|Inside this issue:
Is Violence Against Women a Political Issue?
Battered Women's Shelter
Are you an Emotional Eater?
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|Is Violence Against Women a Political Issue?
by Laura Kamienski
Fitness Tip of the Month
Many of those working in the anti-violence movement today consider violence against women a personal issue first and only secondarily a political issue. Others recognize violence against women as a political issue, but narrowly define rape and battering as isolated phenomena, disconnected from larger issues of oppression and violence. This tendency is part of a retreat by the women's movement. It is a result of reactionary backlash and ongoing attacks that threaten the gains made by feminists throughout history.
Violence against women is first and foremost
a political issue.
Every form of oppression has a corresponding form of violence. For women that violence is manifested as rape and battering. Violence against women is a systematic and structural method of maintaining the oppression of women. Oppression is part of how a privileged group rules. It is a part of the superstructure of society. From this perspective, ideas like racism, sexism, anti-gay bigotry, national chauvinism, religious chauvinism, etc., are all features of how the status quo articulates its ideological hegemony, its dominance, over society as a whole. Oppression serves a specific group of people by dividing and weakening those who are struggling for equality. Oppression includes both ideological and material elements, and it crosses class lines.
Domestic violence and sexual assault are deeply connected to other issues of oppression and violence.
To the extent that economic issues and children have an impact on a battered woman's strategy for escape, affirmative action and reproductive rights are directly related and central to the struggle, yet many women's organizations refuse to even consider discussing the issue of abortion or affirmative action. What battered women need -- access to affordable housing, living-wage jobs, free and accessible child care -- (not that much different than what all women need to lead independent lives) is not something that will be provided by either shelter services or arresting batterers. Individualizing, personalizing or reducing the issue of sexist violence to gender roles and safe dating practices isn't going to end battering or rape, which are (and always have been) tools of systematic sexism. And, since not all survivors are white or middle class, rape and battering are also (as they always have been) issues of racism and economic inequality. **
The history of the Battered Women's Shelter Movement is deeply conjoined with the women's liberation movement. This issue of the Dojang Digest is dedicated to women who have struggled and who continue to struggle to end the oppression of women and the violence that maintains it.
There are two articles describing the history of the battered women's shelter movement reprinted in this issue courtesy of the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The Dojang Digest would like to extend our our solidarity with and sincerest gratitude for all their invaluable contributions toward ending violence against women.
Highlights of Movement to
End Domestic Violence
compiled by the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence *
Movement first gains momentum in England, as Chiswick Women’s Aid, the first identified shelter opens.
Women’s Advocates in St. Paul, Minnesota starts the first hotline for battered women. Women’s Advocates and Haven House in Pasadena, California, establish the first shelters for battered women.
Erin Pizzey publishes Scream Quietly or the Neighbors will Hear in England, the first book about domestic violence from the battered women’s perspective.
NOW announces the formation of a task force, co-chaired by Del Martin, to examine the problem of battering. It demands research into the problem and money for shelters.
Del Martin publishes Battered Wives, the first American feminist publication showing violence against wives deeply rooted in sexism.
Betsy Warrior publishes Working on Wife Abuse, the first national directory of individuals and groups helping battered women.
Nebraska becomes the first state to abolish the marital rape exemption.
Pennsylvania establishes the first state coalition against domestic violence. It also becomes the first state to create a statute providing for orders of protection for victims of domestic violence.
First national conference on battered women is held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, sponsored by the Milwaukee Task Force on Battered Women.
National Communications Network For The Elimination of Violence Against Women, (NCN), the first national newsletter on battered women, is published. The following year, NCN merges with the Feminist Alliance Against Rape to publish Aegis, the magazine on ending violence against women, a grassroots feminist forum on rape, battering, and other issues of violence affecting women.
Oregon becomes the first state to enact legislation mandating arrest in domestic violence cases.
U.S. Commission on Civil Rights holds “Consultation on Battered Women” in Washington, D. C., brings together hundreds of activists and results in Battered Women: Issues Of Public Policy, which offers more than 700 pages of written and oral testimony.
National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), the grassroots organization, which becomes the voice of the battered women’s movement on the national level, is organized. NCADV establishes the vision and philosophy which will guide the development of hundreds of local battered women’s programs and state coalitions. It initiates the introduction of the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act in the U. S. Congress.
Minnesota becomes the first to allow probable cause (warrantees) arrest in cases of domestic assault, regardless of whether a protection order has been issued against the offender.
Office on Domestic Violence is established in U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, but is closed in 1981.
First congressional hearings on the issue of domestic violence are held.
First National Day of Unity in October is established by NCADV to mourn battered women who have died, celebrate women who have survived the violence, and honor all who have worked to defeat domestic violence. Becomes Domestic Violence Awareness Week, and in 1987, expands to a month of awareness activities.
NCADV holds first national conference in Washington, D.C., which is attended by more than 600 battered women’s advocates from forty-nine (49) states. The conference gains federal recognition of critical issues facing battered women, and sees the birth of several state coalitions.
A Police Foundation study
in Minneapolis, funded by the National Institute of Justice, finds
arrest more effective than two non-arrest alternatives to reducing
the likelihood of repeat violence. The study findings are widely
publicized and provide the impetus for many police departments to
establish pro-arrest policies in cases of domestic violence.
U.S. Attorney General establishes Task Force on Family Violence to examine scope and nature of problem. Nearly 300 witnesses provide testimony in public hearings in six (6) cities. Final Reports offers recommendations for action in many areas, including the criminal justice response, prevention and awareness, education and training, and data collection reporting.
continued in right column...
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"I need some comfort food!" How often have we heard this? How often have we said it! Because it brings feelings of immediate satisfaction and pleasure, many of us learn that food brings comfort. Because of this we often eat in an attempt to heal emotionally. Eventually we develop the habit of eating under stress instead of learning skills to resolve our emotional distress.
Experts estimate that 75% of overeating is caused by emotions. Foods are usually "comfort" or junk foods and are eaten in response to such feelings as depression, boredom, loneliness, chronic anger, anxiety, frustration, stress, problems with interpersonal relationships and poor self-esteem. Emotional eating can result in overeating and unwanted weight gain.
With help we can learn to identify what triggers our eating, we can substitute more appropriate techniques to manage our emotional problems. Healthy eating habits are essential to maintain a healthy body. Learning to eat when we're hungry and paying attention to our bodies hunger signals is one method of discovering if we're eating emotionally or not.
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