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 npr.org “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 (www.jwi.org). 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.”(www.biden.senate.gov) 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 (www.gop.com).
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.