Thursday, September 18, 2008

GUEST POST: Palin in Prada or Platforms and Maverick was Hot!

I'm late to posting today, but I think you'll agree that this one is well worth the wait! Guest Girl w/ Penner Madeline Wheeler is a newly single mother of two and writer of the social action theater piece Revealing Frankie, a memoir of childhood abuse. She is currently the Coordinator for the Palmer, MA Domestic Violence Task Force. Madeline earned a BA from Harvard and credits the positive changes in her life to the Woodhull Institute for Ethical Leadership. Here's Madeline! - GWP

U.S. War Against Women:
Palin in Prada or Platforms and Maverick was Hot!
By Madeline Wheeler

First of all, I don’t care what Sarah Palin wears (Valentino apparently) and for those of us who grew up in the 80’s, Maverick is Tom Cruise, volleyball, tower fly-bys, and pilot in angst. And though, as of late, he is 4th on the overpaid actors list, he was Top Gun!

Now, after watching McCain ads depicting wolves crossing the tundra, worrying that Arianna Huffington might faint from outrage (her righteous indignation hits home)--not to mention that Matt Damon is seriously frightened--and hearing the word “vetted” jettisoned around the water cooler like a word-of-the-day bake off...I needed an espresso shot of reality. Yesterday, I paid for gas with a credit card and I just finished counting my change--the mortgage is due next week.

With truth blurred by a fury of lexis and linguistic limbo, and the media playing under the bar, the issues facing Americans are not dissipating. The heavy hitters remain: the economy, reforming healthcare and ending war in Iraq. But I’m wondering who will address the silent war against women happening on our own soil? Apparently, not Palin.

According to a 2006 Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault report, Alaska’s rape rate is 2.5 times the national average. Child sexual assault is almost six times the national average and Alaska ranks first in the nation with the highest homicide rate per capita for female victims killed by a male perpetrator. As an Interpersonal Violence (IPV) prevention advocate, I wouldn’t want to be wearing those shoes!

I’m for ending the war in Iraq safely and responsibly. I’m also for ending the war against women in the United States! Currently, we have more battered women’s shelters and violence prevention programs than ever, yet violence against women has reached epidemic proportions. Nationally, intimate partners murder over three women every day--3.56 to be precise.

Each morning we face the reality of war in Iraq with loss. But it is time for the cobbler to check his own shoes. If you can’t see the war against women, do the math. According to a 2006 CDC report, nearly 2 million IPV injuries occur each year among U.S women ages 18 and older, and close to 1300 deaths…bringing our five-year, six-month war against women death toll to approximately 7,155. This carnage does not include women murdered by strangers or otherwise.

If you need a dollar and cents account to seal the deal, the CDC reports that IPV costs exceed $5.8 billion each year, $4.1 billion of which is for direct medical and mental health care services.

According to the “Toll of War” website, since the invasion of Iraq, U.S. casualties have mounted to 4,148. The NPR website posts a timeline of U.S. troop fatalities against key events, along with eloquent remembrances of the fallen.

Objectors will say that the plight of American women cannot be compared to attacks on foreign soil. I’m not saying the death of troops, allies or civilians in war is acceptable, but it is expected. When considering the war, we must cling to the hope that courageous lives weren’t lost in vain, and that Iraqis have a future once only dreamt of. What, however, can we say to the increasing murder of innocent U.S. women in their own homes and environs? Wherein lies any hope or argument?

Iraqi Foreign Minister Zebari and the U.S. have set the preliminary date for American troop withdrawal as June 2009. Although President Bush long resisted “timetable” vocabulary, the Whitehouse is preparing to return our 140,000 troops.

American women, however, will not be leaving their homeland any time soon.

Jewish Women International’s (JWI) Executive Director, Lori Weinstein, currently champions a petition to urge candidates to make domestic violence a priority issue ( JWI and the Interfaith Domestic Violence Coalition pleaded with the Democratic Party to “provide strong leadership on the issue of domestic violence, calling for expanded language in the 2008 platform.” The 2004 Democratic Platform included just one sentence--“We will help break the cycle of domestic violence by punishing offenders and standing with victims.” The 2004 Republican Platform didn’t fare any better, not mentioning it at all.

Do the 2008 Platforms meet the challenge?

After pouring over the 64-page Democratic Platform, I was pleased to see improvement over its predecessor; after all, Senator Biden championed the Violence Against Women Act of 1994, which he considers his ”proudest legislative accomplishment in 35 years in the Senate.”( The 2008 Democratic Platform states, ”Ending violence against women must be a top priority. We will create a special advisor to the president regarding violence against women. We will increase funding to domestic violence and sexual assault prevention programs. We will strengthen sexual assault and domestic violence laws, support the VAWA, and provide job security to survivors”--A far wolf’s cry from the 2004 meager mention.

The Republican Platform refers to” battered women” in defense of the Crime Victims Fund established under President Reagan. However, it states “Bureaucracy is no longer a credible approach to helping those in need. This is especially in light of alternatives such as faith-based organizations which tend to have a greater degree of success with problems such as substance abuse and domestic violence.” Finally, it states, “Crime in Indian country, especially against women, is a special problem demanding immediate attention.” I’ve culled the 67-page document twice and this is all I can find in reference to domestic violence (

Considering the Republican platform and the state of domestic violence in Alaska, I think it’s obvious, when it comes to the U.S silent war on women; Palin’s boots were made for walking.


Anonymous said...


