Two days after British police gave up their full-time post outside WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s sanctuary in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, WikiLeaks has turned its focus to a new kind of oppression: the state-controlled scourge of modern feminism.
In a series of tweets on Wednesday, the official WikiLeaks account questioned whether “feminism” (always in scare quotes) was “a reactionary vehicle to push state interests such as censorship and imprisonment.” Links to accompanying blog posts implied that the 2010 sexual assault accusations against Assange might have been falsified by government officials as justification for his arrest, a common theory among his supporters.
“Has modern ‘feminism’ become a reactionary vehicle for state censorship, repression and war?” Wikileaks tweeted on Wednesday. The tweet links to a 2010 post by blogger Daisy’s Dead Air questioning whether the charges against Assange—two allegations of molestation, one of unlawful coercion, and one of rape—were genuine, or if they had been manufactured by the United States government.
“I am so deeply cynical and skeptical of our government, that I initially did not even believe these alleged rape-victims of Julian Assange truly existed,” the blogger writes in a post headlined “On feminist collaboration with the state.”
“I am still profoundly skeptical, until I see an interview with Barbara Walters or equivalent.”
Skepticism about the assault allegations against Assange is widespread in the privacy community, due in part to the murky nature of the claims. Much of the case hinges on whether Assange violated a woman’s consent by allegedly damaging a condom against her wishes. Assange supporters argue that his case was pursued more aggressively than a similar case would be for a person not under investigation by the U.S. government. In August 2015, Swedish prosecutors announced they would abandon their investigation of all claims except the rape accusation.
Assange’s rape accusers are working against the feminist cause, the blogger argues.
“Is your attack on Julian ultimately going to endear you to the women of the world,” the blogger writes, “women unfortunate to have been born on the wrong side, women who have been left without running water and whose children have been blown up?"
Other tweets from the official WikiLeaks account on Wednesday accuse feminists of stifling free speech to advance state goals. “UN group: To protect women from ‘violence online’ the world needs lots of internet censorship,” one tweet reads.
“What happens when you title an event ‘Does modern feminism have a problem with free speech’?” reads another.
This supposed tension between feminism and freedom is an old refrain. It has surfaced in Men’s Rights Activist message boards where participants bemoan the oppression of laws against hate speech. And it has reared its head in purportedly liberal commentary like Jonathan Chait’s New York magazine meltdown early this year over political correctness.
And for WikiLeaks, a focal point for a community with a deep mistrust of state authority, this feminism-as-censorship stance feeds a larger suspicion of feminism’s central tenets. In aligning oppressive government with repressed womanhood, the oppressive force of masculinity is nicely tucked away out of scrutiny.
But WikiLeaks wants to clarify that its social media manager isn’t sexist. It’s the fake feminist oppressing its right to free speech, refusing to dismiss rape accusations against a beloved figure.
“That’s why we put it in quotes,” WikiLeaks replied to a Twitter user who asked it to clarify its definition of feminism. “[Many] calling themselves ‘feminists’ campaign for extreme censorship and imprisonment.”
Or as the linked blog post suggests of those who will write dissenting articles, “How many of these posts are by government plants or right-wing apologists?”