said something but I probably misheard it”.

    Some people still seems to have some kind of weird idea that consent to sex can be given telepathically. The issue is in it’s simpliest this: Did she/he give her/his consent or not. If not, then it is a rape. Motives are not essential at any point.

    I lost my belief in many people last year. But maybe it is a good thing. To start to find out things yourself and to think yourself.

  24. #24 Mark
    January 2, 2011

    Greg, you may have many degrees, but you can’t write an argument to save yourself. Did you really need 400 words to imply there is double-standard about how male and female promiscuity is perceived. What the Good Will Shopping were you thinking?
    Apart from being poorly written, you fail to connect the points in your argument. Sure, there’s a double-standard in society in general. My point is that, wether male or female, sexual jealousy shouldn’t play a role in determining wether to place charges. The only factor should be wether a crime was committed. You can talk about evolutionary instincts if you want, but we are not slaves to instincts. As for when you say they acted in a totally appropriate manner, how do you back that up? How does waffling about emotional calibration provide an ethical basis for their actions?
    Greg, let me be blunt. You come across as a pretentious twat who likes to use large words, but never actually makes a point.

  25. #25 Samantha Vimes
    January 2, 2011

    I don’t think women motivated by jealousy would have the talk they seem to have had. “Did he… try to sneak in sex without the condom with you, too? Because… he kind of passed it off as a mistake, but, but there was something kind of creepy about it. You, too, huh? He did it while you were sleeping?! OMG! That’s rape. Come to think of it… he knew I didn’t consent to going without a condom. Look, if he’s getting off on taking advantage of girls’ trust, we should do something about it.”
    Women compare notes *all the time* about something that feels wrong and wanting to know it isn’t just us who thinks there’s sexism/harrassment/creepiness in someone’s behavior. Especially because the offenders DO try to pass it off as somehow well-intended or accidental. When friend B accidentally touches my ass a dozen times and accidentally touches mutual friend J’s ass a dozen times, but never accidentally touches any mutual friends who are male, J and I confer and know that we have to stop his clumsy sexual assaults because his facade of accidents is falsified. Likewise, women only know they are ignored by management for being female rather than an individual quirk if they compare their experiences with other women in the workplace.

  26. #26 Azkyroth
    January 2, 2011

    Samantha:

    Which is a legitimate and, I think, compelling argument, and has fuck-all to do with the appropriateness of jealousy.

  27. #27 kai
    January 2, 2011

    FWIW, all I’ve heard about the case so far seems to indicate Samantha Vimes’ scenario is fairly close to the truth, i e, it’s not an issue of jealousy, but putting pieces together and realising disquieting events were parts of a pattern.

  28. #28 Greg Laden
    January 2, 2011

    Samantha:

    “Women compare notes *all the time* about something that feels wrong and wanting to know it isn’t just us who thinks there’s sexism/harrassment/creepiness in someone’s behavior.”

    Well put, and that is indeed my point. It is important to note that the comparison on notes, as it were, is a combination of assembling more information and gaining confidence in one’s own point of view, which is not a strictly “calculated” process.

  29. #29 Greg Laden
    January 2, 2011

    Mark, quite an attitude you’ve got there. You come across as a guy who is a lot like Julian Assange is said to be when it comes to women, and you feel a bit on trial.

    Did you notice the beginning of the post you barely read, where I ask readers to check out the original two posts to which I link? It would benefit you to actually go read them. Or are you afraid to engage in a conversation with a woman who has been sexually abused and is trying to make the current controversy make sense?

  30. #30 Stephanie Z
    January 2, 2011

    SH, you could have used another comma or two, but that’s a much clearer summary of the information available (and the reactions to it) than most native speakers who’ve felt compelled to comment have managed.

  31. #31 Stephanie Z
    January 2, 2011

    By the way, Greg, someone who is probably the same Mark did leave a comment on my blog (twice, because it tripped Blogger’s spam detection and wasn’t released until I woke up). I wouldn’t say he engaged, however. It was more that he did a piss-poor job of trying the case in public opinion, saying he was happy with his smearing of the accusers, so no prosecutor should ever try it in front of a judge–whatever the actual merits of the case.

    Seriously.

