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“Of course there will be more Sodinis—there will be many more”
November 21, 2009 7:28 PM   Subscribe

Point:
At the end of October, National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, members of the men’s movement group RADAR (Respecting Accuracy in Domestic Abuse Reporting [2]) gathered on the steps of Congress to lobby against what they say are the suppressed truths about domestic violence: that false allegations are rampant, that a feminist-run court system fraudulently separates innocent fathers from children, that battered women’s shelters are running a racket that funnels federal dollars to feminists, that domestic-violence laws give cover to cagey mail-order brides seeking Green Cards, and finally, that men are victims of an unrecognized epidemic of violence at the hands of abusive wives."

Counterpoint:
Whatever minor successes men's groups may have achieved, the reality is that public policy on domestic violence in the U.S. is heavily dominated by feminist advocacy groups. For the most part, these groups embrace a rigid orthodoxy that treats domestic violence as male terrorism against women, rooted in patriarchal power and intended to enforce it. They also have a record of making grotesquely exaggerated, thoroughly debunked claims about an epidemic of violence against women--for instance, that battering causes more hospital visits by women every year than car accidents, muggings and cancer combined.
posted by andoatnp (125 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
I haven't read these yet, but doesn't point / counterpoint usually mean opposing arguments? This seems like point / another-point.
posted by Bokononist at 7:38 PM on November 21, 2009 [11 favorites]


The second article is a rebuttal to the first. Definitely point/counterpoint.
posted by bakerina at 7:40 PM on November 21, 2009


You know, there is an important discussion to be had about some of the ideas raised in these columns: For example, it is taken as a given by most people that male on female domestic violence is far, far more common than the reverse when there is actually some reason to believe that isn't true (though it seems indisputable that the consequences of male on female violence are significantly more likely to be severe because of strength differentials and such). But I don't see how you possibly get to that discussion by a stereotypical point-counterpoint which is unlikely to shed much light on anything in particular.
posted by Justinian at 7:42 PM on November 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


Can the "Men's Rights" activists cite any rights which men are denied, for which they are agitating?

The summaries are given in a weird way, as if each is posing their version of the Men's Rights case.
posted by idiopath at 7:45 PM on November 21, 2009 [5 favorites]


Outside the courtroom, domestic violence against women is an enormous problem. The deck is stacked against women. Women are abused at an alarming rate. They are afraid to report it. They feel they have nowhere to go. It is awful, and I wish I knew how to do something about it. Certainly, people are trying.

Inside the courtroom, the deck is stacked against men. If a woman makes a domestic violence claim against a man, then he is guilty/loses his kids/loses what ever is on the line. If a female victim testifies against a male defendant in a domestic violence case, the standard of proof is similar to the standard of proof in a witch trial in Salem -- being accused is proof of guilt.

In criminal court, I have found a very disturbing trend. The more serious the domestic violence, the less likely the victim is to show up in court to testify. The more adamant a victim is about showing up in court to testify, the more likely it is that nothing happened. Obviously, I am not suggesting that most women who show up in court are lying. I am just saying that it is a bizarre correlation.

Often the facts of a domestic violence case involve a serious argument. The woman starts flailing at the man or punching him. He grabs her by the arms to restrain her. Maybe he sits her down or pushes her down onto a couch. The police show up. She has marks on her arms. That man is going to jail. We have a 48 hour cooling off period. When those facts are testified to at trial, the man will be convicted almost every single time. It is a problem.

It seems that women get so screwed by domestic violence in our society and men get away with so much, that when a domestic violence case actually reaches the court system, judges and DAs try to address the societal issue instead of the specific case.
posted by flarbuse at 7:48 PM on November 21, 2009 [25 favorites]


Can the "Men's Rights" activists cite any rights which men are denied, for which they are agitating?

the right to be sure that the children one is paying child support for are in fact one's own children
posted by pyramid termite at 7:48 PM on November 21, 2009 [14 favorites]


Yeah, just to be clear, you have to read both the articles, not just the parts I quoted, to understand that it is a point/counterpoint. I assumed that people would read both the articles before they commented.
posted by andoatnp at 7:48 PM on November 21, 2009


OK, the quote from the first article is the first paragraph "summary of the problem" sort of thing. The article does actually not espouse that position.

I'm amused by the vaguely-threatening-guy stock photo : Captioned "Photograph of a man". And is he wearing a "wife-beater"? Good stuff.
posted by Bokononist at 7:53 PM on November 21, 2009


"I assumed that people would read both the articles before they commented."

Well, aren't you the optimist?
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 8:05 PM on November 21, 2009 [6 favorites]


Obviously, I am not suggesting that most women who show up in court are lying.

From over here, it kind of seems like you are. Not that nobody ever brings a false accusation, but how exactly are you so certain that this "correlation" is valid?
posted by cmgonzalez at 8:11 PM on November 21, 2009 [4 favorites]



This is a thorny problem, and a real public policy issue.

