Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Professor Aya Gruber's article "The Feminist War on Crime" appears in the most recent issue of the Iowa Law Review. Professor Gruber, of Florida International University - College of Law, argues that domestic violence reform has become far removed from its progressive roots and now supports rather than supplants patriarchal ideology.
The Article traces the history of domestic violence reform and explains how it transformed from a grassroots populist movement to a politically powerful lobby deeply allied with law enforcement. One of the reasons for this transformation was the influence of the powerful victims' rights movement. This movement originated as a conservative counter to Warren Court civil liberties and employs essentialist discourse objectifying victims and characterizing defendants as purely autonomous agents to unmoor crime from its social roots. The Article argues that in recent times, victims' rights reformers and the government have appropriated the domestic violence issue, not to change the patriarchal institutions that support battering, but rather to further a pro-criminalization agenda. In addition, feminists, whose original program was to vindicate women's autonomy, have begun to adopt the essentialist discourse of objectifying battered women by characterizing abused women as helpless, scared, irrational, and sick. The Article suggests that feminists simply stop advocating criminal law reforms as the solution to the problem of domestic abuse and proposes some pedagogical methodologies for teaching domestic violence without characterizing abused women in an essentialist manner.
Read the article at SSRN (Last visited August 21, 2007 bgf)