  32. #32 des Alpins
    January 2, 2011

    Greg, you claim that “There is a good argument that a certain degree of sexual propriety and it’s concomitant emotional bells and whistles makes good sense for human beings in cultural contexts where these emotional tools can be used sensibly”. I’d really like you to try to make that “good argument” in a scientific way. I suspect that you will fail. The tone of your text suggests that your main source of evidence is introspection. As you know, introspection is an unreliable method of inquiry. Sexual jalousy, as you call it, is unlikely a fundamental human trait, as it is easy to find counter-examples: polygamy and the swinging lifestyle–both, even if not always condone by some societies, are still widely practiced–are two that come readily to mind. Therefore, your argument, which is based on your concept of “sexual jalousy”, is unlikely to stand scrutiny.

  33. #33 Stephanie Z
    January 2, 2011

    des Alpins, you seem to have missed the part of the post where Greg discusses risk. There are economic calculations that come into play in any reproductive relationship. The fact that we are capable of sexual relationships exclusive of reproduction and that we (some of us) live in a time of plenty, don’t change the equations, although they may change the outcomes.

    Besides, the existence of nonmonogamous relationships does not preclude sexual jealousy. Make a friend or two in the online poly community and read the links they send your way. You’ll discover plenty of jealousy there–and plenty of very grown up strategies for dealing with it. It doesn’t evaporate. It’s coped with as a personal issue. That pretty well fits the description of emotional tools being used sensibly.

  34. #34 Greg Laden
    January 2, 2011

    des, you also missed (though you refer to it) the part of my post where I make the explicit claim (and this is based on research, not introspection) that sexual jealousy exists or not, or is used in any of a number of ways or developed in any of a number of degrees, based on the context.

    Since you bring up polygyny: Polygyny does not mean that there is no sexual jealousy. I was going to talk about this but I wanted this to be a short post. Men and women and younger and older (and married and unmarried) have to be considered separately in most societies, but there are societies in which polygyny is practiced but thre is sexual jealousy, but it may not be manefest in the same way as in the society you are accustom to. And, there are nominally monogamous societies in which there is very little sexual jealousy.

    No, I’m not using introspection. Rather, I spent thirty years reading ethnographies and evo-psych research and theroy, and a few years living in very different cultures. Not that I needed that much to suggest that it is not a very good argument to suggest that the reaction these two women have is a valid part of their action… they got mad at the guy and are acting on that. They can do that, and they don’t really have to be judged on whether their discomfort with the situation meets someone else’s rationalization.

  35. #35 sailor
    January 2, 2011

    “At face value, I’d say they acted in an entirely appropriate manner when they thought of making a case after finding out about each other, if that is in fact what happened. That’s what any reasonable person would do.”

    It might have been even more appropriate from an evolutionary point of view) to be a bit more discriminatory and cautious before jumping into bed with the Assange.

  36. #36 elspi
    January 2, 2011

    “Sex at Daw” was published in 2010.

    Before the publication, this “evolutionary basis of jealousy” argument would have been reasonable.

    It is however 2011, and this is a work in a closely related field to yours.

    There is no excuse for using an argument that comes pre-debunked.

    It just isn’t honest.

  37. #37 machintelligence
    January 2, 2011

    I submit that I have not been folowing this as closely as some others, but from what I can see it all depends on consent.

    If there is consent, it is not rape.

    Consent can be withdrawn, and is not ongoing. (If there is consent in the evening, it does not follow that there is consent in the morning while asleep. Also, if consent is dependent on using a condom, it ends when the condom breaks).

    But can consent be withdrawn retroactively? (If I knew then what I know now, I never would have said yes. Or in the case with the condom, when was the problem discovered, and by which party?) In cases like this it strikes me as unreasonable to call it rape.

    Perhaps I’m missing something.

  38. #38 Greg Laden
    January 2, 2011

    elspi: You read a book that you think ends all thinking along a particular line. You then interpret something I’ve said (incorrectly) as somehow differing from what is said in that book. And for this abysmal misunderstanding of both me and the book you call me dishonest. Interesting line of argument, I’ll have to give this some thought. I’ll get back to you on that.

    And if you are pretty sure I’m into the naturalistic fallacy, please have a look at this: http://xrl.in/6xpm

  39. #39 Stephanie Z
    January 2, 2011

    machintelligence, you seem to be conflating lack of consent and willingness to make a police report. They’re not the same thing.

  40. #40 Stephanie Z
    January 2, 2011

    Oh, and Part 3 for anyone who’s interested in the series: “Assange and Real Rape“.

