On "Husband-Battering"; Are Men Equal Victims?

(This was originally posted in November of 2002; this week’s post concerning methodology of collecting data on intimate violence reminded me of it.

It’s one of my better posts, in my opinion, but it probably hasn’t been read by many current “Alas” readers. So I thought it was worth reprinting.)

Anyone who watches the men’s rights movement has run across the claim that men are equal victims of domestic violence. I disagree, and as it happens I’ve done a little research on this over the years, so hopefully people won’t mind if I present some contrary evidence.

Forgive how long this post is (and it’s a monster!). Refuting untruths takes time, and I want to be thorough.

1. Introduction and Background.

First, let me provide a little background. The primary argument made by men’s rights activists is that men are as likely, or more likely, to be abused by a wife or girlfriend than the reverse. They base this opinion on various family violence studies. Typical is Warren Farrell’s statement that “the great majority of two-sex studies that have been done (more than a dozen) find women and men to be equally as likely to initiate domestic violence at every level of severity.” (Farrell’s quote is a bit dated – there are now dozens such studies.)

Farrell’s claim is based on influential research conducted by family violence researchers Murray Straus and Richard Gelles, and by other researchers who have followed up on Straus and Gelles’ work. (It’s worth mentioning – I’ll get into this later – that both Straus and Gelles have objected to the misuse of their work by men’s rights activists). This research, based on interviews with both men and women, has found that wives are as likely to assault husbands as husbands are to assault wives. Other researchers have replicated Straus and Gelles’ results, most often using the same survey instrument, resulting in a intimidating list of studies showing equivalent rates of male and female-perpetrated spousal violence.

An article by men’s advocate Philip Cook summarizes the Straus/Gelles findings:

With support from the National Institute of Mental Health, Murray Straus Ph.D., and Richard Gelles Ph.D. conducted a nationally representative survey from the Family Research Laboratory at the University of New Hampshire, of married and cohabiting couples regarding domestic violence. The results were first published in 1977 as was a book with co-author Suzanne Stienmetz Ph.D., in 1980. Straus & Gelles followed up the initial survey of more than two thousand couples, with a larger six-thousand-couple group in 1985. In minor violence (slap, spank, throw something, push, grab or shove) the incident rates were equal for men and women. In severe violence (kick, bite, hit with a fist, hit or try to hit with something, beat up the other, threaten with a knife or gun, use a knife or gun) more men were victimized than women.

Men’s rights activists acknowledge that government records such as police reports have found that vastly more women than men are victims of spousal assault. But they dismiss this by saying men would never admit to being abused. As Warren Farrell explains, “male socialization to ‘take it like a man’ makes men the sex more fearful of reporting their abusers.”

Men’s rights activists conclude, therefore, that data showing that men are greater abusers is invalid due to male underreporting: fairer studies, in their view, find that men are equal victims, and women are equal abusers. I’m here to examine where that data comes from.

The empirical claims made by men’s rights activists about domestic violence are based on studies using Straus and Gelles’ Conflict Tactics Scale (CTS) (and also from a few studies using methodology very similar to the CTS). When I examined a bibliography of “references examining assaults by women on their spouses or male partners” on a men’s rights website, for example, I found that of 86 prevalence studies cited, 59 (about 70%) used the CTS as a research tool! In order to evaluate men’s rights activists claims of equal male victimization, it is therefore necessary to examine the CTS.

A review of the social science literature indicates that the CTS is, even according to its creators, seriously flawed when used as a comparative measure of male and female domestic victimization (i.e., the way men’s righters and anti-feminists use it).

2. How do we define “abuse” and “violence?” What’s left out?.

Many critics have questioned whether the CTS’s definition of violence can fairly capture the range of marital violence. For example, none of the original CTS’s questions ask respondents about rape or sexual assault – an area in which male abusers predominate. Not asking about rape could lead to undercounting of severe male-on-female violence. (In response to this criticism, a later version of the CTS – the “CTS2″ – pasted on some questions about sexual assault. However, of the 59 CTS studies I found listed on a men’s rights website, only 3 used the CTS2).

More subtly, the CTS’s method of measurement may be overly literal, measuring narrowly-defined actions while failing to consider their context and meaning. As Straton points out, results of violence are ignored: the CTS “equates a woman pushing a man in self-defense to a man pushing a woman down the stairs.” Similarly, the context of violence is ignored: playful kicking in bed, considered aggressive by neither partner, is counted as more severe violence than a bone-jarring push against a wall.

The CTS ignores not only different physical impacts of violence, but also different mental impacts of violence. A recent study indicated that violence, “even when both the man and woman participate,” leads to significantly worse outcomes for women; women are more frightened by the violence, with a greater sense of loss of personal control and well-being.

As a matter of common sense, there’s an enormous difference in mass and physical strength between most women and men, and that can make a big difference in how abuse “feels.” An ex-girlfirend of mine – who weighed 100 pounds less than I do – once punched me, as hard as she could, on my chest. It left a bruise and hurt my feelings, but I certainly didn’t feel frightened or helpless. Why not? Because I could walk out the room whenever I pleased, and she couldn’t stop me.

Now, what if I had hit her? Although the action would have been the same, the dynamic would have been totally different – because she would have been effectively trapped with me unless I chose to let her go.

Researcher James Nazroo conducted a survey of domestic violence, which was designed to consider the kind of contextual information the CTS leaves out. As Nazroo wrote:

One contradictory result is the large number of women who are rated as having used severe violence according to the CTS type act-based measure, but who are also rated as having used “non-threatening” violence. The violence… has usually only occurred once or twice and usually only involved one or two blows. What is immediately apparent when listening to accounts of this violence is that the men were easily able to defend themselves from attack. They grab their partners by the arm and hold them off, or pick them up and put them in another room to calm down, or disarm them. They will also not respond at all to their partners’ attacks and will frequently laugh… one man, describing his response to being slapped, says “I shouted and she ran.” None of them appear to have been intimidated in the least.

Don’t get me wrong – I know what my ex-girlfriend did was reprehensible. I’m not saying it’s okay to hit men. I’m not denying that some individual men are badly abused, sometimes by girlfriends or wives who are much smaller than their victims. But for most male-female relationships, there’s a big difference in physical power that benefits the male, and it’s pointless to pretend it doesn’t exist.

It’s no coincidence that, even according to the Straus/Gelles study, women are nearly seven times as likely to report being injured as “equally abused” men are.

3. Sampling bias.

According to Michael Johnson, the CTS’s dependence on voluntary interviews with a representative sample population could create a strong bias against measuring the worse cases of domestic violence: “men who systematically terrorize their wives would hardly be likely to agree to participate in such a survey, and the women whom they beat would probably be terrified at the possibility that their husband might find out that they had answered such questions.” Straus himself seems to agree with this criticism.

Sampling error is always a concern, of course, but there are reasons to think it’s a bigger problem with the Straus/Gelles work than in most. For one thing, according to Michael Johnson, Straus and Gelles people who refused to answer screening questions were not included when Straus and Gelles calculated their 84% response rate; taking this discrepancy into account, the actual response rate may be closer to 60%, low enough to create a severe danger of sampling bias. More importantly, Straus and Gelles compiled information only about abuse within current, ongoing relationships; but fear of a current abusive partner would obviously make a victim hesitate to be frank with interviewers. It’s much safer for a victim of severe battery to refuse to be interviewed altogether, in such circumstances.

In contrast, when the US Bureau of Justice statistics did a similar study (see part 5, below), they designed the interview process to enourage current victims to report honestly (they put protections in place to assure that the person interviewed could respond safely while alone in the house, without the spouse’s knowledge), and did not ask only about current relationships. They also had a higher response rate, which means a much lower chance of serious sampling error.

Jack Stranton points out another important sampling bias: the CTS, as used in the original Straus/Gelles research and most of the research that follows it, excludes violence that occurs after a divorce or separation. However, such violence accounts for 76% of spousal assaults, and is overwhelmingly committed by men; excluding this violence disproportionately omits most spousal violence against women.

4. Contrary Social Science Data.

CTS studies leave thousands of abused women uncounted. According to a CTS study, a typical woman in a battered woman’s shelter reports having been assaulted by a spouse 65 times in the year previous to admission. Straus and Gelles’ national study found that there are about 80,000 women in the United States who are abused at that level. In contrast, data from battered women’s shelters show that up to 490,000 women use shelters each year – and that figure doesn’t even include thousands of severely battered women who don’t make it to a shelter.. This huge discrepancy shows that instances of severe woman-battering, far from being fairly measured by the men’s rights activists favorite studies, are in fact badly undercounted.

When combined with Michael Johnson and Jack Stranton’s observations about sampling bias, it seems clear that the CTS simply isn’t measuring the worse cases of violence against women.

Many non-CTS studies have found, contrary to CTS results, that men are overwhelmingly the perpetrators of domestic violence, while women are overwhelmingly the victims. Since most (but not all) of these studies are designed to measure criminal violence, Farrell dismisses them, saying men are socialized to “take it like a man” and not report their victimization. However, Russell Dobash pointed out “that women have their own reasons to be reticent, fearing both the loss of a jailed or alienated husband’s economic support and his vengeance.” Moreover, surveys of domestic violence victims in the US and Canada have found that men are more likely to call the police after being assaulted by their partner. So while it’s true that both men and women have motivation not to report their abuse, it’s just not true that men are actually less likely to report abuse than women.

Finally, studies using variants of the CTS have found some apparent contradictions. A CTS study of violence by stepparents (conducted by Gelles himself) found no difference in rates of stepparent and natural-parent violence – but as Jack Stanton points out, other studies, including homicide reports, show that “a stepparent is up to 100 times more likely to assault a small child than is a birth parent.” Like the unaccounted-for abused women, this finding suggests that the CTS is deficient at measuring the most severe instances of family violence.

5. Putting the CTS to the test.

A 1998 study conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) used a modified form of the CTS to survey a representative sample of 8,000 Americans. Unlike most previous CTS studies, the BJS study asked about rape and sexual assault, and did not limit respondents to describing only violence taking place within marriages or relationships; these changes addressed many (but not all) of the criticisms previously made of the CTS. And responding to the claims of men’s rights activists, the survey was designed to be about “personal safety” issues, rather than being presented as a survey about crime. (In this case, by the way, men’s rights activists are right: it’s better not to use hot-button words like “crime” in surveys.)

