Reaction vs. Prevention

by Cara on May 29, 2009

in patriarchy, politics, Republicans, violence against women and girls

Sometime recently — and I receive so many action alerts in my inbox that it’s impossible to remember when — I apparently emailed my congressional representative about the issue of funding for programs that prevent intimate partner violence.  Of course, I asked him to support for an increase in such funding.  My representative’s name is Chris Lee, and he, or rather someone on his staff, just responded with the following:

Thank you for contacting me in support of increased funding for programs that help prevent domestic violence. I appreciate you taking the time to share your views.

There can be no excuse for domestic violence, and I strongly support the important programs that provide support and counseling for victims of domestic violence and families affected.

Now it’s worth nothing that Rep. Lee is a Republican, and I voted for his opponent.  And sad though it may be, this is probably the closest I’ve ever come to agreeing with the man and one of his patronizing, non-committal form letter responses.

But does anyone else see the old switcheroo he played?  I see it all the time, and Lee is hardly the only culprit.  In fact, I’m pretty positive that I’ve seen Obama do it.  But in all cases, it bothers me like nobody’s business, and I think it’s about time to talk about it.

I wrote my representative, as he said, about programs that help prevent domestic violence.  He responded by acknowledging that, and telling me how much he supports services for victims of domestic violence that has already been perpetrated.

Which tells me that while he’s purportedly willing to tell victims, who are overwhelmingly women, that the violence committed against them is not their fault, he’s not willing to hold men, who are the vast majority of perpetrators, to higher standards and to work towards the goal of actually stopping violence before it starts.

Probably because it would involve admitting that such violence is rooted in misogyny and creating a world where women are, I don’t know, respected and considered equals.  Moreover, probably because it would require actually acknowledging that someone with responsibility exists — that domestic violence doesn’t just happen, it’s committed.  And while it’s relatively easy in today’s world, in fact probably expected, to at least say you support funding for women’s shelters, it’s a whole lot harder to commit to what it takes to create a more just world.

Contrary to how frequently you’ll see this bait and switch method used, and as important and vital and underfunded as victims services are — please dear god, can we have some more funding for these services? — reaction to domestic violence is not the same as prevention of domestic violence.  And until we learn that difference — hell, until we admit that one even exists — we’re not going to get anywhere.

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{ 3 comments }

1 Alisa May 29, 2009 at 1:55 pm

Nice catch. I get that ALL the time. Especially when I’m advocating for increased HIV prevention $. They love Ryan White funding, but not so much on sex ed. What’s up with that? Heaven forfend we prevent something. I always wonder if they mean it.

2 OuyangDan May 29, 2009 at 9:40 pm

How hard is it to focus on being proactive rather than reactive (not to say that support for victims isn’t important, b/c it is vital)? It is a basic thing they taught us in the military, to anticipate problems and work to avoid them so you are prepared. I thought Repubs were all up on their military thinking and such? It is better to think ahead and take preventative measures rather than trying to scramble around and pick up the pieces after something happens. *sigh*

3 Natalia June 8, 2009 at 6:17 am

Oh, how sneaky!!

… But I’ve never heard of any politician endorsing moves toward raising awareness among or even, goodness, training boys and men to treat women as something better than a pair of tits and ass. Even some women do it!

There is that anti-violence men’s group. But that’s all I know of.

I think it would be a risky move, politically, because it would finally be blaming men instead of telling women to stay home at night, mind who they talk to and what they wear, how much they drink. After all, the point is to keep us controlled, patrolled, and down.

Men don’t want to feel blamed, and they’re calling the shots. Supporting programs for boys and men would admit that the rape of and domestic violence toward women is not women’s fault. And that, of course, would be a paradigm-shattering act.

When I finally do see someone in “power” publicly taking steps toward this, I will be so happy … I don’t know what I’ll do! Probably a happy dance.

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