MENZ Issues October 1998: Volume 3 Issue 10
Incest Book Promoted on Fathers’ Day In an exquisitely sensitive move, the organisers of the IPSCAN (International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect) chose Father’s Day to promote a new book by former Hamilton sexual abuse squad member Peter Haynes titled: "Is That You Daddy?"
Fathers, Family and the Future The Commissioner for Children Roger McClay opened the Sept 26th conference by emphasising the damage done to children who see and experience violence by fathers and stepfathers, and by sharing how miserable this makes him feel.
Granny Gets her Nickers in a Knot Nick Smith, NZ Herald, wonders why we told the select committee that it would be cheaper to hire a prostitute for 1059 nights than to share half a property with a de facto partner…. We chose this colourful way of expressing our offence because we expected it would get media attention, and we hoped that this attention would extend to discussion of the substantive issues we raised in the rest of our submission. I guess we were over-optimistic about that.
Chairman’s Report 1997-98 We continue to field many calls from men and fathers in difficulty. Some are counselled, many are referred to other agencies assisting men and some need good lawyers in a hurry. It is an essential part of our community service to men and fathers. We are just touching the surface with our limited resources and manpower. There is a huge and tragic unmet and unheard need out there.
Secretary’s report September 1998 Although the current executive all put in as much time as they are able, we have realised that we just don’t have the manpower to undertake any new initiatives. The long term prospects for Men’s Centre North Shore rely on us recruiting several new people so that the load can be shared, and this will have to be our major aim over the coming year.
Dad’s Place opens in Christchurch Recently, while on holiday in Christchurch, the timing coincided with the opening of the Christchurch Father & Child Trust’s drop-in centre called "Dad’s Place". I decided to drop in myself and check out this initiative.
Shore Fathers Lead the Way On 2nd September about fifteen fathers turned out to the Shore Fathers BBQ and talk on "what it means to be a father".
Advocacy Research & Icebergs If objective scientific research is the currency of knowledge and understanding, then Advocacy or subjective research, is counterfeit money. Advocacy research uses the same general framework as objective research, it looks the same, but underneath, its very different. It’s a way of doing studies and surveys, commonly under the guise of social science, to persuade the public and policy-makers that a problem is vastly larger than commonly thought. It’s a deliberate attempt to inflate the size of problems to support ideological causes, attract funds, and create a power-base. Usually, a particular ideological solution is suggested or implied.
Feminazis Having received a definition of feminazi, I am better placed to understand Chuck’s line of discussion. However, I’m newly a reader of material on men’s rights, so I interpret new words as would any member of the general public.
New Committee Members
Although only a small crowd turned out to the Men’s Centre North Shore AGM, we did succeed in gaining three new committee members to replace Robert, Kerry, Paul and Barry who have all departed. We welcome Frank Murray (North Shore electrician), Warren Heap (chairman Separated Fathers’ Support Trust), and Evan Player (a student at Manukau Tech).
In an exquisitely sensitive move, the organisers of the IPSCAN (International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect) chose Father’s Day to promote a new book by former Hamilton sexual abuse squad member Peter Haynes. Titled: "Is That You Daddy?", the book includes ‘profiles’ of victims and abusers. One falsely accused Auckland man spent 14 months in jail before being released on appeal. The policeman who arrested him told him he fitted the "classic profile’ of an abuser a few minutes after meeting him – perhaps he received the same training as Haynes. The author makes no apologies for the harrowing story, which he claims will educate parents to protect their children. He told the Herald that he hopes it will be as controversial as Deborah Coddington’s paedophile index.
More on IPSCAN.
The Commissioner for Children Roger McClay opened the Sept 26th conference in Auckland by emphasising the damage done to children who see and experience violence by fathers and stepfathers, and by sharing how miserable this makes him feel. Now there is no doubt that children who grow up in dysfunctional households are at a greater risk of all kinds of adult problems, but alarm bells rang for me when he pointedly said nothing about female violence in families. Hopefully this was an oversight, and does not reflect the official stance of the Commission. He went on to mention surveys of children that consistently show they want fathers to be involved, and he criticised ‘absent’ fathers who have nothing with their children, or who are ‘distant’ behind a newspaper or in front of television. To the surprise of all the Men’s Centre members at least, he then trotted out the worn piece of radical-feminist propaganda about American fathers only spending 12 mins a day with their children. Paul Callister thoroughly discredited this later in the morning in his presentation "Pigs Heros or Wimps", which MENZ Issues summarised in May 98 (here) after the Christchurch conference.