  41. #41 machintelligence
    January 2, 2011

    Stephanie Z: machintelligence, you seem to be conflating lack of consent and willingness to make a police report. They’re not the same thing.

    True,they are not, and I’m not sure of all of the facts in this case, but my point is that unless retroactive withdrawal of consent is allowed, making a police report claiming rape is itself a crime (filing a false report) and the wrong party is being charged.

  42. #42 Greg Laden
    January 2, 2011

    I was not aware that the consent was withdrawn retroactively. Do you have a source for that Machine?

  43. #43 Greg Laden
    January 2, 2011

    See this: http://xrl.in/6xpm

  44. #44 machintelligence
    January 2, 2011

    Sorry, my mistake. I went back to one of the original reports and found that both cases involved continued sex after condom failure (or non use). Since both were protested and the protests apparently ignored at the time, and since no means no, there was a withdrawal of consent. The apparent lack of immediate indignation and waiting days to file a report does cloud the issue a bit, but the charges were justified. I guess the courts will have to sort it out.

  45. #45 elspi
    January 2, 2011

    Which part of

    “There is a good argument that a certain degree of sexual propriety and it’s concomitant emotional bells and whistles makes good sense for human beings in cultural contexts where these emotional tools can be used sensibly, which to me includes both egalitarian foraging societies and progressive middle class European subcultures (which are very similar to each other in many ways).”

    Did I misunderstand

    We evolved in egalitarian foraging societies, ergo “evolutionary basis of jealousy”

    Or are you claiming that jealousy should have been selected for but wasn’t

    If you want to claim that “Sex at Dawn” was all wrong, then do it; I would be happy to entertain that argument, but the argument in the book is that there was no sexual propriety in egalitarian foraging societies.

  46. #46 Greg Laden
    January 2, 2011

    I haven’t claimed anything about sex at dawn. I don’t know what you misunderstood. All you’ve told me is that I’m being dishonest. Can’t get much from that. You might consider re-reading the post. I’m questioning, not proposing, the use of the term “sexual jealousy” by prior commenters.

    Why are you bing so hostile? Do you you have a dog in this race?

  47. #47 elspi
    January 2, 2011

    I have no dogs at all.

    I just think that jealousy is really bad thing that gets a lot of people (mostly women)
    ostracized, disfigured or killed. I don’t think it has an upside. If you claim it does, then you are the proud owner of an argument.

    Sorry if I was over the top, but I really don’t see any defense of jealousy as ok.

    Just for the record:

    Permanently monogamous (40+ years)
    so really I don’t have a dog in this fight.

  48. #48 Greg Laden
    January 2, 2011

    I’m pretty sure that sexual jealousy is shaped in some cultures to enhance certain behaviors (and allow them by others not directly involved but who know about them) that are abhorrent. The fact that there are societies in which women are routinely tortured or killed over issues of sexual access gives sexual jealousy a rather bad name. That’s a reality and one that you seem to not like. I don’t like it either.

  49. #49 Doyle
    January 3, 2011

    “Those wiuth [sic] a maturity level above age 14 understand that everyone has the right to the sexual lifestlyle of their choosing, and that a one-night stand does not give one the right to dictate their number of partners. Those without that maturity spend their Saturday nights alone.”

    So Mark is claiming that a propensity for one-night stands is a sign of maturity? Anyone else seeing unintentional irony?

  50. #50 Samantha Vimes
    January 3, 2011

    machintelligence, only your privilege allows you to see not filing a police report immediately as suspicious.
    Women live with the possibility of getting raped. Survival mechanisms kick in when one is in a difficult situation– in this case, since the rape was non-violent, they probably told themselves things like “it wasn’t that bad” and “he just got carried away” to push aside the feelings of fear and violation, the sense of a loss of control over their situation and their bodies.
    Women tell themselves the same lies/justifications when they are being sexually harrassed, stalked, and otherwise violated, because men are given a lot of leeway culturally to do such things, as long as they aren’t obviously violent, and women are surrounded by ideas of “romance” that often ignore the agency and will of women. And because avoiding thinking about something stressful temporarily diminishes the stress.

    (and thank you, to those above who complimented my earlier comment.)

  51. #51 Greg Laden
    January 3, 2011

    Samantha, perfect comment FTW.

