April 29, 2004
Woman Shot In Head While Waiting In Abortion Clinic
Breaking News: A woman sitting in a California abortion clinic's waiting room was shot in the head. The 17 year old man suspected as having shot her remains at large.
LaMusga Moveaway Case Decided
LaMusga v. LaMusga has been decided in favor of the father. I will post more after I've thoroughly read the decision.
Making Women's Issues Go Away
Some of this post is a rehash of a post I made on my old blog on March 13, 2003. Reflect on the damage the Bush administration has inflicted upon women over the past 365 days while you read.
The Bush Administration had "quietly removed 25 reports from its Women's Bureau Web site, deleting or distorting crucial information on issues from pay equity to reproductive healthcare." Jeanne at Body and Soul remembered when "a Bush appointee began removing references to sexual orientation from the U.S. Office of Special Counsel's website, complaint forms, brochures, etc., and then later announced that anti-discrimination laws don't cover federal employees who are fired because they're gay."
The removal of these documents from the Women's Bureau is the latest of a long string of assaults the Bush administration has made against American women. One of the first actions undertaken by Bush when he came to office what to shut down the White House Women's Office of Initiatives and Outreach. He did this quietly and with no media attention. The White House Women's Office of Initiatives and Outreach was created in 1995 by President Clinton. Betsy Myers, its first director, had described the valuable role it held: "The White House Office for Women's Initiatives and Outreach gave women a seat at the president's table, allowing them to make important contributions on issues that have an impact in people's daily lives. But that wasn't all. The office served as a focal point in coordinating programs of federal agencies that addressed the interests of women and recognized the importance of women's involvement."
Bush's closing of this office held great symbolic significance. Women no longer had front-row access to discussions about policy that affected their lives. Women's concerns are no longer heard. In the year and a half since that office has closed, women's rights and welfare in this country have been under constant attack. This lack of access to important policy discussions has led to horrendous abuses against women that have been inflicted by this administration, including John Ashcroft's attempts to diminish the importance and influence of the Violence Against Women Office (VWO). Ashcroft had set up federal violence against women programs, offices, and committees for failure by stacking them with people who denigrate victims of violence and who are hostile towards VAWA. In moving the Violence Against Women Office to the equivalent of a sub-basement room with no windows, Ashcroft and Bush have given credence to those who look upon abused women with disdain, including anti-feminist women and their organizations who support backlash policies harmful to women's welfare that are promoted by right wing and the Bush administration.
The VWO oversees the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), an Act that has stuck in the craw of anti-feminists and some conservatives since its inception. One anti-feminist group that has been very vocal in its condemnation of VAWA is the Independent Women's Forum (IWF). IWF has written several amicus briefs designed to destroy VAWA, most notably Brzonkala v. Virginia Tech, which lead to the Supreme Court declaring VAWA's federal "gender crimes" provisions unconstitutional. Ashcroft had appointed IWF president and CEO Nancy Pfotenhauer to the National Advisory Committee on Violence Against Women. IWF board member Margot Hill was also invited to join the committee, which advises the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services on implementation and enforcement of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).
Betsy Hart dismissed VAWA, claiming that it would do "nothing to protect women from crime. It will, though, perpetuate false information, waste money and urge vulnerable women to mistrust all men." Sally Satel had dismissed violence against women in her Summer, 1997 Women's Quarterly article "It's Always His Fault: Feminist Ideology Dominates Perpetrator Programs" by stating that VAWA " money is being used to further an ideological war against men--one that puts many women at even greater risk." It's the old "feminists think all men are abusers" put-down. She claims that the "feminist theory of domestic abuse... holds that all men have the same innate propensity to violence against women." That propensity is not held by feminism, but it has been expressed by David Blankenhorn in his book "Fatherless America." On page 34, he cited research claiming that male violence is "rooted primarily in 'male sexual jealousy and proprietariness." In his eyes, "married fatherhood emerges as the primary inhibitor of male domestic violence." This derogatory view of men currently influences welfare reform fatherhood initiatives. IWF commissioned Blankenhorn to co-direct (with Maggie Gallagher) a study of the attitudes of college-age women towards sex and courtship. [The completed study is here] IWF must not see the irony of attacking feminism for expressing a negative view of men that it does not hold, yet that same view has actually been vocalized and supported by an ideologue it has commissioned for a study.
The Bush administration had set the stage over a year ago to destroy hard won gains that protect women and that educate the public about domestic violence. One of the reports that had been hidden is "Don't Work In The Dark - Know Your Rights." I found it this morning at the Women's Bureau web site. Maybe the Salon article scared the Department of Labor into putting the missing reports back online.
