About damn time! Despite its bi-partisan support from its inception in 1994, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) lapsed in 2012. Republicans and Democrats engaged in an intense debate on the terms of the bill as did the rest of the country. But on February 28, 2013, the House of Representatives renewed it. Not the watered down one. They passed the all-inclusive VAWA that provides resources for Native American, immigrant, and LGBT victims. Now we can continue the fight against domestic violence without regressing decades in the larger campaign for women’s rights. While most agree much more has to be done to end the violence, governmental intervention through VAWA is crucial to solving the problem.
With the beginning of 2013, many people make New Year’s resolutions to improve their health, happiness, or wealth. We make these commitments and hope for a better future. As an activist, I have a long list of resolutions and goals for the upcoming year, but, in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting, I hope others will participate in a necessary conscious raising effort involving the dangerous link between masculinity and guns.
Gender-based violence plagues our community. Approximately 30% of Americans say they know someone who has been abused by her significant other in the past year. Rather than being a highly visible topic, a shroud of silence seemingly surrounds the issue. Over forty years after the Women’s Liberation Movement, we are still trying to break the silence and raise awareness. We should somehow be closer to ending the violence, but we are not. As a domestic violence survivor, I utilize opportunities to break the silence and speak about my experience. My hope is that I help to spread awareness and generate discussions that will dismantle the stereotypes and assumptions about intimate partner violence (IPV). I have little influence compared to some activists in the fight to end gender-based violence, and I have far less reach than large organizations. Most recently, an enormous group⎯ the National Football League (NFL)⎯ had the responsibility to take a stance against IPV and send a needed message to its huge fan base. And, they did.
The media’s sexual objectification of women has come under increasing scrutiny, as well it should. But what about advertisements promoting consumer goods through domestic violence? Roughly every 9 seconds in the United States, a woman is assaulted or beaten. And we ask how can this be changed? Many professionals and women’s rights advocates have written on the subject to address the multifaceted problem of intimate partner violence (IPV), and the issue is complex with social, legal, political, and cultural, and factors. There is no quick fix. But, here’s an easy one to start with: maybe, just maybe, companies shouldn’t capitalize on ads advocating violence against women. The media is a powerful means of disseminating cultural values and ideas. Advertisements using domestic violence have long been used, which fuels social messages that essentially condone violence against women. It’s time to break the cycle.