  52. #52 VolcanoMan
    January 5, 2011

    Wow this is a really divisive issue, and I debated whether to step into it or not. But Samantha’s post #50 posited something that I’m not sure I agree with: that rape can either be a violent or non-violent event. I am privileged enough to be inexperienced in this matter, but have always envisioned rape as a specific offence where the rapist exercising some form of control (physical or psychological) over the victim, rendering them helpless. Violence or the threat of violence is a rapist’s tool; they say that serial rape is not even primarily about sex, but is about control and power, and that the rapist’s attitude is that sex with a woman is his privilege, his for the taking, regardless of whether they want to have sex or not. The helplessness that results is what then leads to the frequent lack of reporting of rape, and the feelings of shame and guilt, or even complicity in that the victim did not fight back.

    It seems to me that the thing the courts need to determine is was consent ever withdrawn, and was one woman or both actually forced, against their will, to have intercourse. Now if consent was withdrawn and the sex stopped so that Assange could persuade his sexual partner to keep going, and he was persuasive enough to achieve consent again…that’s a horribly assholish thing to do, but if consent was given again, it’s not rape. If he was not persuasive enough and the answer was still “no” and he kept on going, that’s absolutely rape, and in my mind, it’s violent because he was absolutely using sex as a form of control over those women, as his privilege, to take and use as he wished without the women having a say in it. If this is the case, lock him up!

    Rape is not ambiguous: either you are violated or you’re not. Some people have put forth the ridiculous notion of sexual jealousy and revenge as motivations; as Greg already mentions, these are totally irrelevant to the actual claims. What is relevant is that consent was either in place or not for the actual sexual encounters, and comparing your sexual experiences does not change that. And it’s the court’s job to determine whether there was consent for all of the times intercourse occurred.

  53. #53 Stephanie Z
    January 5, 2011

    VolcanoMan, the only problem with your statements is that they require empathy for rape victims to be properly understood. Well, it isn’t a problem that you have the empathy to make the statements. It only becomes a problem when this stuff needs to be communicated to people who are more concerned with what descriptions of rape mean to them rather than to the victims. Thus you tell them that rape can be violent or nonviolent because it is about consent, rather than relying on them to understand that not all violence is physical or results in physical injury.

  54. #54 Wow
    January 7, 2011

    “You think husbands going off the track shouldn’t be allowed to be charged with assault? No matter how far they go off the track?”

    Uh, do you think that husbands not committing assault should be charged with assault?

    And, forgive the figures, ‘cos I can’t remember them, but a large fraction of children are of impossible paternity: they can’t have the father they are supposed to have based on their DNA.

    Remember, for every man who has slept with a woman not their wife, there’s a woman there with him…

  55. #55 Aaron
    January 7, 2011

    Ya, and we need to find her and maker he stop!

  56. #56 Wow
    January 7, 2011

    “Miss’s A and W’s allegations have been said to be invalid for the reason that they did not make these allegations until after they had communicated.”

    Greg, just from my POV, but I don’t see this. The charges of RAPE are invalid because they didn’t make the allegations until after they had communicated.

    One even boasted about the encounter.

    In fact, the charges of rape are being called invalid. The intervention of interpol is being called invalid.

    I haven’t seen anyone call the charges of “sexual surprise” invalid except in cases where people are astounded that this is actually possible and a law made against it.

    So I will call strawman on the statement.

  57. #57 Wow
    January 7, 2011

    “FWIW, all I’ve heard about the case so far seems to indicate Samantha Vimes’ scenario is fairly close to the truth”

    Isn’t the truth that one woman complained that they said “stop” when they felt the condom split inside them?

    I don’t think that this is possible AT ALL. Heck the head is much more sensitive and in closer proximity and I don’t think the tearing of a “gossamer extra lube” would be felt there.

    Understanding why the two women did what they did is possible but you can still disagree that what they did was RIGHT.

    After all, I can undestand why Mrs Bobbet cut off her old man’s old man, but it’s still a terrible crime to have done so.

    (re 55: snurk. :-) though, to press the point: I thought it was the men who slept about lots, not just one woman… Either one meme is wrong or the other)

  58. #58 Stephanie Z
    January 7, 2011

    Wow, you’ve done a remarkable job of skipping over everything that already points out where you’re dead wrong. I’d point it out to you, but that much blindness has to be willful.

  59. #59 David vun Kannon
    January 9, 2011

    Greg, OK, I’ve been under a rock (no internet over the holidays) and usually avoid Assange stories. What I know of this situation I’ve learned today from your blog and Stephanie’s.

