10/06/2034 5:42 AM ET

OPINION

Shonda McRae And Renee Swonford Are Heroes

Carol Van Kuikbrinck
National Women's Defense Alliance

CC BY-SA 4.0 - image changes released under same license Suburban Houses in Cameron Village Historic District, Raleigh, North Carolina. Photographed during the Summer of Monuments 2014 camping trip by Monumenteer2014camper | Writer image: CC BY 4.0 IMG_1443.jpg by Roman Cherednychenko | Images were cropped. Images used for illustration purposes only.
Swonford's Shreveport home, where Townshill was fatally stabbed.

Reports today indicate Shonda McRae is getting a retrial for the death of her ex-husband, Reggie Townshill.

It's about damn time.

For the past few weeks, more and more details have emerged of the Townshill family's extensive and elaborate plot to force Renee Swonford, McRae's half-sister, to testify falsely as to what she saw the night Townshill died.

Let's recap: McRae and Townshill were married six years ago. During the honeymoon he broke her arm and gave her a black eye. He stole her wages to feed a gambling habit and in her words during the trial, "was usually so high he didn't know where he was".

He constantly belittled and yelled at her, bullying her until she could no longer take it, and she left him just before Christmas last year. She filed for and received a divorce online.

Except, that wasn't the end of her nightmare. For the next three weeks, she was stalked by Townshill, who found out she was living with Swonford. He broke into the house twice before being turned away by Swonford's courage.

On January 12th, McRae and Swonford were watching TV, when Townshill broke down the door. Toxicology reports later showed his blood alcohol level to be .12. He was immediately violent, and despite the efforts of McRae and Swonford to get him to leave, he aggressively pursued McRae, demanding sex and cash, before she stabbed him in the chest.

It's not as if this is the first time this has happened in America. It's not as if we didn't know that the patriarchy actively supports this kind of behavior. It's not as if mF(en aren't intrinsically bound to act this way.

Details of the Townshill family's attempts to silence Swonford are outrageous. Male members continually harassed, threatened and bullied her into fictionalizing what happened that night. She has stated, through her lawyer Glenys Adler, that she repeatedly received phone calls where the caller would simply hang up; that her door was knocked repeatedly with no one ever being there; that a rock was thrown through her window. She was stalked.

She also stated many conversations she had with (male) members of the deceased's family, explicitly threatening her and McRae with violence, rape, and bankruptcy. She provided details of threats toward her female cousins.

It's not as if this comes as a surprise. It's not as if men have not proven themselves willing to treat women as lower forms of life. It's not as if this is not supported from the very top levels of government in this country.

There's a reason women all over the nation flew into action when details emerged of the horrific treatment of one of their own at the hands of a man. Loving sisters from other states drove to McRae's family, providing cash, clothes, casseroles, anything to help McRae through the time that our patriarchal system has put her through. There's a reason we rallied for women's rights.

If it's not post-birth abortion restrictions, it's delaying divorces so scum like Townshill can continue their relentless assaults on vulnerable women. Or, obstructing people identifying as women as part of their gender fluidity from receiving identification recognising same. Or, discriminating against lesbians who want a sex change for their adopted son, in the hope he doesn't grow up to be another Townshill.

Men, usually Republicans, simply are either ok with women being used, abused and discriminated against, or are actively for it. Look at the way they are treating Mona Ojukwu in Dallas.

It's time to fight back.

I'm speaking at the NOW 2034 Conference, and I'm calling for punitive measures against men who demonstrate discriminatory behavior toward women. From elementary aged children upward, any male who acts in an aggressive, discriminatory, capricious, or other unreasonable way toward a female should be held accountable.

Elementary-aged males should be expelled on the first offence. Middle and high school-aged males should be expelled and jailed for a month, increasing if they do not desist in their behavior. Adult males should be jailed for six months, increasing.

It's time to change male behavior. The National Women's Defense Alliance is not going to simply wait for other Townshills to commit acts of physical, emotional, verbal, financial or other violence against women, anymore.

We intend to lobby congress aggressively, and we will demonstrate to the male members of congress - especially Republicans - that we will not be cowed. We will not be bullied. We will fight you and we are coming for you the way you have come for us for thousands of years.

Shonda McRae is getting justice, at last. She is a hero. Renee Swonford is a hero.

We're ready to fight for them and those like them.
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