Thank you for mentioning JWI in today’s post and for bringing up the topic of Intimate Partner Violence. Domestic violence is an issue that touches everyone, in every walk of life. Our communities, our states, our nation must wake up and take notice of the growing epidemic. In this election year, we urge all your readers and everyone to put our candidates – local, state, or federal – to the test. Ask the candidates what they plan to do to stop this war against women. Place your votes with candidates who will protect women and children here at home.

Ali Lewis
Web Manager, JWI

Anonymous said...

This article confirms my decision on whom I am voting for com November .

RS said...

Women Want Safety, not Biden's Abuse of Power

Senator Joe Biden proudly proclaims that he was beaten with impunity by his sister as a youth. This is the same sister that raised his two sons after his wife and daughter were killed in an auto accident.

Biden has often claimed that the Violence against Women Act is the greatest achievement of his career. Yet he fails to recognize the role women play as perpetrators of domestic violence. Hundreds of studies show that women commit acts of domestic violence as often as, or more often than men. Many studies also show that lesbian women physically attack their intimate partners at least as often as heterosexual men.

As a result of Biden's Violence against Women Act, the federal government pays states to create laws effectively requiring that men be removed from their homes and families without even an allegation of violence, with no legitimate standards of evidence, when a woman makes a claim that she is afraid.

Elaine Epstein, president of the Massachusetts Bar Association (1999), has said "the facts have become irrelevant... restraining orders are granted to virtually all who apply. Regarding divorce cases, she states "allegations of abuse are now used for tactical advantage". According to Epstein, who is also a former president of the Massachusetts Women’s Bar Association, restraining orders are doled out "like candy" and "in virtually all cases, no notice, meaningful hearing, or impartial weighing of evidence is to be had."

State restraining order laws are starting to fall because they're unconstitutional. The federal law behind them, written by Joe Biden, is likely to fall as well, not because it isn’t popular, but because it is clearly unconstitutional.

Supporting Documentation

Here are some of the facts regarding Biden's abuse at the hand of his sister. During senate hearings held on December 11, 1990, Biden testified to the abuse.

Senate Hearing Transcript (see p. 171-172)

This recent CDC study indicates that women between the ages of 18 and 28 initiate reciprocal violence against their intimate partners about as often as men. It also indicates that women initiate non-reciprocal violence against their intimate partners more than twice as often as men.

Here is a link to a bibliography of over 200 studies indicating that women are as violent as men in their intimate relationships:

According to the US Department of Justice, women also abuse, neglect and kill their children at significantly higher rates than men. Here’s some of the data on child homicides.

Research clearly indicates that lesbian battery is at least as common as heterosexual battery.

Cathy Young reports on the Elaine Epstein quote and the broader issue at here:

and provides in depth analysis here:

RS said...

NJ DV Law Overturned Amid Epidemic of False Allegations

New Jersey's domestic violence statute has recently been found unconstitutional. The New Jersey Attorney General is taking this case to the state's Supreme Court.

The New Jersey Law Journal reports that Judge Richard Russell of Ocean City made the following remarks on tape during a judicial training session regarding the issuance of restraining orders.


“If I had one message to give you today, it is that your job is not to weigh the parties’ rights as you might be inclined to do as having been private practitioners. Your job is not to become concerned about all the constitutional rights of the man that you’re violating as you grant a restraining order. Throw him out on the street, give him the clothes on his back and tell him, ‘See ya’ around.’ “

A new municipal judge attending the training session stated “The statute says we should apply just cause in issuing the order.” “You seem to be saying to grant every order.” Russell quickly replied, “Yeah, that’s what I seem to be saying.”

The article is full of comments from Russell and his colleagues that are equally inflammatory.

Perhaps you think Russell should have been disbarred for instructing judges to ignore the constitution. In doing so, he violated his greatest responsibility as a judge in the most blatant way possible. Perhaps you think he should have gone to prison.

Russell now serves on the New Jersey Supreme Court's State Domestic Violence Working Group, the Executive Committee of the State Bar's Family Law Section, and the New Jersey Supreme Court's Family Practice Committee. He currently is the chair of the court's Child Support Subcommittee.

Given a recent ruling declaring New Jersey’s domestic violence statute unconstitutional and given the imminent Supreme Court challenge, the truth regarding the real practices that are being used to separate men from their children and their homes must be heard.

MadWheeler said...

Dear Ali Lewis,
I appreciate your comments and I am thankful for the information JWI continaully shares with me through email...keeping in the loop. If you have a chance I would greatly appreciate your professional input on the other passionate comments made.

Continued success with your pledge drive and I hope others will check your JWI link to read the real life stories posted by survivors of domestic violence. It is always important for survivors to have a voice.


MadWheeler said...

Dear Davesww54,
I am happy to hear that preventing violence against women is an issue important to you.

Hope you will enjoy the information you get from checking out Girl with Pen!


MadWheeler said...

Dear rs,
I hope you are not my stepfather...same initials. Upon first read your comments obviously have my head spinning.

It is preposterous for me to consider men less violent than women based on my personal experience. You may know that my three brothers, my mother and I were abused by my father into my young adulthood.

I am a also a survivor of rape and attempted murder.

The work I do in schools addresses teen dating violence and bullying as well..we teach both genders the need for non-violence in our interpersonal relationships.

I have to read your comment again and check the links. I appreciate all the research and links provided in your comment and will certainly read the documentation in order to address your specific arguments.

Thank you for taking the time address the blog.


Zanade said...

I had my views on miss Palin for a while and didn't address them but you post was very informative. The murder rate of women in the U.S is crazy, I am very much into eradicating sexual violence in women in the U.S because it is getting out of control. Considering all the PREVENTION programs out there and safe havens; things like this should not be happening!

Great post