Protecting women: Outrage vs. effective activism
Protecting women from abuse is a serious and never-ending business. Effective activists necessarily take a long view. Which brings us to March’s New Hampshire political outrage of the month.
Monday a week ago, Rep. Kyle Tasker, R-Nottingham, posted on a Tea Party Facebook page a sexually graphic image of two stick figures that contained a deeply and deliberately offensive sentence about abused women. For the post alone, Tasker should have felt enough shame to resign. He has not.
Following his post, the outrage machine lurched into gear. Among the flurry of demands for Tasker’s head was one from NARAL Pro-Choice New Hampshire, which sent an action alert to its email list asking recipients to sign a form letter to the House Republican leader that begins, “I am outraged...” How perfect. Planned Parenthood of Northern New England also initiated a political letter-writing campaign to the House GOP leader. But how does this help abused women?
By contrast, the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence responded by calling the incident “an inflammatory flash in the pan that, like every news story that lights up your news feed, will be forgotten sooner or later.” The coalition soberly reminded Granite Staters that protecting women from abuse requires not manufactured outrage, but the passage of good laws, such as Joshua’s Law, which this newspaper got behind earlier this year. It would help police track and punish domestic abusers by categorizing certain violent crimes as “domestic violence” when committed in domestic situations.
In the past 35 years, the Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence has become New Hampshire’s most effective women’s rights organization because it avoids political games and works with members of both parties to advance its singular goal: protecting women and children from abuse. It does not whip up fake outrage or try to score cheap political points. Its staff just works every day to make New Hampshire a safer place for women and children.
Other activist groups could do their causes a favor by adopting the coalition’s effective methods. New Hampshire would be a better place for the change.