Yesterday, one of my Facebook friends posted a petition about the Violence Against Women Act. The petition, adorned in an eye catching red and green color scheme, blared about how the Republican women haters wanted to repeal the Violence Against Women Act and set women's rights back 100 years. This law, touted by the likes of wanker Dr. Phil, is all about protecting women and children from domestic violence and sexual abuse perpetrated against them by abusive men. Sounds good, right?
Not so fast.
Perhaps before I met my husband, I might have been all for the Violence Against Women Act. Back then, I might have been quick to believe that women are always the victims in domestic violence situations. After all, many women are smaller and weaker than men, right?
Not so fast.
My husband was a victim of domestic violence when he was with his first wife. While most of her abuse was verbal and emotional in nature, it was not beyond her capabilities to be physically violent. She threatened his life on more than one occasion. For almost ten years, my husband lived with a monster and had nowhere to turn for help. When I met my husband, he was terrified of his ex wife. It has taken years for him to recover.
The ex, on the other hand, regularly exploits the fact that she's a woman and that most people will believe her when she claims she's the abused one. I guess my husband can be grateful that she never filed false charges against him when they were married, although she did tell all her friends that he had abused her. In over nine years of marriage, I have never seen the terrible man my husband's ex wife has described to other people.
It's because of my husband's situation that I've had to rethink my opinions on sexist legislation like the Violence Against Women Act. The fact is, abusers and victims come in both genders. Not all women are smaller or weaker or less violent than their men are. Even though statistics show that women are more often victims of violence than men are, the reality is that most men who are victims of violence don't stand up to be counted. A lot of them fear they will be disbelieved, laughed at, or worse, end up accused and incarcerated when the violence claim is turned against them.
I think I could get onboard with VAWA if it were changed to protect all people. I'd be all for a "Violence Against People Act". I think people should stop being so violent and abusive toward each other. But as a woman, I don't find VAWA comforting. I find it insulting and unfair that lawmakers think I need special protections more than a man does. It's not progressive to treat women like they need special help. As a woman, I don't believe that I can ask for equality and special treatment at the same time. The two conditions can't co-exist. What's more, even though my husband is in the Army, I daresay in a physical fight I could probably give him a run for his money. If I had a weapon, all bets would be off. Despite his career choice, my husband is a very gentle person who has little propensity toward violence. I, on the other hand, am made of sterner stuff. I'm much quicker to anger. I know I'm not the only woman like this and my husband is not the only man like he is. Thankfully, my husband and I don't have any violence in our relationship. We almost never fight.
Just as a fellow human being, I think all people should have somewhere to go for help when they are in an abusive situation. All people should have a legal remedy to protect themselves against abusive people. If we had laws that protected both genders, perhaps we'd have fewer children growing up victimized by Cluster B mothers who have exploited the system. For an example of what I mean, check out this letter I found on BPDFamily.com's message board. I was shocked as I read this woman's eloquent but heartbreaking description of what it was like to grow up with a mother affected by Borderline Personality Disorder. The fact is, there are a lot of women out there who exploit the laws that are meant to give them special protections against men. And children end up being innocent victims, cut off from loving biological fathers and subjected to the craziness perpetrated by mentally ill mothers. Good men end up going to jail just because they have the misfortune of being with one of these women who make a mockery of our judicial system.
But dare mention an objection to VAWA and you run the risk of being labeled "anti-woman" or uninformed. I am a woman myself. Why would I be anti-woman? And how can I be uninformed if I have seen firsthand how this law can be misused and twisted. I am against sexism. I recognize that abusers come in all shapes, sizes, genders, and walks of life. Let's combat violence against people, not just violence against women. I would like to think we've evolved that much.