I would like to believe that Mr McClay did not write this speech himself, as it appears the person who did does not think much of New Zealand fathers. I heard one suggestion that perhaps he had even hired someone from Rape Crisis as a speechwriter. I thought the most moving part of his presentation was when he ‘spoke from the heart’ about a 12-year-old boy at his father’s funeral.
Throughout the day all the speakers were excellent and informative, particularly Mark Henaghan, associate Professor of Law at Otago University. The full programme unfortunately meant that we had little opportunity to educate Judge Mahoney (and Judge Bochier) about what community men’s groups think about the Family Court at the ‘Men and the Law’ workshop. We had about 8 of our guys there, but there was time for only a few questions from the floor. I think an open discussion between groups like us, family court judges and Justice ministry policymakers could have a huge impact.
I was sorry to miss the ‘mentoring’ workshop, but apparently it was the best attended with 70 people. Total for conference would have well over 200. Doug Stevens did a great job of organising this important event, and Manukau Tech is to be commended for its support for Auckland fathers and their families.
Nick Smith, Herald (24th Sept 98), wonders why we told the select committee that it would be cheaper to hire a prostitute for 1059 nights than to share half a property with a de facto partner. He concludes it is because we think "that when a man lives with a woman it’s merely a contract for sex, and people should object to a man having to share property with a loved one because it would constitute very expensive sex." You’ve got it a tad wrong there, Nick. We said it to draw attention to the offensiveness of the government putting a price on uncommitted relationships in principle, and the offensiveness of this proposed legislation because it would further undermine marriage, and two-parent families. We also pointed out that there are increasing numbers of wealthy single women who would be adversely affected by the proposed amendment. We chose this colourful way of expressing our offence because we expected it would get media attention, and we hoped that this attention would extend to discussion of the substantive issues we raised in the rest of our submission. I guess we were over-optimistic about that.
The committee members were startled to read in Smith’s article that our lovers had left us, because we "don’t know what women want". He advised us to "get over it" and "move on". When I checked with my wife, she assured me she is definitely not about to leave, and that she would be unlikely to choose the Herald to make the announcement if she was. If it were true, and considering that men who are rejected by their wives are 11 times more likely to commit suicide than women in a similar situation (and that in 60% of divorces it’s the woman’s unilateral decision), it seems a bit callous to just say "get over it."
MENZ Issues is criticised because it contains articles "liberally sprinkled" with the word Feminazi. It is true that one article, part of a serious on-going debate about this terminology, used the word a dozen times. In the context of ideologically motivated groups employing Goebbel’s technique of repeating a lie until it is believed, it can be argued that the use has some validity. It was not an accident that the recent BBC documentary on the Nazis was subtitled "warning from the past".
Many men in New Zealand society are angry because their voices and opinions are excluded from public debate. If Nick had read as far as page four he would have seen that we take the trouble to point out the fact that the Men’s Centre committee does not necessarily always agree with everything in MENZ Issues. The assumption that we would only print viewpoints that we consider ‘politically correct’ is worrying when it is expressed in a major newspaper such as the Herald.
Smith continued his attack on the Men’s Centre by referring to "Christian political groups espousing family values". He calls us sad because we’re "clinging to the idea of an obsolete patriarchal society and blaming it on women." He must be confusing us with some other group. As we made perfectly clear in our submission we do not support any particular political or religious philosophy. We do have some Christians in our organisation, but we also include many men with a range of other religious beliefs. We also made it clear that we strongly endorse the principle "Equal Status For Women in Society" – hardly the stand of a group of reactionary patriarchs.
We are disappointed with the Herald, and with this reporter, who has written a number of excellent articles about issues important to men in the past. Hopefully the next article they write about us will be a bit better researched, and will include actual comments from managers of other men’s agencies instead of just dropping in their names with the implication that they share the reporter’s misinformed attitudes towards us.
