Infuriating column on VAWA

Cathy Young at The Boston Globe talks about “Ending bias in domestic assault law.” And what bias is that? Oh, you know–the “radical feminist” agenda of stopping violence against women.
Apparently it’s the “women” part that irks Young:
But underneath its mainstream trappings, the 1994 bill was steeped in a radical feminism of the “men bad, women good” variety — an ideology which regards domestic abuse and rape as part of a collective male war against women. Ironically, the law’s political success was partly due to the fact this kind of feminism dovetails easily with a traditional, putting-women-on-a-pedestal paternalism.
Unfortunately, it also helped enshrine a dogmatic and one-sided approach to family violence. For one, while the legislation is ostensibly gender-neutral, its very title reflects the notion that partner abuse is a “women’s issue”…

Oh…fucking…please. I love the idea that merely pointing out that partner violence overwhelmingly affects women is “radical.” Not to mention, VAWA is about partner violence and sexual assault, a fact that Young conveniently omits. Read the whole thing, Young really fancies herself an expert on feminism.

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  • C

    Cathy Young is a hack with ties to the Cato Institute and a journalist with a sad little agenda: she has this view of the world wherein if we say there is no sexism and no misogyny enough, then it doesn’t exist. Annoying feminists and women’s rights advocates get in the way of her shiny happy worldview. Thus, they are to blame.
    See also, “Recognizing men abused by women,” op ed, Nov. 11, 2002; Ceasefire! Why Women and Men Must Join Forces to Achieve True Equality (1999);
    “Feminist Jurisprudence: Equal Rights or Neo-Paternalism?”, Cato Institute Policy Analysis (1996, co-authored with Michael Weiss, Esq.)

  • Amanda Marcotte

    I wrote about this article and have written about Young in the past. She is an apologist for abusers, as long as they are male. She has written articles complaining that men are arrested when they commit violence she finds to be acceptable methods of fighting/control of their women. Basically, if it doesn’t leave a bruise or if he doesn’t ball his fist, she thinks the government should stay out of it.
    While she tolerates a certain amount of violence from men, however, there is no amount of violence for women that she will tolerate for any reason. In this article, for instance, she calls for arresting women who act in self-defense, even if it’s just flailing around to escape someone who is beating them. If you’ve ever been on the ugly side of a beating, you’ll know it’s pretty much impossible to simply take it. She is a nightmare. No one should go to jail for physically protecting themselves from violence. Next thing you know, she’ll be complaining that victims are hurting abusers by bruising their knuckles with their faces.

  • Kristina

    I took a class in law school on domestic violence. Anyone who bothered to read VAWA would realize that it applies to all victims of abuse and their abusers, as well as the children caught in between.
    Nor do I think I was spaced out in journalism 101 when I learned that you should always READ a piece of work or law that you would comment upon. She is obviously a complete hack!

  • Iguana

    Yes, saying that partner violence overwhelmingly affects women is radical because that is a bald faced lie.
    Why not separate sexual assualt from domestic violence? There are not many people that would argue that rape is a “gender” specific crime that overwhelming happens to women.
    Domestic violence, however, knows no gender boundareies. It is not as common as gender feminists suggest that it is. And, it has nothing to do with patriarchal oppression, as you would like for everyone to believe.
    The jig is up gals. Get used to it.

  • Iguana

    The problem you have is simply that VAWA has turned into an ideological pork feeding frenzy.
    If you care about rape, which very few sober people would content is not overwhelmingly suffered by women, then you would want to see rape treated separately.
    Domestic violence knows no gender boundaries. It is also not as common as gender feminists would have us believe, nor is it an “epidimic.”
    Most importantly, it has nothing to do with “patriarchal” oppression.
    The jig is up. Get used to it.

  • Ahlana

    Based on FBI crime statistics (which should be taken with a grain of salt because they are notoriously under-reported for crimes like Domestic Assault and rape) a woman is the victim of domestic violence every 9 seconds in the US. Women are more likely to be killed by a male relative/partner than by anyone else. The reverse is not true. Men are not victims of DA every 9 seconds and they are more likely to be killed by another male than by their female partners or relatives.
    But, that is a moot point because DV does happen in both directions – women to men, men to women, women to women, men to men. One in 3 women will be raped in her life time, but so will 1 in 9 men. VAWA cares for male victims of rape in ways that no prior program has even attempted. Male victims of rape are finding support groups through VAWA programs instead of being ostrasized as “queers, pussies, and wimps.” True feminists embrace the victims of DV and SA regardless of sex.
    I believe something that happens every 9 seconds IS an epidemic. As a survivor of domestic violence I know for damn sure that it is about oppression. I don’t think that my abuser was making a conscious decision to reinforce the patriarchy. He was just following the rules and guidelines that he was raised with… women who piss you off should be “put in their place”. It’s ok to hit a woman as long as no one is around. Women are lesser creatures and are therefore one step removed from being fully human. Etc.
    So tell me, why do you think violence isn’t part of patriarchy?
    And I believe you mean “bold faced lie” cuz I don’t know what a bald face is.

  • Julia

    Cathy Young is what we used to call a seagull. Flys in quickly, making a lot of noise, shits all over everyone, then flys away before anyone can say or do anything.
    Can someone tell me what she means by “Radical Feminist ideology” and “Radical Feminist”. She uses these phrases without defining them. As if she were referring to the sun.
    The only example she gives is that it “discourages dual arrest of the offender and the victim.” That is some radical concept. If Cathy Young’s purse is stolen, will she be arrested too? What if she puts up a fight?
    I’ve heard of blaming the victim, but this is insane. Applied to any other crime, it is ludicrous that it even needs to be mentioned.

  • Iguana

    Alhana – the every 9 seconds myth is not based on FBI crime statistics. That is based on an extrapolation of emergency room visits during one evening in an inner-city hospital that was then applied to the entire population. If you know anything about statistics, you’d know that is absurd.
    Another absurdity of this psuedo statistic is that it uses a definition of “domestic violence” that includes things such as, “he made me feel bad.”
    The 9 second myth got started, and then even otherwise reputable government crime agencies started using it in order to make their reports look more exciting.
    Regarding your question about “patriarchy,” it a typical trick of someone practicing intellectual insolvency to try to get the opposing side to prove a negative. So, here is why I think “the patriarchy” is not involved in violence: Because nobody has proven that such a thing as “the patriarchy” exists. Such a concept does not even have a clear definition.
    And, you’re right – if you use the same methodology, a male is not injured by a female every 9 seconds. It is ever 5 seconds.

  • Zed

    Iguana, while you’re correct that the 9 seconds factoid didn’t come from FBI statistics, it actually comes from the 1993 Commonwealth Fund study, which didn’t use the higher (and in my opinion correct) standard of Straus of violence likely to cause injury, bit it also didn’t include “he made me feel bad”. It did include slapping and shoving. I don’t believe that your characterization of the nature of the study is correct, either, but I can’t find an actual copy to reference right now.
    The FBI did once report that a woman is beaten every 15 seconds, based on work done by Straus, Gelles, and Steinmetz, which *did* use the higher standard of violence likely to result in injury. Frankly, I don’t think the difference between being abused every 9 seconds and being beaten every 15 seconds helps your argument much.
    Also, I’ll need a cite about men being injured by women every five seconds; I find that utterly implausible, and have never seen any study that even suggests that.