The first excerpts of Julian Assange's memoir have been published, and, unsurprisingly, they include a denial of the rape charges against him. Assange also — conveniently, as it turns out — describes himself as "a little bit autistic."
Published in The Independent, one of the excerpts addresses Assange's relationship with the Swedish women who would later accuse him of rape. Here's his description of his night with the first accuser, Ms. A:
These political engagements are stressful and I was glad of the attention, when it came, of these smiling and affectionate women. It's embarrassing to say so, given that even a single man, as I was, is liable to be thought ungallant even for mentioning what went on with a woman in private. Or more than one woman. But the situation seemed not at all unusual and felt like part of something nice in an otherwise dark time. Speaking honestly, I would have to say I thought A— was a little neurotic. But our night together was unremarkable. We had sex several times and the next day everything seemed fine between us.
Assange doesn't mention having sex with A without a condom, which is one of her key allegations — unless her insistence on one is what he deemed "neurotic." Later, he writes of leaving A's house to spend the night with the woman who would become his second accuser, Ms. W:
My behaviour sounds cold, and no doubt was, which is a failing of mine, but not a crime. I'd spent long enough at A—'s and could see that it would be a bad idea to stay longer. Remember, I was feeling especially paranoid: I didn't like being in one place for too long and the affair with A— was becoming public, which appeared to be something she wanted.
The thing with W— was going nowhere, either. She was a little vague, but the night in Enkopping was fun and I thought we'd had a perfectly nice time, albeit one that probably wouldn't be repeated. She didn't seem too fussed herself, as we had breakfast together the next morning and then rode together on her bicycle to the railway station. She kindly paid for my ticket –- my bank card was still on the blink, though I'm always skint –- and she kissed me goodbye and asked me to call her from the train. I didn't do that, and it has already turned out to be the most expensive call I didn't make.
No mention here of W's allegation that Assange had unprotected sex with her, starting when she was asleep. Throughout the excerpt, Assange paints himself as an innocent if mildly caddish player — someone whose actions, while above reproach, might well have inspired jealousy. Elsewhere in his memoir, he writes, "let's just say I am –- all hackers are, and I would argue all men are a little bit autistic." Assange implies that his only crime was a failure to understand women's complicated feelings. He was deluged by offers of sex yet confused by women's expectations for a relationship — any man, since they're all autistic, would make the same mistake. Suddenly accusations of rape turn into Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus. By way of laying the subject to rest, Assange writes,
I did not rape those women and cannot imagine anything that happened between us that would make them think so, except malice after the fact, a joint plan to entrap me, or a terrible misunderstanding that was stoked up between them. I may be a chauvinist pig of some sort but I am no rapist, and only a distorted version of sexual politics could attempt to turn me into one.
Since Assange doesn't address the specific allegations against him, it's hard to tell what he thinks happened physically in Sweden. But we know what he thinks happened emotionally: chicks got weird on him. And his assertion that he and all other men are simply incapable of understanding feelings neatly absolves him of any responsibility for this. Assange's memoir doesn't shed any light on the actual accusations made by A and W. What it does is further popularize the idea that women cry rape when their strange, unpredictable little hearts get broken. In so doing, it does everyone a great disservice.
Julian Assange: 'I Did Not Rape Those Women' [Independent]
Julian Assange: 'I Am –- Like All Hackers –- A Little Bit Autistic' [Independent]