Window Dressing, Smokes Screens & Hell-fire Rhetoric

on 08/16/2015 - 07:30 pm

by Quenby Wilcox

“Too often inter-agency work at local levels is little more than ‘window-dressing’ meetings, roundtables and even entire projects which result in reports, workshops or conferences, but create minimal change in the support, safety and services provided for victims/survivors, the sanctions applied to perpetrators, or the efforts aimed at prevention” states the UN Division for the Advancement of Women’s report Good Practices in Combating and Eliminating Violence Against Women.

Unfortunately, largely due to an ideological rift in the women’s rights movement for the past 50 years, feminist organizations and leading advocates have never developed an ideological platform for women’s rights within the home and marriage, which has meant that domestic violence in the ‘West’ has taken a back-seat to other issues on the women’s rights agenda.

Since no political platform for matrimonial rights for women has ever been developed (in contrast to an extensive ideological war and political campaign promoting ‘patriarchal’ rights during the Reagan-Bush era), discriminatory norms within the courts have been left unchecked and have flourished, leaving domestic violence advocates (and victims) with nothing more than smoke-screen rhetoric and ‘window-dressing’ initiatives.

At the forefront of the extreme right’s consolidation of power within family courts were an elite group of women who, while reveling in their own economic freedom and work-place equality, promoted a ‘backlash’ culture which was summed up by Susan Faludi in her best-seller, Backlash. “At last the lie of feminism is being understood. Women are discovering they can’t have it all. They are discovering that if they have careers, their children will suffer, their family life will be destroyed.” (Paul Weyrich, ‘Father of the New Right’)

Faludi goes on to expose the extreme right’s agenda against feminism by stating that, “If contemporary backlash had a birthplace, it was here within the ranks of the New Right, where it first took shape as a movement with a clear ideological agenda. The New Right leaders were among the first to articulate the central argument of the backlash – that women’s equality is responsible for women’s unhappiness. They were also the first to lambaste the women’s movement for what would become its two most popularly cited, and contradictory, sins: promoting materialism over moral values (i.e., turning women into greedy yuppies) and dismantling the traditional familial support system (i.e., turning women into welfare mothers). The mainstream would reject their fevered rhetoric and hellfire imagery, but the heart of their political message survived – to be transubstantiated into the media’s “trends.””

The right-wing ‘elite’ responsible for delivering this ‘backlash’ message were filled with ‘Reaganite’ career-women – Phyliss Schlafly, Beverly LaHaye, Connaught “Connie” Marshner, Rosemary Thomson (Price of Liberty), Elizabeth Kepler, Susan Larson, Rebecca Hagelin, Marjory Mecklenburg, Carol Bauer, Margarita Levin,… Women, who entrenched in a hypocritical crusade, were “voicing antifeminist views” while at the same time “internalizing the message of the women’s movement and quietly incorporating its tenets of self-determination, equality, and freedom of choice into their private behavior.” (Faludi)

In my blog Ideological Problems Plague Our Nation’s Capital, I refer to this type of political hypocrisy amongst the power-elite in Washington, as a ‘bubble of false reality,’ – a ‘bubble’ whose growth has remained unbridled for decades, and which has plunged an already dysfunctional and unproductive society into what I fear is a state of no return.

At the beginning of 2009, when I returned to Washington and began my present ‘tilting at windmills/filibustering’ crusade for equality for women within the courts, President Obama had just taken office. At the time, Washington, ‘America’, and the entire world were filled with hopes and dreams of a future filled with ‘Change’; where prosperity, equality, liberty, peace… would thrive and flourish. But, the under-tow of extremist, right-wing power, whose roots and foundations were well-laid decades ago, have proven too strong for Obama’s ‘magic wand’ rhetoric, and band-aid action plans.

The fight for equality, good-governance, transparency, accountability, due diligence, peace liberty… all, of the elements which embody my own ‘Dona Quijote’ campaign, will never be won until regulatory agencies, and those to whom they answer in the executive and legislative branches, ASSURE integrity, transparency and accountability within the judicial branch.

As stated in the Global Corruption Report (2007) by Transparency International “Judicial corruption undermines citizens’ morale, violates their human rights, harms their job prospects and national development and depletes the quality of governance....corruption in the judiciary ensures that corruption remains beyond the law in every other field of government and economic activity in which it may have taken root… The justice system is also embedded within society: the reality is that general levels of corruption in society correlate closely with levels of judicial corruption…”