Thursday, December 30, 2010

SHOULD FEMINISTS SUPPORT THE EXTRADITION OF JULIAN ASSANGE?

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.

2 comments:

1 said...

The rapist checklist
Biting Beaver


You are a rapist if you get a girl drunk and have sex with her.

You are a rapist if you find a drunk girl and have sex with her.

You are a rapist if you get yourself drunk and have sex with her. Your drunkeness is no excuse.

If you are BOTH drunk, you may still be a rapist.

If she’s alternating between puking her guts out and passing out in the bed, then you are a rapist.

6. If she’s sleeping and you have sex with her, then you are a rapist.

7. If she’s unconscious and you have sex with her, then you are a rapist.

8. If she’s taking sleeping pills and doesn’t wake up when you have sex with her, then you are a rapist.

9. If she is incapacitated in any way and unable to say “Yes,” then you’re a rapist.

10. If you drug her, then you’re a rapist.

11. If you find a drugged girl and have sex with her, then you’re a rapist.

12. If you don’t bother to ask her permission and she says neither “Yes” nor “No”, then you could be a rapist.

13. You are a rapist if you “nag” her for sex. Because you manage to ply an eventual “yes” from a weary victim doesn’t mean it’s not rape. You are a rapist.

14. You are a rapist if you try to circumvent her “No” by talking her into it. She’s not playing hard to get, and even if she IS, it’s not YOUR responsibility to “get” her. You are still a rapist.

15. You are a rapist if you manipulate her into sex when she doesn’t otherwise want it. If you say, “If you loved me you’d do X,” then you are a rapist. If you say, “All the other kids are doing it!” then you are a rapist.

16. If you threaten her or act in a way that SHE thinks you’re threatening her, then you’re a rapist. If you puff up and get loud and frustrated while trying to “talk” her into sex, then you’re a rapist.

17. You are a rapist if you don’t immediately get your hands off of her when she says “no.” You are a rapist if you take your hands off of her and the put them back ON her after 10 minutes, and she eventually “gives in” to this tactic.

18. You are a rapist if you won’t let her sleep peacefully without waking her every 15 minutes asking her for sex. Sleep deprivation is a form of torture, and YOU are rapist.

19. If you’re necking with her and you’re naked and you’ve already gone down on her and she says “No” to sex with you and you have sex with her anyway then you’re a rapist.

20. If you’re engaged in intercourse and she says "No” at ANY point and you don’t immediately stop, then you’re a rapist.

21. If she says “Yes” to sex with a condom and that condom breaks and you proceed anyway, then you’re a rapist.

22. If she picked you up at a bar looking for sex and then decides that she doesn’t WANT sex and you continue, then you’re a rapist.

23. If she changes her mind at ANY point for ANY reason and you don’t immediately back off or you try to talk her into it and get sex anyway, then you’re a rapist.

24. If you don’t hit her and she says “No,” you’re still a rapist.

25. If you don’t have a knife or gun or a garrote and she says “No,” then you’re still a rapist.

1 said...

26. If you’re a friend of hers, you can still be a rapist.

27. If you had sex with her the night before but she doesn’t want morning sex and you pressure her for it anyway, then you’re a rapist.

28. If you’re her husband, you can still be a rapist.

29. If it’s your wedding night and she doesn’t WANT to have sex with you and you force or coerce her anyway, then you’re a rapist.

30. If she's had sex with you hundreds of times before but doesn’t want to on the 101st time, then you’re a rapist.

31. If you penetrate her anally, orally or digitally against her will, then YOU, my friend, are ALSO a rapist.

32. Women do not owe you sex.

33. Buying her dinner does not entitle you to sex.

34. Paying her mortgage does not entitle you to sex.

35. Buying her clothing does not entitle you to sex.

36. Buying her lingerie does not entitle you to sex. It also doesn’t mean that she has any obligation to wear that lingerie around you.

37. Spending any amount of money on her does not, ever, entitle you to sex.

38. Seeing her legs or cleavage does not entitle you to sex.

39. If she “turns you on,” you’re not entitled to sex.

40. If she has fucked every man in a 10 square miles radius and she doesn’t want to fuck you and you have sex with her anyway, then you’re a rapist.

41. Her clothing is not a reason for you to rape her. Her LACK of clothing is no reason to rape her. If she’s wearing a thong and pasties, you STILL have no right to rape her.

42. If she’s a prostitute and she says “No,” then you’re a rapist.

43. If she’s a stripper and she says “No,” then you’re a rapist. Likewise, if she’s a stripper and she’s been rubbing against your dick all night long and you followed her to her car and have sex with her against her will, then you are ALSO a rapist.

44. If you watch a woman being raped without calling the authorities then you’re as bad as a rapist, and you may also be a rapist yourself.

45. If you don’t fight rape, then you accept rape.

46. If you don’t believe a woman when she says she was raped, then you’re encouraging rape.

47. If you choose to remain friends with a man who raped a woman, you’re encouraging rape.

48. If you confess to the authorities that you raped a woman it does not exonerate you. You are not suddenly a model of good behavior.

49. If you “only” raped one woman, you’re STILL a rapist.

50. You cannot tell who is a rapist by the way they look. Rapists are your friends, your brothers, your fathers, and you won’t know it.

51. Do not get frustrated with a woman if she doesn’t trust you. SHE already knows that rapists don’t wear signs on their foreheads. Something you think is innocuous, SHE may find terrifying.


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If a woman refuses and at some point he becomes angry even in his facial expressions and tone of voice, that's a threat of more to come. He may go on and on, until he has what he thinks he has an unfettered right to: your body. He is convinced it's his right, so you are being unreasonable, not him.

If there was no blood, no broken and bruised female, it's only because she was frightened, shamed coerced and paralyzed into submitting to save herself. How much should she be expected to tolerate before it's called rape?

Rapists think, how much CAN she tolerate. We know this. For them, it's never rape, always sex. Why are you carrying water for a rapist?