March 15 2012
I’ve been waiting for this to happen:
New York Sen. Chuck Schumer believes he has found a political weapon in the unlikeliest of places: the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).
Republicans have several objections to the legislation, but instead of making changes, Schumer wants to fast track the bill to the floor, let the GOP block it, then allow Democrats to accuse Republicans of waging a “war against women.”
Predictable but nevertheless depressing.
But at least Politico’s headline captured the reality rather than selling Schumer’s product:
New York Sen. Chuck Schumer Schemes to Hit GOP on More Wedge Issues
As has been observed before on Inkwell, the best thing VAWA has going for itself is its name. “Senator, are you against women?”
Funding the Violence Against Women Act, first enacted in 1994 (then-Senator Joe Biden sponsored it), is not the same as doing right by women. Erin Pizzey, a pioneer in the shelter movement, explains why she opposes VAWA, and I wrote a piece (“Wanted: An Honest Discussion of the Violence Against Women Act”) a few weeks ago on VAWA:
What is at stake in deciding whether to reauthorize VAWA is not whether domestic violence is a serious problem—it is. To the extent that VAWA has made the public aware of this, it is to be applauded. But unfortunately VAWA activists have primarily sought to use the law and their funding to further the feminist cause, which is not always the same as the cause of women.
The “must-arrest” policy advanced in VAWA, for example, may sound like a winner to anti-male ideologues, but it's more complicated for real women. Knowledge that a call seeking help can set off an irrevocable process may also discourage some true victims of violence from seeking help they need. It also means that women who have begun the process of pressing charges against violent partners are often not allowed to drop them if they change their minds. Obviously, a woman’s decision to take a bum to court deserves society’s utmost support, but the current policy has often forced women who might otherwise have opted for counseling for both parties in an effort to save a marriage to go ahead with more drastic measures.
The Violence Against Women Act all too often funds advocates who view violence against women as rooted not in a criminal mindset or psychological problems but in the notion that there is a patriarchy that harms women. One of the most influential programs for “reeducating” abusing men was the Duluth model, which roots violence in patriarchy.
Call me jaundiced, but I sincerely doubt that Schumer is planning an honest discussion of VAWA.