Wednesday, March 02, 2011

In defense of gossip (by Suzie)

The reporters on the Guardian disappointed me. They failed my masculinity test. They behaved like gossiping schoolgirls. -- Julian Assange,™ as quoted in Britain's Private Eye.
According to the magazine, Assange made this remark after ranting that certain Guardian journalists were part of a conspiracy against him, and, oh, by the way, they are all Jewish. (They aren't.) He quickly denied saying anything bad about Jews, adding that he treasures his Jewish supporters and staff members. (Why does WikiLeaks even bother to pay a PR firm?)

I haven't seen any retraction about the schoolgirl statement. Apparently, it's OK to malign them because they don't send him money, and they're too young to properly support him, unlike, say, his assistant Sarah Harrison, a recent college graduate, who has, the London Times reported, "been in very close contact and organising his diary and washing his socks." As part of the Jewish conspiracy, Yossi Melman in Haaretz wrote that Harrison is the accused rapist's current girlfriend.

Some might accuse me of writing like a gossiping schoolgirl, which I once was. My response would be: "Go gossiping schoolgirls! Yay team!" Gossip refers to spreading personal or private information about someone. But the idea of a private sphere divorced from the public and political sphere has long been used to hush up men's abuse of women. Rape or abuse by family members, whether brothers, fathers or husbands; sexual assaults by acquaintances, from a guy picked up at a bar to a trusted priest; and various other abuse that falls under "domestic violence" -- all have been kept secret by schoolgirls and women who felt forced to protect themselves or someone else.

Assange supporters have described the sex-crime case in Sweden as a personal or private matter.

That's why we need gossip. We need one schoolgirl to tell another: Watch out for X because he'll try to grope you in the hallway. Or, an older schoolgirl to say: I thought I was going on a date with Y, but he drove out into nowhere, and wouldn't take me back until I went down on him. Or, a WL supporter: What!? He had sex without a condom with you, too? Or, another to say: You're intelligent. Why are you washing his socks for him?

Yes, yes, I know that gossiping schoolgirls weren't Assange's target. But, as the exemplar of masculinity, he knows that comparing a man to a girl is the worst insult. Girls are for f*cking and washing your socks! It was also his way of saying those Guardian guys are sooooo gay, just as if he were a gossiping schoolboy.

Please check out Katrina Voll-Taylor's idea of his masculinity test.

Perhaps you wonder what inspired the rant about gossiping schoolgirls who also happen to be Jewish (or vice versa). Assange was attacking Private Eye's article on Israel Shamir. Earlier, the Guardian printed this article on "Israel Shamir, a Jew who has converted to Orthodox Christianity and passionate antisemitism, and his son Johannes Wahlström. ... [Shamir] also denied that he had any special connection with WikiLeaks, though the group's spokesman, Kristinn Hrafnsson, confirmed that he was their representative in Russia, just as his son is in Scandinavia."

Another Guardian article notes that WL paid Shamir for "services rendered -- journalism," and Shamir says this was for work in Russia.

Shamir co-wrote the article in CounterPunch that first published the libel that one of Assange's accusers worked for the CIA, a lie that Assange and his lawyers have backed off of, after it became widespread on the Internet.