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August 18, 2005

Comments

bmmg39

"I'm plenty aware that women can be violent. I knew a girl who used to get hit by her girlfriend (I've noticed same-sex domestic abuse is not addressed here... that happens too.)"

The group I promote, Stop Abuse For EVERYONE, does indeed emphasize that violence within the gay and lesbian community is also a huge problem (or, rather, a subset of the same huge problem). Unfortunately, if people go with the traditional way of thinking, that a man can never be a victim of DV, the gay men as well as the straight ones will also be left out, and with the way of thinking that a woman can never be a perpetrator, the lesbian victims will also be left out.

"So, your arguments about underreporting and lack of enforcement do indicate that the raw numbers of men being abused may be higher than we know, but they don't say anything nearly as conclusive about the ratio of male to female abuse victims."

Yes, as I said, I'm positive that there are plenty of women who also fear telling someone about their being abused. My point is that women are publicly encouraged to do so, whereas abused men, often turned away rudely at battered women's shelters, and ignored by the media, feel like there's no place for them to go, and that they're supposed to "take it like a man" (a phrase that infuriates me) and remain stoic. As for numbers, for all we know there are more abused men than abused women, or perhaps the numbers are the same, or perhaps more women than men. The point is that even if there were just ONE abused man, we should give him the same support that we would give any abused woman, rather than dismiss him as the minority and wash our hands of the matter. If a 300-pound football player were slapped by his 100-pound wife, we should be just as outraged with her as we would be with him if the situation was reversed.

"That said, I'm glad you're doing something to help these guys. I don't envy them having to face ridicule on top of everything else. I just don't like framing the situation as if they're competing with female abuse victims... like in order to help one group you have to snub another."

Thank you. And, to be honest, I wish I were doing more. I just post occasionally on that website; the brunt of what I do is having a bumper sticker on my car and handing out literature on abused men at libraries and DV offices, most of which have been receptive to me. And I agree with you: I don't want there to be a "competition" between two groups of victims, and as soon as we begin giving men the support they need, we won't need to have a "competition."

Kristy: "While I have no problem with his comment, I do worry about the effects of taking the attention away from the women in the picture, stats and lies aside women remain the bigger victims within domestic violence."

Please see "Anonymous's" comment about "competing" groups. If we were only helping white people with AIDS and telling people of other races with AIDS that they should hit the road, and I suggested we should begin treating these other people as well, would you worry about taking attention away from the white people?

And your second point strikes me as rather lazy, in which you state, "I don't care what the statistics say; women have it worse." I won't even get into your "lies" comment; I'm trying to finish this post without becoming too angry.

sophonisba

If a 300-pound football player were slapped by his 100-pound wife, we should be just as outraged with her as we would be with him if the situation was reversed.


Of course we should, as long as you're imagining comparable levels of physical damage resulting from the assault. And I'm sure you'd agree that a slap that leaves a red mark is in no way comparable to a slap that breaks a jaw.

It doesn't matter how physically damaging an assault is, when you're considering whether a relationship contract has been broken and whether a person ought to leave and never come back (and I think that any slap on the face is reason to leave if the recipient so desires.) If that's your concern, it doesn't matter small a woman is - she slaps you, she's done, and her size and sex are irrelevant.

However, there's more to domestic abuse than the momentary pain and emotional trauma. There's the fear of permanent damage, of future beatings if you leave, or death, and in that respect, size does matter. Just as a slap is worse than a yell, broken bones are worse than bruises. A smaller person can do as much damage as she wants if she has weapons, training, or time to plan, but in the heat of the moment, a blow struck in anger by an untrained assailant is likely to be far more damaging coming from a larger, stronger person with more upper body strength. Naturally, all this applies in exactly the same way to women in relationships with partners one-third their weight. Some might speculate, however, that such relationships are rather rare.


bmmg39

"If a 300-pound football player were slapped by his 100-pound wife, we should be just as outraged with her as we would be with him if the situation was reversed."

"Of course we should, as long as you're imagining comparable levels of physical damage resulting from the assault."

No, because that's irrelevant. When you state that it's "worse" for a man to strike a woman, the obvious converse is that it's "not as bad" when a woman strikes a man. A man is in an extremely dangerous situation if he's with an abusive woman who believes that he would receive a more severe penalty for retaliation than she will for striking the first blow.

