Did Advocates’ Strong-Arm Tactics Doom VAWA?

Stop Abusive and Violent Environments
Jan. 3, 2013

Despite persons’ best efforts, the Violence Against Women Act was not reauthorized before the close of the 112th Session of Congress on Jan. 3, 2012.

Even though funding of essential abuse-reduction programs will continue, it’s back to Square One as far as finding ways to make VAWA a better law.

Everyone wants to stop domestic violence. And in years past, VAWA reauthorization bills sailed through with strong bipartisan support. So what happened this time around?

Much of the problem can be traced to the actions of zealous advocates who impugned the motives of persons with different views.

War on Women…Really?
The strong-arm tactics began in March when groups began to invoke the “War on Women” phrase. A May 16, 2012 press release from the National Organization for Women labeled House members who voted for H.R. 4970 as “extremists” who were engaged in a “War on Women.”

Many of these so-called “extremists” were, of course, women.

Some female columnists called for sweeping changes to VAWA that went far beyond the provisions found in H.R. 4970: http://www.usnews.com/debate-club/should-the-violence-against-women-act-be-reauthorized.

A national poll of registered voters found a strong majority of women were in favor of reforming VAWA: http://www.saveservices.org/campaign-2012/national-survey-on-vawa-reform/

And some VAWA policies may turn out to be harmful to women. See, for example, Violence Against Women Act – The Real War on Women: http://ifeminists.com/e107_plugins/content/content.php?content.1134

Personal Attacks
Following the November elections, it became apparent that the War on Women mantra was falling on deaf ears. So advocates escalated their attacks to a form of verbal abuse.

Terry O’Neill, president of the National Organization for Women, charged, “Who is Eric Cantor to say that it’s okay for some women to get beaten and raped? If they happen to be Native women who are attacked by a non-Native man, as far as Eric Cantor is concerned, those women are tossed.”

Incendiary, Ridiculous
The Huffington Post derided the NOW attacks on Cantor as “incendiary and extreme:” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/06/violence-against-women-act-eric-cantor-native-americans_n_2251924.html

And a Washington Post editorial targeted the “ridiculous hyperbole that each side has employed to impugn the other’s motives:” http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2012-05-20/opinions/35455931_1_domestic-violence-vawa-senate-version

The War on Women rhetoric is absurd, and personal attacks only serve to harm the respectful relationships that are essential for reasonable political compromise.

As we move into the 113rd Session of Congress, SAVE hopes all key stakeholders can be involved to develop a better Violence Against Women Act in a way that avoids partisan posturing and divisive rhetoric.