This study was an important test for people on both sides of the CTS debate. If CTS critics were correct, such a study would find different results from previous CTS studies, and specifically would find that women are more frequent victims of spousal violence. If, on the other hand, men’s rights activists were right, then this study would have found equal abuse, since it asked men and women the same questions (mostly the same questions as the CTS).

Critics’ expectations were fulfilled. The results of the government’s study strongly contradicted previous CTS studies: the BJS study found that overall women were more likely to be abused by an intimate partner than men, particularly for the more severe kinds of violence. For example, women were seven times as likely to have been threatened with a gun; 14 times as likely to report having been “beat up” by a partner; and twenty-six times as likely to have been raped.

6. Straus and Gelles on the men’s rights movement’s use of their work.

The evidence against using the CTS to show equal victimization on the part of men is strong and persuasive; not even the creators of the CTS endorse the men’s rights activist interpretation any longer. Straus has recently written that the female victims of severe battery are the cases which are “the most serious problems and which need to have priority in respect to interventions.” Gelles has put it even more strongly, arguing that “it is misogynistic to paint the entire issue of domestic violence with a broad brush and make it appear as though men are victimized by their partners as much as women.”

To be fair, Straus and Gelles have also been critical of feminists – although Straus (who considers himself a feminist) has described some feminist work as serious and deserving of respect, a concession that few men’s rights activists are willing to make.

7. Summing up what the stats can tell us.

Overall, the evidence supports a commonsense conclusion: there isn’t sex equality in serious violence. Women are battered by their intimate partners much more often than the reverse. Given the many reasons to doubt the CTS’s accuracy for measuring severe violence in families, the most reasonable conclusion is that the Straus/Gelles studies – at least, as they’re used by men’s rights activists – are inaccurate.

So should the Straus and Gelles studies be rejected entirely? I say no. The evidence weighs strongly against the “equal victimization” hypothesis, but that doesn’t mean the results of CTS-based studies should be thrown out entirely. Although it’s clear the Straus/Gelles work doesn’t accurately measure the most severe instances of intimate violence, the validity of the CTS in measuring what Michael Johnson calls “common couple violence” – minor, sporadic, non-escalating and mutual violence between spouses – has not been disproved. Some researchers, including CTS co-creater Straus, have suggested that the seemingly contrary data actually indicates two different aspects of domestic assault, the relatively sex-neutral “common couple violence” and the more severe violence that lands some women in shelters. The results from the CTS may, in the end, significantly deepen understandings of the dynamics of violence within families.

It is unlikely, however, that this possibility will provide much comfort to men’s rights activists committed to the equal victimization hypothesis. While CTS studies corroborate a key men’s rights belief – the capacity of women to commit spousal assault – the possibility of equal victimization is key to the CTS’s appeal to men’s rights activists. And the facts just won’t support that belief.

And to those men’s rights activists who say that we need more services for male victims of domestic violence – I agree completely! It’s only the men’s rights claim that women and men are equal victims of intimate violence that I’m disagreeing with. I don’t think anyone can look at the facts and deny that women are sometimes violent, or that male victims of intimate violence need more support services.

8. Epilog: Why It Matters

Men’s righters disagree with feminists – and with conventional social science – about how often husbands beat up wives, and vice versa. They argue that men are equal or greater victims of intimate violence. Feminists disagree. Is this just squabbling over numbers? It can sure look that way. But there’s a deeper argument going on here.

In the face of strong counter-evidence, and contrary to the opinions of the researchers whose work they rely on, men’s rights activists passionately insist that men are equally victims of spousal violence. What compels them to this belief? Men’s rights activists are at least partly driven by a fear of guilt and shame. Men’s rights activists are attracted to the equal-victimization hypothesis because, to them, it suggests that men are not to blame for violence against women.

It is common for feminists to be perceived as anti-male; bell hooks (herself a feminist) argues that anti-male sentiments have been a significant part of bourgeois white feminism, and that such anti-male discourse is a barrier to male support of feminism. A similar analysis is made by R.W. Connell, who describes the “public face” of feminism as “hostile to men.” Shame for being male is a common first reaction among men encountering feminism, and doubtless that first impression drives some men away from feminism.

A fear of shame is also a common theme in the men’s rights critique of feminism. From David Shakleton’s essay in Everyman Journal, a men’s rights magazine: “The deepest, most deadly power given to women by tribal evolution is the power to shame… Today feminism is using that deep power to shame the souls of men.” A men’s rights activist on an online discussion board expressed similar themes of blame and shame, quite plaintively (capitalization, punctuation and line breaks as in the original):

Why do you seem to hate us (really meaning feminism there but

emotionally it gets easy to be confused)

Why is everything we do wrong?

Why do we have to be the bad guys?

Why can’t WE be people too?

Allen Johnson’s The Gender Knot analyzed seminal men’s rights writer Warren Farrell and found a similar subtext: “Farrell seems so worried and angry about guilt and blame that he goes off the deep end to argue that men aren’t powerful at all.” Farrell’s desire to deny the idea of male privilege – and thus deny that any blame can fall on men – leads him to argue that men are equally or more victimized in almost every instance, including spousal abuse.

What the men’s rights movement offers men is a defense mechanism – a lens for viewing sex roles which obscures an “ocean of guilt and shame” (in Johnson’s words). As Michael Messner describes in his analysis of men’s rights discourse, “a few highly questionable studies [provide] an emotionally charged basis for the development of an ideology of male victimization.” By describing men as equal (or, often, greater) victims, the men’s right lens shields men from shame or guilt; it is this lack of blame that appeals to men’s rights activists.

The purpose of claims of equal male victimization isn’t to deny the reality of wife-battering (to the contrary, many men’s rights activists fervently claim sympathy with individual battered women), but to deny the existence of patriarchy and male privilege altogether. In this way, men’s rights activists hope to avoid shame.

(Of course, many feminists – including me - have argued that there is no need for men to feel shame in feminism; wallowing in guilt is not only unnecessary, it’s counterproductive.)

What’s sad is, men’s righters are right about some things. Patriarchy hurts men, too. It’s harmful to have only men register for the draft. It’s harmful to men to be set on career paths that estrange them from their families. It’s harmful to men who face violence from other men. Its harmful to men that some male-dominated jobs are unsafe. And for those men who genuinely are victims of severe intimate violence, it’s harmful that there are almost no services available to help victimized men. (Etc, etc.)

Which makes it ironic that the men’s rights movement is primarily a movement about preventing change; about rolling back the years to bring back “Father Knows Best”; about denying that patriarchy even exists; and about attacking feminism, the only movement that’s made any progress in challenging how sexism and patriarchy hurt us all.

However much they say they want change, by denying male privilege, the men’s rights movement has become fundamentally reactionary. It isn’t possible to undo patriarchy if you won’t even admit it exists.

And that – not just statistics – is what the debate over “husband-battering” is about.

9. References

Connell, R.W. “Disruptions: Improper Masculinities and Schooling.” Men’s Lives. Eds. Michael S. Kimmell and Michael A. Messner. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1998. 141-154.

Dobash, Russell P., R. Emerson Dobash, Margo Wilson and Martin Daly. “The Myth of Sexual Symmetry in Marital Violence.” Social Problems 39:1 (1992). 71-91.

Farrell, Warren. The Myth of Male Power. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1993.

Fiebert, Martin S. References Examining Assaults by Women on Their Spouses or Male Partners: An Annotated Bibliography. 1998. 26 May 2000

Gelles, Richard J. “Domestic Violence: Not an Even Playing Field.” 27 May 2000

Gelles, Richard J. and Murray A. Straus. Intimate Violence: The Causes and Consequences of Abuse in the American Family. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1988.

Hood, Jane C. “‘Let’s Get a Girl: Male Bonding Rituals in America.” Men’s Lives. Eds. Michael S. Kimmel and Michael A. Messner. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1998. 431-436.

hooks, bell. “Men: Comrades in Struggle.” Men’s Lives. Eds. Michael S. Kimmell and Michael A. Messner. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1998. 578-587.

Johnson, Allen G. The Gender Knot: Unraveling Our Patriarchal Legacy. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1997.

Johnson, Michael P. “Patriarchal Terrorism and Common Couple Violence.” Journal of Marriage and the Family 57 (1995). 283-294.

Margolin, Gayla. “The Multiple Forms of Aggressiveness Between Marital Partners: How Do We Identify Them?” Journal of Marital and Family Therapy 13 (1987). 77-84.

Messner, Michael A. “The Limits of the Male Sex Roel: An analysis of the men’s liberation and men’s rights movements’ discourse,” Gender and Society 12:3 (1998), 255-276.

Nazroo, James. “Uncovering Gender Differences in the Use of Marital Violence: the effect of methodology.” Sociology 29:3 (1995), 475-494.

Shackleton, David. “The War Against Men: looking behind gender politics.” Everyman Journal November-December 1997.

Straton, Jack C. “The Myth of the ‘Battered Husband Syndrome.’” Masculinities 2.4 (1994). 79-82. (Online summary here).

Straus, Murray A. “Physical Assaults by Wives: A Major Social Problem.” Current Controversies in Family Violence. Eds. Richard J. Gelles and D. R. Loseke. Newbury Park, CA: Sage, 1993. 67-87.

Straus, Murray A. “The Controversy over Domestic Violence by Women: A Methodological, Theoretical, and Sociology of Science Analysis.” To appear in Violence in Intimate Relationships. Eds. X.B. Arriaga and S. Oskamp. Newbury Park, CA: Sage. 26 May 2000

Tjaden, Patricia and Nancy Thoennes. Prevalence, Incidence, and Consequences of Violence Against Women: Findings from the National Violence Against Women Survey. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, November 1998. NCJ 172837. http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/nij/pubs-sum/172837.htm

Umberson, Debra, Kristin Anderson, Jennifer Glick and Adam Shapiro. “Domestic Violence, Personal Control, and Gender.” Journal of Marriage and the Family 60 (1998). 442-452.

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92 Responses to On "Husband-Battering"; Are Men Equal Victims?

  1. 1
    mythago says:

    Wow.

    And to those men’s rights activists who say that we need more services for male victims of domestic violence – I agree completely!

    I’d be more sympathetic if those activists got off their duffs and implemented such services, instead of whining that the feminists aren’t doing it for them.

