Hardly anyone these days recommends punching and slapping as a way of settling marital disputes. On the daytime talk shows, audiences go into frenzies of outrage over batterers and any batterees who dawdle before calling the hotline. In California and Massachusetts, Governors who are feverishly cutting programs that aid women in poverty are proposing actual increases in funds to combat domestic violence. Thanks to Nicole Brown Simpson's sad fate, we tell ourselves, we're all painfully aware of the problem. So why, a rational observer might inquire, are we simultaneously hell-bent on policies that will lock millions of women into violent and...

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