Julian Assange may seem like an unlikely babe magnet, but the pasty, weak-chinned Wikileaks founder apparently has a number of women in a hormonal twist, despite being accused of committing sexual crimes against two Swedish women. Assange, who was released on bail Thursday, addressed reporters and supporters at London’s High Court before being whisked away to a British estate. As the cameras flashed and the noisy audience cried out for him, it wouldn’t have seemed too bizarre if Assange had been pelted with panties and bras.
A Facebook group calling itself Feminists for Free Speech has launched a defense of Assange. Glamorous babes (Jemima Khan, Bianca Jagger), political babes (Naomi Wolf and Arianna Huffington), and a host of enthralled female followers (the woman protesting outside the English court with a sign saying “Julian, I want your babies”) all seem to be hot for Julian. The popular women's blog Jezebel acknowledged the fascination over his looks with a video showing the mighty morphing of his hair. Other bloggers have also gotten caught up in Julian fever —"Julianassnageisgorgeous" expressed elation at how well he held up while incarcerated and the the "Julian Fanciers Guild" declared that the elevation of Assange to "Justin Bieber status is complete."
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It’s hardly a surprise why. First, Assange has assiduously cultivated his own mythos. Just take a look at that intense stare from the WikiLeaks banner atop its homepage. Then there’s his vaguely French-sounding name, his international-man-of-mystery persona and his self-created persecuted crusader status. He’s even got the skinny frame, multi-hued hair and doe eyes certain female English lit majors and fans of Morrissey always love.
As Keith Richards’ autobiography and old Bogart movies testify, some women do go for the bad boys, and you don’t have to be a male model to become a crush object.
Those closest to Assange, like his ex-wife and mother of his child with whom he and his own mother fought a years-long custody battle, sometimes have a different view, as Raffi Khatchadurian reported last June in The New Yorker. Khatchadurian's portrait of Assange is of a manchild taken care of by women, a manchild who says that he's ready to inflict "collateral damage" on bystanders, and that Wikileakers "might get blood on their hands."
But no amount of debunking, nor any testimony by the women Assange is accused of harming, is going to change the minds of Julian fans any more than 13-year-old girls are going to be dissuaded by evidence Justin Bieber can’t sing.
Brian Alexander is the author of the book “America Unzipped: In Search of Sex and Satisfaction," now in paperback.