Finally, what are we to make of Smith’s opening sentence: "They aren’t men, they’re from Mars"? Keen students of history may recognise this tactic of categorising their opponents as ‘sub human’, or even ‘non-human’, as one of the primary hallmarks of the Nazi regime.
The Herald allowed us to make a response, here.
It is my pleasure at the outset to thank the committee for their help and dedication throughout the year: John Potter, Robert Mann, Peter Manning and Chuck Bird, with Paul Warder and Kerry Bevan also providing invaluable assistance.
John will in his report be thanking the many people whose time, money and effort has been instrumental in keeping us going. All I can do is reiterate those thanks most sincerely. One who needs special mention, however, is Christine Osbaldiston, whose help and expertise in putting together funding applications has been invaluable.
One of the year’s highlights has been the Men’s Hour, on the first Monday of each month with Access Community Radio. We believe this is a high quality programme dealing with a wide range of topics of relevance and interest to men and fathers. We have been fortunate in having an excellent range of guest speakers and interviews. A personal highlight has been the contribution of Gordon Waugh whose high quality material and professionalism on a number of occasions has made it a delight to have him on the programme. We extend our thanks to Station Manager Leona Bresnahan and our unflappable technician Mike for their support and encouragement.
We have moved our premises a hundred metres north to the Northcote Community Centre, which has on balance, proved a more convivial environment. It is the venue for our meetings, especially the general meeting for members and supporters and inquirers on the third Monday of each month.
Modesty prevents John from telling you how successful the MENZ Issues Newsletter has been over the past 12 months. Published as often as monthly and with a peak of 700 copies on one occasion, this has content of the highest quality and is serving to let not only our members and subscribers know what is happening within MCNS and about gender issues affecting men and fathers in the wider world, but also many selected politicians and journalists are kept informed as well.
On matters political, we made both written and oral submissions to two parliamentary committees this year. The first concerned the Social Security (Conjugal Status) Bill, the second addressed two related issues, the Matrimonial Property and the De Facto Property Amendment Bills. We believe these are very worthwhile exercises, indeed essential, not only to keep our work and organisation before the politicians, but to counter the numerous well-organised and well funded very active feminist and politically correct groups, who already have the inside running within Parliament and the bureaucracy. Groups like ours are very thin on the ground, and men’s voices, as men, are all but unheard.
We continue to field many calls from men and fathers in difficulty. Some are counselled, many are referred to other agencies assisting men and some need good lawyers in a hurry. It is an essential part of our community service to men and fathers. We are just touching the surface with our limited resources and manpower. There is a huge and tragic unmet and unheard need out there.
Late last year John and I were invited to attend a Focus Group along with ten other men, organised by the Office of the Commissioner for Children. Our viewpoint was sought and clearly put in an exercise that may yet bear fruit, the wish of the now deceased Children’s Commissioner Laurie O’Reilly that fathers be enabled to have more input and involvement in their children’s lives. Fathers are getting a better press than they were 12 months ago and the MCNS will do what it can to help continue this momentum.
Our website is up and running, thanks to several people but especially Paul Stuart. Most of our committee are on email and this is helping make communication very efficient, as well keeping some of our committee in touch with men’s and fathers’ activists throughout New Zealand, Australia, North America and the UK.
John will cover the financial and funding aspects of the Men’s Centre. It remains for me express the hope that tonight we can attract more members willing to join our committee and help make this an organisation that can make a difference for men, on the North Shore and throughout New Zealand.
Mark Rowley – Chairman
When I accepted this position back in August 97, I really had no idea what I was letting myself in for. With Martin having left many months previously, the co-ordinators desk was piled high with unattended mail and messages about jobs that needed doing urgently. Our bank balance stood at $1,000, with no prospect of further funding in sight, in fact some of the unattended letters turned out to be from funders threatening that we were about to become ineligible for not filing the required reports. In the middle of last year Men’s Centre North Shore came very close to going ‘into recess’.
Because of the steep learning curve I went through in figuring out how to produce the newsletter on the computer, it wasn’t until Christmas that I finally got everything relatively up to date. At the beginning of this year, we updated our business plan, started making dozens of funding applications, and continued functioning as best as we could, given the financial restraints. Moving everything out of the Northcote rooms in May was another major adjustment.