The law must be constructed as to treat all people fairly, and not have a size coefficient to determine the amount of jail time.

sophonisba

"Of course we should, as long as you're imagining comparable levels of physical damage resulting from the assault."

No, because that's irrelevant.

Right. The level of physical damage is irrelevant to the outrage we should feel. If you feel the same amount of outrage at an abuser who slaps her victim's face as you do for one who leaves her partner in a wheelchair, then we do not live in the same moral universe.


man is in an extremely dangerous situation if he's with an abusive woman who believes that he would receive a more severe penalty for retaliation than she will for striking the first blow.

Of course. This isn't a gendered situation, as women who have waited until their abusive husbands slept to retaliate and gone to jail for murder know full well. Of course, you have a slight advantage if you're strong enough that you can retaliate right away without getting killed, because it looks more like self-defense to a jury than if you have to wait until she's unconscious.

The law must be constructed as to treat all people fairly, and not have a size coefficient to determine the amount of jail time.


It's not about size, it's about damage. If you had posited a 300-lb sedentary office worker and a 100-lb karate expert, my point would stand, just directed the other way. That's why I specified "untrained" and "unplanned" and "heat of the moment" in my hypothetical assaults, because obviously with skill or calm forethought a smaller or a weaker person can do lots of damage. But if it's an unpremeditated slap in a momentary loss of control, yes, it damn well does matter whether you get a bruise or lose an eye. You'll note that I also specified that no matter how "harmless" the slap, the victim is fully justified in leaving (and I would add, in calling the police and having the assailant arrested.) But to say that it doesn't matter how badly you hurt somebody is ludicrous. A girlfriend who shoves me out of her way is not as bad as one who kicks me till she breaks my ribs. Period.

NYMOM

"It's not about size, it's about damage. If you had posited a 300-lb sedentary office worker and a 100-lb karate expert, my point would stand, just directed the other way. That's why I specified "untrained" and "unplanned" and "heat of the moment" in my hypothetical assaults, because obviously with skill or calm forethought a smaller or a weaker person can do lots of damage. But if it's an unpremeditated slap in a momentary loss of control, yes, it damn well does matter whether you get a bruise or lose an eye. You'll note that I also specified that no matter how "harmless" the slap, the victim is fully justified in leaving (and I would add, in calling the police and having the assailant arrested.) But to say that it doesn't matter how badly you hurt somebody is ludicrous. A girlfriend who shoves me out of her way is not as bad as one who kicks me till she breaks my ribs. Period."

NYMOM said: I'm so glad somebody else said this.

Actually our statistics on violence being mostly committed by men and it's victims being mostly women can be seen to be a pattern WORLDWIDE. If you read Steven Rhoades "Taking Sex Differences Seriously" you'll see what I'm talking about.


Kristy

bmmg39, I'm glad there are organisations like yours. I truly am! Particuarly since the two main sides of the argument seem to forget same sex couples.

As for the competing thing perhaps you are mis- understanding me its probably my fault trying to jam a 1 hr argument into a few sentences on someone elses blog.

but when it comes down to trying to target one audience, trying to get one group of people to identify with the ads then I can understand them targeting abused women.

I think the beliefs about domestic vioence towards women still stem from some more mainstream attitudes about keeping women in line. I might be mistaken but i'm yet to come across any articles/arguments from women who not only beat their partners (male and or female)but also think that it is ok and proudly admit it (if you are able to find some i'll be happy to admit that i'm wrong).

What i'm trying to say is that these beliefs about domestic violence towards men are not reinforced by older societal views. Whereas there still remains many men who believe and actually communicate to other men proudly that she deserved it and that violence towards partners is ok.

I think the ads I am talking about are trying to change that particular aspect. trying to change broader attitudes towards partners as well as communicate to women to contact them.

My guess (yes a guess) is the other reason they are actually targetting women is because it continues to cost the government more money to care for abused female victims than what it does to care for males victims.

Btw, you mis-quoted me.

NYMOM

"I think the beliefs about domestic vioence towards women still stem from some more mainstream attitudes about keeping women in line. I might be mistaken but i'm yet to come across any articles/arguments from women who not only beat their partners (male and or female)but also think that it is ok and proudly admit it (if you are able to find some i'll be happy to admit that i'm wrong).