    I’ve argued with men’s-rights activists who’ve complained “it takes money.” Well, hell, shelters and services for battered women didn’t start with funding from Bill Gates. They started on volunteer efforts, charity and a shoestring. You don’t get the government grants and philanthropy until after you’ve established that you’ve busted your butt getting a viable, reasonably stable group going.

    That’s about when they change the subject. It’s sad, because the gay men’s community has been far more proactive in getting help to victims of partner violence.

  2. 2
    NancyP says:

    A lot of “men’s rights” advocates take their position because they would like to avoid paying child support, particularly if their wives left them for cause of husband-perpetrated domestic violence to the wife or child. The “men and women are equal abusers” trope is brought in to support claims, more often than not false, that the wife beat the husband (and of course the husband never touched the wife) and thus should not get child custody/support.

    THAT’S why activists aren’t out there starting straight men’s shelters – because that isn’t the main interest of most activists, a favorable divorce settlement is the main issue.

    Gay men activists are actually interested in the problem, brought to light by the gay anti-violence (anti-bashing by straights) efforts and influenced by the women’s shelter movement, which has many lesbian activists and social service providers.

  3. 3
    NancyP says:

    P.S. The absence of serious straight men’s shelter and anti-battering activism suggests that the problem is relatively small (at least as regards life-threatening consequences that would cause a man to flee) and potential clients very isolated. I would have to wonder if some of the cases where there are life-threatening consequences are situations where the man is mobility impaired or medically dependent (a related problem is elder abuse, which does have activists).

    Sooner or later, someone puts down their shame and does something constructive – the activist types might be 1% of all affected individuals, and the successful activists might be 0.1-0.5% of all affected individuals. Coming out as a battered husband in 2004 can’t be any harder than coming out as a homosexual in the civilian world in the pre-Stonewall era or in the armed services today. Lack of activists suggests a low prevalence of serious straight male partner violence.

  4. 4
    belle says:

    This is very interesting to me, because I have been referred to these studies (showing equal prevalence of female on male violence with the reverse), and just thought, huh? It seems contrary to both common sense and my own life experience (talking to male and female friends). I am curious to know whether another statistic often proffered by the same people is equally suspect, namely the claim that children are as or more likely to be abused and killed by their mothers as by their fathers. This to me, again, seems wildly implausible. Does anyone know about this? It would seem to play a similar role in the “men are getting screwed in divorce settlements” narrative.

  5. 5
    ChurchofBruce says:

    A former girlfriend–who I did *not* outweigh by 100 pounds, by the way–once gave me a black eye. That was just the worst of the damage.

    Services? NOBODY that knows me in real life knows this happened. I’m hiding behind a pseudonym here. I was humiliated enough that it happened.

    I agree with Amp’s basic point–I don’t think it’s equal at all, and men’s rights groups aren’t doing actual men who have actually been abused any favors.

    But services? Actually *telling* someone about this? It happened in my early twenties after I had spend my entire youth being beaten and humiliated for being a ‘pussy’. A complete lack of self-esteem is how I got myself into that relationship in the first place. I plan to stay right in the closet about being a victim of girlfriend abuse, thankyouverymuch.

  6. 6
    mythago says:

    The point of services is that you have people to tell about it without worrying that they will call you names or fire you from your job–you can call domestic-violence hotlines anonymously.

    http://www.ndvh.org/

  7. 7
    lucia says:

    >>namely the claim that children are as or more likely to be abused and killed by their mothers as by their fathers. This to me, again, seems wildly implausible. Does anyone know about this?

    I don’t know statistics, but I don’t find it implausible that mothers are as likely to abuse children as fathers. I also wouldn’t be surprised if the type and severity of of abuse differed.

    Why would I not be surprised?: For one thing, mothers are around the children more often. That means, if, for whatever reason, the mother becomes unhinged, she is likely in the presence of the child, and might smack them — hard.

    I have personally known mothers who abuse their kids badly– to the extent of hospitalization. In recent years, there were also two prominent child murders by mothers near my town. (One was a “Medea” type murder– Marilyn Lemak seemed to have done it to get back at her ex husband for dating. I never read the motive of the other one. )

    On the other hand, if I saw statistics that said, nevertheless, mothers abuse their children less frequently than fathers, I wouldn’t be astonished either. I’d pretty much have to read about what they defined as abuse and how they collected data to figure out the answer.

    These surveys are much more difficult to do well than laboratory work. (Which can also be difficult to do well.)

  8. 8
    sennoma says:

    Great post. (Nothing to add, just wanted to cheerlead a little.)

  9. 9
    kasasagi says:

    I remember reading that if you factor in the average amount of time spent with children by men and women, it turns out that men have a much higher rate of abuse and violence. I don’t have statistics to hand, but it sounds plausible.

    However that doesn’t mean child abuse by women isn’t a problem. I would guess that in the majority of cases the abuser is the mother of the child? Maybe mothers need more help and support, and better education about caring for children? More available child care? Different attitudes towards parenting? I’m not a parent and don’t know a huge amount about this, but it obviously is an issue that needs to be addressed. Not necessarily by demonising mothers though.

  10. 10
    lucia says:

    >>Not necessarily by demonising mothers though.

    It’s not my intention to demonize mothers. Obviously, the overwhelming majority of mothers and fathers not only don’t abuse their kids, they spend a lot of time an effort nurturing their kids.

    I just wanted to comment on the idea that it’s implausible that women abuse children as often as men. They may, they may not. I couldn’t necessarily guess– and I can see factors that might make either group abuse more or less.

  11. 11
    Amanda says:

    If the police numbers of men and women who commit violence are based on those who are arrested and charged with domestic violence, then those numbers of women who commit domestic violence are probably over-counted there, too. In some places, the police have a blanket policy of arresting everyone in a situation who threw a punch, push, slapped or scratched. Therefore, if a man pushes and punches a woman and in her flailing to escape, she scratches him, both are arrested and charged. However, both may or may not be convicted, depending on the circumstances. Ancedotally, I know a couple where this exactly happened, with the husband hitting the wife, her scratching him to escape and both getting arrested. However, charges against her were dropped when the story came out.

  12. 12
    Kasasagi says:

    lucia, just to clarify – I didn’t mean to accuse you of “demonising” mothers, I was speaking generally. But I can see that might not have been clear. Sorry.

  13. 13
    ChurchofBruce says:

    If the police numbers of men and women who commit violence are based on those who are arrested and charged with domestic violence, then those numbers of women who commit domestic violence are probably over-counted there, too.

    I doubt it. Because I think it makes sense to me that men who are purely victims (not the ‘psuedo-double’ scenario you describe) would be very, very loathe to report it.

    I didn’t. I *wouldn’t*. Not in a million years.

    Think about it. There’s psychological data on why women get caught up in an abusive relationship and have trouble getting out–and quite a bit of it has to do with self-esteem. We know this.

    Can you *imagine* where a *man’s* self esteem has to be to let this happen? I don’t have to imagine–I lived it.

    Come on–going into a police station to say a girl beat me up? I’d half-expect to get laughed out of the place. I am *not* a gender-role person, I’m transgendered, I’m very ambivalent about being a guy–and even I found the whole experience completely humiliating and de-masculating. And, yes, in common with a lot of abused women, it took me years to figure out that it wasn’t my fault.

    One thing Amp referred to in his article was a discrepancy in the physical damage a man could do to a (usually much smaller) woman. He’s right about that (although, in my case, she wasn’t all that much smaller). So men being abused usually results in less physical damage. I agree with that. But, having lived it, I can assure you that the psychological damage *isn’t* any different. In fact, if everything, it may be worse for men, because we’re socialized to be ‘the stronger sex’. A woman who reveals a history of abuse gets sympathy, kind words, even advice to leave (if she’s still in the relationship) and offers of help. A man? I can just imagine going in to my work buddies and revealing that I was once abused by a girlfriend. I can hear the complete derisive laughter now.

  14. 14
    Ampersand says:

    ChruchofBruce, for every statistic there are lots of individual exceptions. I’m not casting doubt on your feelings. But, studies have found that on average, psychologically women suffer more in violent relationships than men.

  15. 15
    Nick Kiddle says:

    psychologically women suffer more in violent relationships than men.

    Is that “a woman tends to suffer more in that situation than a man would” or “the suffering of women is greater than the suffering of men because more of them are in this situation”?

    I know it sounds like a bit of a semantic quibble, but it seems important to get it clear.

  16. 16
    bean says:

    I’d be more sympathetic if those activists got off their duffs and implemented such services, instead of whining that the feminists aren’t doing it for them.

    I’ve argued with men’s-rights activists who’ve complained “it takes money.” Well, hell, shelters and services for battered women didn’t start with funding from Bill Gates. They started on volunteer efforts, charity and a shoestring. You don’t get the government grants and philanthropy until after you’ve established that you’ve busted your butt getting a viable, reasonably stable group going.

    Yup, yup, yup.

    And, of course, even today, most women’s services still don’t have enough money. They survive on grants and donations, and it’s enough to help, but it still means having a pretty tight budget. So, it’s not like they can just open up a second shelter for men — there’s no money for that.

    And opening up a co-ed shelter is just way too risky. The safety (both emotional and physical) of the women in the shelter must be considered. Taking a man into the shelter could cause the women there — who are escaping violent relationships — to feel extremely unsafe (as it is, most shelters won’t allow sons to stay in the shelter if they are over a certain age — usually ranging between 16 and 18 — the shelter I work at now won’t take any men over the age of 17, even if they are the son of the victim). Also, most shelters depend on confidentiality — keeping the location of the shelter a secret. If they were to take in male victims, it’s possible that one of the men could actually be an abuser, or a friend of an abuser, who would then know where the shelter is. Of course, that risk is always there — the abuser could be a lesbian partner, or a female friend of the abuser could pose as a victim. But, we can at least lessen those risks by not taking men.

    Now, most of the agencies I’ve worked with will offer counseling to male victims, even if they can’t provide space in the shelter. I suppose it shouldn’t be too surprising that the numbers of men taking advantage of the services offered are few and far between. Partly because, statistically speaking, fewer men are victims. And partly because men are less likely to come forward.

