Our popular understanding of domestic violence has shifted significantly over the past forty years, and with it, our legal response. We have moved from an interpretation of domestic violence as a private relationship problem managed through counseling techniques to an approach that configures domestic violence first and foremost as a public crime. Mandatory criminal intervention policies reflect and reinforce this interpretation. How we arrived at this point, and which understanding of domestic violence facilitated this shift, is the focus of this Article. I argue that the move to intense criminalization has been driven by a distinctly feminist interpretation of domestic violence, what I call the feminist understanding of domestic violence as patriarchal force. I demonstrate how this understanding grew out of a feminist rejection of alternative theories of domestic violence, specifically psychological and “family violence” theories, and was informed by earlier radical feminist theorizing on rape. I offer this account as a contribution to the ongoing feminist debate over mandatory policies, suggesting that for feminists looking to reform the current system, a different interpretation of domestic violence may be a necessary starting point
How Feminist Theory Became (Criminal) Law: Tracing the Path to Mandatory Criminal Intervention in Domestic Violence Cases,
Mich. J. Gender & L.
Available at: http://repository.law.umich.edu/mjgl/vol21/iss2/1