Today, with almost $12,000 in funding promised, I feel that our organisation is in a much healthier position, however we still face a major problem in that I am unable to sustain the level of voluntary involvement required to keep the centre running. Although the current executive all put in as much time as they are able, we have realised that we just don’t have the manpower to undertake any new initiatives. The long term prospects for Men’s Centre North Shore rely on us recruiting several new people so that the load can be shared, and this will have to be our major aim over the coming year.
Mark has already talked about some of the things we have been up to during the last year; now I want to thank the people who provided the financial support that made it possible for us to achieve so much with such limited resources.
Firstly, Robert Mann, who has pays for the telephone line and phone that I use, my vehicle expenses, and who has employed me from time to time installing his solar air-conditioning systems. As Robert is not able to stand for the committee again this year, I want to acknowledge his past contribution, especially as the anchorman of the Men’s Hour radio show.
Secondly, my wife Felicity, who as the major breadwinner of our family makes it possible for me to spend 40 hours or so a week doing an unpaid job. She has done many hours of unpaid work herself in developing our "Positive Partnerships – Strong Families" relationship skills course, and in applying for the necessary funding to both run it and carry out a research project to evaluate its effectiveness.
I want to thank David Gottschalk, from the Web InterNet company, who provides an internet connection allowing me to develop and maintain links with many other men’s and father’s groups throughout the country. He is also hosting the Men’s Centre website, which is becoming a useful resource for men looking for information about male-friendly services, and people researching the current state of gender politics.
Craig Wedge, who pays for the Access Radio Men’s Hour broadcasts each month.
Committee member Peter Manning, who paid for materials to produce the newsletter when our bank balance dipped to its lowest point of below $20. Peter is also donating his valuable services as auditor for our annual accounts.
Kingsland Computers, who ‘hotted up’ our old computer with some extra RAM so that it would be more efficient.
Mike McClelland, from North Shore Copiers, who spent many hours refurbishing our malfunctioning photocopier without charging us when we weren’t in a position to pay.
There are also a number of men who prefer to remain anonymous for various reasons, however their contributions are also vital to the on-going activities of the Centre. One gave $500 to keep the 480-2168 telephone line connected, another gives Chuck Bird the use of his serviced photocopier to print MENZ Issues, still another donated the computer modem that connects me to the outside world. Several others have sent in cheques for $100, and dozens of people have made smaller donations.
We also acknowledge the support of Telecom, who allow our main phone line to be charged at residential rates. Thanks to the extensive assistance and experienced of Christine Osbaldiston, our efforts at fundraising have begun to pay off. St George’s Presbyterian Church started the ball rolling with $150, CLANZ have given $1,500 to subsidise people who attend the first ‘Positive Partnership’ courses, and the J.R. Mackenzie Trust gave $2,000 towards providing counselling for men in crisis. Just last week we heard that the Lottery Grants Board has allocated us $8,000 towards administration expenses, which will allow us to update our computer system and get some up-to-date software.
Of the several hundred phone calls I have fielded during the year, the majority are highly complementary about what we are doing for men. While we are not exactly a mass movement, the support we continue to receive convinces me that we are far from being a few lonely voices in the wilderness, and this leads me to believe that in the future we can become a force to be reckoned with.
Recently, while on holiday in Christchurch, the timing coincided with the opening of the Christchurch Father & Child Trust’s drop-in centre called "Dad’s Place". I decided to drop in myself and check out this initiative – situated in the Cramner Centre, a short walking distance from the city square.
The location is ideal, making it easily accessible during mid-week lunch breaks. One of the Centre’s trustees informed me that the "Place" opened several days a week including Saturdays, providing information and a supportive resource base for dads in general.
On the day that I went, a quick count showed 24 males and 7 or so women present, along with numerous children. The centre obviously welcomed and catered for children, who on this occasion played happily together with the toys provided, while the adults chatted over coffee.
I was impressed by the relaxed and informal manner in which the place was run, at no cost to the dad apart from donations. Offering support and assistance to dads is a good and positive initiative, I wish it a long rewarding future.
On 2nd September about fifteen fathers turned out to the Shore Fathers BBQ and talk on "what it means to be a father". Because of a previous dinner engagement, I was able to avoid taking my life in my hands by sampling Craig’s cooking. Time was a bit tight, but I managed to arrive shortly after John Cooney, editor of Grapevine magazine began his presentation. He talks a lot of common sense. I was particularly impressed when he suggested writing little notes to each other, and pulled out a note from his daughter telling him she loved him from his wallet.
He is a hard act to follow, but retired Youth Aid Officer Bill Davey rose to the occasion and put forward his views. The only jarring note was when he repeated the radfem myth that "95% of domestic violence is committed by men." When Chuck challenged this statistic he couldn’t say where it had come from, but it since gets repeated from so many different sources I can imagine how a busy policeman might just begin to assume it must be true.
Shore Fathers are doing a great job with these educational seminars, and I am sorry I won’t be around to hear Paul Ireland at their 9th December meeting.
More on Shore Fathers.
Access Radio Interview : Mon, 7 September 1998
John Potter (JP) interviewing Gordon Waugh (GW)
JP Good evening Gordon. Welcome back to the Men’s Hour Program.
Gordon is going to talk to us about Advocacy Research and Icebergs, in the context of rape and sexual abuse. Gordon, what is Advocacy Research ?
GW Let me put it this way, John. if objective scientific research is the currency of knowledge and understanding, then Advocacy or subjective research, is counterfeit money. Advocacy research uses the same general framework as objective research, it looks the same, but underneath, its very different. It’s a way of doing studies and surveys, commonly under the guise of social science, to persuade the public and policy-makers that a problem is vastly larger than commonly thought. It’s a deliberate attempt to inflate the size of problems to support ideological causes, attract funds, and create a power-base. Usually, a particular ideological solution is suggested or implied.
JP How would the public recognise the difference? What are its hallmarks?
GW Some hallmarks are fairly obvious.
- They measure a problem so broadly, and use the widest possible definitions, so that almost any human difficulty can be taken into account,
- They measure a very small sample-group known to have the problem, and then make sweeping generalisations to project the findings to society-at-large,
- They use unverified events and assumptions as facts
- They ignore the standard range of errors, and
- They assert that a number of other studies and reports, with different definitions, varying quality, and often dramatic results, form a cumulative block of evidence in support of current claims.
The touchstone of this sort of research is the final statement which warns that "this is only the tip of the iceberg".
JP What sort of people use this method?
GW It’s used in all sorts of areas, but in my opinion, the worst offenders are feminist groups with an axe to grind over sexual abuse, violence, and women’s and children’s issues. These groups share an ideological imperative, which says that politically acceptable findings are more important than the quality of research. I’ll demonstrate this to you a bit later.
The results of advocacy studies are used to bombard the public and the policy-makers with horrifying "statistics", for example about sexual abuse or domestic violence. They create a climate of fear, particularly for women and children, and then come along and claim to have the cure for this huge problem.
JP A lot of this seems to have come from the United States. Do you think advocacy research has taken hold here ?
GW Yes it has, and with a vengeance.
JP Before we came on air this evening, you were telling me about an advocacy conference being held in Auckland right now. Would you like to comment on that for us?
GW Sure. What I was talking about was the 12th International Congress of the International Society for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (ISPCAN). It’s running over three days, starting this morning. It has lots of overseas speakers, and its being attended by about 1200 people. It’s probably the biggest concentration of advocates and pseudo-experts this country has ever seen.
ISPCAN grew out of the moral panic about sexual abuse in the United States in the mid-1980’s. In my view, it’s one of the main offenders in the area of advocacy research, and it perpetuates the far-fetched theories about abuse, how to detect it, and how to treat its effects.
The conference program is organised into six main topics. Indigenous Peoples; Brain Development, traumatic experience & memory; Mental Health & Therapy; Prevention, protection & education; Social work, medicine & law; and Child Advocacy & Children’s Rights.
JP Who in New Zealand is behind the conference?
GW DSAC is the major player, and once again, the CYPS is using taxpayers resources to sponsor an advocacy group. And the Police are also listed as a sponsor. Even Peter Doone, the Commissioner of Police, in involved. On the Organising and Programme Committees, the DSAC members include Robin Fancourt, Vivian Coyle, and Claire Hurst. There are three Police representatives, and 19 others.
There are dozens of overseas invited speakers. I would like to offer my sympathy to my fellow citizens, as this coven of American child abuse "experts" descends upon us. The media is going to be full of their banshee wailing about abuse.
While the likes of Kee MacFarlane, Lucy Berliner, Astrid Heger, Ross Cheit, and Kathleen Faller may have no more scientific legitimacy than those experts who treat alien abduction or past life misfortunes, their contribution to countless American witch hunts – past, present and future – says volumes about their ability to influence the hysterical and the gullible.
This clueless and unrepentant lot can only bring New Zealand more judicial embarrassment and more raids on taxpayer funds for manufactured victims. I can’t see it how it could be a balanced, informed, open-minded conference. What I see is raw, blatant, unmitigated advocacy, and yet another exercise in unbridled pseudo-science. I should point out that while some of the speakers are competent and credible, these criticisms are aimed at the ones that talk nonsense.
JP How long has this sort of thing been going on in New Zealand?
GW It’s certainly not new. Cast your mind back to 1980, when Miriam Saphira set up her project on "Sexual Abuse of Children". Through the NZ Women’s Weekly, she sent out almost quarter of a million questionnaires, and based some of her research on the replies she got.
The findings of that survey have become entrenched in the Sex Abuse Industry. Those so-called "facts" are that 1 in 3 girls will be abused by age 18; that 89% of abused children are abused by someone they know; that fathers are responsible for 25% of all full sexual intercourse with children, and so on.
JP But a sample of almost a quarter of a million should give any researcher a solid base to work from. Where do you see a problem ?
GW From the 220,000 questionnaires, she got just 315 replies. That’s a response rate of 0.14 per cent. The problem I see is that she drew her conclusions from a minuscule sample, not a huge one. As far as I know, there was no verification of the self-reported events claimed by the 315 respondents. To make claims on that basis is at the very least, misleading and unprofessional.
JP I can’t disagree with that! That project was in the 80’s. Do you have a more recent example?
GW Perhaps the most outstanding recent example is the Rape Crisis annual "rape awareness week" on the topic of incest. I call it an orgy of misinformation. In May of this year, Rape Crisis published what it called its "national statistics". They said "Our report shows that NZ is plagued with incest" and claimed to handle an average of over 400 incest cases per year. There were sensational newspaper headlines like "Dads defile family sanctity."
Their definition of incest was astonishing. Their spokeswoman said "We go by our client’s definitions" and "Feminist thought and bi-cultural commitment also contributed to the definition of incest."
"Maori believed that any sexually violent contact between Maori could be seen as blood relative incest".
They even got the Government directly involved ! I understand that Deborah Morris opened the campaign. Roger Sowry, the Minister of Social Welfare, put taxpayers money into it. CYPS endorsed it, and even added its logo to the advertisements.
JP Did you tackle the Minister about this?
GW I sure did. His letter showed just how deeply embedded this stupidity has become. It’s truly astounding. He said, and I quote :
"Rape Crisis acknowledged in its report that its definition of incest differed from the legal definition. Rape Crisis has publicly explained why the group took this position." Now, coming from a Minister of the Crown, that’s really an eye-opener. He totally disregarded the fact that the Rape Crisis explanation drew nothing but scorn, derision and contempt from the public and many professionals, or that it’s entirely unacceptable to the community. We have a legal definition of incest, set down by Parliament in the Crimes Act.
He went on to write "CYPS gave support to the Rape Crisis campaign because it knew that abusive incest, however it is defined, is a significant problem within NZ families." He also wrote "I believe it is entirely appropriate for a Government agency to help spread these messages."
But then he contradicted himself by saying that CPYS doesn’t know how many cases of incest it handled. The logic is amazing. They don’t know the extent, but they do know it’s a significant problem.
JP This sounds like science-fiction at work!
GW It certainly is. The Rape Crisis report was perhaps the most crass example of advocacy research I’ve ever seen. Their report was fatally flawed, because it presented no verification of self-reported events, took no account of bias errors (eg bias due to recall, selection, information, response, or observer bias). It used inconsistent questions, gathered incomplete data, employed distorted definitions and made wild assumptions.
As one small example, they claimed there were 59 cases of incest in the Hamilton region during 1997. According to the Hamilton Police, there was only one alleged case reported to them.
For the whole country during the 1997 calendar year, there were just five prosecutions and four convictions for incest. The claim of four hundred cases is downright silly. And still they say "this is only the tip of the iceberg."
These are just two examples of politically acceptable findings being more important than the quality of the study. Even though the Rape Crisis claims have been shown to be groundless scaremongering, created by advocacy research, we have a Minister of the Crown who actually supports them, and wastes taxpayer funds on them. He gave Rape Crisis $30,000 of our money.
JP I see what you mean, Gordon. Those examples fit your definition to a Tee, and have given us a very clear demonstration of what advocacy research is, and how it’s applied. OK Gordon. Let’s talk about the "tip of the iceberg" theory. It seems to imply a huge amount of under-reporting of abuse. How valid do you think this is?
GW The basic problem is the tremendous gap between estimates of sexual abuse and violence that emerge from advocacy studies, compared to those from data properly collected and analysed. Deliberate distortions confuse the issues, rather than clarify them. But no matter how huge the figures are, the advocates always tell us "this is just the tip of the iceberg".
Even if this type of pseudo-research exaggerates a problem in order to raise public awareness, they claim it’s being done for a good cause And in any case, they say the difference is only a matter of degree.
JP But some might say that’s a valid approach to a problem. So why argue over the numbers?
GW The issue is not that advocacy studies simply overstate problems, but the extent to which this occurs and what it means. After all, the difference between boiling and freezing is "only a matter of degree." The credibility of the figures have a critical bearing on our understanding of the issues at stake.
JP What are the most common "tip of the iceberg" claims you’ve come across?
GW The three usual ones are that 90% of rapes are unreported, that most sex crimes go undetected, and that every woman is at great risk from hordes of predatory, abusive males.
A classic example is the Christchurch STOP program. In early May, and to coincide with the Rape Crisis Incest campaign, it released its version of what it called "statistics". They claim that 137 male offenders admitted to committing 13,499 undetected sexual crimes, and on average, each man had almost 100 separate victims. Their spokesman, Mark Vivian, said although the numbers seemed frighteningly high, they still only scratched the surface. He was "certain" many had seriously underplayed the extent of their offending. That’s definitely a "tip of the iceberg" claim.
JP If these sorts of claims are true, then our society has an immense problem with sexual abuse. Why would the managers of STOP make those claims?
GW I think there are two factors at work. The first is that the STOP program is part of the advocacy system, and it just had to come up with something dramatic, to coincide with the Rape Crisis campaign.
But the key issue is that the survey relied entirely on the men admitting their crimes, so there was no attempt to verify the alleged events. I somehow get the strong impression that the participants were trying a bit of one-upmanship, at the expense of some pretty naive and blinkered staff. These fellows must have been very clever to have 100 victims each, and be able to commit 13 and a half thousand undetected crimes between them.
It’s anyone’s guess how Mr Vivian knows that these only scratch the surface, and why he’s so certain these offenders seriously underplayed their involvement. I’d really like to see evidence that the iceberg exists. Perhaps it melted in the heat of their own arguments.
But the clear fact is that no-one can know how many events go unreported. It’s impossible to even make a guess. There could be some under-reporting in some areas, but it’s also true that because of the extremely wide definitions, there’s likely to be some over-reporting as well.
To claim that 90% of rapes are unreported is sheer nonsense, and very definitely an advocacy claim. So on that basis, the submerged part of the iceberg is looking decidedly small.
JP You mentioned hordes of predatory males, just waiting to rape or abuse women. What about the risk of being raped – do all women run the samerisk ?
GW Through their studies and reports, advocates have been at pains to make it seem as though every woman has the same chance of being raped. That also implies all men are potential rapists. They rationalise it through the strategy that public sympathy is best aroused if a problem is perceived to endanger wives, mothers, daughters, or sisters.
I think it’s fair to say that all women bear some risk of being raped, but the risk varies enormously. Some women are in a "high-risk" category, but the vast majority are unlikely to ever get into a rape situation.
The circumstances in which a rape was committed can lead to non-reporting, and the activities of some women can increase the risk of being raped. These are ones that victims choose not to publicize or report.
