From it’s rumored origins in the minds of a small group of homeless Seattle lesbian barflies to reputedly throwing falsely accused fathers out of their homes in the middle of the night with nothing but the shirts on their backs, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) has a long and, at best, checkered history.
What is unambiguously clear, however, is that VAWA is premised on a false conceptual model. VAWA presumes that all Domestic Violence (DV) is perpetrated by evil patriarchal males against virtuously innocent female victims.
Unfortunately for VAWA, common sense, empirical social science research, and government data together all eviscerate VAWA’s false gender ideology.
Research shows that DV is initiated about equally by men and women; slightly more women than men are physically harmed by DV but nonetheless men still represent more than 40% of the physically harmed victims; the DV initiation rates for women, and especially young women, have been rising sharply in recent years; and DV has nothing to do with an evil patriarchy because the DV rates for bisexuals, gays, and lesbians all are higher than for heterosexual couples.
VAWA thus not only “has no clothes” but VAWA also has no empirically sound research legs to stand on.
So, as the VAWA-2012 reauthorization debate rages everywhere and a vote nears, where do we go from here?
In my view, the bottom line task for Congress is this: Sunset VAWA and Sunrise Domestic Violence Reform. Fresh legislation needs to be newly written that provides services to all victims of DV effectively and efficiently, with accountability, and utterly free of false gender ideology. False gender ideology harms both the true victims and the falsely accused alike.
Gordon E. Finley, Ph.D. is Professor of Psychology Emeritus at Florida International University in Miami. Visit his factulty web site.
Submitted to the Federal Observer for publication by the author.