Up with Chris Hayes: The Wars On Women, Violence Against Women Act

The Republican-controlled House of Representatives failed to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) during the 112th congress. This Monday the Senate will vote on reauthorization of VAWA.

Wikipedia — The Act provides $1.6 billion toward investigation and prosecution of violent crimes against women, imposes automatic and mandatory restitution on those convicted, and allows civil redress in cases prosecutors chose to leave unprosecuted. The Act also establishes the Office on Violence Against Women within the Department of Justice.
VAWA was drafted by the office of Senator Joe Biden (D-DE), with support from a broad coalition of advocacy groups. The Act passed through Congress with bipartisan support in 1994.

Of course we must study the effectiveness of any law, and even the ACLU had issues with VAWA in the past and present, including the House version of the reauthorization bill last year. But let’s not use junk science as a reason to oppose a bill.

Washinton Times — Like caring parents teaching our young sons that it’s never right to hit a girl, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), currently up for reauthorization by the U.S. Senate, attempts to teach America the same lesson. Despite the fact that there are nice-sounding solutions in the bill’s language, though, VAWA is failing miserably.

There is no denying the very real problem of violence against women. According to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, women experience nearly 4.8 million intimate partner-related physical assaults and rapes every year. Please note that social scientists have changed the term from “spouse” to “intimate partner” due to the decline of marriage, which by the way correlates with an increase in domestic abuse of both women and children. Marriage is the safest place for women and children, yet VAWA does nothing to encourage the institution.

Correlates? I do not think it means what you think it means. — And if it does, then you are wrong, or you are purposely misleading your readers. I think the word you are looking for is “coincides.” Even if statistics show that violence is more likely among single women, that is not proof that marriage itself is the answer to end violence. An abusive marriage can be a much bigger trap to escape from, especially due to the marriage-religion connection (right or wrong).

Now we move on to today’s Up with Chris Hayes and a segment titled “The Wars On Women.” Here are a few key quotes from that segment:

Chris Hayes — “It’s only been through constant agitation and organizing from the women’s movement that society even came to see violence against women as a problem that needed to be addressed by politicians and policymakers rather than a private matter best left unmentioned.”

Marlo Thomas — “…I knew what I was doing, I knew it was the first single girl on television [That Girl, 1966-1971], I knew that was groundbreaking. What I didn’t realize was really the nature of what was happening to girls and women all around the country. And when the mail started coming in, instead of just saying, “oh, I love your hairdo,” which some of them did, I received a letter that said, “I’m 16-years-old and I”m pregnant. I can’t tell my father. Where can I go?” — “I’m 22-years-old and my husband beats me. I have two children and no job. Where can I go?” And I was completely floored receiving this kind of mail, and I realized that they were identifying with a young woman, because I was the only one, and they thought maybe I could help them. And as I tried to find placed for them to go in 1966, I realized that there wasn’t any place for them to go. Not for legal information. Not for safety. Not for comfort. Not for anything. And that really politicized me.”

Gloria Steinem —  “The amazing thing to me is how long it took me to figure this out. Because I was having all these experiences, like not being able to get an apartment because landlords thought you couldn’t pay, or if you could you must be a prostitute. I had great difficulty getting any kind of assignment that wasn’t that wasn’t stereo-typically feminine journalist…and I was a freelance writer. And I had come back from India and I’d been working in politics and guys younger than I would get all these assignments.”

Gloria Steinem - Writer, Lecturer, Activist & Humanitarian - photo by Harper Reed

Gloria Steinem —  (Asked by Chris Hayes, what she would have though about 2013 back in the 70s.)  “I would have thought that now that we own majority support on every single issue from the Equal Rights Amendment to Roe v. Wade, I would have thought, well that will be the law of the land.  Hello, I mean I didn’t understand that politically speaking there was such a backlash and that the backlash would control one whole entire political party. I mean, most Republicans don’t agree with what the Republican platform is, but a very very right-wing backlash group controls the primaries. And you know, they’re now paying the price for that.”

Gloria Steinem —  (In response to Chris Hayes saying equal rights didn’t always follow party lines.)  “The backlash was not just against the women’s movement. It was against, for instance, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 when you’ve got somebody like Jesse Helms who was a Democrat, a racist Democrat, was so upset with the idea of racial inclusion that he left the Democratic Party and became a Republican. And that has been happening. So southern Democrats, and 8000 fundamentalist Baptist churches and so on, have taken over the Republican Party and profoundly changed it.”

Gloria Steinem — “We don’t talk about it, but controlling reproduction is even more important than controlling production. And you can’t control reproduction unless you control women. So you get the same groups being against contraception (and against abortion) which prevents abortion, which makes no sense. You get racist groups being against reproductive rights because they can see that the country is becoming no longer a majority white country, and they’re in a panic about this. Women are not over here (gesturing to one side). Women are part of everything, and fundamental to everything, and reproduction is fundamental to everything. So it’s a center of the backlash.”

/ photo by Harper Reed

Here’s a promo for the “Makers” documentary that was referenced on Up with Chris Hayes:

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