Michael Flood – political indoctrination or education?
A student who knows I have an interest in domestic violence research recently forwarded me an email invitation she (and presumably all students on the James Cook University mailing list) had received, inviting her to a seminar “He hits, she hits: Assessing debates regarding men’s and women’s experiences of domestic violence.” An initial small glimmer of hope that the title might have implied the seminar would present an unbiased gender neutral approach to a controversial topic quickly dissolved upon reading the flyer. A major component of the stated aim of the seminar was to “assesses the political character and agendas of those groups involved in advocating for a gender-equal approach to domestic violence.” The presenter of the seminar Michael Flood, a purported expert in the field, appears to be locked in the seventies and still cites the discredited Duluth model as the preferred theoretical basis for addressing family violence.
A quick check of Flood’s CV revealed a recent article published in a journal called “Violence Against Women” http://vaw.sagepub.com, nope you wont find any non gendered view of reality there, the journal title conveys the ideology within.
Not unexpectedly feminist ideologues posing as academics choose such forums to expound on their male hatred and it would be hard to find a better example than this 2010 article “ ‘Fathers’ Rights’ and the Defense of Paternal Authority in Australia” . The central tenant of this opinion piece long on dogma and short on evidence is that men should be denied their democratic right to express opinions on issues such as false allegations of domestic violence, residency and contact with their children, and bias within the family court because by doing so, they are increasing “violence against women” and turning back the “significant advances of feminism.”
Implicit throughout the article is the false and unsubstantiated linkage of “violence against women” and “child abuse” as if they are one in the same thing, implying that any “fear” contrived by a mother automatically translates to a “risk” for the child. It beggars belief that one credentialed as a sociologist could be so illiterate of human nature. The overwhelming desire most fathers is to protect their children, they are expected to and would gladly if needed sacrifice their own lives to protect their children, and many have done so in the past. Such protective instincts come acutely into focus when a malicious and vindictive mother wants to enlist the states power to remove children from the safest environment, an intact family, to the environment that is well known to pose the highest risk for children of abuse, the mother headed household.
Flood insists that these evil fathers rights groups groups use typical rhetorical devices such as “an appeal to formal equality, a language of rights and entitlement, claims to victim status (and) the conflation of children’s and fathers’ interests.” The implication being that somehow none of these well abused feminist tactics should be used to counter the ideology who pioneered them. Kinda reminds me of the “fight fair” idea espoused to “perpetrators” of DV, which essentially says don’t ague with a women, thats domestic abuse!
Although Flood is dismayed that men’s rights groups have achieved such visibility, he accepts that “Painful experiences of divorce and separation, as well as experiences of family law, produce a steady stream of men who can be recruited into fathers’ rights groups.” But rather then offering any concern for the steady stream of dispossessed men or addressing the cause of their pain, or acknowledging the consequent suicide rates for men, he laments that such increased numbers of recruits may increase the political influence of mens groups.
In Floods’ words it is quite acceptable that “Women’s movements in Australia have had a distinctively high level of direct involvement in government policy making, with feminist bureaucrats or “femocrats” playing key roles,” but quite unacceptable that “ Fathers’ rights groups have become vocal opponents of feminist perspectives.” His sexist agenda clearly being that women’s voices should not only be heard but acted upon, while mens groups should not even have the right to speak.
Amongst the supposed achievements of feminism he notes, is making “violence in the home a criminal offence.” No mention is made that criminal assault and battery has always been an offence no matter where it takes place, rather the achievement of feminism was creating a new class of criminal out of men who dared disagree with women, at a time disagreement is most likely to occur, after a women unilaterally decides to end a relationship. The women then uses control and power tactics to enlist the abuse industries considerable resources to achieve their often stated threat to financially ruin their spouse and alienate him from their children. This is the real state sanctioned and aided domestic violence and if it was, as it should be, acknowledged as such men would account for the majority of victims of domestic abuse.