    I have worked on cases where the woman was also arrested (or arrested instead of the man) for abuse. In most of these cases, the men either worked in the legal system (usually they were prison guards at Dannemora) and knew the cops. To be honest, I think the only real reason that these men were able to get away with these claims is because their buddies (other prison guards, and state police) knew that the allegations weren’t really true. In the one case I saw where the man probably really was a victim, the cops totally blew him off, made fun of him, laughed at him (as Bruce figured they would). I honestly believe that in the other cases, they knew the man wasn’t really being abused, and were simply using it as a weapon against the real victim — and to take a swipe at feminists and those working in the DV field. Much the same way that most of these men’s rights activists use it. If they were really interested in helping men, they’d be out there starting shelters, not whining about feminists not doing it for them.

  17. 17
    Ampersand says:

    Nick wrote: Is that “a woman tends to suffer more in that situation than a man would” or “the suffering of women is greater than the suffering of men because more of them are in this situation”?

    I meant the former. (Although the latter is true, also).

    Bean: Nowadays, many shelters do provide hotel vouchers for male victims, which seems like a reasonable compromise to me. Especially since there simply aren’t enough male victims to justify creating separate male shelters.

  18. What’s sad is, men’s righters are right about some things. Patriarchy hurts men, too….
    Which makes it ironic that the men’s rights movement is primarily a movement about preventing change; about rolling back the years to bring back “Father Knows Best”; about denying that patriarchy even exists; and about attacking feminism, the only movement that’s made any progress in challenging how sexism and patriarchy hurt us all.

    This is just brilliant. Brilliantly put. Exactly. Yes, its so frustratng that they are right in a way but they turn their anger and frustration against the very people (feminists) who are working to break down all of this macho crap.

  19. 19
    bean says:

    Nowadays, many shelters do provide hotel vouchers for male victims, which seems like a reasonable compromise to me. Especially since there simply aren’t enough male victims to justify creating separate male shelters.

    Yes, this is true. But usually, it’s only for a couple of days (rather than the typical 30 – 60 days a woman can stay in a shelter), and only if they have the funds. As it is, it can sometimes be hard to get the funds to provide a hotel voucher for a woman (which is sometimes necessary due to lack of space or for safety reasons).

  20. 20
    Trish Wilson says:

    I have a page on my web site full of information about the myth of “battered men” and the use of the CTS. This subject comes up so often as a stopper whenever anyone discusses violence against women that I found it necessary to create that page. Richard Gelles has even criticized men’s rights activists who use the CTS to “prove” that women are as violent as men.

    One thing I would disagree with in your post, Barry, as well as the one about Dr. Wilcox’s research, is the way both of you equate “domestic violence” with physical abuse. When you mentioned how your ex-girlfriend hit you and what it would mean for you to hit her back, you fell into the same CTS trap that the men’s rights folk fall into – you counted individual “hits” as domestic violence. That’s how the men’s rights folk get their false positives. The “hits” are not taken in the context of the event and of the history of the relationship. Domestic violence isn’t a series of physical strikes that can be counted, with the person who has the most strikes against him or her as the “loser.” It’s an established pattern of behavior from the abuser that seeks to dehumanize and control the victim. There doesn’t have to be physical abuse for that to happen. I was not physically abused in my marriage (except for one incident at the end), but I was subjected to domestic violence. Domestic violence can be emotional, legal, economic, psychological, physical, and sexual. The abuser may attempt to isolate the victim, but that’s not always the case. I think it’s a big mistake to talk about domestic violence in terms of how many times she was hit or how often she threw the first punch. That oversimplifies the nature of domestic violence.

  21. 21
    Trish Wilson says:

    One more thing – the “women are as abusive as men” trope goes hand in hand with the “women frequently file false allegations of abuse” trope. As Nancy wrote, the guys who bring up the first trope are usually trying to get favorable outcomes in their own cases. The guys who believe that women are as abusive as men frequently are trying to hide their own abusive behavior. These guys can keep their victims in court forever on child custody and other malicious litigation. Don’t forget that the use of the legal system as a weapon is also a form of domestic violence.

    I think it is the National Coalition for Free Men who has tried to get domestic violence shelters for women in at least two states defunding because they claimed the shelters discriminated against men. They used the CTS and “battered men” myth to press their cases. They lost both times.

    Bean, regarding co-ed shelters, another problem is that the women often bring their children with them when they are leaving abusive situations. That’s another safety concern to take into account.

  22. 22
    bean says:

    Domestic violence can be emotional, legal, economic, psychological, physical, and sexual. The abuser may attempt to isolate the victim, but that’s not always the case. I think it’s a big mistake to talk about domestic violence in terms of how many times she was hit or how often she threw the first punch. That oversimplifies the nature of domestic violence.

    Yeah, that was the one thing that was really bothering me about the whole discussion about Dr. Wilcox’s study — AFAICT (which is only from what Amp posted), it seems to focus solely on physical violence, as though that was the only issue involved in DV.

    It’s possible that evangelical men do hit their wives less often — and if that’s true, then great. But until I know whether they are also less likely to control and dominate their wives, isolate them from friends and family, control the finances so she has no control over or access to them, verbally abuse them, threaten to use violence against them, threaten to take the children away (or hurt them) if she doesn’t obey, and other abusive behaviors, I’m not sure I would be willing to buy into the idea that evangelical men are less abusive. (And I’m not trying to say that they are more abusive — hell, they might be less abusive, but if all they are measuring is physical violence, it still wouldn’t matter if all the other problems that Amp pointed out were dealt with, it would still be incomplete.)

  23. 23
    Ampersand says:

    Trish: When you mentioned how your ex-girlfriend hit you and what it would mean for you to hit her back, you fell into the same CTS trap that the men’s rights folk fall into – you counted individual “hits” as domestic violence. That’s how the men’s rights folk get their false positives. The “hits” are not taken in the context of the event and of the history of the relationship.

    I don’t think we disagree on this, Trish. My point in using that example was that it’s mistaken to look at intimate violence simply by counting “hits,” regardless of context. As I said in the introduction to that section of my post, “the CTS’s method of measurement may be overly literal, measuring narrowly-defined actions while failing to consider their context and meaning.”

    I certainly didn’t write or imply that “domestic violence [is] a series of physical strikes that can be counted, with the person who has the most strikes against him or her as the ‘loser.’” With all due respect, Trish, you’ve given my essay a very unfair reading, if you’ve come away with the impression that I’m suggesting such a view of DV.

    I do agree with you regarding the critique of the men’s rights approach to DV; I just disagree with you that I share that approach.

    Bean wrote: Yeah, that was the one thing that was really bothering me about the whole discussion about Dr. Wilcox’s study — AFAICT (which is only from what Amp posted), it seems to focus solely on physical violence, as though that was the only issue involved in DV.

    I think this is a methological flaw (or maybe a necessary evil) of the big database studies like the general social survey – they try to interview subjects about everything under the sun, and as a result they cover a lot of subjects very shallowly. It’s useful for looking into unexpected connections between seemingly disparate topics, like hugging children and church attendence. But it limits the value of the findings.

    This is particuarly a problem with issues of intimate abuse, which require detailed and sensitive survey instruments to be useful at all, in my view.

    Good point regarding other questions to ask, Bean. I tried to go that way a little at the end of my more recent post on Wilcox, but I didn’t go far enough.

  24. 24
    Amanda says:

    I have a quarrel with the idea that men who are victims are necessarily less likely than women who are victims to go to the police, because men are more ashamed to be hit. To believe that, you have to believe that women suffer less shame when they are hit, but I doubt that. Women who are in abusive situations often, if not usually, are told that they are responsible for their own abuse, that if they weren’t provoking it, then they wouldn’t get hit. So, feeling responsible means that they are ashamed and won’t come forward. Women have just as many reasons to hide in shame as men do.

  25. 25
    spicy says:

    I agree that the issue is not one of shame – it is one of fear. Women go to the police to seek protection – as men are less likely to be afraid as a consequence of abuse, they may be less likely to report to the police.

    Having said that, although somewhat dated now, research that has been undertaken would suggest that a higher percentage of men actually report: Schwartz (1987) analysing nine years’ worth of US National Crime Survey data, found that 67.2% of men and 56.8% of wives called the police after an assault by their spouse; Rouse et al (1988) also found that men were more likely to call the police, and Kincaid (1982) found that men were more likely to press charges and less likely to drop them).

    I suspect, however, that these figures may be skewed by some abusers playing the ‘victim’ card.

  26. 26
    Trish Wilson says:

    Sorry ’bout that, Barry. I just realized that I sounded more critical than I meant my comment to be. I agree with your post. I was just citing that one choice of example, not your entire post. I agree with you that ticking off “hits” is something you were writing against, not for. It was just the way you wrote your example that didn’t come across to me well.

    I think that there may have been so much attention to counting examples of physical abuse precisely because they can be counted ; i.e., they can be easily tabulated. I remember that the CTS were useful in seeing the differences between men and women when they do use physical means. For example, women tended to bite more often, and that their “hits” were often defensive in nature. That just stuck in my head.

  27. 27
    slumpyb says:

    Anyone notice that it’s OK for woman to hit a man on TV? Watch “Raymond” sometime, his TV wife seems to hit him every show. I remember one show where she kicked him in the groin and everybody laughed. How is this OK? Violence is violence, holding one gender to a different standard does not get us equality.

  28. 28
    lucia says:

    slumpyb. You are right. TV sometimes shows women hitting men, and they shouldn’t. Wives hitting husbands in the groin intentionally should certainly be out of bounds. (Unintentionally hits are not terrific either!)

    This type of comic violence doesn’t help anyone. Plus, you’d figure good writers should be able to write funny scripts withouth it, right? Even if it weren’t an outright bad message, it seems like lazy writing.

  29. 29
    Myca says:

    But, studies have found that on average, psychologically women suffer more in violent relationships than men.

    How is that measured? I have no doubt that what you say is true, but it seems like “degree of psychological suffering” would be unthinkably difficult to quantify in a way that meant something.

    I mean, take two abusive relationships, A and B. Relationship A is extremely physically abusive and lasts a year, ending with the death by suicide of the abused partner. Relationship B is only slightly physically abusive but extremely emotionally abusive, and lasts for 45 years, ending when the abuser dies of old age. I have a hard time pointing at either of those relationships and saying “that one was worse.” B had a greater duration, but perhaps A had a more unbearable intensity . . . or maybe not . . . maybe the abuse in B was as bad or worse, but the abused party didn’t resort to something like suicide for religious reasons or something similar. My point is that, since suffering is such a subjective thing, I’m having trouble imagining a study measuring emotional distress that would be worthwhile.

