Wednesday, March 5, 2014

the last book I ever read (Promises to Keep by Joe Biden, excerpt fourteen)

from Promises to Keep: On Life and Politics by Joe Biden:

While looking at Bureau of Justice crime statistics in 1990, I was struck by a particular number. The violent crimes perpetrated against men had fallen greatly in the previous ten years; the number of violent crimes against young women trended up. My initial hunch was that because of the women’s movement, more women were willing to come forward and report rapes or domestic violence. But as I looked into it, there was much more than that going on. In fact, I quickly came to see that violence against women was a cultural expectation shared by men, women, and children. I remember reading shocking statistics from a survey of middle-school children done in Rhode Island. If a man takes a woman out on a date and spends $10 on her, one question asked, does he have the right to force sex on her? A quarter of the boys said he did, which stunned me. But the bigger surprise was that a fifth of the girls agreed. This was a big problem, and it was deeply ingrained in our society. I later learned that one in ten American males believed it was okay for a husband to hit his wife if she didn’t obey him. That meant millions of women were at risk of being beaten in their own homes.

I knew from experience that it wasn’t just uneducated thugs who thought this way. I had never forgotten a scene back in 1981 when the Judiciary Committee was rushing to get a big new crime bill out of committee for a vote on the floor. The clock was running out on the session of Congress and I was pushing this to get this bill out the door. We had the votes to report the entire package favorably to the floor. The committee was meeting in a small room just off the Senate floor; Chairman Thurmond called for a committee vote, unless there were any objections. Alabama senator Jeremiah Denton objected, and loudly. Denton was angry about a provision I wanted in the bill that made marital rape a crime indistinguishable from any other rape. “Damn it, when you get married,” he said that day, “you kind of expect you’re going to get a little sex.”

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