Time to Treat Violence Against Women as Serious Problem
Statement of NOW President Terry O'Neill
May 18, 2011
The National Organization for Women calls on Dominique Strauss-Kahn to resign or be removed immediately from his position as managing director of the International Monetary Fund. The women who work for the IMF, which previously investigated Strauss-Kahn's behavior and gave him a pass, clearly deserve better.
Additionally, NOW will closely monitor how law enforcement, the courts and the media handle the Strauss-Kahn case. Blaming and shaming the woman who was allegedly attacked and employing gender, racial, ethnic, economic or other stereotypes to discredit her are absolutely unacceptable.
However, this issue is much larger than one high-profile case, and we would be remiss if we did not talk honestly and openly about it. Our society has a history of downplaying the seriousness of violence against women and re-victimizing the brave women who come forward to seek justice. Men's sexual exploits are often celebrated as proof of their machismo, while women are labeled as sluts.
Women who report being raped are often made to feel as if they did something to bring this upon themselves. They dressed too provocatively, drank too much, stayed out too late, ventured into dangerous territory. Or maybe it wasn't rape at all, as a common narrative suggests -- maybe they were after money or revenge.
Many women fear indifference or abusive treatment at the hands of law enforcement and the criminal justice system -- particularly women of color and LGBT people, who have good reason to distrust the police and the courts. Meanwhile, programs to address violence against women continue to be woefully underfunded, sending the message that this crisis has yet to be prioritized in proportion to its impact on the community.
Our society is awash in violent imagery as a form of entertainment. Women's lifeless, violated bodies are exploited in countless TV shows, movies, music videos, video games -- you name it. Clearly we are well aware that women and girls are raped and kidnapped and killed every day.
We need to stop looking for that magic set of rules that will keep every woman safe if she just follows them 24-7. Instead, we need to look at the attitudes and practices that allow men to get away with repeated assaults, that keep women from reporting these crimes, that make women ashamed and afraid. And we must call rape what it is -- not a randy man carried away in the heat of the moment, but a disturbed man who seeks to control women through violence. A man, young or old, acting out his issues with power -- an inflated sense of it or a fear of too little -- on the bodies and souls of women.
For Immediate Release
Actions | Join - Donate | Chapters | Members | Issues | Privacy | RSS | Links | Home
© 1995-2012 National Organization for Women, All Rights Reserved. Permission granted for non-commercial use.