    On the THIRD hand, of course, I generally think that you know what you’re talking about when it comes to this stuff, so I’m interested in hearing the rest of the story.

    —Myca

  30. 30
    bean says:

    Well, psychological suffering is never based on exactly what happened (as you said, Myca, you can’t take 2 situations and decide how each person will feel), but rather on psychological profiles taken of the people involved — how they feel about it, how much of a psychological toll it took on them.

  31. my personal dynamic is that my father was verbally abusive to my mother and physically abusive to us kids, in a way that was normal for the times – i was born in ’60. i don’t know if i was born with something in the autism spectrum or if my depression and paranoia comes from the interaction with dad. probably some of both. LBJ was president, a bully who bossed around his wife, spanked the hispanic kids he taught, drafted and killed boys like my cousin, used rape and torture as national policy in vietnam, had secret wars in greece and latin america, so when you guys talk about the government as some benevolent funding mechanism, i can’t relate – government is the patriarchy incarnate. the movie troy, which i haven’t seen, shows the evolution of the extended family into a city-state.
    i was doing some research earlier today about stages of ritual domestic violence. lycurgus in sparta substituted boy-whipping for child sacrifice, as a reform measure. the romans brought it back as a tourist attraction. beatings evolved into spankings, controlled, ‘normal” family violence within loving relationships. paddling of freshmen college students died out around the 30s but continued in frat initiation rituals. playful birthday spankings and local folk customs here and there are echoes of a darker past. black male junior high students in memphis get paddled by goverment agents/teachers more than all students in 28 states combined.
    stauss has done some useful research in this area.
    it has some methodological flaws, not distinguishing major from minor incidents, but is better than no research at all.
    we live in a culture of interconnected cycles of violence. husbands hitting wives, in part because they lack the verbal skills to argue, mothers hitting boys who grow up to hit wives, war taxes, prison rape, violence against farm animals and lab animals, baby killing, violence on tv, these tend to reinforce each other. i work hard, with little success, to carve out a quiet calm safe place for myself, where i would be able to hear myself think. a week ago i was able to plug into a circle of events connected with a local anarchist bookstore, so there’ve been pot-lucks and punks shows and bike rides and a men’s gender discussion group and the kind of things i’ve been looking for community-wise. it’ll be interesting to see how long it takes to drive them away with my weirdness, i’m usually pretty good at that. that sense of community is one of the things i’ve found at this blog, for which i’m grateful.

  32. 32
    ChurchofBruce says:

    spicy wrote: Schwartz (1987) analysing nine years’ worth of US National Crime Survey data, found that 67.2% of men and 56.8% of wives called the police after an assault by their spouse

    That got me wondering, and in context with Trish’s comments above, about the nature of an abusive relationship and how it’s not about counting up the ‘hits’.

    Do any of these studies talk about when a person is more likely to call the cops?

    It almost seems to me, and this is purely anecdotal (which is why I’m asking about the studies), that a person in a truly long-term soul-destroying abusive relationship is less likely to report it.

    A ‘counting hits’ thing would be more likely to be reported. I’m talking about a not-necessarily-abusive but possibly volatile relationship where one partner ‘flies off the handle’. (Yes, usually the man.) You seem to hear about those ones being reported every day–while long-term abuse gets swept under the carpet for years.

    I guess my point is, I don’t know what reporting statistics tell us.

    I’ve been married for 11 years, and my marriage is generally good–but, like most, has its moments :-). So, it’s NOT by any stretch of the imagination abusive at all, either way. In this context, if my wife flew off the handle and belted me, I *would* report it. Why? To protect myself. And I’m sure she’d say the same. In the context of a relationship that’s non-abusive, if one partner gets pissed off enough to start taking swings, the next step is divorce court. And if *she* starts taking swings first, I’d want that on the damn record for the inevitable child custody dispute. And, as I said, I’m sure she’d say the same. Reporting that ‘abuse’ if it ever happened would be purely tactical (my wife couldn’t hurt me unless she went for the heavy objects :-)). So, I wonder how much reporting *is* tactical? Reporting something like that would take no skin off my nose. Reporting the *true* abusive relationship *would* have.

  33. 33
    ladygoat says:

    EXCELLENT post.

  34. 34
    spicy says:

    ChurchOfBruce wrote: I wonder how much reporting *is* tactical?

    I don’t know for the US but I do know that in the UK (where reporting of domestic violence to the police brings *no* tactical advantage whatsoever) that reporting is strongly influenced by:

    victim perception of the likely response from the police and her assessment of whether such a response will result in a reduction or increase of her safety (her perception is influenced by age, ethnicity, religion and previous encounters with the police)

    number of previous occurrances (average is for abused women to be assaulted in excess of 30 times before reporting)

    severity of the abuse (the more the victim fears for their life, the more likely the reporting)

    the current state of the relationship (post-seperation abuse is more likely to be reported)

    the degree of social contact that the victim is ‘permitted’ by the abuser (women who have told at least one friend are more likely to report to the police)

    the effect of the abuse on her children (the more she acknowledges that it impacts on them, the more likely she is to report to the police

  35. 35
    bean says:

    Having spent a number of years working the Domestic Violence field, I can assure you that all people — women and men — are far less likely to report emotional and psychological abuse than physical abuse, at least, to the police.

    And while I don’t want to, in any way, undermine the incredibly harmful effects of physical abuse, for many, non-physical emotional and psychological abuse can be harder for the victim to deal with. They don’t feel that they can call the cops, they don’t feel that they have any recourse. I can’t tell you the number of women I have talked to in these sorts of situations who say to me, “I just wish he’d hit me. Then I think it would be more ‘real’ — more people would see it as abuse, I’d get more support.

    There are too many people in our society — including cops — who have the attitude, “well, at least he doesn’t hit you,” as though that’s supposed to make it ok.

    I don’t have any statistics to back this up right now, just anecdotal evidence. But that anecdotal eveidence has been pretty powerfully convincing, IMO.

  36. 36
    ChurchofBruce says:

    Spicy wrote:

    I don’t know for the US but I do know that in the UK (where reporting of domestic violence to the police brings *no* tactical advantage whatsoever)

    First of all the rest of your post was very informative (that post-relationship abuse being more likely to be reported was excellent. I never thought of that, but it makes perfect sense.)

    But I have a question about the above. No tactical advantage whatsoever? Even if there’s a child custody dispute down the road? The UK courts wouldn’t take one partner being reported for abuse into consideration with child custody?

    That’s what I meant in my hypothetical example–if my wife goes nuts and starts pummeling me, I want it on an official record so I can get out but keep my kids!

  37. 37
    Spicy says:

    “But I have a question about the above. No tactical advantage whatsoever? Even if there’s a child custody dispute down the road? The UK courts wouldn’t take one partner being reported for abuse into consideration with child custody?”

    Amazing though it may seem, domestic violence is not taken into account when deciding future arrangements for the child. This is the subject of much campaigning at the moment as there are two new laws currently in Parliament that should address this issue in at least one of them…. but in fact appears in neither.

    If you’re interested, further information can be found here:

    http://www.womensaid.org.uk/policy&consultations/briefings/children/children_index.htm

    and here:

    http://www.womensaid.org.uk/press_releases/index.htm

    Don’t forget, this is a country where over 80% of Judges are white men who went to public (confusingly, this means private in the UK) school AND Oxford or Cambridge. They tend to be elderly and are often out of touch with reality as the following quote demonstrates:

    “It is a well known fact that women and small children have a tendency to tell lies”

  38. 38
    mythago says:

    How is this OK?

    Remember that women, being ineffectual and inferior, aren’t any real threat to men on any level, so hitting men is harmless and cute. *rolls eyes*

  39. 39
    Richard Bellamy says:

    But, studies have found that on average, psychologically women suffer more in violent relationships than men.

    The problem I see with reasoning from the psychological harm caused, rather than the objective incidents of violence/abuse, is that it permits measurement to change based on the qualities of the victim rather than the qualities of the abuser.

    Assume we accurately measure, and determine that for every X incidents of violence, men are psychologically scarred by Y amount, while women are psychologically scarred by 2Y amount. Now, I come up with a great plan to reduce abuse: psychological training for women! If I can get them to be scarred only to the same extent men are, then I can cut the impact of abuse of women by half!

    Sound like a terrible idea? Of course it is. The goal should be to reduce incidents of abuse. And since that is the only acceptable goal, then that should be the measure by which we judge it.

    In my mind, Wife-beating is “worse” than husband battering because there is more of it and because the extent of the physical damage tends to be worse, not because wives are more likely to suffer psychologically as a result.

  40. psych services for victims of abuse, as well as medical services, sounds like a good thing.
    partly because, well done, it helps victims recognize warning signs, not play into scripts of escalating violence. psych services for perpatrators is valuable too. they are usually victims of some sort as well, and, well done, helps abusers recognize warning signs, not play into scripts of escalating violence.
    these should of course be market based, which includes open source.

  41. 41
    Spicy says:

    Whilst not disagreeing that there is a need for ‘psych services’ I just wanted to point out that when people talk about addressing domestic violence, it is interesting how:

    (a) the emotional aspects of the issue are almost always the focus , as opposed to the practical barriers which prevent women from changing their situation and

    (b) when considering who / what needs to change, society at large is always at the bottom of the the list if mentioned at all. (Actually, the abuser usually gets left off the list as well although not in this instance)

  42. 42
    mythago says:

    Depends on who’s doing the talking, Spicy–professionals who work with domestic violence do understand, and address, the fact that “I love him/her” is far from the only reason victims remain with their abusers. But you’re so right about your point b.

  43. 43
    spicy says:

    You are absolutely right – I should have been clearer that I was not including domestic violence professionals in my sweeping generalisation of ‘people’.