The growth of the abuse industry and the propaganda machine that goes with it is, in Floods view a good thing, as are the erosion of civil rights by “expanded police powers”, “reduced standards of evidence” “quasi-criminal protection or restraining orders”. No mention is made of the vested financial interests of the hordes of abuse workers, lawyers, feminist pseudo-academics, and other hangers on who derive financial sustenance from such morally contemptible activities and whose motive is, to clearly grow their business. If this industry was results based and actually decreased domestic violence and conflict many would be unemployed, hence the perverse incentive to keep case loads high even if this means redefining domestic violence to include the most trivial infractions , and to “emphasise ‘reasonable’ fears regarding personal safety.”
In the circular illogic so typical of feminist thinking Flood claims to understand the motivation of men who bring contravention orders against malicious mothers who breech contact orders, claiming they are “harassing” the mother and have no genuine interest in contact with their children, when he more rightfully should be condemning the mother for acting illegally and breaching the basic human rights of the father and children. A man who does not seek contact (not being being violent in Floods view, by causing his spouse the discomfort of having to face changeover with him) will of course be labeled as distant and uncaring, simply another inequitable win and win again situation for the mother.
What merge attempt there is to justify his position relies more on rehashing the words of other ideologues then presenting credible evidence. The evidence he does cite relates to a handful of small case series without statistical power and extreme selection bias being derived from some of the more extreme cases dealt with in family courts. Ignored are the great mass of average men caught up in separation, divorce and the domineering and abusive actions of women wielding “their” children as weapons, never reaching a court room because they cant afford it financially or emotionally, they are correctly advised that their chances of success are negligible, or through altruism are not prepared to put their children through the emotional duress that such court action would bring.
Rather than crediting magistrates and solicitors working in the area of family law with having any understanding of what happens routinely in their own workplaces, Flood makes the ridiculous assertion that their views are based on pressure from mens rights groups. If 90% of magistrates believe that protection orders are used as a tactic in family court proceedings, then this is highly likely to be the case, they are certainly used in general as a power and control technique by women in separation and divorce. Weather they admit to it or not, all family law practitioners know this, and Australia is likely not far behind the USA when failure to recommend a protection order be taken out by women against their husband in such circumstances can be construed as “malpractice”. It’s not too difficult to see how DV statistics in general become bloated.
Further Flood argues that the changes requested by fathers groups are a betrayal of male victims of domestic violence, and are rhetorical rather than real. He writes “Such changes would represent a profound erosion of the rights and protections available to the victims of violence and the ease with which they and their advocates can seek justice.” Such a statement might hold some truth if indeed male victims of domestic violence were recognised or able to access even a fraction of the services and resources available to women, which of course they are not. Rather men who approach existing DV services are likely to have a feminist abuse worker accuse them of being a perpetrator and offer a program to help curb their violence, and there is certainly no “justice” to be gained from that.
Perhaps Floods’ grandest lunacy is the claim the research based “quantitative measurement instruments focused on acts of violence” are not actually measuring violence, but inventing it, effectively allowing him to though his feminist tinted glasses to ignore the large body of evidence showing the frightening extent of female on male and reciprocal violence. It should be noted that social scientists finding such evidence of female acts of DV have often been reluctant to publish their findings, and when they did, have faced vilification and even death threats from the same feminists who insist women are incapable of violence. The chilling accounts of abuse perpetrated on Erin Prizzy founder of the first UK first women’s shelter, and the death threats against Strauss/Gelles in the US are but 2 well known examples.
Flood concludes that “the efforts of the fathers’ rights movement in Australian family law are already putting women, children, and indeed men at greater risk of violence and abuse.” Even if he were correct which he is not, his solution is a totalitarian stifling of debate, and call for fathers groups to be silenced or ignored. Flood goes further than the Orwellian claim that that all animals are created equal, but some are more equal than others, to an outright claim that men are simply not equal at all. His female supremacist masters are not doubt proud of his efforts, but in defence of intellectual honesty should such a person by indoctrinating young and impressionable students, I think not.