    That said, this is not your finest hour in blogging.

    The analogies are poor, and the digressions distracting. You spend too much time on “ask yourself how you would feel”, which does lay you open to the charge of introspection based reasoning. Don’t be shy of going all evo-psycho on us if you’ve got the link handy to a study of sexual jealousy as a human universal.

    Given such an emotion’s universality (which I agree with) for various economically rational reasons (which I agree with), I agree that the women in question probably felt some measure of this emotion when speaking with each other and deciding their actions. How much, however, is pure speculation. Both seem to be adults with an acceptance of casual sexual encounters. I’m going to guess that each is pretty well educated, economically self sufficient, and at home in a sexually permissive society.

    The jealousy factor would therefore seem to be low in discovering that one of their multiple partners had multiple partners. As other commenters have said, there are coping mechanisms for this, coping mechanisms that sexually active single women in Sweden are probably aware of. Assange supporters are off base if they think the jealousy aspect of the conversation was any deeper than “Ha, you did him too?”

    Your conclusion “That’s what any reasonable person would do.” is muddled by ambiguity. The premise “Of course these woman would experience sexual jealousy.” is entirely speculative as to amount or intensity of this eminently rational emotion.

    “Their assessment of Julian Assange dropped,…” – this interior reassesment of Julian’s caddishness is the “that” of “what any reasonable person would do”? Or is the “that” referring to “making a case”, a legal complaint? The first follows from mutual (controlled) sexual jealousy, and the second from mutual discovery of coercion. Instead of elucidating this distinction, your post seems to conflate the two.

    If your entire point is that these women probably felt sexual jealousy, but that the existence of this feeling is irrelevant to the reasonableness of their legal actions, then I agree with you, but think you have argued that point poorly, and done a poor job of mixing science and current events.

    Sorry, you usually do better than this.

  60. #60 Greg Laden
    January 9, 2011

    David,

    Don’t be shy of going all evo-psycho on us if you’ve got the link handy to a study of sexual jealousy as a human universal.

    Here’s a link. It’s to a book. Those paper things where most of the pertinent literature actually exists:

    Human Universals

    Sexual Jealousy as a human universal is so basic in the literature it predates Evolutionary Psychology (thus the Brown reference instead of something post Tooby and Cosmides). But, I’m not arguing that sexual jealousy per se is a human universal. I’m arguing explicitly that it is not. Perhaps this is not my finest hour in blogging. But it may also be something less than your finest hour in reading!

    If you want to understand the meaning of “That’s what any reasonable person would do” consider placing it in the perhaps too subtle context in which it is written:

    “…I’d say they acted in an entirely appropriate manner when they thought of making a case after finding out about each other, if that is in fact what happened. That’s what any reasonable person would do. ”

    It’s hard to agree or disagree with your points since they are pretty much based on a random selection of incorrectly assembled bits of my post.

    Sorry, you usually do better than this.

    Well, gee, thanks for the backhanded approval. I can’t believe you put your NAME on a comment so sloppily reasoned and presented. Jeesh. Let me know if you want me to delete it.

  61. #61 Wow
    January 10, 2011

    “I’d point it out to you, but that much blindness has to be willful.”

    You mean “You’d point it out to me but you don’t want to risk being shown where you’re wrong”.

    1) Nope, never seen anyone (apart from setting up the argument to knock it down) people proclaiming that the rape charges were wrong because the women are bad people.

    2) I have seen people say that there were NO RAPE CHARGES therefore the charge of rape is wrong. Not even the two women charged him with rape.

    3) “It split whilst in me so I said stop” is BS. ‘fraid there’s NOTHING HERE that counters that.

    4) Women are just as sex mad as men. Get over it.

  62. #62 Wow
    January 10, 2011

    Greg, did you read this bit:

    “The jealousy factor would therefore seem to be low in discovering that one of their multiple partners had multiple partners.”

    OK, hypocrisy isn’t unheard of, but it does make the hypocrite’s position untenable. And, since the charges are serious enough to get Interpol involved, isn’t this appropriation of state threat also a violent reaction and therefore itself rape? After all, not all rape is physical…

  63. #63 Stephanie Z
    January 10, 2011

    1) If you haven’t seen people suggesting that the rape charges are false because one of the women once posted something about revenge, you haven’t been paying enough attention to take part in this discussion. Links to people doing just that here: http://almostdiamonds.blogspot.com/2011/01/assange-and-lovers-revenge.html

    2) The charges are in the second link Greg posted.

