PC Feminism and the DV Courts

-By David Heleniak

Political correctness is not, as many believe, the act of being non-offensive. It is, rather, an ideology resulting from the transformation of the Marxist concept of class oppression. Orthodox Marxism teaches that the world is made up of two economic classes, the capitalist class and the working class, and that the capitalist class oppresses the working class. The rich get richer while the poor get poorer.

When the orthodox Marxist theory of class oppression was shown to be a dead end, some leftist intellectuals turned their attention from economic classes to social classes. It’s not capitalists oppressing workers, they determined, it’s dominant social groups oppressing non-dominant groups, as in whites oppressing blacks, heterosexuals oppressing homosexuals, Christians oppressing non-Christians, and men oppressing women. Of the various branches of political correctness, PC feminism has arguably been the most successful.

PC feminism is not your mother’s feminism. As Cathy Young states in her book Ceasefire: Why Women and Men Must Join Forces to Achieve True Equality, we owe a lot to the feminists of the past. “They deserve credit for helping break down the barriers of discrimination in the public arena; for making gender neutrality an accepted legal principle; for challenging stereotypes about women’s nature. Thanks to them, achievement and ambition are no longer considered unfeminine and women are expected to make something of themselves, not just marry. Thanks to them, most of us believe that both parents can nurture young children.” Thanks to PC feminists, in contrast, we have the theory of the patriarchy and the PC conception of domestic violence (DV), two ideas that are responsible for widespread violations of the civil rights of men and pervasive damage to father-child relationships.

PC feminist Adrienne Rich defines patriarchy in her book Of Woman Born: Motherhood as Experience and Institution as “the power of the fathers: a familial–social, ideological, political system in which men–by force, direct pressure or through ritual, tradition, law, and language, customs, etiquette, education, and the division of labor, determine what part women should or shall not play.”

In her article “Disabusing the Definition of Domestic Abuse: How Women Batter Men and the Role of the Feminist State,” law professor Linda Kelly states the PC feminist definition of domestic violence “as the use of physical power by men against women not motivated simply by a desire to inflict physical pain or even emotional suffering but rather as part of a larger effort by men to gain and maintain control over women.” A more detailed explanation of the relationship between domestic violence and the patriarchy is provided by social psychologist Donald G. Dutton, in his article “Patriarchy and Wife Assault: The Ecological Fallacy,” where he observes that according to the PC feminist theory of domestic violence, “wife assault is seen to be a systematic form of domination and social control of women by men. All men can potentially use violence as a powerful means of subordinating women. Men as a class benefit from how women’s lives are restricted because of their fear of violence. Wife abuse reinforces women’s dependence and enables all men to exert authority and control…. Wife assault is mainly ‘normal’ violence committed, not by madmen who are unlike other men, but by men who believe that patriarchy is their right, that marriage gives then unrestricted control over their wife and that violence is an acceptable means of establishing this control.” Wendy McElroy sums up the PC feminist approach to domestic violence in her book Sexual Correctness: The Gender-Feminist Attack on Women this way: “men are said to beat women to retain their place in the patriarchal power structure.”

A critical component of the PC feminist conception of domestic violence is the denial that women commit domestic violence against men. Studies of domestic violence have consistently revealed that women are at least as likely as men to commit domestic violence, that in about half of all cases, minor and severe, the aggression is mutual, that about 38% of the people injured by domestic violence are men, and that self-defense accounts for less than one-fifth of domestic violence committed by women. PC feminists, however, refuse to accept the findings as true. Linda Kelly explains why. “Domestic violence is not viewed as just another tool used by men in the subordination of women. Rather, it is considered ‘one of the most brutal and explicit expressions of patriarchal domination.’ Such strong roots in patriarchy have produced an equally strong force against accepting female violence. Acknowledging female violence risks negating the very basis of the existing domestic violence definition.” As Kelly perceives, “[d]omestic violence represents the prized gemstone of … [the] message that our legal, social, and cultural norms are fashioned in a manner which permit men to engage in a constant and pervasive effort to oppress women by any and every available means.”

If the PC feminist theory of domestic violence was only being taught to womens’ studies majors, that would be one thing, but it’s being taught to judges charged with the responsibility of granting temporary and permanent DV restraining orders, and, to some degree, with the responsibility of deciding custody and visitation issues. In a report entitled “Education for Injustice,” RADAR (Respecting Accuracy in Domestic Abuse Reporting) identified a number of examples of this. Here are two: West Virginia’s benchbook on domestic violence, the official judicial handbook, states, incorrectly, that “women are overwhelmingly the typical victims of domestic violence;” similarly, Alabama’s benchbook puts forth the false claim, “National crime statistics show that about 95% of spouse-abuse victims are women.” This “education” is funded by the federal government pursuant to the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).

For years, many family court judges have held the view that fathers are ice cream, moms are the meal. Dads are nice, but nonessential. Kids can easily do without them, just like they really don’t need dessert. In 1985, the “Honorable” Richard Huttner, former chief judge of the King’s County (Brooklyn) Family Court took this further, telling New York Magazine: “You have never seen a bigger pain in the ass than the father who wants to get involved: he can be repulsive. He wants to meet the kid after school at three o’clock, take the kid out to dinner during the week, have the kid on his own birthday, talk to the kid on the phone every evening, go to every open school night, take the kid away for a whole weekend so they can be alone together. This type of father is pathological.” VAWA was passed in 1994. Considering the “men are bad and women are victims” ideology that’s been promoted since then, one can only believe that the bias against fathers is even worse than it was in the 1980s. Fathers are not just useless pains in the asses, they’re evil.
David Heleniak is a civil litigation attorney in New Jersey and Senior Legal Analyst for the True Equality Network.

Feel free to contact him with any comments or questions at david-heleniak-esq@verizon.net

Copyright Publius Forum 2001