Feminist legislative advocacy is a self-defined, self-perpetuating cycle.
Step 1, Assume Victimization of Women, begins with a general supposition, such as “There exists an epidemic of sexual violence against women in the United States, perpetrated mainly by men.” The less detailed base-assumption for this supposition would be the general concept of female victims and male violence.
Step 2, Use Bias Tailored “Research” to Support Victimization Premise, involves designing a method of research specifically to return “data” which appears to support the initial supposition. Feminist organizations have pressured government agencies to adopt their biased methods, and with some success such as with the feminist-influenced CDC’s 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, in which researchers used questions with broad or poorly defined applications, interpreting the respondent’s recall of having felt harassed in a public place as an incident of sexual violence, and placing drunk sex and sex under false pretenses in the same category as being subjected to physical force or threats of physical force by counting sexual activity taking place under those circumstances as an act of forced penetration (rape.) The survey combines discussion of ambiguously distasteful acts (the subject being exposed to someone else’s nudity, without including in the survey the stipulation that the act was deliberate) with discussion of imposition (made you show your sexual body parts to them) to justify attributing personal violation to answers not necessarily indicative of it. This treats accidentally walking in on an individual’s nudity the same as being forced to strip, pose nude, or perform for pornographic video.
This pattern is continued throughout the survey: Questions on stalking including questions which could count telemarketing and collections calls as stalking behavior, as well as awareness of an unwanted person’s presence in public places as stalking behavior (regardless of the person’s reason for being there)… and the giving of unwanted gifts. Questions on coercive control treat concern for a partner’s whereabouts as coercion if ever expressed, not just if pursued excessively. Under that definition, most teens in nurturing families are subjected to stalking by their parents. Partners in families with tight schedules may also be guilty of stalking each other. Under Control of reproductive health, the survey asks if a partner “refused to use a condom when you wanted them to use one” but doesn’t ask whether that was followed by nonconsensual sex, leaving the implication that if one chooses to have sex with a partner who refuses to wear a condom, the refusing partner is guilty of sexual violence (control of reproductive health) even when the decision to continue the act is a choice made by the “victim.”
The researchers didn’t ask the respondents to define their experiences, but instead made the definitions themselves, greatly padding their numbers in a way which would demonstrate an epidemic of sexual violence in the United States. Upon completion of the survey, which produced “evidence” of violence perpetrated by both sexes, and of victims of both sexes, the CDC published a report. In it, the authors directly mentioned lifetime rape findings for both sexes, as this showed a gap between male and female experiences, but only mentioned the figure for women during the last 12 months… with no numbers for men. The inconsistency of this omission becomes even more glaring considering that in every instance where men’s numbers were lower, the report mentions both.
Reading the description for the researchers’ definition of rape explains the gap in numbers between men and women, as they used a definition of rape which omitted victims who were forced to penetrate the perpetrator, limiting the male experience to being penetrated, the same as a female. This effectively excludes the victim’s sex organ from the definition of rape, where the victim is a man. Consequently, in the report, the authors make the claim that the majority of male rape victims reported male perpetrators. According to the report, excluding (report-defined) rape, non-contact sexual violence, and stalking, perpetrators of every (other) type of sexual violence (which would include being forced to penetrate) were mostly female. Were the researchers to include the category “forced to penetrate,” in their definition of rape, the 2010 rape numbers would even out between the genders of victim, and the percentage of female perpetrators of rape would greatly increase.
The report also emphasizes male perpetration where it is not merited, with statements like “Nearly half of male stalking victims also reported perpetration by a male,” the correction of which would be “More than half of all male stalking victims reported perpetration by a female.” Instead of pointing out the prevalence of female perpetrators in that finding, they emphasized the presence of male perpetrators, masking the majority by mentioning the minority.
The “Discussion” section of the report focuses primarily on female victims, citing violence as a health risk to both sexes but specifying that women are heavily effected, and repeating the emphasis on male perpetrators of stalking.
Then there is this:
Other features of NISVS also are designed to reduce underreporting, such as use of only female interviewers…
Question: If victims of sexual violence perpetrated by males would be too intimidated to give honest answers to a male interviewer, wouldn’t victims of sexual violence perpetrated by females be too intimidated to give honest answers to a female interviewer?
Step 3, Create Panic and Call for Action, involves disseminating the findings to the general public, beginning with publication of the initial results, release of them to news organizations with dramatic claims which support the original supposition. Continuing on with the same example, the Implications for Prevention section of NISVS, while much of the assertions made are gender-neutral, the authors specifically cite “beliefs and social norms” that “reinforce negative stereotypes about masculinity, or that objectify and degrade women” as contributing factors to partner and sexual violence within society, but make no mention of the reverse; negative stereotypes about femininity, or objectification and degradation of men. Apparently, Playboy contributes to “rape culture,” but Playgirl does not?
