First off, preventing domestic violence has never, ever been a partisan issue, but to hear the modern liberal feminist speak, conservatives and Republicans are repugnant Neanderthals for opposing any legislation that attempts to address the issue. Usually, that opposition is based on a realization or analysis that some provisions may actually violate the United States Constitution. In the end, these laws are simply feel-good legislation that do very little to alleviate the very real problems of domestic violence against women. In fact, most studies on the efficacy of VAWA prove that studies which support it are lacking in rudimentary elements of good science. For example, advocates note that since the original passage of VAWA in 1994, domestic violence against women has decreased dramatically as more instances are being reported and prosecuted. Left out of that whole discussion is the fact that violent crime as a whole has decreased since 1994 and that stronger sentences, longer incarceration times, and an increase in women in the workforce may be greater determinants of the decrease in domestic violence directed at women.
Laws like the VAWA confirm the unspeakable truth to modern liberal feminists: that there are differences between the sexes, that females have certain physical disadvantages and that females need special legal protections because of these differences and disadvantages. To support these legal efforts is to tacitly destroy their underlying argument- sexual equality in all aspects of life. Instead of accepting, recognizing and embracing these differences, the liberal feminist denies them and when they recognize them, it is for preferential treatment.
Which brings me to the greatest irony of modern liberal feminism: the railing against a patriarchal society. On the other hand, what can be more patriarchal than a federal law that treats domestic violence against women essentially as a hate crime? The government has become the de facto patriarch in these instances. In fact, there is a debate as to whether a patriarchal society exists today in the western world and the United States. Feminist groups will point out that although women are the majority in the US population, they account for only 20% of the members of Congress. Would a 51% membership make the United States any less patriarchal? And other mythology, can anyone name a truly successful matriarchal society? The best feminist literature can cite are: the Ede of Vietnam, the Mosuo of China, the Chambri of Papua New Guinea and the Hopi Indians domestically. I rue the the day we aspire to the Ede, Mosuo, Chambri or Hopi Indians. If so, these are the same people who insist that referring to history as “herstory” and the like will somehow magically undo years of patriarchy. And even if we live in a patriarchal society, so what? Hasn’t patriarchy advanced mankind more in a shorter period of time?
In fact, it is the feminist who seems to believe there is not too much difference between the world today and the Victorian Era. While still fighting the battles of days gone by, they have lost sight of the bigger picture and the sea change in attitudes towards women’s rights and females in general. Instead, it has become a game of pushing the envelope even further. This is best exemplified by the recent trend to lump LGBT rights in with women’s rights. To the liberal feminist, “their struggle is our struggle.”
Take, for instance, the liberal feminist stance towards pornography and prostitution. To them, the objective denigration of one’s female body is an example of female empowerment. Yet by the same token they will criticize the male purchaser or purveyor of pornography and prostitution. Not all, but some feminists insist that prostitution is a valid choice of work and making money. The primary criticisms by these adherents is that those against prostitution often fail to take into account the viewpoints of prostitutes themselves. Regardless, across the broad spectrum of feminism, there are some commonalities. For example, there is universal condemnation of the current legal framework which they say falls dispropotionately upon women. Second, there is some vague general notion that prostitution can, in certain instances, be a legitimate life/career choice. In any event, thirdly they argue that prostitutes are subject to coercion not because of the nature of sex work, but because of the exploitative nature of a patriarchal society.
There may be a shred of truth to the first statement. In any area where prostitution is a problem, the inevitable vice squad sweeps are usually accompanied with the names of those arrested. Meanwhile, the names of the other actors- the male purchaser- are rarely, if ever, published. There are fines and jail sentences often meted out by courts against prostitutes. However, even in these instances, there is a hidden truth. Most prostitution convictions are the result of vice sweeps, not males voluntarily reporting their participation in the crime or their being caught in the act of solicitation. Thus, the disproportionality is the result of the nature of the arrests. As to the legitimate career choice argument, if this is so then they eliminate arguments in other areas. If we accept that prostitution is just like any other career choice, then the person entering that profession surely knows the risks involved just as the coal miner knows the risks involved in their chosen line of work. Prostitution is inherently a dangerous profession which probably explains why they are often the targets of serial killers and the like. As for the third argument, if we accept the second notion, then this is a choice the person made. Their exercise of that choice sweeps aside the idea of an exploitative patriarchal society at its roots.
It is true that prostitutes are often forced into that profession not at the end of the barrel of the alleged patriarchal society gun, but because of life circumstances. However, the same cannot be said of pornography. The accepted view in academia is that it is an expression of a male culture where women become commodities and are then exploited for financial gain. To some feminists, there is a fine line between the porn star and the fashion model in that both are depicted as to what a patriarchal society sees and that both are exploited for financial gain. Again as with prostitution, the pro-sex feminists (whose ranks and vocals are increasing) see this is an uncoerced choice the woman makes and that denial or denigration of that choice equates with a denigration of women in general.
Unlike prostitution, participation in pornography has a decidedly less coercive element to it insofar as to how they entered the profession in the first place. And the coercion argument is one of circular logic where even if the person says they were not coerced (the vast majority of porn stars), this is often explained away as being “brainwashed” by a patriarchal society. Some have even portrayed them as “falling in love with their own oppression.” What we are left with are words akin to these by Wendy McElroy, a pro-sex feminist:
“Pornography allows women to enjoy scenes and situations that would be anathema to them in real life…The first thing to understand is that a rape fantasy does not represent a desire to the real thing…Perhaps by losing control, she also sheds all sense of responsibility for and guilt over sex. Pornography breaks cultural and political stereotypes, so that each woman can interpret sex for herself…Historically, pornography and feminism have been fellow travelers and natural allies…they both demand the same social conditions- namely, sexual freedom.”
Thus, to the feminist, the political/societal implication is that our laws should respect choice first. Obviously, the rare instances in pornography where women are forced into it can and should be prosecuted under kidnapping or rape laws. But despite where the feminist lies on the spectrum, there is one glaring omission- that of morality and what are laws but a collective expression of a society’s morality? In their worldview, the laws against pornography and prostitution are an unwarranted expression of a patriarchal society and morality and, therefore, oppressive. In effect, the modern radical feminist is amoral and this may account for the affinity with the LGBT community.
So one should be able to see the logical inconsistencies here as they apply to the domestic violence discussion. On the one hand, all feminism is rooted in the belief that we live in an oppressive patriarchal society that needs to be changed. On the other hand, they demand passage of laws like VAWA to tip the legal scales in their favor. In effect, they object not so much to patriarchy per se, but only the way it now exists to the extent that it exists at all. In their worldview, the protective arms of the federal government become the loving outstretched arms of the ultimate patriarch.