Feminist advocacy capitalizes on society’s double standards on intimate partner and sexual violence: the invisibility of damaged men and the belief that the female aggressor is still a victim, no matter how violent she is. These are double standards that, admittedly, precede feminism, as they are rooted in traditional gender roles and expectations–women are damsels; men are villains or heroes. However, information debunking the traditional view of relationship violence has not led to changes in feminist advocacy.
In the U.S., the current lobbying effort began in 1978 during hearings before the House of Representatives subcommittee on select education, 95th congress, 2nd session, on HR 7927 & 8948[Warning – link goes to 400+ page PDF document]. Feminists submitted feminist writing as evidence in order to persuade congress to treat violence in general as a male perpetrated, female suffered behavior, attributable to masculine characteristics, the pressure of traditional gender roles, and social structure.
Society’s treatment of women throughout history has never been one that we can be proud of. As Susan Brownmiller wrote in her book, Against Our Will: Men, Women, and Rape, “As the first permanent acquisition of man, his first piece of real property, woman was, in fact, the original building block, the cornerstone of the ‘House of the Father.’ Man’s forcible extension of his boundaries to his mate and later to their offspring was the beginning of his concept of ownership.”
In fact, studies have shown that wife abuse has its roots in the very structure of society and the family where the husband is expected to play the role of leader. If this position is threatened, many men fall back on their ultimate resource of physical force.
The widespread existence of wife beating today underscores the fact that these societal expectations are still prevalent.
– file page 67, document page 60
Brownmiller’s claim was that the use of force is a defining characteristic of men, that men own women instead of having relationships, and that men are naturally predisposed to abuse those viewed as subordinates, so if society treats the wife as a subordinate, the wife will be abused.
Advocates also offered a case for ignoring male victims, submitted in the form of a resolution from Sociologists for Women in Society stating support for “the overall concept of these bills,” with the position that the funds to be distributed should be reserved for women only:
SWS adopts the position that, because available scientific evidence strongly indicates that victims of spousal violence are overwhelmingly women and their children, the pseudo issue of battered husbands must not be used to distract from the salience of the issue of battered women. We maintain that the relatively powerless and socially disadvantaged spouses are the ones who are most in need of the services called for in these bills, and we are concerned that the limited funds allocated should not be siphoned from services for female victims and their children, and misplaced into services for a relatively miniscule and questionable number of male victims.
– file page 280, document page 273
In the very next paragraph, however, advocates admitted that there was not enough information on which to base their assumptions.
Research to date has been extremely limited and there are very few empirical studies that have done anything more than scratch the surface. We have almost no concrete statistics to offer because this is a particularly private crime committed behind closed doors. Most statistics quoted and requoted have emanated from a few sources who have tried to estimate the extent and severity of the problem.
– file page 281, document page 274
Interestingly, this particular submission cites a statement made by Murray Strauss as proof of the lack of concrete evidence. The significance of Murray Strauss’ statement is that, while continuing to investigate the issue of lack of evidence, Strauss found that feminist advocates had made and were making deliberate efforts to suppress evidence of gender symmetry in intimate partner violence. In his publication, Gender Symmetry in Partner Violence: Evidence and Implications for Prevention and Treatment, Strauss pointed out that evidence of gender symmetry has been available for more than 25 years.
While the time frame of 25 years doesn’t extend back to the period during which arguments would have been prepared for that ’78 congressional hearing, it does mean that advocates who have continued to adhere to the male perpetrator/female victim model of partner violence victim’s advocacy during the last 25 years have done so with the knowledge that they were presenting a false picture of the issue. This was certainly true by the time feminist groups began pushing for the 1994 Violence Against Women act (which was actually Title IV of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994), as well as for its 2005 and 2012 renewals. By that second update, there was more than enough evidence to contradict the feminist model, including evidence that male on female violence is often a response to female on male violence, and that success cannot be had in addressing male violence without also addressing female violence.
When Strauss’s work could be used in support of their agenda, women’s advocates cited it. When it couldn’t, they rejected it, and continued to base their advocacy on outdated and biased materials.
The effort to suppress evidence of female perpetration is not limited to partner violence. Feminist-influenced researchers have used creative reporting to do the same with sexual violence, with the CDC’s National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey being the most recent example of that. As I described in my previous article, The Feminist Advocacy Research Scam, that survey and previous surveys like it have been used to manufacture a false impression of crisis to justify funding. In addition, the reporting in the survey was cleverly worded to emphasize female victimization and male perpetration, but minimizes the impression of male victimization and female perpetration.
One of the most blatant examples of dishonest presentation in the survey’s report is in the classification of specific acts. The CDC classified a sexually intimate attack on the genitals of a female victim as rape, but labeled a sexually intimate attack on the genitals of a male victim “other sexual assault.” That classification has been used by the CDC and various groups citing statistics based on it to sweep part of the study’s findings under the rug in order to maintain the perception that rape is a mostly male-perpetrated, mostly female-suffered crime. The official statement is that 1 in 4 women, and 1 in 71 men have been raped at some time during their lifetime – a grossly dishonest statement.
One might at first suspect that this discrepancy is an error caused by adhering to traditional sex role stereotypes, wherein men are perceived as more violent, and women as more helpless. This is contradicted by evidence presented in Ginko’s Genderratic post, Male Disposability – Mary P. Koss, Rape Apologist, Defines Male Rape Victims Out of Existence (and his followup post.)
Typhonblue (Asha James) explains in her Genderratic post Manufacturing Female Victimhood and Marginalizing Vulnerable Men why using numbers from lifetime reporting would return underestimates compared to reporting on events in the year prior to the survey, and why the results would distort even more for men than for women, pointing out that the passage of time reduces the likelihood of an individual disclosing a traumatic event, and that men are far less likely to disclose childhood sexual abuse than women are. This information indicates that the twelve month data will be a more accurate representation of the relative incidence of various sex crimes between men and women than the lifetime data.
Given a more balanced and accurate look at the CDC’s numbers, what the NISVS report actually shows is that an assault that forces genital-specific sexual intimacy on the victim (rape) is not only experienced by both sexes, but also with nearly equal frequency, and with a much narrow margin between male and female perpetration than feminist rape apologists claim.
The twelve month NISVS data shows that the CDC’s estimates for “forced penetration” of women, and men “forced to penetrate” were very close: 1,270,000 vs 1,267,000. If we assume that the ration of male perpetrators to female perpetrators not different during the year 2010 than for the lifetime numbers, then the percentages given under the heading “Sex of Perpetrator in Lifetime Reports of Sexual Violence” (Page 34 of the PDF file) indicate that around 40% of rape perpetrators are female. That statistic is explained in a graphic that has been floating around the website reddit.com. A good view of it is shown in this discussion.
One area in which the prevalence of female perpetration of intimate and partner violence which couldn’t be covered up was the NISVS 2010 Findings on Victimization by Sexual Orientation, though some of the same factors apply to these findings as to the main report. For one thing, if you define rape as only occurring when the perpetrator penetrates the victim, most lesbian sexual assault will not be considered rape. For another, the report oddly combines types of violence together, with category listings such as “Lifetime Prevalence of Rape, Physical Violence, and/or Stalking Victimization by an Intimate Partner by Sexual Orientation” (Page 18 of the report, 24 of the PDF.)
According to the report, a higher percentage of lesbian women experience multiple types of violence perpetrated by an intimate partner than either heterosexual women or any group of men. While the NISVS itself was flawed as I’ve previously described, the flaws run the risk of overestimating male perpetration and female victimization, while underestimating male victimization, and therefore these flaws are irrelevant to the conclusion that women’s female sexual partners are more dangerous to them than their male partners. I note that these findings receive little interest.
The NISVS isn’t the only recent study which found a high rate of female perpetration of abuse.
Surveys done among students at the University of Florida found higher perpetration of female abuse of male partners, including stalking. Researchers for the study seem to have assumed the relationships in which the abuse took place were all heterosexual, and have therefore concluded that some of the female violence must have been perpetrated in self-defense or against non-students. While those theories could account for some female violence, so could same-sex relationships, and it’s impossible to know the role of any factor without further study. This is a good example of researchers taking data that doesn’t fit the feminist agenda and trying to make it fit, rather than looking at it as a reason for further investigation into female behavior.
According to the Partner Abuse State of Knowledge Project by the journal Partner Abuse, research has found that rates of female perpetrated violence are higher than male perpetrated (28.3% vs. 21.6%.) Research has found that the majority of partner violence is two-way (both partners are perpetrators) and that when it’s not, women are more often perpetrators.
The 1993 report Physical Assaults by Women Partners: A Major Social Problem, by Murray Strauss, contradicts the conventional belief that the prevalence of female perpetration of intimate partner violence is explained by self-defense. In this report, we learn that information on gender symmetry in partner violence was detected and suppressed by researchers as early as 1979.
Although there may be exceptions that I missed, every study among the more than thirty describing some type of sample that is not self-selective (such as community random samples and samples of college student dating couples) has found a rate of assault by women on male partners that is about the same as the rate of assault by men on female partners. These studies include research by such respected scholars as Scanzoni (1978) and Tyree and Malone (1991) and large-scale studies such as the Los Angeles Epidemiology Catchment Area study (Sorenson & Telles, 1991), the National Survey of Families and Households (Brush, 1990), and the survey conducted for the Kentucky Commission on Women (Schulman, 1979).
The Kentucky study also brings out a troublesome question of scientific ethics, because it is one of several in which the data on assaults by women were intentionally suppressed. The existence of those data became known only because Hornung, McCullough, and Sugimoto (1981) obtained the computer tape and found that, among the violent couples, 38 percent of the attacks were by women on men who, as reported by the women themselves, had not attacked them.
That report goes on to describe similar findings on female perpetration from multiple studies conducted during the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s, and points out that as in the Kentucky study, the data gathered does not support the claim that female violence can be explained away by attributing most of it to self-defense. This shows that even advocates lobbying for VAWA’s predecessor (and the law upon which VAWA originally expanded), the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act of 1984, had evidence of gender symmetry in intimate and partner violence.
What has been the result of the long-term, dishonest approach feminist researchers and advocacy groups have taken to addressing intimate partner and sexual violence?
The primary model used to guide advocates and law enforcement in assisting victims of intimate partner violence assumes that men are perpetrators, and women are victims. Based on that assumption and in response to feminist lobbying, the official response to male victims remains less than helpful.
Most nations pay considerably more attention to and provide services for male-to-female IPV (“intimate partner violence” – Center for Injury Prevention and Control 2003; World Health Organization 2005) than other types of IPV , even though for 35 years, research has consistently documented that men are often the targets of female-perpetrated IPV (Gelles 1974; Hines and Malley-Morrison 2001; Straus 2004b). Qualitative research of helpseeking among men sustaining IPV indicates that the domestic violence (DV) service system is not always able to provide them services and that many men are actually turned away (Cook 2009;Hines et al. 2007).
In both Canada and the U.S., feminist advocacy has led to withholding of funds from efforts to remedy the lack of resources for abused men. The U.N. has on a worldwide level ignored sexual violence against male victims until recently.
The Partner Abuse State of Knowledge project (linked in earlier paragraph) found consistent official bias against males in domestic disputes:
Males were consistently treated more severely at every stage of the prosecution process, particularly regarding the decision to prosecute, even when controlling for other variables (e.g., the presence of physical injuries) and when examined under different conditions.
This is in part because law and policy intended to address intimate and partner violence has been shaped by feminist bigotry. The Violence Against Women act is one example. This law dictates the availability of shelter, assistance, and advocacy for victims of partner violence, as well as the law enforcement and criminal justice system’s approach to perpetrators.
In the ongoing discussion on discrimination against men and boys who are hurt by domestic and sexual violence, feminist groups have attempted to blame everything but themselves. With the information available to them, they’ve had no excuse for the denial, the minimization and marginalization of male victims, and the hateful, vicious attacks on men’s advocacy.
They have argued that “Patriarchy” is to blame for the discrimination abused men and boys face from all angles. However, if “Patriarchy” is the vehicle of that discrimination, feminist activism is the driver, having played the damsel to “Patriarchy’s” white knight and cast vulnerable men and boys in the role of collateral damage or just plain villain. At first glance, this might seem like simple reckless driving, but it’s not. It’s a cold, calculated sacrifice for a coveted and anticipated reward.
Take away the rhetoric, the buzzwords, the excuses, and the lies, and what you have left is the realization that feminist advocates have deliberately run over men and boys, in order to secure and maintain preferential treatment for women. Why? Because they can get more sympathy for female victims, and exploit female victim status more easily for political influence and government funding. For all of their melodramatic and self-aggrandizing claims, feminist groups have mowed male victims down for power and money.
It’s time to take away their license for good.