What governor - once an actor, then a Terminator, married to a major women's leader - has the chutzpah to wipe out 100 percent of the domestic violence budget of California, the biggest state in the country, with a single grope of his veto pen?
What same governor does this as the state economy is plummeting and violence is escalating? When the STAND Hotline, that serves Contra Costa County, fielded more than 12,500 calls for help in the first seven months of 2009, triple the number in a normal year (if violence is ever normal)? In a state where over the past six months at least five men, desperate from losing their jobs, have murdered their families and themselves? What other governor is willing to sacrifice the lives of his constituent daughters and mothers in order to protect oil corporations from paying taxes on their multi-billion-dollar profits - fair taxes that could easily fund these same programs?
I try to imagine what the governor thinks as he draws his veto pen through 40 years of women's struggle and work, how he sleeps knowing women across his state who are exposed to brutality will be left without escape, shelter or even a friendly voice at the end of a hotline. How he justifies women having to choose between becoming homeless or staying in the midst of danger. Then I am reminded he is the Terminator - no pity, no remorse, no fear.
Fortunately, other governors do feel pity and remorse. They know that having muscle isn't what makes a man, but it is compassion and wisdom and respect for women and girls. In New Mexico, Governor Bill Richardson has not only preserved funds for domestic violence programs, but has made a sincere and deep commitment to ending violence against women in his state.
Schwarzenegger has always had contempt for the vulnerable, or maybe it's just his own inner girlie man he despises. But now he has gone too far.
This cut is reckless and dangerous. It could begin a wave of cuts throughout the country. It sends a message to perpetrators. It basically says no one is watching, no one is coming. All bets are off. Having just spent months in the Democratic Republic of Congo, I can tell you that this climate of free-for-all spreads violence like a California wildfire.
Governor, too many hours in your cigar smoking corporate oil drilling boy's tent has made you think that you can get away with this. We've got your number. Unlike you we don't act alone. There are thousands of us, we are organized, and we won't be stopped by one muscle-bound veto.
Don't terminate. Reinstate the funds. Don't annihilate. Alleviate the suffering.
Eve Ensler, a playwright and activist, is the founder of V-Day, a global movement to end violence against women and girls.
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