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Violence Against Women Act Ignores Epidemic Of Violent Women
March 2, 2005
by Trudy W. Schuett

In the past few weeks newspapers all over the country have been brimming with accounts of women who engaged in monstrous crimes.

To avoid giving offense, I provide only the sketchiest of details here: Dena Schlosser severed off both of her daughter's arms with a knife. Nathshay Ward starved her three children to death. Kim Tran mutilated her boyfriend in a gruesome act of revenge.

These women don't exist, and these gruesome crimes never happened.

At least that's what the Violence Against Women Act would have us believe. Passed initially during the Clinton administration, VAWA is a $4.9 billion law based on the simple formula: Man = perpetrator, Women and children = victims. It is aided and supported by similar legislation in each of the 50 states, and each of those supply more millions of dollars in public funding.

The formulation has been widely accepted, perhaps because it appeals so powerfully to male legislators' sense of chivalry, and plays so strongly on female legislators' sense of fear and vulnerability, or in some cases, revenge.

Feminist ideology elaborates on that formula. The reason why men, and only men, beat their wives, is in order to maintain their power and control. It's all part of men's "patriarchal privilege," you see.

Of course, that's sheer hooey.

In my five decades of existence, I have personally known men who were physically violent to their wives or girlfriends. These men were anything but powerful. They were angry, frightened, and yes, they felt powerless. The same applies to the abusive women I've known.

Psychologist Martin Fiebert has compiled the results of over 100 studies that examine partner violence. The results? Women are just as likely to commit domestic violence as men.

By ignoring the male victim, the Violence Against Women Act does a gross disservice to men. That goes without saying. VAWA also violates one of our most cherished Constitutional protections: equal treatment under the law.

But VAWA also does an enormous disservice to American women.

VAWA has created a veritable dragnet of social workers, counselors, judges, emergency room workers, and others. All are on the lookout for evidence of partner aggression against women. But remember, VAWA contains the ideological message that women are never perpetrators, so soon the female aggressor becomes invisible.

Look at Dena Schlosser, Nathshay Ward, and Kim Tran. These women were mentally deranged. No doubt there were warning signs months and years ago. VAWA has imposed ideological blinders on our society which say, "Ignore the female aggressor, because the problem really lies with patriarchal oppression."

How does that message benefit women?

It also presumes an insulting, basic disability in women to recognize a bad situation and deal with it, utilizing their own abilities. Under VAWA, men are abusive and women are idiots. Only through accessing the community services mentioned above, can women be "empowered" to give over their lives to something even more oppressive than that imagined patriarchy. There is no mention or consideration of extended family intervention in the truly anomalous instances of abuse, either.

Worse, women who recognize they are harming their families and try to seek help find only a presumption by strangers that they are actually not at fault for anything. They are freely given the tools and aid to continue and escalate their abuse. Any suggestion to women's shelters that they make some effort to screen applicants has been met with the protestation that screening would be "too hard."

In the meantime, an unprecedented chilling effect has begun affecting personal relationships. Many of the behaviors which used to be part of the socially accepted courting ritual are now deemed by the VAWA nannies to be "stalking," and therefore any single man who persistently approaches a woman in hopes of forming a relationship is now at risk of arrest and incarceration. Young girls are constantly bombarded with messages at school, in media, and online about the awful risk of contact with boys.

VAWA has effectively guided society right back into the Victorian era.

Forty years ago the feminist revolution swept our nation, affording unprecedented opportunities for women to make their own choices about their own lives, and to leave their mark on history.

So what will future historians have to say about the current women's movement? That it falsely branded our husbands and boyfriends as batterers? That it ignored abusive women who needed help? That it substituted compassion and reason for a vindictive gender ideology?

That it made life worse for women?

Will that be our legacy?

Trudy W. Schuett is an Arizona-based writer and advocate for unserved victims of domestic violence.

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