Monday

Fathers' Rights Alters the Perceptions of Domestic Violence

(emphasis mine)

(Impact on perceptions of intimate violence) Men’s versus women’s violence

Related to this, the fathers’ rights movement also has had some impact on public perceptions of intimate violence. In particular, it tells the lie that domestic violence is gender-equal or gender-neutral – that men and women assault each other at equal rates and with equal effects.

While I’ve called this a lie, this is one claim for which there is some academic support.

To support the claim that domestic violence is gender-symmetrical, advocates draw almost exclusively on studies using a measurement tool called the Conflict Tactics Scale. The CTS situates domestic violence within the context of “family conflict”. It asks one partner in a relationship whether, in the last year, they or their spouse have ever committed any of a range of violent acts. CTS studies generally find gender symmetries in the use of violence in relationships. There are three problems with the use made of such studies by fathers’ rights activists.

First, men’s rights and fathers’ rights groups make only selective use of this data, as CTS authors themselves reject efforts to argue that women’s violence against men is as common or as harmful as men’s violence against women (Kimmel 2001, p. 22).

Second, there are methodological problems with the Conflict Tactics Scale. The CTS is widely criticized for not gathering information about the intensity, context, consequences or meaning of the action. The CTS ignores who initiates the violence (when women are more likely to use violence in self-defense), assumes that violence is used expressively (e.g. in anger) and not instrumentally (to ‘do’ power or control), omits violent acts such as sexual abuse, stalking and intimate homicide, ignores the history of violence in the relationship, neglects the question of who is injured, relies on only one partner’s reports despite poor interspousal reliability, and omits incidents after separation and divorce, which is a time of increased danger for women.

Third, a wide range of other data find marked gender asymmetries in domestic violence. For example, crime victimization studies based on large-scale aggregate data, household and crime surveys, police statistics, and hospital data all show that men assault their partners and ex-partners at rates several times the rate at which women assault theirs and that female victims greatly outnumber male victims (Tjaden & Thoennes 2000, pp. 25-26).

Feminist and other scholars have worked to reconcile the conflicting findings of these bodies of data. One important insight is the recognition of different patterns of violent behaviour in couples and relationships. Some heterosexual relationships suffer from occasional outbursts of violence by either husbands or wives during conflicts, what some (Johnson 1995, 284-285) call “common couple violence”. Here, the violence is relatively minor, both partners practise it, it is expressive in meaning, it tends not to escalate over time, and injuries are rare. In situations of “patriarchal terrorism” on the other hand, one partner (usually the man) uses violence and other controlling tactics to assert or restore power and authority. The violence is more severe, it is asymmetrical, it is instrumental in meaning, it tends to escalate, and injuries are more likely.

CTS studies are only a weak measure of levels of minor ‘expressive’ violence in conflicts among heterosexual couples. They are poorer again as a measure of ‘instrumental’ violence, in which one partner uses violence and other tactics to assert power and authority (Johnson 1995, 284–285).

There is no doubt that men are the victims of domestic violence. Men experience domestic violence at the hands of female and male sexual partners, ex-partners, and other family members.

A growing body of research tells us that there are important contrasts in women’s and men’s experiences of domestic violence. Women are far more likely than men to be subjected to frequent, prolonged, and extreme violence, to sustain injuries, to fear for their lives, and to be sexually assaulted (Kimmel 2001, 19; Bagshaw et al. 2000). Men subjected to domestic violence by women rarely experience post-separation violence and have more financial and social independence. Female perpetrators of domestic violence are less likely and less able than male perpetrators to use nonphysical tactics to maintain control over their partners (Swan & Snow 2002, 291-292).

Women’s physical violence towards intimate male partners is often in self-defense (DeKeseredy et al. 1997; Hamberger et al. 1994; Swan & Snow 2002, 301; Muelleman & Burgess 1998, 866). On the other hand, women’s intimate violence can also be motivated by efforts to show anger, a desire for attention, retaliation for emotional hurt, and so on (Hamberger et al. 1994). It is inadequate to explain women’s violence simply in terms of their own oppression and powerlessness, and naïve to assume that women are immune from using violence to gain or maintain power in relationships (Russo 2001, 16-19).

Men are likely to under-estimate and under-report their subjection to domestic violence by women (George 1994, 149; Stockdale 1998, 63). There is no evidence however that male victims are more likely to under-report than female victims. In fact, men tend to over-estimate their partner’s violence and under-estimate their own, while women do the reverse (Kimmel 2001, 10-11).

The fathers’ rights movement’s attention to domestic violence against men is not motivated by a genuine concern for male victimisation, but by political agendas concerning family law, child custody and divorce (Kaye & Tolmie 1998, pp. 53-57). This is evident in two ways.

First, the fathers’ rights movement focuses on this violence when the great majority of the violence inflicted on men is not by female partners or ex-partners but by other men. Australian crime victimisation surveys find that less than one percent of violent incidents among men is by partners or ex-partners, compared to one-third of incidents among women (Ferrante et al. 1996, 104). Boys and men are most at risk of physical harm from other boys and men.

Second, the fathers rights’ movement seeks to erode the protections available to victims of domestic violence and to bolster the rights and freedoms of alleged perpetrators, and this harms female and male victims of domestic violence alike...

You can read more on “Fathers’ Rights” and Violence Against Women by Michael Flood Presentation in Panel, “Myths, Misconceptions, and the Men’s Movement”, at Conference, Refocusing Women’s Experiences of Violence, Sydney, 14-16 September at xyonline.net
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It never fails...every since time I come across a father's supremacist on the topic of domestic violence, one of the first things that comes out of their mouths is

But men and women equally commit domestic violence.
or
Women actually cause more domestic violence than men.
In fact, here is a link to a website that one person used in support of his argument. The majority, if not all, are CTS, self-reporting scales.

And then, I stare at the screen, wondering if I should continue the conversation with the blatantly ignorant.

Do they really believe this? I mean, really?

They say that men under-report domestic violence because of shame, and thus the numbers are down. I believe that. But women under-report, too, for that same reason, and more (ie retaliation). So both numbers should be higher than what they are...but that doesn't make domestic violence equal in ANY sense.

Do father's supremacists watch t.v.? Do they read the news?

So why did I put those two paragraphs in green? It is because the author of this research, Dr. Michael Flood gives acknowledgment that there are male victims of domestic violence. Male supremacists looooove to insist that we are not acknowledging male victims, which is baloney. A victim is a victim is a victim...And we cannot deny that most of them that we see, are indeed women.



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