Women and Politics: The Violence Against Women Act
Guys, I love politics. I love it. I wake up and breathe it in. I drink it in with my coffee in the morning and I eat it up with my salad and croutons at lunch. I fall asleep to it at night. I LOVE it. But I know a lot of people hate politics. Especially a lot of young people and I get why! If you’ve ever seen a little Aaron Sorkin show called The West Wing (now streaming on Netflix and ruining my social life, btw, just ask my mom) you have seen the types of under the table, backroom sort of backstabbing that goes on in politics. (I’m sure it’s dramatized, but come on, it happens!) So I can understand if you hate it, want to ignore it, and/or pretend it doesn’t exist. But it does. And it’s not going anywhere. So let’s learn about it!
With the swearing in of the 113th Congress this month, comes a whole new bucket of political issues. (YAY for me!) One of the most important issues for women is the Violence Against Women Act. VAWA was first passed in 1994 and has been reauthorized every year since without any hoop-law or blah-blah-blah. But in early 2012, VAWA expired for the first time. Ever.
Enter the Senate. After tirelessly drumming up support from both sides of the aisle, the fearless 100 expanded and passed the bill with new protections for the LGBT community, Native Americans and immigrants, which had not existed before. Women rejoiced! Progress was being made! Pop open the champagne!
Not so fast.
Upon reaching the House of Representatives, the bill fizzled and died. The House refused to support the bill, saying the new measures were politically driven, so they passed their own VAWA bill that mirrored the original bill…aka no new provisions for the three previously ignored domestically abused women.
No seriously, as Elaine says in Seinfeld, “pardon!?”
Well, I have good news, ladies!
Senate bigwig Patrick Leahy of Vermont has decided to make VAWA his first priority for 2013, saying “A victim is a victim is a victim. We should stop setting up standards that say we will have one standard of law enforcement for one group of victims but not for another. This is going to be our first priority this year.”
I cannot stress how much I, and women everywhere, hope this happens.
A lot of people who oppose the bill say that it is unnecessary in this day and age. That women are more equal now than ever. That we’ve never been more protected than ever. (I guarantee that the majority of people saying this are those who are either not women or are women already covered by the old VAWA). I invite those opposed to read up on the abuse cases that occurred in 2012, not just the media-hyped rapes cases. (Although those are extremely important as well!!) And then I would invite those still in opposition to read about violence outside of the United States.
It has never been more important to protect our women. We make up 51% of the population in the United States. We are mothers, teachers, lawyers, doctors, and small-business owners. And we deserve equal protection under the law. That’s equal protection to our male counterparts as well as equal protection to our fellow women. No woman should be excluded from violence protection.
Politics may be evil. You may hate it. But call your Representatives today and tell them you support the new VAWA, and you urge them to as well. Let’s stand up for ourselves.
Let’s be heard.
By Blake Rupe.
Featured image via