"Don't Work In The Dark" is a popular public education campaign that covers job discrimination in the areas of disability, pregnancy, sexual harassment, family and medical leave, and age.
Violence Against Women and Child Custody
A colleague sent me this information. I thought it was important enough to post. I already have most of it, but it's nice to have all of it in one convenient location.
"According to a 1996 report by the American Psychological Association (APA), custody and visitation disputes are more frequent when there is a history of domestic violence. Further, fathers who batter mothers are twice as likely to seek sole custody of their children and they may misuse the legal system as a forum for continuing abuse through harassing and retaliatory legal actions."
The Leadership Council has a page with stats regarding custody issues and Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) and also provides information on Gender Bias Reports from six states.
Here are some pertinent stats regarding custody:
Fathers are often awarded sole custody even when their sexual and physical abuse of the children is alleged and substantiated. "Threats to Harm or Take Away Children: One of the most common reasons given for resuming an abusive relationship is the fear that the abuser will act on the threats of taking the children from the victim. Studies show that batterers have been able to convince authorities that the victim is unfit or undeserving of sole custody in approximately 70% of challenged cases." [American Judges' Foundation. Domestic Violence and the Court House: Understanding the Problem. Knowing the Victim. Williamsburg, VA: (see, Forms of Emotional Battering Section, Threats to Harm or Take Away Children Subsection)
Phyllis Chesler interviewed 60 mothers involved in a custody dispute and found that fathers who contest custody are more likely than their wives to win (p. 65). In 82% of the disputed custody cases fathers achieved sole custody despite the fact that only 13% had been involved in child care activities prior to divorce (p. 79 tbl. 5). Moreover, 59% of fathers who won custody litigation had abused their wives, and 50% of fathers who obtained custody through private negotiations had abused their wives (p. 80 tbl. 6) [ Chesler, P. (1991, 1986). Mothers on Trial: The Battle for Children and Custody. NY: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Publishers]
The Committee for Justice for Women studied custody awards in Orange County, North Carolina over a five year period between 1983 and 1987. They reported that "...in all contested custody cases, 84 percent of the fathers in the study were granted sole or mandated joint custody. In all cases where sole custody was awarded, fathers were awarded custody in 79 percent of the cases. In 26 percent of the cases fathers were either proven or alleged to have physically and sexually abused their children." [The Committee for Justice for Women and the Orange County, North Carolina, Women's Coalition. (1991). Contested Custody Cases In Orange County, North Carolina, Trial Courts, 1983-1987: Gender Bias, The Family And The Law.]
The stat that refers to DV being a factor in 50% of all divorce cases may have its origins in a report out of Canada, The Domestic Violence, Employment and Divorce . In the first sentence of the introduction, the authors cite a stat from the Canadian Violence Against Women Survey:
"Domestic abuse is a social issue of concern to individuals and policy makers alike. The magnitude of the problem may be surprising: estimates from the Canadian Violence Against Women Survey (VAWS) indicate that 29% of ever-married Canadian women (Statistics Canada, 1993a, p.4) and 50% of divorced women have been victims of abuse."
the report also states that . . .
". . . the majority of violent marriages end in divorce, and Table 2 supports this claim, as divorce rates for women abused in first marriages are dramatically different than those for non-abused women: while the divorce rate for non-abused women is 15%, women who experienced high severity abuse in a first marriage have a divorce rate of 75%."
Statistics that exist regarding the overlap of domestic violence and child maltreatment vary widely -- and there's also the debate about whether or not exposure to batterer behavior is in itself child maltreatment.
". . . a number of reviews currently exist on the co-occurrence of documented child maltreatment in families where adult domestic violence is also occurring. Over 30 studies of the link between these two forms of
violence show a 40% median co-occurrence of child maltreatment and adult domestic violence in families studied (Appel & Holden, 1998) and a range of co-occurrence from as low as 6.5% and others as high 97%, depending on the samples studied (Edleson, 1999b). " ["Should Childhood Exposure to Adult Domestic Violence be Defined as Child Maltreatment Under the Law?," Jeffrey L. Edleson, Ph.D., The Minnesota Center Against Violence & Abuse (MINCAVA), School of Social Work, University of Minnesota. Published as a chapter in Jaffe, P.G., Baker, L.L. & Cunningham, A. (2004). (Eds.). Protecting Children From Domestic Violence: Strategies for Community Intervention. New York, NY: Guilford Press.]
Also see Problems Association With Children Witnessing of Domestic Violence," Jeffrey L. Edelson, Ph.D., University of Minnesota, School of Social Work, Publication Date: April 1997, Revision Date: April 1999.]
