Violence Against Women Collection
Scope and Contents of the Collection
The Violence Against Women Collection is comprised of four sections: Domestic violence, Pornography, Rape and sexual assault, and Newsletters. The materials in this collection document the activism of women and organizations that sought to draw attention to and provide resources and support for women victimized by types of violence that, prior to the Women's Liberation movements of the 1970s, were largely ignored in mainstream society. In addition to documenting the legislative and grassroots efforts to create and sustain shelters, counseling services, and legal support for victims of violence, many articles and portions of newsletters articulate a feminist theory that links the patriarchal structure of society to the perpetration of violence against women. The material in this collection dates from the 1970s to the 1990s.
The domestic violence section of this collection consists of articles, creative writing and personal stories, newspaper clippings, national legislation, reports, and a variety of printed material. National efforts, such as the 1980 Domestic Violence Services and Prevention Act, and documents pertaining to local and non-profit initiatives demonstrate the complex relationship between grassroots activism and government intervention in providing adequate services for women and their children seeking to escape domestic violence. While many regions of the United States are represented, the material pertaining to New York state is especially rich. Of particular interest are the documents regarding the workings of the Department of Social Services, the New York legal system, and the local analysis of and response to the federal budget cuts made by the Reagan administration.
The pornography section of this collection is rather brief and contains articles, pamphlets, and printed material professing the view that sexually explicit material objectifies and dehumanizes women, thereby serving to normalize rape and other forms of sexual violence.
The rape and sexual assault portion of this collection contains articles, pamphlets, newspaper clippings, and other printed material. While many of the documents reflect the evolution of rape and sexual assault as an issue of concern in the mainstream culture, others illustrate the persistent denial of the problem and the low conviction rate of men accused of rape. Of particular interest are the newspaper clippings, correspondence, and position papers establishing a link between rape and racism.
The newsletters in this collection provide further insight into the ways in which violence against women was taken up as a cause in numerous localities and further documents the political struggles that occurred on the national level.