Less than 2 hours after the initial data was released, the National Resource Center on Violence Against Women went into action, engaging its online network in a Tweet Up to promote the study’s claims, and releasing talking points on the study, emphasizing female victims, that same day. Interestingly, one response to the Tweet campaign involved participants asking “How might the measured impacts studied in NISVS be useful in supporting positive outcomes in child custody cases?” For the significance of this question, read Restraining Order Abuse and Vexatious Litigation, part two.
The release of the study and report was followed by articles from various outlets. The New York Times introduced the report with the headline, “Nearly 1 in 5 Women in U.S. Survey Say They Have Been Sexually Assaulted,” followed by a story which emphasized the survey’s findings on female victimization, the stated experiences of women, and the consequences to women… with only a brief mention of violence against men. CNN did just about the same, with the headline “Survey: 1 in 3 women affected by partner’s violent behavior,” and another story focused on female victims, though there is more mention of males than in the Times. Consultant360.com, which describes itself in its “about” page as “the No. 1 independent clinical journal among office-based primary care physicians,” published a February 2012 article Intimate Partner Violence: The Silent Epidemic which was largely a reiteration of the CDC’s NISVS claims and conclusions… for only female victims.
The report was similarly shared on college campuses, as with the presentation at Slippery Rock University using graphics which combined images suggestive of male-on-female violence with statistics from the report, and with the campus website’s article, which focuses entirely on victimization of females, ending with the claim that men are the perpetrators of 95 percent of cases of sexual violence, which is not actually supported by the study’s results.
Step 4, Lobby for Legislative and Policy “Fix,” involves activist campaigns as well as continued writing and advocacy calling for lawmakers and organization administrators to respond to the “research” claims with changes to law and policy.
In January 2012, the official website of the National Organization of Women posted an activism initiative asking members to urge their legislators to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, citing the NISVS claims about female victims as evidence that “violence is prevalent.”
Further encouragement from lobbying came from media sources. Debora Tucker, executive director of the National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence cited NISVS in her post Violence Against Women Act is Working, published in US News’s Debate Club forum under the question “Should the Violence Against Women Act Be Reauthorized?”
Bloomberg News article U.S. Senate Passes Aid to Victims of Domestic Violence quoted the white house citing NISVS in support of reauthorizing VAWA.
Citation of NISVS in support of reauthorization of VAWA shows up in a variety of sources – publishing a full list of them would take hours, and fill pages – but here are a few examples:
Senators Patrick Leahy (D) and Mike Crapo (R)
Terry Poore of The Hill’s Congress blog
Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States
The Daily Nebraskan
Jewish Women International
The National Alliance to End Sexual Violence
Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence
http://feministcampus.org/ (republish of the Ms. Mag article, sans links)
United Methodist Women
Step 5, Use False Labels and Personal Slander to Silence Those Presenting Evidence Against Claim, is an ongoing effort which began well before the current controversy. One only has to read about the experiences of Warren Farrel as his feminist colleagues learned that he was more interested in facts, rather than propaganda, and reality than ideology. Erin Pizzey, founder of the Chiswick Women’s Aid, one of the first women’s shelters in the modern world, could tell you much about feminist harassment of advocates who contradict feminist ideology and stand in the way of feminist goals… as could Richard J. Gelles, along with, Murray A. Straus, and Suzanne K. Steinmetz. In addition to harassing researchers with whom they disagree, feminists use six other methods to suppress information that does not support their claims.
Step 6, Use Existing Claims and Existing Law as Evidence for Further Research and Legislation. This is often done during the research phase. The text of the official report on NISVS calls for further research more than once:
Ongoing data collection and monitoring of these problems through NISVS and other data sources at the local, state, and national level must lead to further research to develop and evaluate strategies to effectively prevent first-time perpetration of sexual violence, stalking, and intimate partner violence.
The report calls for “(research) to provide information on which to base the development and evaluation of prevention and intervention programs,” “research that addresses the social and economic conditions,” and “Research examining risk and protective factors, including inequities in the distribution of and access to resources and opportunities”
The World health Organization’s publication, Preventing intimate partner and sexual violence against women cites “pressing need for evidence and further research” in multiple areas of the subject.
…which leads us back to step one, beginning with assumptions about violence based on the findings of NISVS.