April 28, 2004
Nellie From "Little House..." On Being Sexually Abused As A Child
Remember Nellie Oleson, that nasty little rich blonde brat on "Little House On The Prairie?" She was played by Alison Arngrim, who recently displayed a great deal of courage on CNN's Larry King Live when she described the sexual abuse she had experienced as a six-year-old child. I'm glad she chose to talk about. The first portion of the interview seemed a bit iffy to me because of the way Larry King questioned her. He pressed her for morbid details of specific sexual abuses, despite her repeatedly stating she did not want to describe the abuse in detail. He had also wondered if she had felt guilty that she - to use his words - "came on to" her abuser. What the hell kind of a question is that? She was six-to-nine years old, for God's sake!! No six-year-old entices a pervert to have sex with her! I have neither seen nor heard the show so I don't know what kind of inflection he gave the statement. I hope he was much more sympathetic than the way he appears in the written transcript. I was glad to see that the discussion improved as the interview progressed.
Ms. Arngrim serves on the board of advisors for PROTECT, The National Association to Protect Children.
Read the whole thing. It's worth the time.
More Portrayal of Lowell Jaks As A "Victim"
William Wagener is the host of a cable public access show, an active member of the Libertarian Party of California, and a fathers' rights advocate. If Mr. Wagener is angry that California taxpayers will have to pony up $35,000 to provide Lowell Jaks with three hots and a cot, he should blame Jaks, not Jaks' ex-wife and "the system." Lowell Jaks and the supporters of his popular organization ANCPR have never been concerned with the proper parenting of children. Jaks brought on all of his problems himself. The whining displayed by Mr. Wagener is exactly what you will see when you refuse to coddle a fathers' rights advocates' overblown sense of entitlement. First, they sulk when they don't get their way. Then, they get ugly when they cannot bully others into giving them what they demand.
Oh, did I forget to mention that Mr. Wagener had a couple of additional wives that his legal wife was probably not very happy about? The web site for the 2002 Santa Barbara County Elections pointed out that "[h]is run for the Santa Maria City Council recently was thwarted, he said, by revelations of a nasty lawsuit in the early '90s. Court testimony indicated that Mr. Wagener had a legal wife at the time, and three others who signed "marriage contracts" drawn up by Mr. Wagener. He was sued by his second "wife" over the custody of their two sons." He blew it off, saying that he had "engaged in plural marriage years ago."
Kangaroo bones, wingnuts who dress up like Spider-Man and scale tall buildings, bigamy... I swear you can't make this stuff up.
This post originally appeared on a fathers' rights mailing list that will go unnamed.
April 27, 2004
Scientists On Bush: "This White House Disdains Research That Inconveniences It."
This past February, the Union for Concerned Scientists flunked the Bush administration in science. The Bush White House "received failing marks in a statement signed by 62 leading scientists, including 20 Nobel laureates, 19 recipients of the National Medal of Science, and advisers to the Eisenhower and Nixon administrations. It begins, "Successful application of science has played a large part in the policies that have made the United States of America the world's most powerful nation and its citizens increasingly prosperous and healthy. Although scientific input to the government is rarely the only factor in public policy decisions, this input should always be weighed from an objective and impartial perspective to avoid perilous consequences.... The administration of George W. Bush has, however, disregarded this principle.""
Does Cyprus Hold The Key To Atlantis?
U. S. researcher Robert Sarmast told Reuters that "the east Mediterranean island (Cyprus) is actually the pinnacle of the long-lost city and the rest of it is about one mile below sea level. Using deep sea maps and clues found in Plato, Sarmast said he has discovered a sunken rectangular land mass stretching northeast from Cyprus toward Syria. "We are going to sail 70 miles offshore Cyprus, directly over the spot where we believe Atlantis City lays submerged and waiting to be discovered," he said.
Another popular theory is that Thera, off the coast of Crete, is what remains of Atlantis.
You can blame Plato for bringing up Atlantis. His description of the location of Atlantis may be found in his work, "Timaeus and Critias." It reads as follows: "There was an island opposite the strait which you call the Pillars of Hercules (Straits of Gibraltar), an island larger than Libya (Africa) and Asia combined; from it travellers could in those days reach the other islands, and from them the whole opposite continent which surrounds what can truly be called the ocean. For the sea within the strait we were talking about is like a lake with a narrow entrance (the Mediterranean sea); the outer ocean is the real ocean and the land which entirely surrounds it is properly termed continent."
Pro-Choice March Largest In History
To paraphrase Peter Finch as Howard Beale in "Network:"
We're mad as hell, and we're not going to take it anymore!!
More than one million pro-choice activists converged in the nation's capital Sunday to protest the government's persistent effort to chip away at women's reproductive and health rights. [Pro-Choice March Largest in History, by Allison Stevens, Women's eNews, April 25, 2004]
The March Was About More Than Abortion