DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ANALYST: Dr. E. Everett Bartlett, the President of the Coalition to End Domestic Violence.
Results from the recent November 3 elections reveal broad voter dissatisfaction with affirmative action laws and policies that afford preferences to certain gender, racial, and ethnic groups. The results suggest that domestic violence laws, which for years have given preference to female victims, are losing favor.
In California, a strong majority of voters rejected an attempt to resuscitate the use of sex, race, and national origin by universities and other agencies. Chinese-Americans led the opposition to Proposition 16, which was defeated by a 56% to 44% margin.
Liberal progressivism has long supported affirmative action programs that grant preferences on the basis of sex and race. But voters across the country rejected progressive ideals last Tuesday, as House Republicans registered a net gain of five seats.
Liberal stalwarts described the election results in apocalyptic terms. Democrat Jim Clyburn warned bluntly, if “we are going to run on Medicare for All, defund the police, socialized medicine, we’re not going to win.” One Democratic lawmaker commented, “It’s a dumpster fire.” Politico’s Jake Sherman described the election as an “abject disaster” for Democrats.
The federal Violence Against Women Act is a leading example of a sex-based affirmative action program. But the law’s focus on women is not confirmed by research. According California State University professor Martin Fiebert, 221 empirical studies “demonstrate that women are as physically aggressive, or more aggressive, than men in their relationships with their spouses.”
The Violence Against Women Act has given rise to an array of female-specific offices, programs, grantees, and commissions. For example, the Department of Justice sponsors a Task Force on Research and Violence Against American Indian and Alaska Native Women. The DOJ does not have a corresponding Task Force on Violence Against American Indian and Alaska Native Men, even though Native American men experience similar rates of domestic violence.
This omission led one observer to characterize VAWA’s neglect of male victims as “an insult to fairness.”
In contrast to the federal Violence Against Women Act, state-level laws usually are written using sex-neutral language. But bias is often evident in training programs. For example, research has found that 58% of domestic violence cases are bi-directional, with both partners engaging in abusive behaviors. But one training module by the Association of Title IX Administrators insists, without citing evidence, “To be clear, mutual abuse is neither common nor is it truly mutual.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control, each year there are 4.2 million male victims of physical domestic violence, and 3.5 million female victims. For male victims of domestic violence, justice remains an elusive ideal.
The Violence Against Women Act needs a Fresh Start to address the causes of domestic violence, become responsive to the wishes of victims, support families, and end over-criminalization.
ABOUT: Domestic violence is a serious problem that knows no boundaries of sex, gender, economic status, geography, or education. The Coalition to End Domestic Violence (CEDV) is a broad-based network of concerned groups and individuals committed to finding substantive solutions to stop domestic violence in the United States.