    3) What exactly about contingent consent is BS? If a woman’s consent is based on their being a condom, then there isn’t a condom, there is no longer consent. Not difficult. However, that comment from you misrepresents what is being said to have happened. See (2).

    4) WTF does being “sex mad” or not have to do with anything? Are you trying to tell me everyone is always consenting to sex of any kind with anyone? If that were true, it might be relevant here, but it’s way the hell off-base.

  64. #64 David vun Kannon
    January 10, 2011

    Sorry Greg, it is hard to read “Sexual jealousy is there for a reason.” as NOT endorsing the idea that sexual jealousy is a human universal. Nor has your response to other commenters (desalpins) given the impression that you are arguing explicitly that sexual jealousy is not a human universal. You state that reactions to feeling sexual jealousy is mediated by culture (I agree) and that some cultures are better than others at this (I agree). Please quote a place where you are making this ‘explicit’ argument.

    25% of your post was a digression about a hypothetical case in which you ask the reader to introspect about their own feelings if they were different sexes and had different sexual preferences. I assume you are conceding that this digression did not communicate anything useful, especially since your hypothetical was not very well aligned with the actual case under discussion. You seem to assume the exercise would reveal to the reader that the double standard “my sexual jealousy is good, your sexual jealousy is bad” (which you assume Assange supporters unconsciously agree with)(which argument seems to assume sexual jealousy is a universal) exists. I’m sure you could have communicated that idea more clearly.

    Thank you for clarifying the antecedent of “that” in your conclusion. The context was not too subtle, just ambiguous. My quotations were not randomly assembled, they were all from your concluding paragraph, and aimed to show that it could be understood in two different ways. You have two antecedent sentences, of very different force. That is your problem as a communicator, not mine as a reader.

    My point was that everything you wrote about sexual jealousy aligns with the first of those sentences, but not the second. Since you confirm that you meant the second, you confirm my opinion that this is a badly argued post. You haven’t connected the reasonableness of sexual jealousy in any meaningful way with the reasonableness of filing a police complaint on the man that raped you. Because of this, you haven’t succeeded in your stated aim of contradicting those Assange supporters that want to make sexual jealousy an issue.

    My message is sloppily reasoned? Pot. Kettle. Black. Please do show where instead of trash talk and sarcasm. I agree with you and Stephanie and every other reasonable person that these women did the right thing. That doesn’t mean I think you’ve done a good job communicating.

    @wow – my speculation about jealousy makes no-one a hypocrite. Unwanted sex of any flavor is rape. The issue is coercion, not jealousy. The fanbois are trying to tell a story where jealousy (of each other) is somehow transmuted into revenge (against Assange). How would the women’s conversation go, in that story?
    A: I’m jealous of you, and want Julian for myself!
    W: I’m jealous of _you_, and want Julian for myself!
    Then a miracle occurs…
    Together: Let’s file a complaint against Julian!
    You need to be more explicit in step 2.

  65. #65 Greg Laden
    January 10, 2011

    David, it really is not your place to tell me what I’m thinking. You can certainly point out ambiguities or misunderstanding and ask for clarifications, but no, you can’t tell me what I think. That would be indicative of something special going on with you, not me, so just don’t do hat.

    Nor has your response to other commenters (desalpins) given the impression that you are arguing explicitly that sexual jealousy is not a human universal.

    So, some clarification. The term “sexual jealousy” as it is used in the context of, say, the blogosphere, is a western concept that refers to a widely observed behavior that is probably linked to deep limbic responses that humans may well have, but that must be understood as something much more nuanced and subtle. I’m pretty sure the extent, nature, and details of sexual jealousy in typical humans is culture-dependent, even if this behavior makes use of deep limbic emotions. I’m also pretty sure that sexual jealousy is shaped in some cultures to enhance certain behaviors (and allow them by others not directly involved but who know about them) that are abhorrent. The fact that there are societies in which women are routinely tortured or killed over issues of sexual access gives sexual jealousy a rather bad name. But that is humans, and human culture, making the worst of it as often happens. There is a good argument that a certain degree of sexual propriety and it’s concomitant emotional bells and whistles makes good sense for human beings in cultural contexts where these emotional tools can be used sensibly, which to me includes both egalitarian foraging societies and progressive middle class European subcultures (which are very similar to each other in many ways).

