Funding from Violence Against Women Act sources has gone to pressure 400 young men at the University of Southern Mississippi to walk around in high heels while being jeered at and humiliated by onlookers.
That’s your tax money at work – $300,000 of it to be exact. Our friends at Stop Abusive and Violent Environments (S.A.V.E.) tell us that taxpayer money from VAWA was spent to pressure the college men, most of whom are part of the fraternity system on campus, to don high heels for an unspecified period of time. The theory behind the stunt, that I entirely fail to grasp, is that it increased awareness of rape on campus. You explain it to me, because I don’t get it.
Now, SAVE has done its homework, and it informs us that the Southern Mississippi is a campus of between 10,000 and 15,000 students. Care to guess how many rapes have been reported in the five years from 2005 to 2010? If you guessed four, go to the head of the class. That’s right, four. If you assume that 60% of the student population there is female, as it is in the nation generally, that works out to about 1 female student in 10,000 saying she’d been raped during that five-year period. Of course not all rapes are reported, but there is plainly no epidemic of rape on the Southern Miss campus.
So why the need to “raise awareness?” More to the point, why should hundreds of thousands of public dollars be spent to humiliate hundreds of young men, none of whom has so much as been accused of rape? Well, I’d venture that the answer has more to do with promoting the false ideology that’s always been behind VAWA and keeping its money stream flowing than it has to do with preventing sex crimes. The little circus sideshow at Southern Miss won’t make a bit of difference in the already microscopic incidence of rape on campus, but it will publicize certain false concepts required to keep the political ideology of the DV establishment uppermost in minds of students and, as with all government funding, if you don’t use it, you lose it. That is, future funding is dependent on past expenditures, so make sure you spend all your budget. If you don’t, it’ll get cut next time.
Currently, VAWA is up for reauthorization and unfortunately, media coverage of that process has gotten swept up in the current lunacy about whether Catholic schools’ and employers’ health plans should (can?) be forced by the federal government to cover contraception. That, plus the usual efforts by state governments to restrict access to abortion have spurred many to declare a Republican “war on women.”
That’s patently absurd of course given the fact (among others) that, according to a New York Times/CBS News poll, a majority of American women support the right of Catholic schools and employers to opt out of contraceptive coverage and a near majority support the right of any employer to do so. You’d think that if Republicans were waging war on women, there wouldn’t be so many women on the Repbulican side.
But I digress. The point is that media coverage of VAWA reauthorization, has, in this election year, portrayed it as strictly a political fight, a dust-up between a donkey and an elephant. The fact that the Senate Judiciary Committee vote on VAWA was strictly along party lines, only fuels that fire.
Sadly, what that means is that the debate about VAWA reauthorization has been subsumed in the larger political squabble and the still larger election-year scramble for votes. What’s been lost, therefore, is any principled discussion of the Violence Against Women Act that has proven itself over the years to be an expensive boondoggle. VAWA is sexist; it doesn’t work to reduce domestic violence against women; it does almost nothing for male victims; it promotes false “facts” about domestic violence, who does it, why and under what circumstances; it promotes mandatory arrest laws that probably make DV worse not better; it substitutes criminal law for psychotherapy as a way to treat offenders; it denies treatment to female offenders; it separates fathers from children; it is far more expensive than it needs to be; it requires almost no oversight of women’s shelters resulting in their being populated as much by the homeless as by women suffering abuse; that lack of oversight means there’s little-to-no understanding of how recipients of VAWA funds spend them.
And that just scratches the surface of everything that’s wrong with the law, rational discussion of which is currently drowning under a tide of claims about a “war on women.”
During the event, organizers repeated the claim that women are more likely to be victims of non-lethal partner violence than men. Apparently these persons hadn’t bothered to read the most recent CDC violence report, which found a 6.5% male victimization rate, compared to 6.3% for women.War on women?
Not surprisingly, many found the event preposterous. “It’s ridiculous, it’s humiliating,” explained one man. “Not all men are rapists, but that is basically the message that an event like this conveys.”