Today at Feministing, I posted an open letter to Naomi Wolf, the woman who inspired my feminist “click” moment. Wolf’s stance on the sexual assault allegations against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has disappointed a lot of young feminists. Wolf sprang to his defense, mocking the allegations and their pursuit, then asserted that penetrating a sleeping person is not rape, and most recently, expressed the view that people bringing allegations of sexual violence should have not have the option of remaining anonymous. In short, it’s been a very disappointing few weeks for those young feminists who looked up to Wolf as a heroine and a feminist role model:
In 2004, you claimed that you had been the victim of an unwanted sexual advance. You came forward and told your story, and spoke about how it felt to be violated and then silenced. You no doubt gave a lot of other women the courage to come forward as well, courage they might not otherwise have found. You told us that our experiences mattered. The groping, the street harassment, the date rape, you told us it all mattered. You told us we had the right to speak up if we wanted to, and that we deserved to be taken seriously when we did.
Now, it seems, you’ve changed your mind. Now, it seems, you don’t think that women deserve to be taken seriously when they come forward. You joked about allegations of sexual violence and waved away claims of unwanted penetration. You told the world that these women don’t deserve to be taken seriously. You have engaged in the time-old practice of dividing women who experience sexual violence into two camps – those who count as “real” victims, and those who are ignored and silenced. It’s a practice you used to abhor, but now, you’ve taken it upon yourself to decide who gets to be a “real” sexual violence victim. To those of us who were emboldened by the stance you once held on sexual violence, your belief that any form of sexual violation is unacceptable, it’s a stinging slap in the face.
You can read the rest here. I’m very much hoping that Wolf responds in some way.