Backlash against VAWA

Now that Joe Biden, the author of the Violence Against Women Act, is the candidate for Vice President, “father’s rights” organizations, which have spearheaded the backlash against programs for victims of domestic violence, are using the presidential campaign as an excuse to promote their anti-VAWA propaganda.

For example, an article entitled “American dads, think twice before embracing Joe Biden,” would have us go back to the days when victims of domestic violence had less access to the criminal justice system than they do today — the days when beating women wasn’t prosecuted as a crime, but batterers were advised to take a break. The article says,

Biden means well, but he has consistently misunderstood the domestic violence issue. His legislation has harmed many innocent men, particularly those in troubled or disintegrating marriages or relationships. As a result, an Obama-Biden victory could be bad news for American fathers.

Biden says one of his main achievements has been “training police and prosecutors to arrest and convict abusive husbands instead of telling them to take a walk around the block.”

For clarification: VAWA doesn’t promote arresting innocent fathers, and it is disingenuous for these groups to suggest that it does.  (And they know it.)  The “father’s rights” people want police to tell men who are beating (and sometimes later killing their wives) to take a walk around the block? How is that helping?

For more on the backlash, see

Patriarchy Reasserted

Fathers’ Rights and Anti-VAWA Activism

Molly Dragiewicz

University of Ontario Institute of Technology

The backlash against gender-sensitive responses to women’s victimization, offending, and imprisonment is inseparable from contemporary reaction against feminism and other progressive movements. The backlash against the American Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) provides a prime example of this resistance. Despite widespread support for VAWA and other policies designed to address violence against women, some constituencies object to their existence. The author investigates fathers’ rights rhetoric on VAWA as an example of antifeminist backlash.


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