For example, victims buying drugs, engaging in prostitution, cheating on their spouses, or otherwise engaging in behaviour which, if it’s not illegal, is at least frowned upon by society. Those are high-risk activities. It doesn’t excuse the crime of rape, but it would certainly improve our understanding of social forces, and perhaps lessen the risks, if they were reported.
Even our Prime Minister, Jenny Shipley, in talking to the Newspaper Publisher’s Association in June, [NZH Fri 12 Jun 98] noted that she was worried that the way some rapes were reported "was creating an impression that the risk of rape was greater than it really was". "I wonder", she said, "whether you are reporting the news, reporting opinion, or reinforcing prejudice and establishing fear that may not be warranted."
It would be "incredibly helpful", she said, "if such reports mentioned whether the level of rape was going up or down, so readers were in a position to make their own judgements." Now that’s a very sensible comment.
JP And it brings up an interesting point. Feminists suggest that the number of rapes has dramatically increased. What’s your view on this?
GW Ministry of Justice figures for prosecutions and convictions show that the average number of rape convictions over the 12 years 1986 to 1997 is just 117. Of course, it varies from year to year, but measured against the male population over the same period, the trend line is virtually constant. The total number of rape convictions in that period was 1,405. The idea that the number of rapes is increasing as a proportion of the male population has no substance. Because so few rape convictions occur, it also gives the lie to the myth that all men are rapists. A typical "tip of the iceberg" claim is that only 10% of rapes are reported, and of those 10% are prosecuted, and only 10% of those are convicted. Working from the actual number of convictions, that claim would mean that there have been 1.4 Million rapes in 12 years. Silly, isn’t it !
JP That certainly puts it in perspective! We’re nearly out of time Gordon. Would you like to make a few final comments?
GW I’d like to summarise the topic by saying that through the use of advocacy research, forever claiming we see only the tip of the iceberg, and by trying too hard to universalise the problem, the advocates have actually limited our response to genuine victims. In doing that, they have failed the women and children they claim to care about, and have done our community a great disservice.
They’ve frightened many women into believing they might be raped or abused by any man.
By setting up universal abuse services for everyone’s wife, mother, daughter, and sister, they’ve deflected concern away from high-risk women. By claiming things like 90% of rapes, and most sexual abuse, goes unreported, they’ve labelled an apparently large number of women as being outright wimps, too scared to do anything, even under the protection of some very generous laws, and the new police policy, that lean heavily in favour of complainants.
They perpetuate the myth that "all men are potential rapists". This alienates men, and it distorts some women’s perception of men.
Perhaps the worst failure is that advocacy myths tend to become embedded, and those attitudes and beliefs flow into the potential complainants, as well as into potential jurors. As a result, many men have been falsely accused, and some wrongly convicted.
The alarming thing for New Zealand is that advocacy research has led to the introduction of the Domestic Violence Act, which epitomises the "woman good – man bad" philosophy. It is this notion which fuels false allegations.
Because advocacy research promotes biased statistics and unscientific theories and practices, my prediction is that domestic violence is the new, and very profitable, growth industry for counsellors. Their research is counterfeit, and their iceberg is an illusion. So watch this space for advocacy claims pouring out of the IPSCAN Conference.
More on Doctors for Sexual Abuse Care.
Having received a definition of feminazi, I am better placed to understand Chuck’s line of discussion. However, I’m newly a reader of material on men’s rights, so I interpret new words as would any member of the general public.
As editor of a very public newsletter and e-mail distribution list, both with general readership, I interpreted the message in question to the best of my ability and chose not to forward it.
That does not deny the apparent bias in the way changes to these laws have been handled, and I congratulate Chuck on spotting this and acting on it.
If I am to believe what I hear from several different sources, it seems Chuck makes good points about the impacts some fathers are experiencing as a result of current legal systems.
On another thread, I avoid lone contact with anyone’s children for fear of sometime later being subject to accusations, whether arising from "recovered memories" or from some child afraid to point the finger at the real abuser. It would be utterly and completely ruinous to my career and personal life, even to be the subject of a false accusation.
At one time I began to mistrust myself around children, due to the intensity and slant of media coverage on the issue. Then I pulled myself up and affirmed myself as having integrity, a good heart, and a lot to offer all children. Let’s publicise those aspects of manhood more and more!
More on Welling.men newsletter.
Chuck Bird’s article on Feminazis is here.