The following is a comment on my post Talking Past Each Other. It was so good I decided it was worth it’s own post.
While I appreciate where you’re coming from, the problem is that you’ve ignored the 1,000,000 tonne elephant in the room – abuse. To put the following in context, I am speaking as a male child abuse and domestic violence survivor of female abusers who is all too aware of how those of us who are male victims are stigmatised by society – especially when the abuser is female.
On the issue of abuse, the problem there is entirely on the part of feminism and specifically its inability to be accountable to its own narrative and the stereotypes and stigmas it reinforces. A significant part of that is due to the likes of Andrea Dworkin being the sole unchallenged voices on abuse within the feminist movement – at least in any profound and public manner.
The fact is that feminism has always framed abuse as a product of “patriarchy” (which in and of itself is a flawed, superficial and incomplete model of how society has been engineered along gendered lines). Under such a premise, all abuse is framed as solely being the product of “male power”.
Feminism’s response to that abuse is best summed up by their typical response to following in terms of what is said and unsaid, namely:
“”To violence against women, feminism says No! [To violence against men, feminism says who cares?! After all it’s just “men doing it to each other” and in the 5-10 cases worldwide where it’s a woman doing it to a man, she was either defending herself or did something to “have it coming to him” – you go girl!]”
At the risk of being too verbose, it’s necessary to decompact that response in terms of the way in which feminists regard domestic violence (and by extension, abuse in general). According to the feminism- namely that:
“Women are [exclusively] victims, men are [exclusively] abusers [and any instances to the contrary are to be dismissed as statistical anomalies, lies and arbitrarily trivial and harmless- even when the victim is being attacked with blunt objects, threatened with knives, stabbed or set alight in their sleep].”
According to that narrative, when a man is abused, “he must have done something to provoke it” or “it must have been self-defence”; in other words, “he had it coming to him”.
Furthermore, it reinforces the stigma that “real men are never victims [especially of women]” and in doing so, that battered men have ‘defiled their masculinity’ by ‘allowing themselves to be abused [and by a woman of all people]’. This is the same warped psychopathology which underlies the demonisation of female rape victims.
To summarise, it is entirely reasonable to state that in addition to such a narrative ideologically shielding female perpetrators, that it stigmatises me personally, and every single other battered man out there (and by extension, female victims of female abusers) as nothing but a pack of urban myths – if not pathological liars – who “had it coming to us” and effectively as cheap, filthy, worthless sluts.
If battered women faced a similar deliberate and concerted campaign of bigotry and domestic violence apologetics by the media, law enforcement and governments, people would be marching in the streets over it, and rightly so.
Yet, as society has repeatedly demonstrated over the years, it apparently deems it acceptable to promote the very same sexism and abuse apologetics when the victim is male, while using speaking for women as an ideological shield to do so. Even more appalling is that such sexism and abuse apologetics is clearly based on the stereotypes of every single woman out there exclusively being some perpetual harmless damsel in distress and every man out there exclusively being some perpetual Superman, incapable of being victimised. Such a premise is so utterly chauvinistic, that it is the close cousin to such disgusting tropes as “don’t dress like a slut and you won’t get raped.”
Worse still, as I personally discovered, is that when we go looking for support groups, we’re either told there’s nothing out there or automatically treated like perpetrators (for no other reason than the dick between our legs) and told that all we can be offered are anger management groups – the equivalent of suggesting that a female rape victim be “supported” by sending her to a convent or a reform school.
Furthermore there isn’t even a McCarthyist justification for such a position. In countries like Australia for example, the ABS, AIC and similar official bodies have found that men account for at least a third of all domestic violence victims and that their abusers are predominantly female.
Then on a transnational level, you have meta-reviews like the Partner Abuse State of Knowledge project (P.A.S.K.) [http://domesticviolenceresearch.org] which after reviewing more than 1,700 studies and considering more than 12,000 overall, found the following results.
