As I’m sure many know by now, but perhaps not: VAWA was finally passed by both the House and the Senate with the added protections of LGBT, Native American, and immigrant women!
I’ll admit that I was worried at first, but I’m glad the all-inclusive Senate version succeeded!
However, the fight is not over yet. VAWA still has a long way to go thanks to the sequestration. Approximately $20,000,000 in funding will be cut from programs supported by the Act. This translates into over 34,000 victims losing access to services like shelter or legal aid. The sequester’s impact on women doesn’t end there; women’s health programs, Head Start, and SNAP face cuts too.
In addition to policy concerns, violence against women will not stop until there is a shift in society’s perception. On the cultural level, Americans are still debating which party (the abuser or the victim) has the obligation to prevent sexual assault and rape.
Some, like Sean Hannity and Gayle Trotter in the video below, argue that women need to be trained to protect themselves (using a gun, in this case) when attacked by a man. They argue that it’s about choice. If women don’t want to carry a firearm, fine! But that’s the solution to the problem. If women only had guns, they’d never be harmed by a man. Hannity was a marksmen by age 11, so he knows what he’s saying.
Enter, Zerlina Maxwell – a political analyst and writer – who agrees that women should have the right to defend themselves, but that isn’t the essence of the problem. Women should have the choice to protect themselves at all times; however, the priority should not be to arm women. That puts the pressure on the victim to stop the violence that is happening to them, and when they do not succeed, there is more potential for society to say the victim is at fault than the abuser.
What will decrease violence, as Maxwell argues, is training men not to rape. That simple. Stop the action before it can start. Teach men to listen when a women says “no.” Maxwell so accurately describes (while Hannity is talking over her) how abusers are most likely to be someone the victim knows – this isn’t some “faceless, nameless criminal…a lot of times it’s someone you know and trust.” So if we start with men, if they learn at a young age to respect women, to honor their right to say “no” without fear of harm, to speak out when they see injustice occurring and to view women as equals then maybe violence against women will begin to decrease in our culture.
However, as you will see, not everyone believes this to be true. Some believe that it is impossible to train men not to be rapists. Check out the full video (it’s worth it) of Maxwell’s – discussion – with Hannity and Trotter: