Domestic Violence Debate
I have been engaged in debate in another forum, the NZ Association of Rationalists and Humanists, about the status of men under feminism. One member drew attention to a research paper from the Dunedin Longitudinal Study that he claimed showed men commit much more domestic violence than do women:
My reply follows and includes discussion of aspects of the violence research that might be of interest:
Thanks Andrew for your comments, particularly your claim that the NZ longitudinal studies found domestic violence to be committed mainly by men. This is not the case, for example, see:
- Turner urges ‘full story’ on domestic violence
- Both sexes hit by violence in the home, says study
- Domestic Violence and Mental Health
The study that you drew our attention to of course was not a measure of male vs female perpetrated domestic violence. To the extent that it implies so it stands as an example of the biased research to which I alluded. It was actually a measure of adults’ memories of behaviour they observed as children between their parents. This measure will be a very poor one of actual rates of violence because:
- It involved only violence that the child was aware of and will not take into account violence that the child was not aware of.
- For that proportion of the actual spousal violence that the child was aware of, that child’s interpretation of events at the time will be coloured by gender stereotypes.
Further, the child’s memory many years later of those events will also be distorted and even more coloured by gender stereotypes and the propaganda the child was exposed to from the media and the child’s mainly female and often overtly feminist teachers through the intervening years.
Memory research shows how flexible and unreliable our memories are. The effect on these subjects of their gender-based assumptions was highlighted in the present study’s analysis showing significant differences between male and female subjects in their tendency both to report violence at all and to attribute blame for the violence to the fathers or mothers.
How the child interprets the parental conflict will also be limited by the child’s cognitive analytical skills. For example, if the father blocked the doorway to prevent the mother from leaving the room, and after making it clear she was uncomfortable being so imprisoned and asking him several times to move she then pushed him out of the way to get past, the child observer might be likely to interpret the mother’s pushing behaviour as the “violence” whereas in fact the father’s persistent imprisonment of the mother in the room was the real violence and the mother’s action a reasonable and minimal response.
Several other problems with this research further limit any contribution it might make to relative gender rates of domestic violence.
Firstly, the data were collected through personal interviews by two experimenters whose gender is not specified. If they were female interviewers one can expect this to affect the subjects’ responses especially in the narrative style of data used by this study. I have seen other studies with that particular inbuilt bias and I previously criticized one; I will try to get around to
Secondly, as is the case with all research in this area, the definitions of violence utilized will affect the results.
For example, in this study “ranting and raving” was identified as violence but, say, “indirect criticisms in the presence of visitors”, “deliberately preparing food the other partner hates” or “giving the cold treatment” were not although these might be much more violent than ranting and raving. What was seen as violence by the subjects of the present study as children, and what was derived as such by the researchers seemed skewed towards the ways males tend to demonstrate their unhappiness or anger but left out many of the ways females tend to. This is typical of much of the research as might be expected given the female-oriented belief system around this area.
Thirdly, only 69% of those reporting violence between parents claimed to have observed it directly. The rest said they heard it or were told about it later. Almost one third of the subjects therefore could hardly be expected to make reliable relative gender attributions about the parental violence but the researchers still included their data in the study’s gender comparison.
Fourth, the study exaggerated the rate of domestic violence in the community by stating “…30,000 children in families affected by domestic violence protection orders between 2000—2003, and 9241 children using Women’s Refuge services with their mothers 2000—2001…”.
In fact, the number of children quoted may have been affected by protection orders but many or most of them will not have been affected by any actual violence, given that protection orders are mostly obtained on the basis of absolutely no evidence and are well known for being used as strategy in custody and property disputes. Similarly, the number of children going to refuges with their mother may have been traumatized by that experience but not necessarily by any actual domestic violence, given the many reasons that women might seek accommodation at a refuge, and further given the proportion of children even of those women who did truly experience or fear domestic violence who themselves had no direct experience of any parental violence. I don’t for a moment seek to play down the rates or significance of domestic violence, but I criticize the lamentable lack of integrity in many of the claims and “research” in this area, seemingly designed to perpetuate a male-blaming mythology. I have no doubt that men cause serious physical harm more often to women domestically than women to men, but the difference is a matter of degree and nowhere near as great as feminist propaganda has led society to believe.
Note that even this study, although showing a good measure of feminist poetic licence in its portrayal of reality, felt obliged to concede that:
“common couple” or situational violence arising in the context of a mutual disagreement… is the most frequent type of violence measured in community samples by multi-item measures such as the Conflict Tactics Scale (CTS), and is as often or more often carried out by female partners.
Note also that the study suggested that only one quarter of the subjects reported any violence at all between parents, when “violence” included “… a range of verbal and non-verbal behaviours, including “constant put-downs”, “ranting and raving”…”, i.e. probably including raising the voice, slamming a door, placing something down firmly on a table and other common acts of frustration that only a politically-correct feminist ideology would define as violence at all. That only one quarter of the families were reported to have experienced any such actions seems surprising in light of the outlandish claims made by those in the domestic violence industry. Given that 16% of those families involved violence by the mother only, 80% of fathers were never seen to make any aggressive expressions of frustration at all during marital conflict, but this is not something the industry would wish to advertise lest it improved the reputation of the male gender. (Whether it is even good for people or for society that they inhibit their emotional expression to that extent is another whole question that isn’t asked in our era of social acquiescence to feminist assumptions.)
From the results given by the study we can calculate that 16.75% of the subjects reported that their fathers physically assaulted the mothers, while 7.25% reported that their mothers physically assaulted the fathers. This included shoving and pushing which as explained above may not always be fairly defined as violence. Regardless, even this study with considerable anti-male error suggested that female-perpetrated physical violence was almost half as common as that committed by males, and this was the case even up to a few decades ago when the subjects were children. That kind of finding is not reflected in the propaganda-driven campaigns against domestic violence all of which imply only men commit it and only women suffer.
Note further that the present study reported “Forty-three percent of the dyads where the mother alone was physically assaultive mentioned such severe violence (n=10), as did 48% of those where the father was responsible (n=54), and 54% of the partnerships where both partners assaulted the other (n=25).”
This says that roughly the same proportion of female as male assaulters committed violent acts that fell in the “severe” category as defined by the researchers. This supports other research countering the common belief that female violence is somehow
categorically different from and necessarily less serious than male violence. That male and female violence are qualitatively similar was supported further albeit somewhat indirectly by another result in the present study, that the child observers were equally distressed by the violence whether committed by females or males.
Other research in both the Christchurch and Dunedin longitudinal studies used more valid methods to measure rates of domestic violence and found that male and female rates were much more equal and that domestic violence is correctly viewed as mutual conflict between partners.
P.S. If you still want to believe that partner violence is mainly a male problem, check out the following. And perhaps reflect on why this substantial body of research has had no effect on the public awareness, why it probably sits uncomfortably with your own ingrained beliefs and why it has been officially ignored and continues to be dishonestly contradicted by the domestic violence industry as well as by the ministers and other spokespersons of many government departments and agencies now in the service of feminist interests:
(I attached 92 references to D.V. studies that found roughly equal violence between the genders.)