Charlotte Hays

A noble band of Republicans legislators on Capitol Hill is doing something almost unheard of in the annals of courage: not jumping through hoops to placate the nation’s feminist minority.

For the first time in recorded history, the Violence Against Women Act, which is at its core an ideologically-driven boondoggle that helps finance (among other things) the salaries of feminist activists in the domestic violence field, is facing a spot of turbulence as it comes up for reauthorization.

Although Republican Senator Mike Crapo from Idaho joined Senator Patrick Leahy, the Vermont liberal, to bring forward a bill to reauthorize VAWA, the response from his fellow Republicans has been less than enthusiastic. VAWA, first introduced in 1994 by then-Senator Joe Biden, has been renewed in the past by unanimous voice votes. It has a built-in advantage: its name. "You don't favor violence against women, do you, Senator?"

But this year Republicans, previously feminist-pecked, are taking a harder than usual look at VAWA. Senator Charles Grassley, ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, has had the audacity to offer a counterpoint bill that, while not perfect, would introduce more stringent accounting policies and altogether eliminate the Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women. Headed by Susan Carbon, this office administers VAWA, doling out grants nationwide for shelters, often staffed by feminist ideologues, and law enforcement training, often grounded in feminist theory.

The Office on Violence Against Women’s budget request this year is $454,898,000, and, while that is certainly less than was poured down a green rat hole on Solyndra, it should raise eye-brows in economically tough times.

What is at stake in deciding whether to reauthorize VAWA is not whether domestic violence is a serious problem—it is. To the extent that VAWA has made the public aware of this, it is to be applauded. But unfortunately VAWA activists have primarily sought to use the law and their funding to further the feminist cause, which is not always the same as the cause of women.


Charlotte Hays

Director of Cultural Programs at the Independent Women's Forum.