Thursday, December 30, 2010


My position in 140 characters is: “Julian Assange’s sexual assault charges for not using a condom in consensual sex shows that laws punishing men empower the state-not women”

FACTS: There is an investigation going on in Sweden concerning statements made by two women who are concerned that Assange, for whatever reason, didn’t use a condom, and they are worried about sexually-transmitted disease. At first, the investigation was dropped because of insufficient evidence, but it has now been reopened.

Although I have heard that the level of the charge is at the lowest level; if, convicted, Assange would not face jail, I have also heard people discussing the charge as “rape”. It is unclear to those of us who don’t know Swedish law, if the use of the term “rape” means what it means in the United States, violent, unconsented sex, and this includes “date rape” and “marital rape”, then it makes sense that Sweden would want to extradite Assange to be interviewed, because this is a serious felony, carrying jail time. On the other hand, if “rape” in Sweden includes initiating sex in the middle of the night with someone you have been intimate with, there is so much room for interpretation, nuances, etc. and the social context of consenting intimacy, that it would seem overkill to extradite someone just to do an interview to determine if in fact criminal conduct occurred. So, a great deal of internet virtual “ink” has probably been spilled needlessly spent already.

The larger issue, and one that seems to be ignored by many of the “ink spillers” is why is Sweden insisting that Julian Assange be forced to come back to Swedish soil? Here, there is wider agreement that the Western powers, especially the United States, are so outraged that Wikileaks has revealed millions of their secrets, that they want Assange back on Swedish soil so that they can get Sweden’s cooperation in returning Assange to the United States to face extremely serious charges of espionage and other crimes against the state that could result in years of prison, possibly being shipped off to Guantanamo, and being exposed to lack of protection that could even result in his death.

So why are feminists even arguing about the precise definition of “rape” in Swedish law or the nuances of male-female consensual sexual relationships (interesting and important as these topics are)? Feminists are trying to achieve gender equality so that women can demand and get a world without extreme hunger and poverty, in which all children have primary education, where disease is eradicated and a sustainable environment with safe drinking water and clean air. (a la Millennium Development Goals for 2015). This means challenging the patriarchal, militaristic model and the capitalistic corporations and governments that perpetuate war, unsustainable use of natural resources, especially fossil fuels. Therefore, as feminists, we welcome the exposure of the secrets of those very institutions that are seeking to maintain the status quo.

And, it means not letting those institutions get their grubby fingers on Assange (they already have Bradley Manning). Assange, if guilty of these charges, and all men who abuse their power in sexual relations, even consensual ones, should be subject to whatever the penalty is in Sweden. He should comply with the Swedish governments requirement of an interview, but only with an ironclad guarantee that returning to Sweden for an interview does not open the door to being extradited to the U.S.

Our feminist movement has to be wary of powerful forces who want us to help them with their agenda which is to continue to rule the world without having to make fundamental changes. They cite women’s rights when they want to invade Afghanistan or Iraq (never mind that they never say a word about the treatment of women in Saudi Arabia). They cite pollution and depletion of resources when they want to force unsafe methods of birth control on women rather than changing wasteful consumption patterns, industrial practices or deep-water oil drilling (which might lower their profits), and they want us feminists to work for this in the name of “reproductive rights”. And now, they capitalize on women’s righteous anger against rape and other forms of sexual abuse to have us support their attempts to silence Assange, Wikileaks and all others who would bare their ugly secrets.

We rejoice that almost half of the members of the parliament in Sweden are women. No doubt the Swedish feminists felt that it was a triumph for women to pass a comprehensive law that would encompass not only vile, violent rape, but also would include pernicious, bullying tactics used by ordinary men. But see how their reformist efforts have been subverted? See how focusing on women’s victimization, rather than women’s empowerment, leads to an ironic outcome that a champion of democratic sharing of information, whatever his practices in consensual sex, becomes demonized. I heard a feminist spokesperson refer to Julian Assange as a “powerful white male” in a debate on Democracy Now! as though he was a member of the corporate and governmental elite that we feminists correctly fear and despise.

As feminists, rather than looking to the state to increase its power to criminalize more areas of our life and to increase the state’s ability to oversee, control and punish, shouldn’t we be helping women be more economically self-sufficient, and more empowered to assert their rights in all aspects of their lives, especially in the bedroom.

I especially hope that the American feminist movement will work internationally to condemn U.S. imperialism, the rape of other countries resources to enrich American corporations and the consequent cheapening and degradation of our own society.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


I want to share the continued research that I'm doing into the Women Deliver Conference to discover what the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are planning for mothers and babies throughout the world and decide whether we should welcome this or organize against it.

Here is a YouTube video of a 13-minute excerpt of the 60 Minutes video interview of Melinda Gates in which they attribute high infant mortality to midwives using non-sterile instruments and say that they lay newborns on cold, dirt floors. Now, supposedly these rates have improved since they have taught the midwives to use sterile razor blades to cut the umbilical cord and they've taught them to wrap the newborn in a blanket, and infant mortality has gone down.

Now I want to ask you to look at some websites about Kangaroo Care, a practice of laying the naked newborn directly on the mother's bare chest, to see that this is the more advanced, enlightened way to stabilize a newborn, especially a low-birth-weight one. The mother's body keeps the baby warm, encourages breathing, and when the baby squirms and roots around, it will find the mother's nipple by itself within an hour or so, thus securing the best nutrition and "securing its safety in its mother's arms".

• Kangaroo Care -
• Dr. Bergman -

What a difference between the Western-style medical approach of teaching "ignorant midwives" to keep the baby warm in a blanket, and the respectful, supportive approach of letting the baby have access to its Mom.

A personal note: I bottle-fed my first two babies, because I was told I had no milk (in fact, they gave me DES to dry up my milk. A nurse who had breast fed showed me techniques to "help" my baby nurse). I then went on to breast feed my other children and always passed along this knowledge to other mothers. I assumed that this was a cultural, woman-to-woman tradition. Imagine my surprise when I saw an 8 minute film a few months ago showing a brand-new newborn wriggle around on its mother's belly, crawling by fits and starts up until it "latched on" to the nipple.

I'm also enclosing the information so that you can order this 8 minute film to see this for yourself. Also, we hope to include a minute or two of this footage on the new page on my website,

•breastfeeding - baby's choice -

Carol Downer with the assistance of Aracely Hernandez

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Dr. Andrew Rutland

Dear Pro-Choice Movement,

Dr. Rutland is an obstetrician-gynecologist who is currently on probation. In July 2009 a patient receiving a paracervical block (local anesthesia) had a severe reaction and ultimately passed 6 days later. The Los Angeles County Coroner's office closed the case after autopsy ruled her death as accidental. Under pressure from anti-abortionists, Dr. Lakshmanan Sathyavagiswaran - Chief Medical Examiner changed the mode of death from accidental to homicide. The reasons are connected to technical violations of practice, which the department disapproves of, but are NOT connected to this event.

This case is about the CA Medical Board's attempt to close down an abortion provider very much like Dr. Bruce Steir in 1997. Originally charged with 2nd degree murder, in April 2000 Dr. Steir bargained for involuntary manslaughter.

We currently do not have an up-to-date on Dr. Rutland's case. But we do urge that people be extremely critical of this case and any other case where anti-abortionists are behind the attack.

Please read the following articles:

And, if you'd like further information please contact Dr. Rutland at

Thank you.