What i'm trying to say is that these beliefs about domestic violence towards men are not reinforced by older societal views. Whereas there still remains many men who believe and actually communicate to other men proudly that she deserved it and that violence towards partners is ok."

NYMOM said: Good point. It probably stems from the fact that women still generally marry older men then themselves and in some situations this can be by as much as a decade. Actually my own ex-husband was 15 years older then me, had been married before with three children he had custody of, had been at his job 21 years, etc., etc.,. So there is a tendency on both sides to see the 'junior' partner as a dependent and thus liable to be treated (in some situations) as a child.

So you are 100% right. It's the whole idea BEHIND the marriage relationship that needs to be addressed, not just the abusive ones.

Although what do you do about the women who are okay with being the junior partner in the enterprise (if they aren't being physically abuse) yet their complicity/passivity sets up scenarios where abuse against OTHER women in our society is condoned.

Dr E

Anyone wondering what Dr Gelles thinks about this specific issue can go to VAWA4all.org and see that he is an endorser of the ideas presented by that site. The site was written by a prominent MRA and has many connections with MRA's around the country including at least one of the panelists. It is undeniable that Gelles is clearly in the same camp as the MRA's in their concern for male victims and their lack of recognition and lack of services.

It seems clear that the majority of the panelists felt that an important issue was that of male victims. The panelists were invited guests. They chose the issues to speak about that they felt were important. These issues were not what HUGO thought was important and so now he seems to be upset that what he thought should be discussed was not given much airtime. Seems to me that Hugo is complaining that he didnt' get his way and is attacking and name-calling those who did. Notice that all of what we know about this event is from Hugo and from his perspective. It might be helpful to hear a few other perspectives on the meeting.

I applaud those men for speaking up about male victims. This message needs to be spoken in public and I thank them for their courage to step forward and speak their truth even with the negativity that comes from those who are rigidly set in their ideas about men and DV. This is not a small problem that simply needs a task force or a couple of articles in the newspaper. This is a huge crisis impacting nearly 1 million men each year. Be aware of those who want to mute the critical nature of this crisis. Be aware of their tendency to shift the ground to name-calling and personal attacks.

mythago

Seems to me that Hugo is complaining that he didnt' get his way and is attacking and name-calling those who did.

Yes, how selfish of Hugo to be critical of a panelist who was verbally abusive (oh, sorry--"venting") to an audience member. Clearly even Glenn Sacks was under Hugo's sway!

I'm all for men speaking out about male victims. I don't get the insistence that any discussion at all of DV of a woman by her male partner is taken as a deliberate, intentional, hostile attempt to squash the issue of DV against men.

Amba

Dr. E, the event in question was a discussion forum on a film focusing on male-to-female DV. It's reasonable to assume that a discussion panel will devote themselves to the topic at hand, instead of using the opportunity as a free-for-all to air whatever other grievances they happen to have. If the MRAs in question had organized their own symposium on male victims of domestic violence instead of hijacking one dedicated to male-on-female DV, their credibility would be a lot higher.

Dr E

I heard another account of this event and it didn't sound a thing like Hugo's. In neither account did I hear that the promoter/organizer for the event was unhappy with the topics discussed. If I heard that the organizers were unhappy with things I would likely have a different take on things. Like I said, we really know very little about what happened and I won't pass judgement on the panelists until I find out more.

NYMOM

"I applaud those men for speaking up about male victims."

NYMOM said: Some have said that the real problem is NOT that there are few men getting help with domestic violence situations; but that gender neutralized feminists have taken over VAWA and allowed it's legal arm to be used in ordinary divorce/custody situations (where no domestic violence exists). Almost like a preempted strike sort of thing against men allowing women to get house, custody, child support, etc., w/o a real hearing on the issues.

If this is true then you are barking up the wrong tree by trying to paint your opposition to it as trying to help abused men. Since many people (including men) are not going to buy the line that almost as many men are abused as women. They just aren't.

So why don't you go after your real complaint against VAWA, which is that gender neutralized feminists have hijacked it for their own purposes.

It's the inconsistency of their position that bothered me. These gender neutralized feminists appear to be working both ends against the middle here.

On the one hand they are pushing for gender neutral custody and causing millions of women to lose their children; then this VAWA situation where they are doing just the opposite. People in this country need to know where feminists really stand on these issues and react to them accordingly.

That's the real issue. This other stuff is really a sideshow.

Mr. Bad

NYMOM said: "If this is true then you are barking up the wrong tree by trying to paint your opposition to it as trying to help abused men. Since many people (including men) are not going to buy the line that almost as many men are abused as women. They just aren't."

If what you mean by this is that most people are under the false impression that there are more women abused by men than men abused by women (due to the feminist propaganda campaign of the last 30 years) and thus they aren't going to "buy" the reality of the statistics, then I agree - we have to change people's minds by forcing the truth to come out re. equal culpability of women and men for initiating inter-partner abuse. The abuse may be different (e.g., women may get more severely hurt by men than vice versa - although I'm not at all sure this is true when you consider the violence that women commit using proxies, i.e., the police, boyfriends, contract killers, etc.) and so services for men might be different than services for women, but this doesn't obviate the need to address violent women. In fact, identifying and dealing with violent women would probably help those women avoid severe injury at the hands of men who are simply protecting themselves.

So to bring this back on-topic, that is why I think the panelists were justified in focusing on woman-on-man inter-partner abuse. As I said before, there are a myriad of entities beating the drum of violence against women - many of those entities funded with public resources - and almost none addressing the reverse. Thus, we have to level the playing field by shifting the focus to violent women and male vicitms, at least for the foreseeable future.

Thomas

Hugo, there's a history to the suffix "phobe" that you're missing, and it supports your use.

In foreign policy, and in particular in British foreign policy, "-phobe" and "-phile" were used, respectively, to refer to the opponents and advocates of another country. Those who believed that France was the paramount threat, feared it, and sought to oppose its moves, were "Francophobes," while those who sought closer relations with Russia were "Russophiles." In this usage, fear of the advance of one's opponent is conflated with opposition, and rooting for the advance of another is conflated with fondness.

I find the terminology useful because it conveys advocacy and opposition on the policy battlefield. The insulted, squirming ire that homophobes display at the notion that they are personally squeamish about homosexuality is merely a bonus.

Hugo

Thomas, excellent point! Thank you!

H

NYMOM

"If what you mean by this is that most people are under the false impression that there are more women abused by men than men abused by women (due to the feminist propaganda campaign of the last 30 years) and thus they aren't going to "buy" the reality of the statistics, then I agree"

NYMOM said: Don't bother 'agreeing' as that's not what I mean.

I meant just what I said.

You are going to have a hard time convincing most thinking PEOPLE, including other MEN, that men are as abused as women because it simply ain't so.

If you approach them with the real problem, you'll have a better chance of being able to address the issue as people can understand a law or public policy that's being misused. It's like you said women using proxies and VAWA has just become another one.

I guess these particular women (probably low income, little education, etc.,) felt they could not win in the legal arena (less money, probably less savvy manuevering in the courtroom, politically correctness now favoring fathers, etc.,). Thus, this VAWA appears to have turned into another proxy for women to help them with issues of spousal support, custody, child support, etc.,

It probably saids more about our court system and society (nothing good either) that women felt they needed this.

Fidelbogen

can't take a movement seriously where the main leaders appear to have suffered nothing of what they complain about; but are busily telling
younger men (who again, haven't even lived yet how our society discriminates
and suffered nothing) against them so much."
.........

Let's turn that one around, NYMOM, in the name of "Zero Tolerance for Double Standards". By the same token, women who have never suffered any abusive horrors from menfolk, and have enjoyed all manner of privilege for most of their lives,(and I am picturing college-age women especially)really hadn't ought to be busily preaching about how our society discriminates against women.

Especially not when they are preaching to the MAJORITY of women(who again haven't suffered much by comparison with the comparatively small number of
genuine,hardcore victims.)

In Sum: No, I can't agree with the premise that you appear to be advocating.If you mean that nobody ought to speak out against a particular evil UNLESS they
have personally been on the recieving end of that evil,then at the very least
I'd say you have a touch of moral myopia --if not an actual blind spot.

bmmg39

"If you feel the same amount of outrage at an abuser who slaps her victim's face as you do for one who leaves her partner in a wheelchair, then we do not live in the same moral universe."

