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Equality with a Vengeance

Men's Rights Groups, Battered Women, and Antifeminist Backlash

Molly Dragiewicz

Publication Year: 2011

This book investigates efforts by fathers' rights groups to undermine battered women's shelters and services, in the context of the backlash against feminism. Dragiewicz examines the lawsuit Booth v. Hvass, in which fathers' rights groups attempted to use an Equal Protection claim to argue that funding emergency services that target battered women is discriminatory against men. As Dragiewicz shows, this case (which was eventually dismissed) is relevant to widespread efforts to promote a degendered understanding of violence against women in order to eradicate policies and programs that were designed to ameliorate harm to battered women.

Published by: Northeastern University Press

Series: Northeastern Series on Gender, Crime, and Law

Series Page

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pp. ii

Title Page

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pp. iii


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

I can’t begin to articulate the appreciation I feel for the many people who have contributed in some way to the completion of this book. One of the many rewarding aspects of working on violence and gender is having the privilege to spend time with the amazing group of people who do this work. I am truly fortunate to have such brilliant friends, mentors, and colleagues. This book would not have been possible...

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pp. 1-7

On October 17, 2000, eighteen men sued the Commissioner of Corrections, Commissioner of Human Services, Commissioner of Public Safety, and Commissioner of Children, Families and Learning for the state of Minnesota to eliminate the mechanism for dispersal of state and federal funding for battered women’s shelters and other services for domestic abuse victims and their children in Minnesota.1 Booth v. Hvass argued,...

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1. Key Contexts

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pp. 8-25

The World Health Organization’s World Report on Violence and Health (2002) concisely summarized the difficulties of defining violence:
Violence is an extremely diffuse and complex phenomenon. Defining it is not an exact science but a matter of judgement. Notions of what is acceptable and unacceptable in terms of behaviour, and what constitutes harm, are culturally influenced and constantly under review as values and social norms evolve. (4)...

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2. Booth v. Hvass

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pp. 26-48

The r-kids Legal Action Committee, the Men’s Defense Association, and the National Coalition of Free Men, Twin Cities Chapter, filed the Booth v. Hvass case in October 2000 in the United States District Court for the State of Minnesota. The lawsuit attempted to eliminate the mechanism for the disbursement of state funding to battered women’s shelters...

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3. Popular Discourses

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pp. 49-60

Booth v. Hvass borrowed its claims and sources from discourses circulating elsewhere in law, media, and scholarship on violence and gender. Issues of terminology, the visibility of perpetrators and victims, and the decontextualization and depoliticization of violence are all relevant to Booth v. Hvass. By situating the case within the extant...

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4. Batterer Narratives

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pp. 61-80

When examined outside their historical and political contexts, competing discourses on violence and abuse might appear to be equally valid. Reasonable people can disagree about how to measure and understand violence and abuse and what terms to use when writing about them. However, the choice to highlight...

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5. Sex Differences

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pp. 81-102

Debates about the magnitude of sex disparities in violence against intimates reflect ideological differences between scholars in multiple disciplines. These debates are important because they color considerations of the meaning, dynamics, and appropriate responses to violence (Johnson and Ferraro 2000; Renzetti 1994; Schwartz 2000). As Johnson and Ferraro (2000) have pointed out, it is impossible...

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6. Gender and Patriarchy

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pp. 103-117

Although studies quantifying sex differences receive a disproportionate amount of media attention, they comprise only a small portion of the total research on human violence, most of which investigates the social and structural factors that can potentially be changed in order to reduce violence. One issue highlighted by such lawsuits as Booth v. Hvass and the discourses surrounding them is the conflation and confusion of the terms sex, gender, and patriarchy....

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7. Conclusion

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pp. 118-123

Booth v. Hvass endeavored to eliminate services for battered women and other victims of domestic abuse by arguing that women and men are similarly situated with regard to domestic violence. In posing an equal protection claim, Booth v. Hvass sought to undermine feminism itself and prompt a return to earlier understandings of violence that held victims responsible and enabled abusers to evade responsibility...


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pp. 125-128


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pp. 129-145


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pp. 147-154

E-ISBN-13: 9781555537562
E-ISBN-10: 1555537561

Page Count: 168
Publication Year: 2011

Series Title: Northeastern Series on Gender, Crime, and Law