Dear editor

We are really disappointed with the inaccurate coverage of domestic violence and family court in this Seattle Weekly article. We submitted the following letter to their editor.

We have deep concerns about Nina Shapiro’s January 18th article “Ripped Apart.”

Ms. Shapiro makes the important point that family court is significantly under-resourced, and decisions are being made about “the most precious relationships in people’s lives” with hearings that are far from comprehensive. Yes. This is a real problem in King County and across our state.

But Ms. Shapiro goes on at great length about how domestic violence allegations are used to manipulate the courts against dads and draws conclusions by presenting one side of the story. The Washington State Domestic Violence Fatality Review has studied domestic violence homicides over the course of twelve years in fifteen Washington counties. Inter-disciplinary groups reviewing these homicides found time and again that―even with the most violent abusers―courts failed to adequately address victim’s safety concerns and failed to understand how abusers’ controlling and violent behavior threatened the safety and well-being of their children. These findings are completely ignored by Ms. Shapiro.

We routinely hear about attorneys advising victims NOT to talk about the abuse they have experienced because it will bias the court against them. They remain silent out of fear that the court will think they are lying or trying to manipulate the system. This silence hurts children.

We agree that family court needs to be improved. But, whenever allegations of domestic violence are present, the focus should be on safety and the best interest of the children. We encourage The Weekly to exercise better judgment and present balanced material on matters such as this.

Girls in sports

I was planning on writing this blog post about the Lingerie Football League and its recent announcement of plans to start a youth league. (In case you haven’t heard of the LFL, yes, it’s just what it sounds like.) I was going to rant a little bit about the mind-bending absurdity of claiming to strike a blow for girls’ empowerment by grooming them to play football in their underwear just as soon as it’s legal. Or how despicable it is that this “league” claims to break barriers for women while dismissing its players’ requests for basic safety equipment.

But then I realized I was falling for the oldest trick in the book. Curtis Cartier at the Seattle Weekly blog got it just right. This youth lingerie thing is a red herring calculated to stir up controversy―a.k.a. publicity―for an organization that really deserves less attention, not more. So, I’m not going to talk about that after all.

Instead, I’ll just say this. Giving girls real, meaningful opportunities in sports is important. Most girls still aren’t taught to develop their physical strength and skill as fully as most boys are. (In fact, research shows girls are actually trained to make themselves weaker.)  As of this morning, the top Google results for “girls in sports” include “hot girls in sports,” “hot Olympic girls,” and plenty of pictures of naked women. In order to change that we need to teach girls to value their bodies’ strength and agility for their own achievement, their own freedom, their own joy―not men’s entertainment or profit.