You are contrasting different ACTIONS. A slap isn't as bad as a punch, which isn't as bad as striking with a mallet, which isn't as bad as shooting someone, et cetera. But a slap is still abuse, as I know you agree, and I am opposed to punishing the stronger person moreso than the weaker person simply because the stronger person (whatever the gender) inflicted more damage via the same action.

"But if it's an unpremeditated slap in a momentary loss of control, yes, it damn well does matter whether you get a bruise or lose an eye. You'll note that I also specified that no matter how 'harmless' the slap, the victim is fully justified in leaving (and I would add, in calling the police and having the assailant arrested.) But to say that it doesn't matter how badly you hurt somebody is ludicrous. A girlfriend who shoves me out of her way is not as bad as one who kicks me till she breaks my ribs. Period."

Again, those are two different actions, not the same action with two different results.

I'm glad you do at least treat female abuse of a male seriously, and suggest that the law should become involved. Our stances on this might not be so disparate.

bmmg39

"I think the beliefs about domestic vioence towards women still stem from some more mainstream attitudes about keeping women in line. I might be mistaken but i'm yet to come across any articles/arguments from women who not only beat their partners (male and or female)but also think that it is ok and proudly admit it (if you are able to find some i'll be happy to admit that i'm wrong)."

I think that if a man says to a group of people that he proudly hits his wife to "keep her in line," he'll most likely receive scorn. At best, there will be awkward silence as his friends gradually move out of his life. But, often, if a woman were to say she hits her husband to "keep him in line," she MIGHT receive scorn, but might also get laughs, high-fives and support for "showing him who's boss."

I will look for specific examples over the next few weeks (I am going away), but I have literally lost sleep over some of the things I've seen on the Internet and elsewhere. Teenage girls bragging to each other on blogs of times they've hurt boyfriends in the groin. A ten-minute play that consists of nothing more than a woman slapping a man for a film over and over and over and over again. It's a "comedy," of course. Ever feel like half of you wants to put your fist through the wall and the other half just wants to cry? That's how I've felt looking at this stuff. Many parents still teach their son never to hit a girl but teach their daughter to hit a guy if ever he says something you don't like.

"What i'm trying to say is that these beliefs about domestic violence towards men are not reinforced by older societal views. Whereas there still remains many men who believe and actually communicate to other men proudly that she deserved it and that violence towards partners is ok."

We apparently live on different continents (literally, I mean) and I've never been there. But what I've read up on here is that a woman hitting a man has long been considered by many to be an act of femininity -- a well-deserved action for something he said/did, and it's then up to him to apologize for whatever he said/did to "deserve" being hit. So I DO think violence against men is derived from a societal view.

"My guess (yes a guess) is the other reason they are actually targetting women is because it continues to cost the government more money to care for abused female victims than what it does to care for males victims."

Part of that is a chicken-and-egg scenario. If men are made to feel like wimps if they complain about being abused, fewer will...leading to the estimate that there are fewer of them than they are, and the cycle repeats itself.

"Btw, you mis-quoted me."

How? I certainly didn't mean to. I'm usually pretty painstaking when it comes to cutting and pasting.

bmmg39

"You are going to have a hard time convincing most thinking PEOPLE, including other MEN, that men are as abused as women because it simply ain't so."

The reason we're having a hard time is NOT because "it ain't so," but because it goes against the stereotypes and gender-specific "rules" people were raised with.

BritGirlSF

bmmg39, I usually make an effort to be compassionate towards you, but I'm afraid you're completely wrong on this issue. If a 300 pound man hits his 100 pound wife that is in no way an equivalent action to her slapping him. Why? Because a 300 pound man knows damn well how much stronger than a 100 pound woman he is, and how much damage his blows can do. In the situation you set up the man hitting the woman would be like me hitting a child. In order to get to the same kind of size and strength differential you would have to compare me to a child of about 8 or younger(my thirteen year old nephew is the same height as me and a bit heavier, to give you a sense of scale). I find it mind-boggling that you can't see why a person with a huge size advantage hitting a smaller person is just plain wrong. A very big person can and should be aware of their ability to hurt others, and they have a moral obligation to take that into account no matter how angry they are.
Don't get me wrong here, if your partner slaps you that is unnacceptable, no matter how little physical damage that slap does. In my opinion, any physical violence in a relatioship is unnacceptable, and if your partner is violent towards you in any way you should leave them, immediately (I'm aware that this is easier said than done by the way). However, there is a world of difference between a slap and a punch, and the law needs to treat more violent acts more seriously. I find it difficult to fathom how any intelligent person could fail to see why the law works that way.

mythago

As I said before, there are a myriad of entities beating the drum of violence against women - many of those entities funded with public resources - and almost none addressing the reverse.

