Gwen Moore has never ducked being a victim of sexual assault and often credited a network of women with helping her escape domestic abuse. But she has never elaborated on her own lifelong experience with sexual assault and rape as she did in a House floor speech March 28 supporting the previously bipartisan Violence Against Women Act.
The fact that the act was being treated as a political football because it expanded to protect more women clearly angered her into speaking out that protection was needed by all women.
To support her premise and express her mystification at the nearly universal resistance within the GOP, she provided explicit details as well as earnestness -- personal episodes about her childhood experiences with sexual assault by a distant relative, a lifelong of sexual attacks and demeaning incidents, being targeted for conquest in high school and losing a court case largely because of attitudes toward women decades ago. Apparently those decades-old attitudes are curiously being resurrected by the Republicans.
Like many women, Moore says, her lifetime dealings and actual victimization including beatings, rapes, and abusive relationships are not distant from the norm.
Violence is as “American as apple pie” and seems to particularly appeal to the male psyche, she said on the House floor, deliberately for the record. “I think that men, boys, see it as a right of passage to have sex with girls. Lovers feel it is their right to dominate women in that way. That has been my experience.”
Moore, now 60, emphasized in later interviews how the Violence Against Women law wasn’t around to help her though it has since helped thousands of women. So it needed renewal and expansion because it had been working for women of all backgrounds and political ideologies, she noted, clearly perplexed and even angry that this bill is now part of partisan gridlock because it was expanded.
The bill, first passed in 1994, was renewed in 2005 nearly unanimously. But now funding has become contentious because of the new provisions covering gays, lesbians, and illegal immigrant women -- as well as tribal women attacked without penalty by nontribal men. All eight Republican men on the Senate Judiciary Committee voted against it in February. Moore told interviewers: “Once again, for some reason in this 112th Congress, there has been a preoccupation with putting women in their place.”
How, she asks, is this a political stunt as even GOP women are claiming, since after years of recognizing the value, suddenly not a single Republican was supporting the bill? Expansion was clearly filling in gaps and the opposition does smack again that anything Obama supports the GOP is against.
While retaining her composure and seeking to keep larger emphasis in her floor speech on the repellent and atypical GOP opposition,, Moore moved the gallery and the online video world with an account that a remarkable number of viewers empathized with when she talked about her high school experiences -- "of having boys sit in a locker room and sort of bet that I, the egg-head, couldn't be had .. and then the appointed boy, when he saw that I wasn't going to be so willing, completed a date-rape and then took my underwear to display it to the rest of the boys. I mean, this is what American women are facing."
“It is pathetic and it is disappointing that it’s come to this. Violence against women in this country is not levied against just Democrats, but Republicans as well...not just rich people or poor people. It knows no gender, it knows no ethnicity, it knows nothing.”