A Fox News commentator sparked outrage on Wednesday. A comment was made during live broadcast on the Fox News program, “The Five,” that suggested that women who are victims of domestic violence should simply “make better decisions.”
Wow. Who would make this irresponsible and alarming statement? Was there a guest on the show? Rush Limbaugh? Todd Akin? Glenn Beck?
Nope. None of the above. This statement was made by none other than Fox News commentator Dana Perino. Yes, a woman.
The discussion that evolved into a “victim blaming” session revolved around the case of Kansas City Chiefs linebacker, Jovan Belcher, who shot and killed his girlfriend, then drove to the stadium and committed suicide by turning the gun on himself in front of his coaches and teammates. The couple had a long history of domestic violence, with police called to their home on numerous occasions. The commentators on “The Five” were discussing the implications of the murder-suicide and whether or not gun control laws should be examined more closely as a result of this crime.
Transcript of the discussion between Perino, co-hosts Kimberly Guilfoyle, Eric Bolling, liberal co-host, Bob Beckel, and Libertarian co-host, Greg Gutfeld:
Guilfoyle “This isn’t an issue about gun control. This is an issue about domestic violence and a man who had a troubled past; had a history documented of being, unfortunately, sadly, abusive to women; an inability to be able to control his temper and his emotions; a lack of impulse control.”
Perino: “I’m glad you brought that up. On the same day that Jovan Belcher committed this crime, there was a man who beat his wife with a baseball bat and killed her. Okay? He wasn’t a pro football player, he doesn’t drive a Bentley, didn’t make millions of dollars. But on the same day — that’s why I think talking about the gun culture so-called issue is actually a copout and not dealing with the real issue about mental health, anger management and domestic violence.”
Beckel: “Can you name me one person you know that saved their lives by a handgun?”
Perino: “Bob, I think that skirts the issue that women are victims of violence all the time.”
Gutfeld: “Should have guns.”
Perino: “Or maybe make better decisions”.
Beckel: “Why don’t we just strap a gun on everybody and walk around the street?” Beckel quipped.
Bolling: “It’d be safer,” asserted.
Better decisions? Really? And to be safe in our own homes we need to carry a gun around with us?
Perino served as White House Press Secretary for President George W. Bush from September 14, 2007 to January 20, 2009 and, ironically for the Department of Justice. She joined the Fox News Channel in April 2009 as a contributor. Perino is the president and founder of a consulting firm, Dana Perino and Company, and the editorial director of Crown Publishing Groups Imprint Crown Forum. In November 2009, Perino was appointed to the Broadcasting Board of Governors by President Obama and was a founder of various women’s organizations such as Congo Story and Minute Mentoring (I don’t like being redundant, but again…ironic).
After enjoying a high-profile career with much of her focus on women’s groups, why would Perino make such a statement? Because it’s what she really believes. Her statement was genuine and she had no hesitation when she said it. She seems to genuinely believe that all women need to do is make better decisions.
One in four women (24.3%) and one in seven men (13.8%) aged 18 and older in the United States have been the victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime (Black et al., 2011). In 2010, 241 males and 1095 females were murdered by an intimate partner (U.S. Department of Justice, FBI, 2011).
- Every 9 seconds in the US a woman is assaulted or beaten.
- Around the world, at least one in every three women has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused during her lifetime. Most often, the abuser is a member of her own family.
- Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women—more than car accidents, muggings, and rapes combined.
- Studies suggest that up to 10 million children witness some form of domestic violence annually.
- Nearly 1 in 5 teenage girls who have been in a relationship said a boyfriend threatened violence or self-harm if presented with a breakup.
- Every day in the US, more than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends.
- Ninety-two percent of women surveyed listed reducing domestic violence and sexual assault as their top concern.
- Domestic violence victims lose nearly 8 million days of paid work per year in the US alone—the equivalent of 32,000 full-time jobs.
- Based on reports from 10 countries, between 55 percent and 95 percent of women who had been physically abused by their partners had never contacted non-governmental organizations, shelters, or the police for help.
- The costs of intimate partner violence in the U.S. alone exceed $5.8 billion per year: $4.1 billion are for direct medical and health care services, while productivity losses account for nearly $1.8 billion.
- Men who as children witnessed their parents’ domestic violence were twice as likely to abuse their own wives than sons of nonviolent parents.
Besides death and injuries, physical violence is associated with many adverse health outcomes (Black, 2011; Breiding, Black, and Ryan, 2008). Health conditions associated with intimate partner violence may be result of physical violence – bruises, knife wounds, broken bones, traumatic brain injury, back or pelvic pain; headaches – but another health factor is stress. Some conditions impact the cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, endocrine and immune systems through chronic stress. (Black, 2011; Crofford, 2007; Leserman and Drossman, 2007).
Dana Perino was right: women do need to make better decisions. One better choice is to vote for political candidates who support the Violence Against Women Act. Another better choice that women can make is to find a news source that actually cares about women.
Article Sources and Resources for women:
The Futures Without Violence website has one of the most comprehensive list of data sources on the web.
One of the best reports was compiled by Dana Perino’s’s former employer, the U.S. Department of Justice: “Stalking and Domestic Violence”
Domestic Violence Statistics (2012)
Department of Health and Human Study (2003, March) Services Costs of Intimate Partner Violence against Women in the United States
National Institute of Justice Study (2000, July) Extent, Nature, and Consequences of Intimate Partner Violence: Findings From the National Violence Against Women Survey