So the solution is to shout down anyone who talks about his own experience as an abuser, because we haven't filled a designated number of minutes talking about female-on-male DV?

I heard another account of this event and it didn't sound a thing like Hugo's.

Do share. Just calling Hugo a liar isn't very enlightening.

Dr E

I had a feeling that we might not have gotten the whole story here. I spoke with someone who was at the event and they explained things from a different perspective. It seems that the reason the panel started focusing on male victims was that there were questions taken from the audience and the first question was about men who were victims of DV. It was apparently during this time that the woman in the audience that Hugo refers to became enraged that men were being discussed and became beligerant and loud. Someone in the audience apparently told her she was in need of a batterers program! This lady doesn't sound like the innocent victim to me nor does the situation sound much like Hugo described.

Apparently the entire event was filmed so those of us who were not present will be able to judge things for ourselves when the film comes out.

I will be curious to hear what Hugo may have to say about this.

Mr. Bad

mythago wrote: (My comment)"As I said before, there are a myriad of entities beating the drum of violence against women - many of those entities funded with public resources - and almost none addressing the reverse."

Her response: "So the solution is to shout down anyone who talks about his own experience as an abuser, because we haven't filled a designated number of minutes talking about female-on-male DV?"

I don't know, it depends on the situation. I wasn't there, so I don't know that your characterization of him 'shouting her down' is accurate, however, I could envision a situation where someone "shouted down" another person who instigated a shouting match. It's not a civil thing to do, but I could understand how such a scenario could develop.

What I do know is that here on my campus, radical feminists "shouting down" people who hold a different view than they do is their MO, so the radfems certainly have set the standard. Still, I think that everybody needs to learn to behave in a more civil manner to each other.

Nonetheless, as I said, we now need to hear a lot more from the battered men's advocates to make up for past silencing, censorship and "shouting down" of their voices.

bmmg39

"I find it mind-boggling that you can't see why a person with a huge size advantage hitting a smaller person is just plain wrong."

At no point have I said or implied that. It's wrong no matter the size and strength of each party -- and, remember, I speak to you as a small person, myself. If I hit someone larger than I, I expect no benefit from the law because of my size disadvantage. In fact, common sense dictates that this is just ONE reason why I wouldn't pick a fight with someone who towers over me. Unfortunately, there are some other small people who feel their smallness is a get-out-of-jail free card, that they are protected from being hit, but can hit whomever they choose.

"In the situation you set up the man hitting the woman would be like me hitting a child."

The child might not have reached the age of reason yet, and the adult is in a situation of power over the child -- can ground the child or take away privileges. Of course, even THIS situation has its limits. If a child were (and this is indeed a stretch) trying to stab you, you'd be within your rights to knock the child away, using only as much force as is necessary.

"Don't get me wrong here, if your partner slaps you that is unnacceptable, no matter how little physical damage that slap does."

I'm glad we agree on that.

"In my opinion, any physical violence in a relatioship is unnacceptable, and if your partner is violent towards you in any way you should leave them, immediately (I'm aware that this is easier said than done by the way). However, there is a world of difference between a slap and a punch, and the law needs to treat more violent acts more seriously. I find it difficult to fathom how any intelligent person could fail to see why the law works that way."

As I have already said, I'm not comparing a slap to a punch, or a slap to pushing someone down a flight of stairs. I'm comparing a slap to a slap and a punch to a punch. My belief is that smaller people often hurt larger people because they don't fear the consequences, or know that the consequences for them hitting will be less severe than they will be for the person who retaliates. That belief needs to change.

I'll be away for a few days and will catch up later. Don't think I'm running away if I don't post immediately.

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