  44. 44
    r@d@r says:

    as always, a bracing discussion.

    i think it’s worthwhile not to give up entirely on the “men’s consciousness movement” even if it has devolved into strange mutations such as “men’s rights”. i think male consciousness-raising is probably a good idea, like “western civilization”.

    maybe this is obvious…i’m far from an expert in this, but my instincts tell me that when weighing the balance of power in child custody diputes, divorce, criminal abuse trials etc., one can’t discount the disproportionate amount of power men hold in society in general – not simply economic power, but in subtle things…i’m thinking of the fact that women have a lot more they have to prove to show that they are a “good mother” and a “good wife/girlfriend” than men do. in a lot of courts, all the man has to do is show up in a good suit and demonstrate that he makes a lot of money in order to get taken seriously. it’s the same kind of facade that covers up domestic violence. meanwhile, a woman who complains about a man is often suspect of trying to defame the man in the community – i haven’t seen the same charge leveled at men nearly as much [as if the woman doesn't have any standing in the community that can be defamed!], but perhaps other people have observed something different.

    i have been physically, mentally and emotionally abused by women. but i don’t see it as systemic. i don’t feel like i live in a culture in which women have the upper hand over me. i know that’s not very substantive and “merely anecdotal”, but it really does feel to me that there is a very strong culturally-supported imbalance of power that puts me at an advantage. so far, all the men i have talked to who dispute this seem terribly wounded in their self-esteem, and appear to blame their mothers. i have a whole other set of theories about the abuse mothers pass on from father to son, but i’ll wait to articulate that elsewhere.

  45. 45
    ChurchofBruce says:

    one can’t discount the disproportionate amount of power men hold in society in general – not simply economic power, but in subtle things…i’m thinking of the fact that women have a lot more they have to prove to show that they are a “good mother” and a “good wife/girlfriend” than men do.

    Well, no. One *can* discount the disproportionate amount of power men hold in society in general, if it’s not germane to the current case.

    I’ll leave abuse out of it for the moment–you mentioned divorce and child custody. If such a thing were ever to happen in my marriage, this is what the judge would be faced with: one partner who works full time and makes more than twice as much as the other partner who only works 30 hours. That second partner also does the bulk of the child care, being the one that’s at home during the day.

    The *second* partner is *me*. The ‘breadwinner’ is my wife. It’s an arrangement that’s more common than it used to be, but still very atypical. If I were to be in divorce court, and the judge immediately took my wife’s side because she’s the one with the vagina, that’s unfair. I’m the one with defacto ‘custody’ of the kids as it is, especially the three-year-old–she’s in bed a half hour after my wife gets home. I’m the one that does it *now*. And that should be discounted in a custody case just because of some ‘patriarchy’ bullcrap that obviously isn’t present in my own personal life?

  46. 46
    TonySprout says:

    Some of you just don’t understand the Men’s Rights Movement. Most of us are for equality, true, balanced, equality. The percentages and statistics for DV don’t count for a hill of beans to a person (yes men are people too) that’s been abused and needs to get away from the abuser.

    Most, if not all, of these women’s shelters accept funds from some taxing authority. Our taxes. Under the Constitution there can be no “Women’s” shelters, or “Men’s” shelters for that matter, that take public funds. It’s the law. It’s the same law that protects women from discrimination in the workplace.

    It also amazes me how feminists twist things to their advantage. The latest gimmick is for the “primary care giver” to get custody. (This means that ChurchofBruce should get custody of his kids should a breakup happen.) When you read “primary care giver”, think mother. This is a gender neutral group that happens to be mostly female, so the term is acceptable to feminists.

    Many, if not most, of you here see the men’s movement as our way to try get out of child support. You’re partially correct. Let me say first that ANY person that commits to having a child is responsible for the welfare of that child. It doesn’t matter if you’re married or not, or even still a couple. Once that choice is made and the baby arrives, you’re a parent and need to grow up. Where we differ from the old-style feminsts is that we believe there should be “Equal Reproductive Choice.” Men should have the same protections under the law (14th amendment) as women. Women are protected from forced parenthood, men are not. A person DOES NOT have to be pregnant to sign away parental rights and responsibilities as in the legal abandonment laws most states have. These states avoid letting men have choice by first stating that any unmarried female who gives birth is the sole custodial parent, then they go on to say that any parent having legal custody of a child can surrender that child within a specified time-frame after giving birth to police, fire stations, and emergency rooms, no questions asked.

    I can sum up what Men’s Rights are to me. Remember, it varies depending on the person you talk to, and many of these groups don’t all believe the same things. For instance, many father’s rights members don’t believe in Choice for men.
    I’m against abortion and child abandonment. What I’m for is EQUALITY. Since the law affords women these privileges, men MUST have them as well.

    1. Legalize prostitution in all 50 states. No person should be forced into a relationship when they’re not ready for it.

    2. Choice for men, too

    3. Equality in family court. Joint legal and physical custody when practical.Damn it, if they have to assign custody to one parent they can take each case and measure the parents’ fitness. If both parents are fit to be custodial parents, then use a system that “toggles” the custody assignment, as in “the last case this court assigned custody to was female, this one is required to go to the male.”

    EQUAL REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS
    EQUAL REPRODUCTIVE CHOICE
    EQUAL=EQUAL
    Equality is neither privilege or oppression.

    Posted by Trish’s troll.

  47. 47
    mythago says:

    Many, if not most, of you here see the men’s movement as our way to try get out of child support.

    Actually, I see that when somebody imputes sinister motives to me that I do not in fact possess, they’re probably not amenable to rational discussion of the issue. (After all, what could a twisty, evil feminist like myself possibly have to say that would matter to you?)

    I am, however, intrigued by your comment about prostitution–what does prostitution have to do with forcing someone into a relationship?

  48. 48
    ginmar says:

    Ah, legalizing prostitution in all fifty states. How we eradicate the sexism that causes men to think they’re entitled to a class of fuck toys first?

    And don’t impute motives to feminists without actually reading any. Primary caregiver is still the woman; that still hasn’t changed a great deal. Change that, and then we’ll talk about what men deserve. Arguing that men deserve equal parental rights before they’ve assumed equal parental responsibilities is typical.

  49. 49
    tikae says:

    I’m still pondering over the “prostitution legalization = not forcing people into relationships when they’re not ready” part, myself. If I had to guess, it’d be something like “men need sex, and if they’re having sex with non-prostitute women, they risk impregnating them and being forced to help raise the child or pay child support.”

  50. 50
    mythago says:

    There’s nothing about the mother’s being a prostitute that automagically frees a man from paternal responsibilities–difficulty in being located, but that’s about it.

    Sticking to members of one’s own gender for sex eliminates all problems related to unplanned pregnancy.

  51. 51
    tikae says:

    Or masturbation. I wholly support the legalization of masturbation.

  52. 52
    lucia says:

    >>”men need sex, and if they’re having sex with non-prostitute women, they risk impregnating them and being forced to help raise the child or pay child support.”

    Am I mistaken, or, wouldn’t a man be required to support his child by a prostitute? Couldn’t she just keep a list of customers, and request DNA testing for all plausible men?

  53. 53
    lucia says:

    Oppss.. I missed Mythago’s post! You’d already answered my question. (Uhmmm.. mythago, he or she? I realized I didn’t know when writing this!)

  54. 54
    mythago says:

    She. No worries.

  55. 55
    tikae says:

    I’m fairly certain they’d still be required to pay child support if asked, but I’m baffled at any other possible link between prostitution and non-forced relationship. Maybe it simply is about “getting” sex without being in a relationship, but I know plenty of people, male and female, attractive and otherwise, who have no problem with that. shrug.

  56. 56
    wookie says:

    My goodness. It’s been awhile since I’ve seen such a blatantly “me me me, my needs, my wants!!” comment on this board.

    Legalization of prostitution? It’s not the concept that bothers me, it’s the reason behind it. Hmm, has someone needed sex so terribly badly that they’ve “had a relationship” to get it?

    As for “Choice for men too”… sorry, but it’s still a two party system (pregnant person and impregnator), and SOMEONE has to have veto power on that vote.

  57. 57
    mythago says:

    Women are just as stuck as men, absent abortion. There is no “I didn’t get my abortion” get-out-of-maternity card.

  58. 58
    ChurchofBruce says:

    Women are just as stuck as men, absent abortion. There is no “I didn’t get my abortion” get-out-of-maternity card.

    Well, yeah, there is, if you mean ‘responsibility for the child’ as the maternity you’re trying to get out of. That card is adoption.

    I know that’s a little trickier, because I believe in some states the father has to agree (anyone know more than I do about that?) But, yeah, there is another way past abortion.

  59. 59
    ChurchofBruce says:

    Primary caregiver is still the woman; that still hasn’t changed a great deal.

    Sometimes. Not always. I’m proof of that.

    BTW, one of the reasons ‘primary caregiver is still the woman’ is because women have trouble letting go of it. Believe me on that one. It took a while for my wife to stop second-guessing every freakin’ thing I did.

  60. 60
    mythago says:

    That card is adoption.

    As you say, that varies by state–but all adoption means is that somebody else can assume the mother’s parental rights. It’s not the “paper abortion” some men’s-rights advocates want, where one parent may unilaterally divest him- or herself of all parenting rights and responsibilities. My point was that she can adopt the baby out, but until that happens she’s legally Mom, whether she wanted to be or not.

  61. 61
    Ampersand says:

    In most states, legally, there is no difference in mother’s and father’s abilities to put their own infant up for abortion.

    There is one immense practical difference – it’s possible, if the parents are not close, for a mother to keep a child secret from the father, but not vice versa. But that’s a difference created by biology, not by law.

  62. 62
    wookie says:

    In most states, legally, there is no difference in mother’s and father’s abilities to put their own infant up for abortion

    Um… can you confirm please that you meant adoption and not abortion?

  63. 63
    Ampersand says:

    Whoops! Right you are, wookie, I meant to say “adoption.” Thanks.

  64. 64
    ChurchofBruce says:

    As you say, that varies by state–but all adoption means is that somebody else can assume the mother’s parental rights.

    It means the mother can give *up* her parental rights.

    I’m not a father’s rights zealot, but I do see part of the argument. A father can *never* give up his parental responsibilities if the mother decides to keep hers. Adoptions’s more of a gray area, but abortion isn’t.

    Now, one of the big problems I have with this isn’t really ‘Men’s rights’–it’s cultural. And it’s a cultural step backwards. It takes us right back to the Woman Nuturer, Man Wallet paradigm that we should’ve shed some time ago. And this is, of course, self-perpetuating. (I’m not absolving actual people here. Too many men really don’t want anything to do with the kid, and too many woman actually do only want the money.)

    I really don’t know what the answer is. But I know what we’ve got right now isn’t working all that well. It perpetuates gender stereotypes and can be harmful to kids.

