It doesn’t get more personal than the Violence Against Women Act

**Trigger warning**

L.Y. Marlow, who was a guest on “Melissa Harris-Perry” last week, has a breathtaking follow up piece at the MHP blog, about her personal stake in the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act.

I come from a family of five generations of mothers and daughters who all suffered and survived more than sixty years of domestic violence, so I have a personal stake and passion for any matters concerning violence against women.

My grandmother was powerless as my grandfather mercilessly beat her and her eight children until they were all bloody. My mother, her lungs crushed by my father’s vicious beating, was told to kiss her five children goodbye from herPhiladelphiahospital bed.

My daughter’s father kicked me in my belly and spit on me as I lay on the ground hemorrhaging, eight months pregnant. And that same daughter’s boyfriend, years later, strangled her while their six-month-old baby girl, named Promise, lay on the bed beside her.

To the 22 men who voted against the VAWA, tell me: What is so “unconstitutional” about giving legal protections to women like us?

Does the Constitution not protect our rights? If my family’s stories are not worthy of the same protections afforded to all of our fellow citizens, what stories are?

Marlow goes on to talk about the enormous amount of legislative work that can be – and should be done – around violence against women. And she shames the legislators who “spent the last year playing ping pong.” You should read the whole thing, and so should every single legislator who stood up and voted against this bill.

New York, NY

Chloe Angyal is a journalist and scholar of popular culture from Sydney, Australia. She joined the Feministing team in 2009. Her writing about politics and popular culture has been published in The Atlantic, The Guardian, New York magazine, Reuters, The LA Times and many other outlets in the US, Australia, UK, and France. She makes regular appearances on radio and television in the US and Australia. She has an AB in Sociology from Princeton University and a PhD in Arts and Media from the University of New South Wales. Her academic work focuses on Hollywood romantic comedies; her doctoral thesis was about how the genre depicts gender, sex, and power, and grew out of a series she wrote for Feministing, the Feministing Rom Com Review. Chloe is a Senior Facilitator at The OpEd Project and a Senior Advisor to The Harry Potter Alliance. You can read more of her writing at chloesangyal.com

Chloe Angyal is a journalist and scholar of popular culture from Sydney, Australia.

Read more about Chloe

Join the Conversation

  • http://feministing.com/members/samll/ Sam L-L

    OK, first, the Violence Against Women Act should obviously be passed and the people opposing it are terrible for doing so. Blocking it falls clearly into the intersection of “stupid” and “evil”.

    That said, I think ‘What is so “unconstitutional” about giving legal protections to women like us? Does the Constitution not protect our rights?’ is not a very good general political argument. The Constitution sets forth certain things as beyond the reach of government because we believe that enabling the central political authority to do them, even in the service of good causes, either violates essential freedoms or leads to a cycle of power corrupting and causing more overreach. Nobody is ever going to want to violate freedom of speech, freedom of religion, etc., except in the name of (what to them is) a really good reason, and if the Constitution means anything at all, we have to preserve it in the face of really good reasons.

    The better response here is either a) explaining why VAWA is obviously constitutional or, even better, b) explaining why constitutionality is clearly a smokescreen for the real motives of those opposing it (as far as I can tell, some mix of misogyny and senseless never-let-Obama-pass-any-legislation contrarianism).

    • http://feministing.com/members/lamech/ Lamech

      ” a) explaining why VAWA is obviously constitutional or, even better, b) explaining why constitutionality is clearly a smokescreen for the real motives of those opposing it (as far as I can tell, some mix of misogyny and senseless never-let-Obama-pass-any-legislation contrarianism).”

      While I am not overly sure about if the VAWA will violate defendant rights or not, the Republican claim to be protecting defendant rights is most certainly an excuse. While I would truly be happy if Republicans had a sudden epiphany and started working towards I doubt it.

      “”That said, I think ‘What is so “unconstitutional” about giving legal protections to women like us? Does the Constitution not protect our rights?’ is not a very good general political argument. ”

      Yeah, that wasn’t even an argument. First off, no the constitution does NOT protect you from domestic abuse, except by giving the legislature the power to pass laws. If the legislature doesn’t pass a law protecting you from abuse, the Constitution doesn’t provide that protection. Ditto if the legislature tries to pass a law it didn’t have the power to pass. Duh. Second off, I’m pretty sure the Republicans have already stated what they think is unconstitutional.

    • http://feministing.com/members/knatx/ Steve

      If you cared to actually do some digging you would have found it had parts that can be considered unconstitional:

      https://www.google.com/url?q=http://www.saveservices.org/downloads/Would-VAWA-Survive-a-Supreme-Court-Challenge&sa=U&ei=3dAdUcWzJuTX2QXo-YHIDg&ved=0CAgQFjAA&client=internal-uds-cse&usg=AFQjCNFxpxov7xOcR-QBQBXOL6jUKK8aYQ

      (PDF download from Save Services)

      But I guess you are fine with mantory arrests , no due process, and no right to a fair trial. That is just the unconstitutional part. Not that you are concern about the law being discriminatory in spending towards male victims. As the majority of spending goes to female victims. Before you say there are more female victims, that is false overall there are basically the same number of victims percentage wise yet men get less funding.

  • http://feministing.com/members/loren77/ Loren

    When I read this I was speechless. I simply do not understand how it can be such a problem for our political system to see that women need protection against domestic violence. Just the story presented here alone should open the eyes of the 22 men who voted against passing this act. How can you not see a problem with this? Being a woman who has watched her sister deal with the harmful effects of domestic violence, I have empathy for those who are trying to help others deal with its consequences. But a piece of me is not very surprised at all by this. The men in charge have always voted on things that matter and will affect their lives personally. Since they are not on the other side of the abusive hand, they approach this act with absolutely no urgency. The selfishness of American society makes me nauseous. Women, children, mothers, sisters, aunts, grandmothers, cousins are getting abused daily and America does not feel the need to take a stance and protect its women. How free are we? How brave is this country? We can go and bully other countries, go to war, etc. but we dont have the courage to stand up for the women who raise our children and keep this country thriving with a meaningful and influential population. I shake my head at this government. Better yet, Im going to pray for this country because I honestly do not know how else to respond.