Tag Archives: Violence Against Women Act

Women’s History Month 2013: Initial Reflections

1 Mar
Celebrating Women's History Month

Celebrating Women’s History Month

March is National Women’s History Month. As we kick things off, two events in our nation’s capital this week provide a powerful framework for the women we will celebrate and the importance of this endeavor.

As Black History Month came to a close, a statue of Rosa Parks was added to Statuary Hall in the Capitol. She is one of only a handful of women to be honored in this way — and truly deserving. It is worth noting for Women’s History that she was not the timid woman pushed too far who shows up in the history books. Instead she was a powerful advocate for social justice who participated in many activities before her famous bus protest. Somehow the old white straight men who write the textbooks like her better the other way…

In other news, yesterday Congress finally passed the Violence Against Women Act. Originally passed in 1994, it has been reauthorized twice; in 2005 it was approved unanimously in the Senate, got 415 yes votes in the House, and was signed by George W. Bush. Somehow the 112th Congress — the nastiest, least effective in recent memory — couldn’t be bothered and let the Act lapse, even though the Senate passed a strong renewal bill. The sticking point was the inclusion of Native American and same-sex couples in the renewal. Freedom and justice for all, anyone? Fortunately, the Senate passed the Act anew in this Congress and it made it through the house despite a last-minute attempt at a straight-white-ladies-only amendment.

The historical treatment of Parks’ legacy and the continuing legislative War On Women demonstrate clearly how much we need Women’s History Month. Like Black History Month, I wish we did not have to celebrate a specific month for Women’s History.  Until all groups have equity and fair representation, however, taking time to celebrate the pioneers and allies is critical.

I am including this absolutely lovely and brilliant video by President Jimmy Carter as he reflects on the negative impact of religion and women’s rights.  Thank you to my dear friend Brad Fairchild and social justice activist for pointing me to the video. I’m not sure that President Carter could rise in my esteem–what a treasure.

I hope you will enjoy our journey through the lives and actions of some amazing women this month. To whet your appetite, I leave you with one of my favorite School House Rock videos!

Happy Birthday, Eleanor Smeal

30 Jul

Eleanor Smeal, known for her pioneering work during the Second Wave Feminist Movement, continues to carve out her legacy for civil rights in the Third Wave Feminist Movement. She is the president and founder of the Feminist Majority Foundation.  Smeal also served as president of the National Organization for Women (NOW) twice.  Thus far her legacy is most impressive and Americans owe her a great debt of gratitude.

Everyone should know who Eleanor Smeal is!  It was Smeal who was responsible for the passage of such landmark cases as the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (a woman cannot be fired for being pregnant), Equal Credit Act, Civil Rights Restoration Act, Violence Against Women Act, Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (and yet we still see women being attacked as they try to enter health clinics that merely provide abortions), and the Civil Rights Act of 1991, an extension of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

What I love about Smeal is her authenticity.  She practices “the personal is political,” and all of us reap the benefits from her dedication to civil rights. Happy Birthday, Eleanor.

Happy Birthday to another hero of mine: Pat Schroeder, Colorado Congressional Representative (1973-97), who promoted the Family and Medical Leave Act.  Sadly, Schroeder was taken to task for showing emotion and shedding tears–the hypocrisy and irony is not lost on TSM readers who have had to endure the gratuitous praise John (Mock Turtle) Boehner receives every time he cries in public.

Violence Against Women Act: The 31 Voices For Violence

29 Apr

As the war against women continues, there was a spot of light last week in the Senate.  Sixty-eight Senators voted to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, defeating the 31 Republican men who voted to take away women’s voices after they have been attacked.  One might ask, do these 31 Republican men have no mothers, no sisters, no daughters?  What is it with Republicans and women lately?  We can only presume they don’t care about women’s health and well being–this includes all of the Republican women who so often suffer from internalized oppression, Sarah Palin et al.

This legislation is slated to go to the House next.  Sadly, the House GOP is planning on introducing a bill with the same name, but their version of the Violence Against Women Act attempts to strip out the very provisions protecting Native Americans, undocumented immigrants, and LGBT Americans we just fought for.  I guess the GOP really has no clue about marginalized populations and the intersections of oppression–to think about such issues one would have to be a civil servant!

So let’s call out bad behavior and let’s attach the names to these 31 Republicans that we need to be afraid of:

Barrasso (R-WY) Grassley (R-IA) Moran (R-KS)
Blunt (R-MO) Hatch (R-UT) Paul (R-KY)
Boozman (R-AR) Inhofe (R-OK) Risch (R-ID)
Burr (R-NC) Isakson (R-GA) Roberts (R-KS)
Chambliss (R-GA) Johanns (R-NE) Rubio (R-FL)
Coburn (R-OK) Johnson (R-WI) Sessions (R-AL)
Cochran (R-MS) Kyl (R-AZ) Shelby (R-AL)
Cornyn (R-TX) Lee (R-UT) Thune (R-SD)
DeMint (R-SC) Lugar (R-IN) Toomey (R-PA)
Enzi (R-WY) McConnell (R-KY) Wicker (R-MS)
Graham (R-SC)

Note that in nine states (AL, GA, KS, KY, MS, OK, SC, UT, WY) vulnerable populations received no Senate support whatsoever.  On the plus side, thanks to the six Republican men in the Senate – Alexander (TN), Coats (IN), Corker (TN), Crapo (ID), McCain (AZ), Portman (OH) – who bucked the trend and did the right thing with this vote.

Violence Against Women Act: More Republican Misogyny At Work

13 Feb

Protect women? We have gays and immigrants to demonize first!

The Violence Against Women Act has been law since 1994. Passed with broad bipartisan support, the bill enhanced investigation and prosecution of violent crimes perpetrated against women, imposed automatic and mandatory restitution on those convicted, and allowed civil redress in cases prosecutors chose to leave unprosecuted. Since its initial passage, the bill has been reauthorized twice, in 2000 and 2005. The last reauthorization had unanimous consent in the Senate, an amazing 415 yes votes in the House, and was signed by Pres. George W. Bush. Seems like it should be pretty clear for reauthorization this year, doesn’t it?

Instead, Republicans have hijacked the debate over the bill. The Senate Judiciary Committee failed to get a single Republican vote to pass the bill. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R – Misogyny) offered a substitute bill that slashed funding, eliminated the Justice Dept. office that enforces the bill and removed language protecting lesbians and transgender women as well as seriously restricting access to services by immigrants.

REALLY? Is all the political posturing so important that women’s lives should be put at risk? Should services that have had nearly 20 years of broad support be gutted so we can strip away rights from the oppressed? Apparently that’s what the Republican thugs on the Committee are interested in. Stand up to this abuse of power and sign the DailyKos petition demanding reauthorization today!

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