Why VAWA must be rewritten

Child advocate Laurie A. Couture has a must-read article on why the so-called “Violence Against Women Act” is a grievous piece of legislation that desperately needs to be rewritten from the ground up. To quote some of the more salient parts:

I am a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, a children’s rights advocate and former social worker. I have worked with children of all ages and families in various roles for 20 years. I am a registered Democrat, a strong humanitarian and community activist. I am requesting that VAWA be renamed The Sexual And Domestic Violence Act and rewritten so that it is gender neutral.

She goes on to note what those of us who have been involved in men’s and boys’ advocacy have known for decades: male victims are about as common as female victims, may be even more common, and nobody notices and nobody cares:

I have worked with countless boys of all ages who have suffered rape and sexual assaults by perpetrators of both sexes. Far more boys than girls are severely abused by their parents. Many of the men in the families I have worked with are victims of domestic and sexual violence. The difference between these boys and men who are victims and their female peers who are victims, is how they are treated by society, the mental health system, community crisis centers, the child protective/social service system, the legal system, the justice system and the media: While the girls and women I work with have been focused on, protected, believed, supported and empowered by these systems, the boys and men I have worked with, as a whole, have suffered systematic discrimination, sexism, mockery, disbelief and neglect by these systems. Despite the already over-abundant outreach efforts, programs, policies and services for women, there are still no serious outreach attempts to educate, protect, empower, focus on and support boys and men who suffer date rape, rape, sexual assault, genital mutilation, child abuse, domestic violence and psychological battery in their families, relationships and in society.

Furthermore:

As a democrat, a humanitarian, a mental health counselor, a children’s rights activist, an aunt and a mother, I do not understand why there is such an outpouring of support and protection for girls and women but an indifferent, silent apathy which ignores boys and men. It is an egregious violation of human rights in my ethical opinion.

One of the reasons I almost vomited when I voted this year was that even though the Republican Party opposed the human-rights-trashing, violent and child abuse enabling so-called “Violence Against Women Act” they opposed it for all the wrong reasons. Their opposition was stupid opposition. The principled opposition to VAWA is that it marginalizes and dismisses millions of abused and molested and hurt and bleeding and even murdered men and boys in favor of a sexist and ludicrous gynocentrism. Thank God more women are standing up and recognizing the gross injustice that this legislation represents, and its fundamental violation of the 14th amendment’s “equal protection” clause.

As someone who voted for Obama, I pray that the Democrats come to their senses on this, although I’ll promise Republicans that if they’ll field candidates who take the correct stance on VAWA–that it’s not wrong to include gays–that it’s wrong because it includes men and boys only as an afterthought and in fact grossly discriminates against them despite its pathetic fig-leaf of gender-neutral language and in fact discriminates blatantly against men and boys on the basis of sex, and enables violent and predatory women to get away with violent and predatory behavior. The politician or party that has the guts to stand up and say that openly will get my vote next election season.

But I recommend reading Laurie A. Couture’s entire letter to Nancy Pelosi.

The men’s movement continues to grow as the gross injustices, gynocentrism, and double standards that modern culture embraces for men and boys is being noticed by more and more decent men and women who realize that our sons matter as much as our daughters do, and are hurting.

If anyone doubts there’s a serious problem, or doubts the reality that male victims of violent women are common, I recommend reading or watching my interview with Erin Pizzey, founder of the first internationally recognized battered women’s shelter, which contains much valuable information and many useful references about just how deep the problem goes.

         

Author: DEAN ESMAY, Guest Voice Columnist

Dean Esmay is a long-time associate of Joe Gandelman and The Moderate Voice. He is Managing Editor of A Voice for Men. He also blogs on a variety of issues at Dean's World, one of the world's first blogs and one of the few that was archived as Historically Significant by the Library of Congress for the 2004 elections. You can also follow Dean via Twitter here.

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