VIP Center must target root cause of violence against women

Column by Carrie Bass

I am not satisfied with the Violence Intervention and Prevention Center.

There, I said it — that politically incorrect remark that has plagued my mind for the last two years.

Before I insert my foot too far in my mouth, I should say that I am in no way opposed to the mission of the VIP Center or the people who are involved there.

As a woman, as a feminist and as a UK student, I am glad that there is a rape-crisis center smack in the middle of our conservative campus and that our university leaders care enough to fund such a place.

Furthermore, the VIP Center has no doubt helped dozens of men and women once the unthinkable has occurred.

On the “intervention” side, the VIP Center seems to be doing a great job: Helping to make violence, particularly against women, a visible issue, training and educating students, and offering a safe place for students to turn to in the event that they need help.

However, purely reactive policies are not enough; I don’t see the “prevention” side of the center at work.

Proof of the reactive nature of the center lies in a study on women’s safety released in fall 2007. According to a Kernel article on Sept. 5, the study indicated that even though women felt safer compared to statistics from three years ago, there was no significant change in the number of violent incidents against women. Yes, the VIP Center made everybody feel safe, but they really didn’t make any changes to the state of the UK community.

A more proactive approach might make some people mad, an unappealing choice for a university-sponsored initiative. Yet, no revolution ever occurred that pleased every last person. That’s what we are in need of: a revolution.

Violence against women should be as unfathomable as every other serious crime, but it is not. Women are made the victims of violence on a regular basis, every single day, right here in the United States.

The VIP Center only teaches people how to stop what’s already in process. Even if a perpetrator has not committed a violent act, the ideology of female inferiority is already in him. Walking down the street, we all have the foundation for violence against women: a dislike of females and the feminine.

For that revolution, long overdue given the numbers of women who experience violence directed toward them in their lifetime, to take place, it has to start in the cradle and spread through every facet of our culture. No more sneering at “women’s history” or “women’s literature,” no more acceptance of the machismo identity, no more anti-woman religion; the list goes on and on.

If we really, truly want the violence against women to stop, we need to take a long, hard look at how we think about men and women.

We already know that it’s OK for women to act like men, now we need to make sure that men know that it’s OK to act like women. This flies in the face of just about every social institution in the U.S., but if we are serious about ending the violence, there must be a revolution that balances the genders and does not allow any room for the inferiority of women. You just have to rock that boat and actively play offense, not just defense. This is a cold, hard fact that the VIP Center does not want to face because it will upset a good deal of the campus and nearly all of its financial supporters.

You are not radical enough for me, VIP Center. Let the floodgates open and the scathing criticism begin!

Carrie Bass is an art history senior. E-mail [email protected]