Rep. John Duncan slammed over VAWA comments

Por en English 02/20/13 3:46pm
Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) speaks about the re-introduction of the Violence Against Women Act during a press conference at the U.S. Capitol January 23, 2012 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

A Tennessee Republican is being slammed across the country this afternoon over an interview he gave to the Chatanooga Times Free Press about the Violence Against Women Act.

During the interview, Rep. John Duncan said that he was wavering about the bill despite its “motherhood-and-apple-pie title,” and added the following:

“Like most men, I’m more opposed to violence against women than even violence against men, because most men can handle it a little better than a lot of women can,” Duncan said.

That’s led to outrage and snark. Ultraviolet, a women’s group, is distributing a petition demanding that Duncan apologize for his remarks.

“Abuse is wrong, no matter who the target is,” the petition’s organizers say. “Being protected from a violent partner doesn’t make a woman weak. Period.”

Along those lines, Slate magazine published a blog this afternoon, headlined “Rep. John Duncan Claims Violence Against Women Is Bad Because Women Are Weak.

(If we were going for snark, we’d interpret Duncan’s comments as saying that abuse against men is a-okay. Survival of the fittest or something.)

Here at Hoy, we’ve been covering domestic violence in immigrant communities, profiling domestic abusers at group therapy sessions and detailing some of the problems with the state of Illinois’ resource lists for victims. We’ve also written extensively about VAWA and the hurdles it faces on the road to law.

Next week we’ll be publishing the account of immigrant survivors of domestic violence.

As the bill stands now, it’s been passed by the Senate and talked up by President Barack Obama in the State of the Union, but it’s being delayed in the House of Representatives due to concerns about how it would affect Native Americans and law enforcement. (Read our story about the hurdles it faces for more information on that.)

With his comments, Duncan joins Rep. Todd Aiken of Missouri, who talked about what he called “legitimate rape” last year, and Indiana Senate candidate Richard Murdock, who said pregnancy stemming from rape was “God’s will,” as Republican policymakers who’ve gotten into trouble for remarks believed to be anti-woman.

This latest comment suggests that there are bigger issues keeping the bill from becoming law: machismo and sexism.