Anna Breslaw’s 600-Word Sprint: The Oxymoronic Rise of Anti-Rape Zealotry

Truly stupid commentary on male abuse of female bodies has triggered...a ‘terrifying’ response from insulted women?

 Does this display of feminine determination terrify you? Then you may be on the wrong side, bro. (Photo: Amy Eicher/TakePart)

Aug 27, 2012

TakePart is happier than ever to present “Anna Breslaw’s 600-Word Sprint,” a weekly column of social justice insight, provocation and solution. Look for Anna’s Sprint every week on the homepage of TakePart.


Adjective: Having or showing zeal.

Synonyms: ardent—enthusiastic—eager—fervent—keen—earnest

Perhaps it’s a mere coincidence that within the past week—coinciding with the time since Representative Todd Akin’s comments about what constitutes legitimate rape—I’ve seen more than one indictment of “overzealous” reactions to rape, domestic abuse, and other issues primarily concerning women.

MORE: The War on Women’s Worst Quotes—As Voiced by Women

For instance, a book burning of 50 Shades of Grey by a domestic abuse safehouse in the U.K., although certainly extreme to the point of ridiculousness, is covered by the Daily Mail like it’s tantamount to an international female coup:

There is something about this zeal to protect women at all costs—even at the cost of democracy—that is terrifying. There is something really frightening about the women’s rights movement when it starts getting uber-radical.

Why is there something more frightening about the women’s rights movement than any other movement to protect a group of people whose rights are (quite obviously) under attack? Amid the deafening amount of discussion and controversy about women, the actual individuals have been forgotten in place of wedge issues and polls.

For instance, the “Z” word has also been employed to describe Wikileaks founder Julian Assange’s theoretical extradition from England to the U.S. for alleged sex crimes that took place two years ago in Sweden. One woman claimed that Assange had consensual sex with her with a condom. She fell asleep, and awoke to find him having sex with her again—with no condom.

A member of the British Parliament, George Galloway, called the allegations “odd,” and says that Assange is guilty of no more than “very bad manners.”

I think however zealously anyone chooses to respond to this, short of breaking a law, is the right amount of zealotry.

“There is a much larger than normal gender gap. Men are far more sympathetic than women to Mr. Assange,” says Peter Kellner, the president of YouGov. “This may reflect the fact that Mr. Assange stands accused of rape and sexual assault.”

Kellner’s presumption is incredibly depressing, as is Assange’s megalomaniacal comment about the timing of the women’s allegations (circa Wikileaks at its height): “Disturbing,” as if the women in question had absolutely no inner life whatsoever and their accusations were all parcels of a big conspiracy.

Meanwhile, Michael Moore and Oliver Stone have taken it upon themselves to shift the spotlight entirely from the sex crime allegations back to their primary agenda: Playing the Important Whistle-Blowing Filmmakers who take it upon themselves to inform us that extraditing Assange would indicate a global conspiracy and to praise him for accomplishing Wikileaks.

(“The allegations should be investigated” is really the only thing they have to say on the subject of Assange’s potential rape victims.)

In the past, Moore, whose hatred of the right is so famous it’s practically Biblical, only seems to take up the issue of women to throw little hate-darts at the Romney ticket. Without an axe to grind, women’s issues don’t seem to be a subject of any interest to him.

To indicate that a group of people are “overzealous” means that they are responding to something that did not merit the amount of zeal they came back with.

In my opinion, the “over” can be omitted here. Considering that not so many days ago, it was asserted by a person on a U.S. government committee actually devoted to science policy that “if it’s legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down” (which, by the way, was a belief in medieval science, as in circa leeching), I think however zealously anyone chooses to respond to this, short of breaking a law, is the right amount of zealotry.

Are you terrified by the so-called zealous reaction of women to callous disregard to the abuse of women? If not, share how you are so brave in COMMENTS.

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