  65. 65
    mythago says:

    She has to give them up TO someone else.

  66. 66
    Trish Wilson says:

    Tony Sprout (my troll, LOL): “Most, if not all, of these women’s shelters accept funds from some taxing authority. Our taxes. Under the Constitution there can be no “Women’s” shelters, or “Men’s” shelters for that matter, that take public funds. It’s the law. It’s the same law that protects women from discrimination in the workplace.”

    Several men’s rights groups (R Kids, the National Coalition of Free Men, and the Men’s Defense Association) and some individual men had sued in Minnesota and California (Free Men, only, in CA) claiming that women’s shelters received funding illegally and that they discriminated against men. The men’s rights groups argued that the shelters violated equal protection claims. These lawsuits have been dismissed.

    In California, the shelters were able to successfully argue that, in enacting a gender-specific funding program for shelters, the California legislature had declared that state-funded shelters that limit services to battered women and children do not unlawfully discriminate. Shelters in California have offered stays in hotel rooms for men claiming to be victims of domestic violence. In Minnesota, the lawsuits were dismissed on the grounds that the plaintiffs lacked standing – they failed to allege, nor could they demonstrate, they they had suffered any direct injury in fact. They could not demonstrate the existence of or that they actually suffered from the “prejudicial atmosphere that has been created in the state courts of Minnesota against men as a class.”

  67. 67
    Trish Wilson says:

    ChurchofBruce, I think Bean is on the right track that people are more likely to call the police about physical abuse than they are about emotional and psychological abuse. There’s the fear that they won’t be taken seriously if they aren’t beaten, and lots of people tend to equate domestic violence with being hit even though it’s really much more than that. Even if they are beaten, they might not think they are beaten up enough to be taken seriously.

  68. 68
    TonySprout says:

    Here we are again.

    Posted by mythago
    “Women are just as stuck as men, absent abortion. There is no “I didn’t get my abortion” get-out-of-maternity card.”

    Where do you live? Don’t women have a choice for legal abandonment after birth?

    Posted by ChurchofBruce
    “Women are just as stuck as men, absent abortion. There is no “I didn’t get my abortion” get-out-of-maternity card.

    Well, yeah, there is, if you mean ‘responsibility for the child’ as the maternity you’re trying to get out of. That card is adoption.

    I know that’s a little trickier, because I believe in some states the father has to agree (anyone know more than I do about that?) But, yeah, there is another way past abortion.”

    My state has a putative father’s list so the state can notify the father when the mother puts a child up for adoption, IF she names the father during the process. WHAT A JOKE!

    TRISH, as far as I’m concerned, if a woman’s shelter will put a man up in a hotel under the same conditions as a woman in a shelter, that’s a good thing. As far as court rulings, I see NO GOOD for men’s issues there.

    The Constitution guarantees EQUAL PROTECTION OF THE LAW, REGARDLESS OF GENDER. If a law or court ruling gives citizen A a particular benefit, then citizen B gets that same right or benefit. These laws assisted women in getting equal pay and rights in the workplace UNDER THE LAW. (This doesn’t mean the reality reflects the law, only that the law is in place.) If you can’t see that, if you only use the Constitution to further your causes and deny the use of the same laws to men, then there is no hope for anyone in this country.

    In regards to my post on prostitution, yes men force themselves into relationships in order to get sex. Don’t even try to dismiss male sexuality as something dirty. We like it, we can do it without romance, we can even do it with a stranger. This is the way men are designed by nature and I REFUSE to apologize for it.

    It has nothing to do with possible paternity, but is an alternative lifestyle, and could also be called a sexual preference. “Filty” men participating is the only argument critics can come up with. If womem wanted prostitution, it’d be legal.

  69. 69
    mythago says:

    Don’t women have a choice for legal abandonment after birth?

    There is a law in my state that says if a woman abandons her newborn in designated locations, she will not be prosecuted. That says nothing about whether she has parental rights, which still have to be terminated through adoption. The only reason for the law is so that, hopefully, women who abandon their babies will leave them at hospitals instead of in Porta-Potties.

    Again: adoption means somebody else takes over the parental rights. Until and unless there is an adoption, the mother is still responsible for that child. Even if she couldn’t have obtained an abortion. Even if she really, really doesn’t want the kid. There is no ‘paper abortion’ cutting one free from a child unless and until somebody else picks up the baton.

    If womem wanted prostitution, it’d be legal.

    Other than bitterness at those evil feeemales who lure men into marriage, do you have any basis at all for this statement? What is keeping men from making prostitution legal–fear that their wife will burn the toast on purpose?

    By the way, women, too, like sex and can “do it” without romance or even knowing the other person’s last name. Unlike men, though, we have to contend with being called sluts, whores, tramps, and deserving of whatever we get, so we make noises about romance and flowers to keep the guys happy.

  70. 70
    alsis38 says:

    I can’t wait for Varro to get back from watching football at our neighbor’s house so Sprout can explain that I “forced” him into a relationship because of his need for sex. NOTA, what a great way to start the week !! :p

    [Cranks up Dinah Washington's version of "Evil Gal Blues" reeeeeeeeeeally loud, scaring the kids and dogs across the street.]

    P.S.– Trish, I didn’t read this thread before, but I’ve especially appreciated your comments. Cheers.

  71. 71
    Amanda says:

    Tony, the Constitution doesn’t guarantee equal protection of the law, regardless of gender. We eeeevil feminists tried to get that in there under a little amendment called ERA, but it got shot down. So sorry.

  72. 72
    lucia says:

    TonySproutI know that’s a little trickier, because I believe in some states the father has to agree (anyone know more than I do about that?) But,
    yeah, there is another way past abortion.”

    I don’t know what state you live in. However, in Illinois, the state requires the following:

    * If the birth father is known, he must sign consent, otherwise, the baby cannot be put up for adotion.

    * If the birthfather is unknown or known but unable to be located, a legal notice is published concerning the adoption proceedings. If he does not come forward within 30 days after birth to claim his parental rights and parent the child, the court will terminate his legal rights. (I assume these notices must run in local newspapers.)

    My source: The Cradle

    I suspect most states have similar laws– although you could surf to find out more for your state.

    Tony: Are you concerned about the following inequity that migh happend to a man:

    A man gets a woman he hardly knows pregnant, doesn’t stick around to know she is pregnant, doesn’t read the paper to learn she is putting the baby up for adoption, doesn’t step up to claim his parental responsibility for 30 days after the ad appear and loses his parental rights when, in fact, he would have wanted to assert those rights, if only he had known?

    My understanding is that if the man does step forward, he will generally get custody, and then he can be awarded child support from the mother. The law is even handed in that regard.

    But, yes, there are cases where the child can be put up for adoption without the father direct consent if the father does not step forward.

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  77. 73
    lee says:

    Mythago wrote:
    By the way, women, too, like sex and can “do it”? without romance or even knowing the other person’s last name. Unlike men, though, we have to contend with being called sluts, whores, tramps, and deserving of whatever we get, so we make noises about romance and flowers to keep the guys happy.

    lol lol lol!

    This has been a good discussion; thank you

  78. 74
    H.McMillan says:

    I am not a “men’s rights” activist. I was a battered spouse, though.
    Your post seems to miss the point of what it feels like sitting over here, so I imagine you are not one of us.
    I don’t at all want to take any real attention away from the problem of battered wives. Neither does the research you critique. The issue is making a real case for those of us who have and do suffer abuse from our wives/girlfriends. It is not a myth. We get hit and don’t hit back. We dodge soup cans and, if successful at dodging, don’t get injured. And by and large, don’t call the cops.
    In order for these women (and their hubby) to get help, maybe the cops should be called more often. That way the agency stats will begin to reflect reality. But, I think these men tend to have faith that they will be able to work out the problem with their spouses. The problem here is that uncontrolled rage is indeed uncontrolled rage, regardless of who is doling it out to their partner. It’s time that the politics of sexism be left behind on this issue. People who respond with violence repeatedly have a problem and they need help. But remember, so do the victums of their violence.
    Big strong men could of course defend themselves from these kinds of attacks, but that really is not the issue.
    It’s not about feminism or men’s rights. Or at least it shouldn’t be. If your wife curses you and hits you in front of your kid, and she does it over and over, the effect on the child is more important than if the punch is painful or not. And, from the point of view of the battered husband, it represents a cause of more than a little grief and embarrasment: This is a major problem that should not be ignored or argued about by academics who are really trying to promote a scholarly bias more than really dealing with/analyzing/addressing the lives of and emotional consequences for the people in their study.
    If I would have called the cops after the first couple of incidents, perhaps my EX wife would have gotten help and my marriage might still be viable.
    Your argument misses the point that those of us who have lived this nightmare are trying to make. The researchers should simply be trying to get it right, not pushing a political/sexist agenda.

  79. 75
    ginmar says:

    Why, exactly, is it a feminist issue? Why can’t men help themselves? Where are all these men’s rights groups? Why don’t you get a bunch of guys and stop expecting women to yet again put you guys first?

  80. 76
    Crys T says:

    Obviously: Cos when a man gets hit by a woman, it hurts him so much more than when a woman gets hit by a man. So, we all should devote our time to taking care of the men, and only worry about the women when the men are all okay. Even if it’s true that there are more women suffering.

  81. 77
    ginmar says:

    And even if the men’s only interest in feminism is what it can do for them—at the expense of women.

    What gets me is that you have to suspect some of these MRAs are batterers themselves. I was trying to find shelter for a battered guy so I called a nationally-pimped shelter for battered men. The guy who ran it couldn’t have cared less. He had no info, didn’t give a shit, and he turned out to be a batterer himself. The director of the Duluth Project, however, was extremely well-read and well-informed and very helpful. What a contrast.

    The sad fact is that feminists just can’t set aside women to help men. There are too many women and I’ll be damned if they get put in the back of the bus. That’s what these guys want, though. It’s just more male entitlement: “Me first! I’m more important.” They think that it’s not supposed to happen to them–but to women—so it’s more awful than when it happens to women. When men do it to women, that is. See the passive voice? We’re not supposed to use direct male-blaming language; you get in the habit of it.

  82. 78
    Rafael XXX says:

    In the face of strong counter-evidence, and contrary to the opinions of the researchers whose work they rely on, men’s rights activists passionately insist that men are equally victims of spousal violence. What compels them to this belief? Men’s rights activists are at least partly driven by a fear of guilt and shame. Men’s rights activists are attracted to the equal-victimization hypothesis because, to them, it suggests that men are not to blame for violence against women.

