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NCFM Members Continue Educating Congress About Much Needed Violence Against Women Act Reforms

February 1, 2011

The Foggy Bottom Metro station escalator ended with wind whipping snow and rain around me as I tried to button my wool coat. Having just arrived in Washington D.C. from San Diego my brain rejected the cold until I mistakenly stepped in a puddle of ice and water sending shock waves from feet to cerebellum. Toting luggage acting like a mainsail I tacked my way through a developing ice flow to my hotel. Cars were spinning out and a fender bender greeted me with a rude thump as I crossed the first intersection. It was the worse snow storm of the year; just my luck.

My friend Phil Cook, author of Abused Men  – The Hidden Side of Domestic Violence, and I were going to share a room. He too was to fly into Reagan National but the storm forced his plane to land 20 miles away at Dulles International. Since it was an unscheduled landing in the middle of a major snow storm there was no ground crew to unload luggage. There is no Metro from Dulles. There was a four hour wait for a cab. He showed up at the hotel without a coat, gloves, or luggage at 4:00 a.m. instead of 7:00 p.m. as scheduled.

The press conference about the Super Bowl Sunday myth scheduled for noon the next day was cancelled. I was looking forward to meeting panelist Christina Hoff Sommers who first dispelled the myth in her 1994 book Who Stole Feminism? How Women Have Betrayed Women; that is women are more frequently abused in their own homes on Super Bowl Sunday. There were reports that the myth was finding its way from the sewer to newsrooms again.  The press conference was intended to head off the perpetual lie before the Super Bowl in Texas next weekend.

I sloshed my way back to the Foggy Bottom Station and headed for Capital South and the Longworth building leaving Phil asleep in the room to recover from his earlier adventure. Twenty wet-shoe minutes later I was going through security in one of the three office buildings for members of Congress. Eight or so of us met in room 121 to coordinate schedules.  Appointments had been made to do legislative education regarding reforms needed in the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). We set out in teams of two or three. Wet socks and granite floors make strange sounds as did some legislative staffers when we told them why we were there.

Most staffers were cordial though one legislative director for a California Congresswomen pulled his phone, pushed a button, and a few minutes later an aide charged into the meeting jabbering about the guy having to rush to the airport to pick up the boss. Absent apology he literally ran from the room waving his arms like a crazed anger management facilitator on the verge of a nervous breakdown.  I picture him frothing at the mouth. Whether he’ll read the literature we left behind is questionable.

After another presentation a young staffer who apparently had done her homework announced that her Congressman was very interested in our concerns since we (the National Coalition For Men) had a chapter in his Chicago district. For the past year, about once a month, NCFM educational flyers concerning one or more VAWA issues were distributed to all members of Congress, the Senate, and a few legislative committees. I’m guessing she put two and two together.

We were introducing ourselves in another office when from behind I hear a friendly, “Hi Harry, what are you doing here?” It was a young woman from San Diego who I had worked with on legislative reforms for Child Protective Services. She was then a district manager for a state senator who recently termed out. She, like several others we met with, asked that they be sent additional information. Later today I’ll be sending her information about and asking for a letter of support from her Congressman for the soon to be officially announced effort to establish a White House Council on Boys and Men. She, like most of the others we met with, will soon be receiving proposed legislative language for VAWA reforms being prepared by SAVE, the VAWA reform group that organized our efforts.

Storm or no storm you have to wade through some slush helping legislators understand. It was a good two days. I just heard on radio news Dulles is shut down. There’s another storm in Washington D.C.

Harry Crouch

President NCFM

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