A recent article on National Radio Morning Report (5 December 2008) showed again the subtle ways that feminist mythology is constantly promoted. The article reported that violence had now overtaken all other causes (such as road and work accidents) for facial injuries requiring surgery or reconstruction. The medical specialists referred to the numerous “people” who came in to hospital with such injuries, especially on Friday and Saturday nights after drunken violence. It was emphasized that the violence “mainly involves men”. One medical specialist was reported to say “the behaviour of men must change”. Another talked about “all these drunks who have beaten themselves up” using up the hospital resources. One particular case was mentioned of a man who had been injured. However, the article did not say anything about the gender ratio of victims. Various types of injuries and situations were described (e.g. pub fights, broken cheekbones) but all without reference to gender, except for the situation of “women being brought in by Women’s Refuge because their boyfriends had beaten them up”. The article then played an excerpt from “Once Were Warriors” with a man menacing a woman. The article then quoted the Ministry of Social Development’s claim that “its campaign against family violence will help”.
So what’s the problem with this article? Well, barely any mention is made of males as the victims here, even though you can be sure the vast majority of these hospitalisations are male victims. And the men coming to hospital will probably have much worse injuries on average than the women. Men’s victimization, as usual, is ignored and hidden. Instead, the article’s creators and a number of those interviewed turned it into simply another piece of feminist propaganda, implying that most of the facial surgery resulted from men assaulting their female partners. No statistics were given to support this picture, a picture that is almost certainly false.
Further, the article made absolutely no mention of female violence, as if this is not worth considering. We know from scientifically sound research (as opposed to research by feminist lobby groups) that women commit about as many acts of physical violence towards their partners as do men. Fewer assaults committed by women will result in hospitalization, but research shows this proportion is similar to that for murders, i.e. between one-quarter and one-third as many males are murdered by female partners as females are by male partners, and this is also the case for injuries requiring hospitalization. Also, in a proportion of the cases where women were injured, the men will have been injured too or the man’s reaction provoked by serious violence initiated by the woman. The point is that female violence, clearly significant albeit somewhat less so than male violence, is treated as so trivial that it isn’t even mentioned.
There seemed to be an assumption that males requiring facial surgery were responsible for their injuries because they engaged in fighting etc (e.g. the strange claim that patients had beaten themselves up). While this may be true for a proportion of such patients, in the absence of good statistics such an assumption is inappropriate. Many of the male patients were likely to be as much victims of others’ violence as were any of the female patients. There will have been situations ranging from men being attacked in robberies or wanton violence without any provocation at all, to men being attacked for paying too much attention to a violent man’s girlfriend, to men involved in arguments or perhaps minor pushing who were then attacked with unexpected and out-of-proportion ferocity. Whether men or women committed this violence is irrelevant to the injured victims, but the article implied that males needn’t be viewed as victims because it is males who are thought to commit more violence. Imagine if the same position were taken on the basis of race. For example, more violent offending is committed by Maori than by Pakeha, so should we therefore blame Maori victims for their injuries, fail to mention them and otherwise withhold empathy from them?
By providing such an inaccurate picture, the article failed to contribute to an understanding of this problem that might lead to effective solutions. Instead of conveniently attributing the problem to men’s deficits, the article might have explored factors possibly contributing to an increasing pattern of violence by both men and women. Factors like violence on television and other entertainment. Factors like the reduction of discipline in schools under a belief that social modelling is the main influence on children’s behavioural development. Factors like family breakdown. Factors like the devaluing of men and reducing their sense of belonging in our society, and like “girls can do anything (especially the things they used to criticize men for)”. It’s ironic that many of those factors have resulted from feminist ideology replacing previous male-dominated tradition, not from problematic masculinity itself.