    I don’t think it is really shame about male violence that compels men’s activists to overstate female-on-male domestic violence. I myself have never seen any MRA crumble before data on male violence. Today, male-bashing and male-villification (don’t know if this word exists) go hand to hand in western society. In a country where there is overstatement about male violence, where we can found people like Andrea Dworkin and Catherine MacKinnon, where National Organization for Women in the occasion of Columbine condemned gender neutral reports — such as “kids shooting kids” — and stated that white boys, when mad, victimize girls and people of color – I think you should actually empathize to them. They feel villified, persecuted, etc.

    Men’s rights activists have had their quota of excesseses — but I can’t say anything better about feminists. MRA radicalism will keep escalating as far as you radical feminists spread lies about them.

    By the way, I’d like to know how patriarchy still spreads evil today. Just because women have some issues, it means they are oppressed? Give me a break… Men face a lot of issues too — does it mean they are oppressed by matriarchy?

  83. 79
    soopermouse says:

    oh lookie, amp has a paleo troll!!

    “Just because women have some issues, it means they are oppressed? Give me a break… Men face a lot of issues too … does it mean they are oppressed by matriarchy? ”

    matriarchy? where??

    Not getting your way into everything does not equal being oppressed

  84. 80
    ginmar says:

    For them it does. They can’t tell the difference between what they want and what they need.

  85. Generally I argue for the recognition of domestic violence against men (in response to the myth that it pretty much doesn’t exist), but I sense that either you are representing the MRAers or that these same MRAers, like you suggest, probably have counterproductive goals in mind. I’m not sure why anybody would cling to the “equal victims” line, because in the end I really don’t think it’s all that important: as far as I’ve read, most studies on find domestic violence against men to be a pretty significant portion of domestic violence in general, whether it’s 50% like the studies that you claim the MRAers cling to, or something a lot lower. Generally it seems like the number falls somewhere between 25-50%, and no matter how you put it, that’s a pretty darned good amount of men getting abused! And when organizations like the Julian Center (I live in Indianapolis) have websites that explain how 95% of domestic violence happens to women (it really says that!), then I get sort of upset. I just don’t see how that helps anybody.

    Anyhow, just wanted to say I really appreciated this post. This is a hard issue to address fairly and reasonably (I fail at it a lot!), but I feel like you did, here.

  86. 82
    Daran says:

    Posting my reply here, because the original thread is feminist only. Amp, do you regard these injunctions to be permanent, or can I consider them expired after the discussion has lapsed for a suitable period?

    Brandy V.:

    I do remember some famous woman boxer that was on the “E” network, who was supposed to be on American Gladiator. But you can’t find her on their website because of a recent scandal in which she beat the shit out of her husband. And then I know my friend’s mom, who was a wrestler, she knocked her husband’s teeth out, and another lady down the street who pulled out chunks of her man’s hair (dreads, must have really hurt).

    A friend of mine once told me that the last thing she did as a wife for her “cheating” husband was “put him in hospital”. The tone of the remark was in the manner of a boast. I know of a man whose front tooth was punched out by his girlfriend. (Both of them confirmed this, and again the tone was jokey.) And I was punched repeatedly on several occasions by an enraged former partner.

    I’m gunna have to say it’s more common then you think. :/ Women have rage issues, too, and not all of us can be delicate flowers. Nor can all our husbands be big strong men who can hold us back.

    The implication of the latter remark is that large, physically strong men aren’t vulnerable. But that’s not the case if the woman isn’t holding back, and the man isn’t psychologically prepared to act to defend himself, in particular, if he’s unwilling to hurt her. My former partner was a waif of a woman, but when she was hitting me, my primary concern was to avoid offending her even more, which meant taking it without a flinch.

    But overwhelmingly, it is men beating women…

    That is disputed. Amp argues above, and in the other post that the NVAW survey presents a truer picture than the surveys typically cited by men’s activists. But there are credible arguments that suggest the opposite.

  87. 83
    Glenn's Cult says:

    WOW!!!!! You have put into words what I have been trying to say for almost 3 years now. A long post to be sure, but it says EVERYTHING!!!! I tip my hat to you. If I get around to doing a post similar to this (about the false stats) I will be linking to you. This is wonderful work!

  88. 84
    Ampersand says:

    Thanks, GC. :-)

  89. 85
    KA says:

    Thanks for the insightful post. I found my way here after reading this article: http://www.all-about-forensic-psychology.com/support-files/female-psychopathic-killers.pdf, the tone of which bothered me. I was hoping to get some insight int female psychopathy after seeing the doc about Andrew Bagby and how he was murdered by his gf., but the article has that can’t-quite-put my-finger-on-why-this-is-misogynistic, but-I-know-it-when-I-see-it feeling. Like the reason that we so rarely hear about cases like this is that society is just bending over backwards to not recognize women’s dark sides. The author’s also seem VERY proud of themselves at being so clever (and check out the lovely graphics.)

    http://www.all-about-forensic-psychology.com/support-files/female-psychopathic-killers.pdf

    Most men know it’s still a man’s world and they don’t have a personal crisis if a woman points this out. Same for white people.

  90. 86
    John says:

    When I read the headline, saw who the author was and of course noticed what blog it’s on, I fully anticipated that I would be extremely ticked, but I found that it was the comments that were upsetting. I’m impressed that the author makes a distinction between domestic violence and severe domestic violence, but I would never hold that a person who is only slapped or punched a couple time or someone who laughs it off are not victims. It is this disconnect that confuses most MRAs. A person who is hit with a fist and has a black eye is as much a victim as a person who is punched and has a fractured eye socket. Many women are raped using a date rape drug and have no memory of the attack. Does that mean they were never raped or that their rapes matter less? I thought that went counter to feminist theory. It is also a disservice to victims, who fail to see themselves as victims. Would we say that a woman raised to be subservient to her husband isn’t a victim if he batters her as long as she feels that it is his right? Many women in Africa believe in female circumcision, so the practice shouldn’t be banned.

    Personally, I think there is a small divide between MRAs, who aren’t misogynists, and feminists, who aren’t misandrists. I find it refreshing that some feminists believe that it is important to build cooperation between the sexes. One of my projects is to better understand feminists. I sent 2 e-mails to ask Amy to feminist.com. One of the reasons I reject the label feminist is that I’ve found them too often minimizing injustices to men and boys.
    I have some questions for the posters. It would really help me understand if you could answer them. I reject establishing a shelter for men because it is sexist. Why would it be better to start a sexist shelter than to contribute to an organization that already services both genders? Under what framework do you assign or remove victim status based on severity of injury, intent of the assailant and feelings of the victim? There are some examples in paragraph one. Does this mean that a feminist would support classifying striking a male in the testicles as a sex crime, but not a woman in the vagina based on severity of pain? The last question was what was the purpose of the article? I know it was intended to discredit MRAs, but to what purpose? Was it to win the victim Olympics? Is it worry that some loser guy might try to even the score or does recognizing the scale to which men are abused unnerve feminists?

    Many MRAs feel that there is a media bias against men. In stories about female abusers there will almost always be a caveat that most abusers are men, but in an article about rescuers pulling people out of the rubble of a earthquake, you’ll never hear that the rescuers, mostly men or all men, pulled 6 people out of the rubble even if all the rescuers were men. I don’t think it’s shame, but anger that motivates MRAs to recognize men as victims. It probably wouldn’t be as necessary if they were recognized as a gender for the good they do. I ask to learn so I’m obligated to teach.

  91. 87
    Danny says:

    John:
    I reject establishing a shelter for men because it is sexist. Why would it be better to start a sexist shelter than to contribute to an organization that already services both genders?
    That depends. Are those services that service both genders offer separate accommodations by gender? I can perfectly imagine someone trying to start a shelter just for men if those services that “service both genders” has mixed company (same reason I’d say it would make perfect sense for a shelter just for women).

  92. 88
    John says:

    Danny, I’ve seen shelters segregated by floor or have separate apartments/rooms. There were families living in my church when I grew up. They were housed in separate apartments or rooms. I never actually walked into one, but at times they would leave the door open and as I passed I could see inside. None of the shelters I am aware of specifically service male domestic violence victims, but I am aware that some charities providing domestic violence support services for men will refer them to these shelters. My biggest problem with these shelters is that they tend to be faith based and I don’t like the implication for the LGBT community, but I’ve heard that this community actively support LGBT victims of DV and considering the need, the other options and the available resources, if you can’t find one that is not faith based, hold your nose and help because this seems the most viable short term option.

    I have several problems with this post as well as several other feminist posts I read in the past. One issue is that they minimize injustices to men. I’m open to the possibility that they are unintentional, sloppy writing, some internalized bias that they haven’t completely expunged and don’t adequately police or just a plain mistake. That’s why I decided to examine how feminists communicate. One example is For example Ampersand says

    Bean: Nowadays, many shelters do provide hotel vouchers for male victims, which seems like a reasonable compromise to me. Especially since there simply aren’t enough male victims to justify creating separate male shelters.

    This seems to indicate that there are very few male victims of DV. The research I’ve seen suggests that male victims of DV comprise about 30% of serious casesm when you only count serious incidents. Other posters seem to suggest that since there are no shelters for male DV victims then none are needed and so the problem must be small. I suppose that children aren’t going hungry or the government and charities would be spending more to feed them. If rape was a serious crime why would only 6% of rapists serve jail time so it must be trivial and so on. The homeless I encounter must be imaginary because otherwise more shelters would be built, right.

    Had Ampersabd said something like some shelters provide hotel vouchers to victims of DV. Although a minority of serious cases about 30%, that is still a sizeable number and although there is a great need for men’s shelters, there is a greater need for women’s shelters. It is not feasible to house them in the same location as many female victims have a fear of men and so although not ideal, due to limited resources some shelters provide hotel vouchers to male victims of DV so that those that they have the resources to help are helped. I would whole heartedly support her.

    I’ve read enough on this post to believe that feminists are anti-male. I’ve also read enough to believe that feminists truly believe in gender equality and are concerned with how society hurts men. It could be a split within the movement or an issue with the way I’m interpreting what they’re saying. If you could clarify this for me, I’d appreciate it.