    25% of your post was a digression about a hypothetical case in which you ask the reader to introspect about their own feelings if they were different sexes and had different sexual preferences. I assume you are conceding that this digression did not communicate anything useful, especially since your hypothetical was not very well aligned with the actual case under discussion.

    Assuming that “I’m conceding” something is just another form of telling me what I’m thinking. You really have to stop doing that.

    No, my “digression” was relevant to helping someone understand what I mean. Perhaps your assuming it is not important is part of the reason you are not getting what I mean.

    You seem to assume the exercise would reveal to the reader that the double standard “my sexual jealousy is good, your sexual jealousy is bad” (which you assume Assange supporters unconsciously agree with)(which argument seems to assume sexual jealousy is a universal) exists. I’m sure you could have communicated that idea more clearly.

    I am referring to a double standard, but I’m not sure why my guessing that there is a double standard here somehow is adduced (by me) as evidence that sexual jealousy is a human universal.

    By the way, we’ve not touched on what a “human universal” is. I doubt we have the same thing in mind when we use that term, but I’m not going to assume what is in your mind.

    Thank you for clarifying the antecedent of “that” in your conclusion. The context was not too subtle, just ambiguous.

    Not even a little ambiguous. I suppose I could have put the two sentences in a paragraph by themselves or something, but really… perhaps you were just skimming.

    You haven’t connected the reasonableness of sexual jealousy in any meaningful way with the reasonableness of filing a police complaint on the man that raped you.

    Actually, I did. The problem here is that you’ve not understood what I’ve said. But that’s OK, this is hard. You are not understanding something that is difficult to get, quite understandable.

    I can try to help you a bit but it is going to involve an analogy and will probably cause more rather than less confusion given the way you approach these things, but others may find it useful. Let me know if this helps you.

    I do not believe that human minds act in the manner one would assume if they were “rational hypothetical deductive” machines. Not even if you want them to, will they act this way. I think CS Peirce had it essentially right (as right as one could in those days) when he talked about inference as a process of comfort and discomfort.

    Think about this: You have a conversation with someone you don’t know all that well, and you understood the overt meanings of things, but you walk away from the conversation with a sense of discomfort that you can’t put your finger on. Later, you meet someone you do know very well, and that person relates a conversation she had with that first person. This conversation causes you to suddenly understand the meaning of some cue, statement, symbolic act, something, from that first conversation, and now you get what the true (or at least “truer”) meaning of that first conversation was all about. Your sense of discomfort goes away your sense of comfort increases, you perceive that you now understand what was really being said.

    It is quite possible for humans to have that sort of experience and be MORE rather than less wrong about their understanding (of the first conversation, in this case). But that is not really how our brains work. When the context is reasonably normal, when the premises are sound, when we are not being misled craftily by others or by ourselves due to some neurosis or whatever, we tend to go from understanding less towards understanding more, from fuzzier understanding to a more clear understanding, of things in concert with an increased sense of comfort.

    Which can mislead us, but generally can also work.

    I am saying that what people are calling a sense of sexual jealousy, and labeling as an emotional irrational reaction, leading Miss A and Miss W to come to a conclusion about what they had experienced post hoc, is a normal, expected, and often effective process of human inference.

  66. #66 David vun Kannon
    January 10, 2011

    Thanks, that is a much clearer (for me) statement than you original post.

  67. #67 Wow
    January 25, 2011

    Just wondering here if the police here committed state-sanctioned rape:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/jan/25/undercover-sex-police-climate-activists

  68. #68 Wow
    January 25, 2011

    “1) If you haven’t seen people suggesting that the rape charges are false because one of the women once posted something about revenge”

    Uh, nope, if that was to me, this is false.

    I haven’t seen people suggesting the rape charges are false because one of them posted about revenge.

    I HAVE seen people saying that the rape charges are false because they are not the charges Assange is charged with.

    This really is *quite* different.

    What makes a charge of rape impossible to make (one has not been made by the involved parties) is that one of them posted a bragging tale after the event.

    Rather hard to claim post-coital rape when you posted about how you’re going to do it again…

  69. #69 Stephanie Z
    January 25, 2011

    Wow, really? Where did anyone say they were going to sleep with Assange again? Source?

    As for you not having seen the claims, if you still haven’t after I posted a link, you’ve reached what we like to call “willful ignorance.”