In defense of the sanctimonious women's studies set || First feminist blog on the internet

Testifying for your pimp

This piece in the Times about sex workers who testified on behalf of their pimps in a sex trafficking case is… interesting. It touches on too many complex issues for me to do it justice in a blog post without having read the trial transcript or knowing much of the background, but a few thoughts:

Should you speak out at a wedding of a friend marrying an abusive man?

That’s Cary Tennis’s advice to a woman who witnesses her friend being subjected to a variety of abusive behaviors from her fiance. He beats up her dog. He monitors her phone. He violates her physical boundaries. I like Cary’s explanation — that silence is enabling — but I wonder if what amounts to a public humiliation will only marginalize the friend more.

The letter-writer should absolutely take that dog to the vet, though, permission or not.

The Domestic Abusers Lobby

Over at Al Jazeera, I’m writing about the NRA’s advocacy for men who have been convicted of domestic violence or have DV orders of protection out against them. Congress passed laws in the 1990s barring people with a DV misdemeanor from owning guns, and requiring that anyone with a full (not temporary) domestic violence order of protection against them has to surrender their guns. It’s a common-sense law: The most dangerous time for DV victims is when they leave their abusers, which often coincides with the granting of an order of protection. Many states followed suit, and passed similar laws. Some didn’t. The federal law isn’t used very often, so it’s largely state law that determines whether or not abusers have to surrender their guns. The NRA has fought hard for the rights of abusers to keep their weapons. The result, in many states, has been that people get killed. From the piece:

Who doesn’t want to end violence against women?

A whole lot of people, as it turns out. This week at the Guardian I’m writing about the Commission on the Status of Women, a two-week-long UN conference that wrapped up on Friday and, thankfully, resulted in a signed document pledging action on women’s rights. But in the lead-up to the signing, we saw a variety of actors from all around the world try to impede anti-violence efforts. Who? Russia, Iran, the Vatican, the Muslim Brotherhood and American pro-life groups, among others. They had a variety of objections, but the chief ones were that the proposed CSW document would treat husbands who rape their wives the same way as men who rape strangers, would disallow countries from using the “it’s our culture / religion / tradition” excuse to avoid implementing anti-violence measures, and stated that women have a right to bodily integrity and freedom:

Ending violence against women remains controversial

Here are some good, basic ideas for fighting violence against women:

1. Violence against intimate partners is not ok.
2. Rape is rape, even within a marriage.
3. Religion, custom and tradition are not excuses for committing acts of violence.
4. Everyone has a right to bodily autonomy and integrity.

Those are the exact ideas that may tank a final communique from the Commission on the Status of Women, thanks primarily to Iran, Russia and the Vatican, but also because of objections and concerns from religious conservatives in the U.S., Egypt and Poland. Good work, guys. You must be very proud.

The 22

The House is voting tomorrow on the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. The anti-VAWA Republicans are introducing their own version of the bill, which removes protections for people in same-sex relationships and weakens provisions to allow courts on Native lands to prosecute non-Native Americans who commit violence on tribal lands. If the Republican version fails — and I hope it will — then the House will take up the more comprehensive version of the bill already passed in the Senate. The fact that VAWA remains controversial, and particularly that Republicans would want to make prosecutions more difficult on tribal lands and strip protections from people who suffer intimate partner violence from a member of the same sex, is stunning, though not surprising. There are 22 senators opposing VAWA, including Republican It Boy and Poland Springs spokesman Marco Rubio. The Ms Foundation for Women has brought a little levity (along with some eduction) to the issue with this parody video, which I am helping them disseminate, featuring the queen of the revenge tune, Ms. [fake] Taylor Swift: