Recent events on Capital Hill not only provide some significant insight into the severity of misandry in modern American society, but also point to a culture that struggles rather feebly to get a grip on the problem; a struggle highlighted by the fact that the word misandry itself -the hatred or contempt for men and boys- still has to be explained to far too many people who don’t know what it means.
On February 22, Senator Harry Reid stood on the senate floor and told fellow legislators and the American people that passing the new jobs bill was important because “Men, when they’re out of work, tend to become abusive.” Of course he added for the benefit of his female constituents that “Women aren’t abusive most of the time.”
The subtext here is clear enough. We don’t need to create jobs because American men are suffering from unemployment and are finding it tough to provide security for their families. We need jobs so those abusers-waiting-to-happen don’t take out their frustrations on their wives by beating the crap out of them. If that’s the case, perhaps we should just divert VAWA funding to the jobs bill and kill two birds with one stone. Or is that language too violent?
Thing is, of course, that is not the case. Domestic violence is roughly a50-50 proposition; a now well known fact that is commonly ignored for the sake of political expedience and bloated government programs. It’s a matter not so shocking in our political system. Politicians lie for money and votes, and we have come to expect as much without getting too troubled over it.
We do, however, expect their lies to have at least a vague resemblance to the truth. And when they don’t, we can usually expect the media to check things out and play gotcha for the sake of making their own money. We can expect them to do some truth mining on just about everything politicians say, from bailout money to WMD. Everything, that is, except in the realm of socio-sexual politics.
The events following Reid’s gaffe are quite illuminating.
Like many concerned citizens, I contacted Reid’s Washington office and spoke with his press rep about the statement. They would not discuss it over the phone but asked for my email address, and sure enough, within a couple of minutes I got an email claiming that Reid was accurate, citing a 2006 report by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) on domestic violence.
The only problem is that the study didn’t support Reid’s claims at all. In fact, it contradicts him entirely. (I had to run it down myself because the link they sent me went to a “page not found” message) I suppose that explains why they didn’t read it carefully.
While the report asserts that financial stress (unemployment) is one variable in possible predictors of domestic violence, it doesn’t claim anywhere that the violence correlates any more to men than it does to women.
So Reid’s press office is simply waving a piece of paper and saying “We have documentation!” And they do. Documentation of Reid’s lack of knowledge of the issue, and possible lack of integrity.
Being the intrepid investigator that I am, I decided to go one step further than Reid’s office and look for some facts. What I found was that Reid has no support for his claims. The one study that comes closest is a 2004 report by the National Institute for Justice. They found that the risk of intimate partner violence goes up for women incrementally with each period of repeated unemployment by their male partners.
But in the politically rich environment of “justice” studies, there are factors related to the study that elucidate matters more clearly than the study itself.
- The study didn’t even purport to apply it’s findings to men in general.
- There was no investigation as to increased female violence in the same circumstances.
- There was no causal relationship established. None.
That last one is a matter of some significance. Unemployment is caused by a number of reasons other than a bad economy. Mental illness, alcoholism and drug abuse among others, all known to have an impact on the incidence of violence. Chronic unemployment, even in a bad economy, is usually indicative of other overarching life difficulties. So attributing it to intimate partner violence without the consideration of other factors is tantamount to offering the following:
- Almost all heroin addicts went to grade school.
- Therefore, grade school leads to heroin addiction.
That outlandish and myopic conclusion is, scientifically speaking, no less valid at all than Harry Reid’s statements. This is why the National Institute for Justice Study couldn’t, with any credibility, generalize their findings to men. It is the same reason Harry can’t either. Unless he is just trying to increase his chances for reelection and doesn’t care how he gets there.
Were Reed the only culprit, this would be a slam dunk for the truth. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case.
Last night, CNN, gave a nationally televised demonstration of that when they broadcast a “fact check” on Reid’s comments and supported his claims. They did so by waving the same study by the CDC, which they apparently, like Reid, either didn’t read or didn’t mind that the study wasn’t supportive of his position. Apparently their research into the matter consisted of a phone call to Reid’s press office, and retrieving a shopworn rubber stamp from a correspondents desk drawer.
Players in the print media have followed suit as well. In a glaring example of playing fast and loose with headlines, The Las Vegas Sun, who has given Reid glowing editorial endorsement, announces that “Domestic Violence Workers Find Truth in Harry Reid’s Jobless Comments.”
One might suppose that The Sun assumes readers won’t be any more interested in the content of their articles than the average TV viewer is interested in the factual conclusions of a CDC study on domestic violence. For within the body of that article the truth starts to raise it’s inconvenient head, making the headline read, in retrospect, like the shameless snow job it is.
First a telling quote for the paper from Reid himself. He says, in defense of his remarks, “I’m just telling you what two people working in the field say every day. There is no question that people being out of work causes more people to be involved in domestic violence.”
Aye, there’s the rub. So it’s people now, not men, who commit domestic violence. Heck, they don’t even commit it, they become involved in it. It’s called reshaping the story after the fact. Caught with his political pants down, uttering a bald falsehood, Reid now joins the enlightened and informed intelligentsia, addressing domestic violence in oh so open minded gender neutral terms. And in doing so he manages, quite efficiently, to distance himself from his own words and stand on them at the same time. Smart fella’, that Harry, at least if you are not paying attention.
It would be more forgivable if the media wasn’t in such blatant collusion with him. In the CNN report, they switched the language as well, citing that financial stress did result in increased domestic violence, but they pulled back from pinning that on men quite seamlessly when drawing their conclusion.
The rest of The Sun Article reveals more.
Maria Outcalt, a spokesperson for SafeNest, a domestic violence outreach group, is quoted in the article as saying “People that are not abusive are not all of the sudden going to become abusive because they lose their job. Abusive behavior is not just because somebody is having a hard time.”
Another quote was provided by Sue Meuschke, the director of the Nevada Network to End Domestic Violence. “The economy doesn’t cause domestic violence, but certainly economic conditions can impact the circumstances.”
In all the quotes, including one that directly affirmed Reid’s remarks, all the language was sex neutral.
It has all the appearances of a massively organized spin machine. All the quotes either contradict Reid directly or shift the language to avoid his initial stance, supporting him with statements that don’t support what he actually said. The focus is being taken off the sexist and unsupported remarks by Reid, and reframed into a sexless dialogue that might help support the jobs bill he is trying to pass. Reid and the media and the domestic violence industry are doing a public relations ménage à trois; a graceful and deceptive ballroom fling, counting on the public not to notice that they changed the tune in the middle of the dance.
And it may be a desperate last move for Reid. For the first time since taking office, his senate seat is not secure. He is lagging in polls, and come the next election, he could be out of a job.
Perhaps his wife should contact a shelter and make her escape plan now.