North Carolina could do a lot of things to show that it takes male violence against women seriously. It could process the rape kits sitting on dusty shelves, for starters; the state doesn’t even require law enforcement to track how many there are. (In Fayetteville, the police chief revealed with some chagrin last year that the department had destroyed 333 kits collected before 2008 in order to make space in its evidence room.) How pathetic is it that Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. (a damn Yankee) and the big, bad federal government had to send funds to help process the backlog? What ever happened to state sovereignty?
North Carolina could also pass a law declaring that one can withdraw consent to sex once sex has begun. Right now, thanks to a 1979 State Supreme Court ruling, once you say yes, you can’t say no—even if, as in one recent case, the man continues after the woman begs him to stop because he’s hurting her. Right now, state law says he was within his rights to tear up her vagina no matter what she said or did. And what about domestic violence? In 2013 (the most recent year for which data is available), 55 women were murdered by men in “single-victim/single-offender incidents,” the vast majority by men they knew. Yet men convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence can still own guns in North Carolina. Well, some things are sacred.
One thing North Carolina should never have done, though, if its goal was preventing real-life male violence against real-life women, was to pass HB2, the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act. Overturning Charlotte’s recently passed trans-friendly bathroom bill, HB2 requires people to use the restroom and locker room of the sex on their birth certificate in public schools, colleges, and universities and in government buildings, and bars municipalities from passing LGBT-friendly ordinances. (Just for fun, the legislation also prevents cities and counties from passing a local minimum wage for private employers.) The ostensible reason for the bathroom rules is that if transgender women could use the ladies’ facilities, so could men dressed as women, and either group could go in there and commit sexual assaults and no one could do a thing about it. Never mind that supporters of the bill couldn’t point to a single case of trans women committing such crimes in ladies’ rooms, and municipalities around the country with trans-friendly bathroom rules report no increase in incidents of men doing so, either. The real reason is to foment disgust and horror at the existence of trans people in order to keep the Republican base excited, now that same-sex marriage is off the table thanks to the Supreme Court. It’s no accident that the bill was passed after a mere 30 minutes of debate in a one-day special session and signed the same night by Governor Pat McCrory. Nor is it an accident that HB2 contains provisions making it more difficult to sue one’s employer under a state law that protects workers from discrimination on the grounds of sex, race, or religion. If the legislators care about women, why would they be OK’ing bias on the job?