Men, Women, and Violence
In the 1980s a survey was conducted among a population of 17-18 year old women in New Zealand, secondary school seventh formers. These young women, still at school when many of their contemporaries had left, would be those contemplating an academic or professional career, or at least tertiary education of some kind.
They were asked if they had ever been touched by a male in a manner they found unwelcome. Unwelcome touch compassed everything from pushing a hand away when a petting session went further than they felt comfortable with to gang rape. About 33% replied that they had. One wonders what the percentage might have been if a representative age group had been sampled.
Another survey was conducted through a New Zealand woman's magazine, asking women similar questions. (Scuttlebutt at the time suggested that a large number of those who responded had been set up beforehand to produce the desired results.)
These were parlayed into a claim that 33% of New Zealand women had been sexually abused by a male known to them before they were 18. It became the focus of a national fundraising telethon that raised millions for "child mental health" and redefined New Zealand male sexuality as predatory and paedophilic.
In its wake followed a decade of hysteria in which recovered memory "therapy" uncovered sexual abuse wherever it looked, and in the process came close to bankrupting the Accident Compensation Commission before it was discredited along with the satanic ritual abuse beliefs that sent Peter Ellis to prison on the basis of some of the most tainted evidence ever placed before a New Zealand jury.
Male teachers and childcare workers left the profession faster than 9/11 workers leaping out of skyscraper windows. Fewer than 1% of early childhood care teachers are at present male. About the only profession more skewed is midwifery. (Though obstetrics and gynaecology show much less evidence of this bias, funnily enough)
Children never lied about sexual abuse except when they denied it had happened. Then, horrific "disclosure interviews" followed that subjected small children to hours and days and weeks of sustained pressure until eventually grandpa or uncle or dad was named as a sexual abuser. It was the weapon of choice for women in marriage breakup disputes.
The "safety of the child" was paramount and the slightest whiff of sexual abuse was enough to part fathers from their small children for months at a time, when it didn't send them to prison. The Family Court was set up to accept evidence that would have been howled down in any criminal or civil procedure. The social worker wife of a prominent judge was quoted in the NZ Herald as saying it was better ten innocent men went to prison than that one sexual abuser went free.
It took another ten years before the voice of reason again began to be heard in the matter of sexual abuse, and longer before it was heeded. Felicity Goodyear's book, First Do No Harm provides a graphic account of this period.
Why am I going on about this? It's history, almost...
I am raising it because much the same kind of anti-male process is happening under the guise of raising and "solving" the problem of "family violence". Men are being demonised once again as violent and agressive. Women are portrayed as "victims".
It's a no-brainer isn't it. Men are bigger, they are more aggressive than women, they resort to violence as an easy way to solve their personal problems and to feel effective, taking it out on the helpless women and children they live with. How many of these already have a home of some kind in your belief system?
The short answer to all of this is "Bullshit!"
Social science is at best an inexact field of study. (Have you ever seen so many experts disagreeing with each other.) At it's worst it is so distorted by the worst kind of "political correctness" as to be not just useless but dangerous.
So much depends on how questions are worded, who is asked, and when they are asked. So much depends on how the resulting statistics are sliced.
Let me give you an example.
One way to obtain data that is at least reasonably reliable is to look for replicating studies - studies that confirm or discredit existing figures. A study that suggests gays are 50% more likely than heterosexuals to be left-handed, lapsed Catholics with a tertary education is of minor interest until a series of further studies confirm or discredit the original research.
Another is to look very carefully at the words being used.
When a phrase like "sexual abuse" is used to include an unwelcome hand from an over-keen boyfriend as well as a pack rape look at the message behind this? When "abuse" or "violence" can include murder as well as a shove under provocation, or a shouted reply, what is the message? Using the same term as a portmanteau disguises the fact that offensive behaviour comes in many degrees of seriousness, and warrants many different levels of response.
It's "one-size-fits-all" thinking of the most grossly simplistic variety.
When newspaper articles speak of "family violence", (gender neutral) but invariably present episodes of male violence towards females and children, what is the message?
When victims described are invariably women or children, what message is being sent?
Years ago, when I was protesting at Bastion Point, they sent the Maori cops in first. The cops didn't have a lot of choice, but I have the same feelings of disgust today when I see male reporters like Simon Collins and Geoff Cummings lending their by-lines to what is frankly a line of targeted anti-male propaganda.
What I propose to do in this section of my website is, first of all, to present figures relating to male and female violence in family or partnership relationships that have stood the test of replication locally and internationally, and see how they tally with media and other public representations of family violence in this country.
And I intend to collect articles such as Cummings and Collins are writing and take them apart - not an especially difficult task, but someone has to do it.....
Before we go any further, let me make it quite clear where I stand on violence: I don't believe it is OK for men to hit women. I don't believe it is OK for women to hit men.
Nor do I believe that the common combination of intimidation, verbal harassment, putdown, windup, and so forth that often accompanies, precedes, or serves instead of, physical violence is OK, from either sex.
I believe it is sometimes appropriate for parents to use physical means to discipline children, but certainly not to the extent that physical injury occurs. We are not talking in this case about conflict resolution between adults, we are talking about appropriate limits being established and maintained for children whose upbringing is our concern and responsibility.
If you can't tell the difference between a child and an adult, I'm not sure you should be looking after children.