VAWA Law Polarizes The Sexes, Weakens The Family

In his book, Our Dance Has Turned to Death, sociologist Carl Wilson traces the seven steps of societies in decline. Near the end, the country reaches Stage Five where the affection between husbands and wives is replaced by suspicion and hostility. Stage Six is marked by selfish individualism that fragments society into warring factions.
If Mr. Wilson’s analysis is correct, then American society is closer to anarchy than most people realize. That process of family and social disintegration is spurred by the Violence Against Women Act – VAWA for short — the $1 billion-dollar-a-year law that was passed five years ago at the behest of the radical feminists. VAWA comes up for renewal later this year in Congress. When you look closely, it becomes clear that VAWA has an agenda that reaches far beyond the protection of women. VAWA-funded educational programs push the time-worn storyline of the violent man and a brutalized woman. But that stereotype is false.

The truth is, members of the fairer sex are just as likely to commit domestic violence as men. But once society comes to believe that members of the male sex are a menace to women, it becomes easy to enact laws that strip men of their Constitutional rights of due process and equal treatment under the law. Again, that’s where VAWA steps in. One of the tools promoted by VAWA is the use of restraining orders. At first blush, the idea sounds common-sensical: a woman who is being abused should be able to get her husband removed from the house. But in many states, judges crank out restraining orders like Confederate one-dollar bills, not pausing to verify the woman’s claims or even to hear the man’s side of the story. A 1995 Massachusetts study found that 60,000 restraining orders were issued each year. In fewer than half of those cases was there even an allegation of physical violence.

In the other cases, the woman simply claimed she felt afraid, or maybe there had been a marital spat. Recently the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court became concerned that this epidemic of restraining orders was fraying the fabric of judicial impartiality. The Court opined that judges must “resist a culture of summarily issuing and extending these orders.”

Elaine Epstein, former president of the Massachusetts Bar Association, was even more candid: “Restraining orders are granted to virtually all who apply…In many [divorce] cases, allegations of abuse are now used for tactical advantage.” Tactical advantage? Ms. Epstein was referring to the fact that while hubby is barred from the house, the wife quickly files for a divorce, and cleverly requests temporary custody of the kids. That paves the way for near-automatic award of sole custody once the divorce is finalized.

So careful about raising your voice, Pop, or you might be thrown out on your ear — and end up losing your kids for good measure. Is this beginning to sound like Carl Wilson’s Stage Five of societal dissolution?

In fact, has anyone noticed that Constitutional protections of due process are being shredded by this near-hysteria over domestic violence? And there’s more to the story. Columnist Phyllis Schlafly recently probed the financial incentives that drive our nation’s child support system: “Follow the money,” she warned. “The less time that noncustodial parents (usually fathers) are permitted to be with their children, the more child support they are required to pay into the state fund.”

So last month, family advocates in California set out to challenge these perverse incentives by introducing the Shared Parenting Bill. Their aim was to encourage equal participation of fathers by granting them joint custody of their children in the event of divorce. Who could ever be against that? The ladies from NOW, that’s who. Their argument? Changing the practice of awarding sole custody to mothers would expose the kids to all manner of abusive dads. That smear conveniently ignored an interesting fact: it’s mothers, not fathers who are far more likely to abuse and neglect their children, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. So two weeks ago, the California Assembly Judiciary Committee killed the Shared Parenting Bill. And divorced children were rendered fatherless by a spiteful gender stereotype. The fragmentation of society into warring factions – shades of Mr. Wilson’s Stage Six. The Violence Against Women Act represents a frontal assault on both fatherhood and on the integrity of the traditional family. That’s a troubling harbinger for the dissolution of democratic society.

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