Why a Wife Beater, Mail Order Bride Service, and Men's Rights Group Improbably Joined Forces

Illustration for article titled Why a Wife Beater, Mail Order Bride Service, and Men's Rights Group Improbably Joined Forces

The House of Representatives is debating a stripped down version of the Violence Against Women Act introduced by a cabal of Republicans who thought that the Democrats' proposed inclusion of undocumented, Native, and lesbian women went too far and "watered down" the definition of violence. The Violence Against Some Women Act has some pretty high profile supporters from the political right, including groups like Concerned Women for America, the Family Research Council, the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, as well as one guy who beat his wife in 1996 and then made up a fake political endorsement from her when he ran for an elected position and a group that sells mail order brides.


This motley crew assembled to endorse a letter to Congress penned by Very Concerned Women who are Concerned that counting undocumented, Native, or LGBT females as "women" is part of an insidious agenda to convince their husbands to leave them for some young strumpet. As with most things in politics, it would be hilarious in its chest-thumping if it didn't actually have real-life implications. Part of the letter, via Right Wing Watch,

We, the undersigned, representing millions of Americans nationwide, are writing today to oppose the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). This nice-sounding bill is deceitful because it destroys the family by obscuring real violence in order to promote the feminist agenda. […]

There is no denying the very real problem of violence against women and children. However, the programs promoted in VAWA are harmful for families. VAWA often encourages the demise of the family as a means to eliminate violence.

Further, this legislation continues to use overly broad definitions of domestic violence. These broad definitions actually squander the resources for victims of actual violence by failing to properly prioritize and assess victims. Victims who can show physical evidence of abuse should be our primary focus.

At this point, it's important to note that in Conservativese, "Family" means "Man-led Nuclear Family." Or, if you want to get anatomical about it, "Rally 'Round The Penis."

But the desperate straw-grasping of America's Most Concerned, Concerned Women aside, let's focus on who signed their letter. Among the signees was one Timothy Johnson, the same Timothy Johnson who was convicted of felony domestic violence in 1996. Here's what happened:

Johnson was arrested on Christmas Day 1995 in Cleveland, Ohio, and was later indicted by a grand jury for two felony counts, one of felonious assault and the other of kidnapping. According to the arrest report, when the police arrived, they found Felix-Johnson bleeding from the face. Timothy Johnson told the officers, according to their report, "I admit it. I hit her, that's the only way I can get her attention." Felix-Johnson told the officers he restrained her on the couch, holding down her neck. One officer reports Ofelia Felix-Johnson saying that Johnson also punched her breasts, saying that she had no heart, and hit her over the back and buttocks with a plastic shoe rack, breaking the rack. The police report in the court file states that Johnson broke his wife's nose and toes, causing her to be hospitalized.

Johnson was arrested again in 1998, after holding his wife down by the wrists and then choking their son until he began to spit up food after the boy tried to protect his mother. When he ran for North Carolina Republican Party vice-chair in 2009, Johnson presented concerned voters with evidence that he'd reformed: an endorsement from his ex-wife, the woman whose face he broke in 1995. Except, uh, it turns out that the quote was made up and the ex wanted nothing to do with the scumbag who beat her. Understandably.

Also signing onto the letter was Phillip Cook, the CEO of an organization called SAVE (Stop Abusive and Violent Environments), which has vested interest in rolling back protection for undocumented immigrants — SAVE's treasurer started a company called Encounters International which matched American men up with Russian mail order brides.


And, to round out the trifecta of dickery, although they didn't sign the Concerned Women's letter, the National Organization for Men, a Men's Rights Group that aims to end discrimination against men (similar in nature to my Leprechaun Elimination Society, a club devoted to the annihilation of the Leprechaun pest and the hardships Leprechaun infestation has caused hard working Americans) has come out and endorsed the GOP's shitty version of VAWA.

See? House Republicans don't hate women. They just agree with a lot of people who kind of do.


[Right Wing Watch]



"VAWA often encourages the demise of the family as a means to eliminate violence." Sorry, but *grin and bear it, dear. not only is it your sacred, wifely duty, but you must think of the children! give him a [second, third, fourth] chance, for their sake* is sooooooooo 19th century. Medieval even.

"Victims who can show physical evidence of abuse should be our primary focus." Yeah, because emotional abuse isn't employed to keep women trapped in toxic relationships at all. And even if a survivor has physical evidence, they'll just go up before a folksy judge who'll implore the couple to remember the good times: bowling and dinner at Red Lobster.

This shit is enraging.

ETA: So enraging, this post needs snark face. Courtesy of my homegirl Santana.