In terms of perpetration: “Rates of female-perpetrated violence higher than male-perpetrated (28.3% vs. 21.6%)”
In terms of gender breakdown: “Among large population samples, 57.9% of IPV reported was bi-directional, 42% unidirectional; 13.8% of the unidirectional violence was male to female (MFPV), 28.3% was female to male (FMPV)”
In terms of motivation: “Male and female IPV perpetrated from similar motives – primarily to get back at a partner for emotionally hurting them, because of stress or jealousy, to express anger and other feelings that they could not put into words or communicate, and to get their partner’s attention.”
Regarding self-defence as a motivation: “Self-defense was endorsed in most samples by only a minority of respondents, male and female. For non-perpetrator samples, the rates of self-defense reported by men ranged from 0% to 21%, and for women the range was 5% to 35%. The highest rates of reported self-defense motives (50% for men, 65.4% for women) came from samples of perpetrators, who may have reasons to overestimate this motive.”
Regarding anger and retaliation: “None of the studies reported that anger/retaliation was significantly more of a motive for men than women’s violence; instead, two papers indicated that anger was more likely to be a motive for women’s violence as compared to men.”
In short domestic violence is anything but “a gender issue”.
Yet the standard feminist response to this reality, is to respond using what can only be described as the feminist playbook on DV, which goes a little something like this:
1. Immediately begin with the tired old trope of “yes men are abused, but”. This should never be taken as a genuine recognition of male victims, but rather a tokenistic, insincere one – purely designed to be an act of plausible deniability.
2. Immediately follow this up with the usage of either misleading statements, outdated statistics, findings from studies with questionable methodology (ie only asking women about being victims and only asking men about being perpetrators) and misleading statements to justify the focus being on entirely on female victims and male abusers. Such tactics include using the violence experienced by men at the hands of strangers, to deliberately cover up the existence of battered men.
3. Immediately attempt to cement this by denying the countless evidence out there which proves that domestic violence should be treated as a gender-neutral issue where all victims are supported and all perpetrators are called to be held accountable for their actions, including:
– recent official figures from the AIC demonstrating that battered men and battered women are murdered in this country at similar rates
– recent official figures from the ABS finding that the vast majority of battered men are abused by women
– recent figures by the ABS and the NSW Auditor General’s Dept finding that at least a third of all domestic violence victims are male
-several international DV studies such as the 2001 NLSAH, which have found that while half of all domestic violence is reciprocal, of the remaining half which was non-reciprocal, more than 70% of it was found to be women battering men
– recent findings by the ABS that women disclose their abuse 2-3 times more often than men do and report their abuse upto 40% more often than men do
4. In the event of someone bringing up abuse victims being driven to suicide as a direct result of their abuse, claim it’s ‘different’, even though psychologically abusing someone on a daily basis until they commit suicide, is no different to feeding someone low doses of poison on a daily basis until their body finally gives out from the strain and they die from it.
5. Either openly make stigmatising comments towards regarding male victims, or engage in rhetoric which excuses and justifies the standard narrative, which when deconstructed, is quickly shown to stigmatise male victims of domestic violence as urban myths- if not pathological liars- “who had it coming to them” and as quite literally the equivalent of child cheap, filthy worthless sluts.
Gain bonus points for doing so by also stigmatising child abuse victims of female child abusers in the process – especially sexually abused children -through using that narrative.
6. Defend the lack of meaningful support services for battered men, such as no shelters whatsoever, the virtually non-existent amount of support groups in this country and a single phone helpline, with the misleading claim that under-funded and marginalised advocacy groups, anger management groups and even jails provide male victims of abuse with plenty of support.
7. Attack any male victim who refuses to accept either the dehumanisation and stigmatisation we face or the lies which defend it, with the shaming tactic of calling them a “misogynist” – either directly or indirectly.
Given that men are dehumanised as disposable, arbitrary protectors and providers of women by society in the same manner as women are objectified as “baby machines”, such a shaming tactic quite literally amounts to the equivalent of a combination of calling them “man-hating lesbians” and telling them “don’t dress like a slut and you wont get raped”.
Given all of the above, it’s entirely reasonable to say that while certainly, on some issues, the MRM and feminism talk past each other. However in terms of the issue your article omitted, blame falls squarely at the feet of feminism for the status quo.