“NEVER again can the U.S. lecture us on extremism or misogyny or on how we should treat women. This election sends a message to women in Egypt and across the world that powerful men can sexually assault you and worse and still be elected president.
- Mona Eltahawy, Egyptian Feminist and Author
Nicholas Kristof wrote a 12-step plan for dealing with the Trump administration. It contains some very good ideas. I would like to add some that are specific to violence against women.
Please be mindful that, while the Violence Against Women Act has made a huge difference, the basic underpinnings of violence against women have not been sufficiently challenged.
What "causes" violence against women? Misogyny and patriarchy. Men's addiction/sense of entitlement to power and control over women. Men who see women as subordinate to them and do whatever--WHATEVER-- that want to do/can do to maintain women's subordinate status. (Before I say anything else, I want to make it abundantly clear that I know many, many wonderful, kind, thoughtful, strong/gentle men who truly see women as equals and do everything they can to address the sex power imbalance that still exists.)
Part of the problem (a big part) is that the violence we experience often, but not always, occurs behind closed doors, so it's invisible to everyone on the outside, but that does not mean it doesn't happen. It means that the public doesn't find out about it until there's one (or more) dead bodies on the ground, or until someone (for example) sees a male human being (not a man) sexually assaulting a passed out woman behind a dumpster, and even then, the assailant gets a paltry 3-month sentence for the attack.
We have whip-lashed from having Obama and Biden--two amazingly good, kind, respectful, feminist men-- in the White House to having two practicing, fully-fledged misogynists coming in behind them, hell-bent of annihilating any progress we've made over the last 60 years and denying us our most basic human rights.
So here's a few suggestions for what everyone can do to interfere with the Trump regime's plan to diminish/destroy our lives:
1. GO LOCAL Find out how your local law enforcement agencies treat crimes against women and children. See if they have dedicated domestic violence/sexual assault investigators, and see if they work closely with the local DV/SA survivor program/shelter. See if there are local prosecutors who have been trained in understanding why these crimes remain so misunderstood and are prepared to move forward with EVIDENCE-BASED prosecutions, taking the pressure OFF the victims to make or break the cases. Find out what kind of shape your local DV/SA program is in, and try to find out if they actually offer SURVIVOR-BASED services to women. (Many programs have changed dramatically over the years. They SHOULD be there to meet the needs of the victims/survivors rather than the DV/SA program expecting the victims/survivors to meet the needs of the program.) Offer to have clothing/toiletries/bedding/furniture drives for women and children who are having to start their lives over again with next to nothing. Become a member of the Board of Directors, but pop the hood on the program.
LISTEN TO VICTIMS/SURVIVORS DESCRIBE THEIR EXPERIENCES WITH ALL THE SYSTEMS THEY TURNED TO FOR HELP, BECAUSE THEY ARE THE EXPERTS. Ask the DV/SA program what it's like when Child Protective Services is called in. Are they punitive with the moms?
How well are the investigators trained to understand the dangers associated with leaving an abusive partner? Do they threaten to take the kids away from the moms if they don't leave their abuser? What happens in your local courts? How are abusers charged? With misdemeanors only? Do you have a local Batterer Intervention Program, or does the criminal justice system drive the getaway car for them? What kinds of meaningful sanctions does the Court use with abusers? How are your judges with these cases? Don't assume that women judges will "get it": they can be the WORST!!!! Sit in court. listen to how DV/SA cases get handled. (I promise, it will blow your mind!)
2. GO STATEWIDE What's happening with your legislators? Which elected officials actually care about stopping/taking seriously crimes against women and children, and which ones DO NOT CARE and actively work to give abusers a pass, either in criminal/civil or family court. WHAT DOES A MISDEMEANOR DOMESTIC VIOLENCE OR SEXUAL ASSAULT CRIME ACTUALLY LOOK LIKE IN YOUR COMMUNITY? I think most people would be absolutely shocked to see just how badly a woman can be beaten and have the offender charged only with misdemeanors. It's up to legislators to write laws that accurately reflect the seriousness of domestic violence/sexual assault crimes.
3. GO NATIONAL This might seem futile at this point, but it's more important now than ever before! Elect feminists to office (male and female feminists). Write, call, send emails, text messages--hell, hire the Goodyear Blimp to fly over DC so that they know we're watching/listening/monitoring everything they do to either stop/address OR empower abusers. (We know exactly what to expect from the Trump regime, so we've got our work cut out for us.) Run for elected office. Remember who fundamentally pays their paychecks--US. Don't let their abusive, controlling, misogynistic, racist, homophobic, xenophobic behavior stop/scare you. They're counting on that. Fuck 'em and the horses they rode in on. We're not talking about building a better mouse trap: we're talking about women and children's lives, short term and long term.
Let's all get out of our silos and come together. Yes, this post has been about violence against women and children, but every act of violence/abuse Trump and Company plans for us and the planet is outrageous and unacceptable.
Wouldn't it be sweet if we decided that we were going to come together like never before to stand up to these wretched assholes? There is wonderful, useful power and strength in numbers. I will not let Trump and his trolls make me take my eyes off the prize. That prize is ending violence against women and children, but it also includes any power grab that causes pain, fear, damage, marginalization, and intimidation to humans or Mother Earth. I'm still voting for peace and non-violence, every day, every way.
Kit Gruelle, Survivor
Recommended Reading for Surviving Donald Trump, Mike Pence and Company
"You need to treat women like sh-t." - President Elect Donald Trump
Since the 2016 Election D.V. & Rape Survivors are Suffering from TRUMP Post Traumatic Stress
DONALD TRUMP SEXISM TRACKER: Every Offensive Comment in One Place
Coral Anika Theill's Recommended Resources for Advocates, Protective Mothers, D.V., Rape & Trauma Survivors
A Rape Survivor’s Open Letter to President Elect Donald Trump
Michelle Obama denounces Donald Trump's rhetoric: 'It has shaken me to my core' “I can’t believe that I’m saying that a candidate for president of the United States has bragged about sexually assaulting women,” Obama said, her voice trembling as she addressed a university gymnasium filled with several hundred people. “And I can’t stop thinking about this. It has shaken me to my core in a way that I couldn’t have predicted.”
We Do Not have to Reconcile with our Abusers - President Elect Donald Trump
We Were Made for These Times by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes
Women March on D.C., Saturday, January 21, 2017