On the one hand, the men's groups do have a point - women's advocacy groups have been extraordinarily zealous in helping women pursue and harass alleged abusers, to the point that lots of otherwise good fathers have given up rather than bother. I've spoken somewhat about it before.

And, there is a lot of grant money given to these groups, and I gotta believe that money would dry up if the problem were actually less pernicious than the groups' studies show. Which is why they are less concerned with accuracy than advocacy. Being accurate will punish them - so they need to overestimate. Their financial well being depends on it.

That said, I know there are lots of women who desperately need the help. No question about it. But the way the current system is set up sucks, and frankly, I don't think the money is well spent. I think we can do better, and that people and families in these situations deserve better.

I'm not real confident of any meaningful change happening anytime soon. It's a complex and nuanced set of problems without a solution that doesn't suck for many cases. It's a political hot potato and no sane legislator is going to mess with it.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 8:13 PM on November 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


cmgonzalez: "From over here, it kind of seems like you are."

If, a small minority, say, 10% of accusations, are obviosly false, and the accusers in these cases are all adamant about going to court, and if among the rest, there were a large group that did not want to go to court despite compelling evidence, then what he says would make perfect sense - most false claims are highly motivated to take the claims to court, while most claims that go to court are not false. And most claims that decide not to go to court are true ones.

If the main reason to make a false claim were a court-case as revenge, the only people you would see declining to go to court would be the true cases, and all of the ones that were false cases would be going to court.

Obviously this is an oversimplification, but it may be a hint of the kind of motivations and dynamics going on here.
posted by idiopath at 8:18 PM on November 21, 2009


On reconsideration, change my 10% to .1%, the logic still works out.
posted by idiopath at 8:20 PM on November 21, 2009


I read em! These 'journalists' are advocates for and against the Mens Rights movements. The truth probably lies in between these two poles--the guys who want parity are distinct from angry anti-feminists, but the idea that the system is so heavily weighted for women that there needs to extra-protection and consideration for dudes stretches believability. It's times like these when I'm glad there are overworked and venal policicians in charge of making laws rather than earnest activists of any stripe.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:20 PM on November 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


Obviously this is an oversimplification, but it may be a hint of the kind of motivations and dynamics going on here.

I got the implication, but I think it's a somewhat dangerous conclusion to make, and that's why I asked flarbuse to clarify before discussing further.
posted by cmgonzalez at 8:31 PM on November 21, 2009


bakerina: "The second article is a rebuttal to the first. Definitely point/counterpoint."

Bullshit. the excerpts are not oppositional.
posted by mwhybark at 8:34 PM on November 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


What is dangerous about the conclusion? This seems an uncontroversial set of assertions to me.
posted by idiopath at 8:37 PM on November 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


andoatnp: "Yeah, just to be clear, you have to read both the articles, not just the parts I quoted, to understand that it is a point/counterpoint. "

Bad post, then. You excerpted in a manner which is deceptive. Try again?
posted by mwhybark at 8:37 PM on November 21, 2009


andoatnp: "Yeah, just to be clear, you have to read both the articles, not just the parts I quoted, to understand that it is a point/counterpoint. "

Bad post, then. You excerpted in a manner which is deceptive. Try again?


Sorry for the confusion. What I should have said was, if it isn't obvious that the "point" excerpt is describing something that is bad and a problem, then reading the whole article makes this clear.
posted by andoatnp at 8:43 PM on November 21, 2009


My (incredibly limited, entirely anecdatal) experience consists of considerably more female on male violence than male on female. My grandmother used to chase my grandfather around the house with a carving knife. All of the rest of the scenes I have heard about or have witnessed (mostly the latter) are basically in the same vein.
posted by unSane at 8:59 PM on November 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


Ugh the post is fine. Don't worry about it. The excerpts illustrate the particular slant of each article descibing the same issue. The first considers it as a movement of demagogues and the second as a platform of reasonable opinions about policy.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:04 PM on November 21, 2009


mwhybark: Bullshit. the excerpts are not oppositional.

Fair 'nuff. I was reacting more to Bokononist's "I haven't read these yet" statement. I honestly wasn't trying to be contrary or neener-y -- just saying that the point/counterpoint nature was better illuminated in the arguments themselves. I didn't think that the excerpts were deceptive. At worst, maybe the first one needed a little more context. But then, I'm relatively new here, so I'm still on the low-but-climbing end of the bell curve.
posted by bakerina at 9:08 PM on November 21, 2009


* false allegations are rampant

This could be proved by noting the high rate of exonerations. What's that? There isn't a high rate? Next!

* a feminist-run court system fraudulently separates innocent fathers from children

Last time I checked, dad had access to an attorney, too. You know, attorneys that make money when they succeed in fraud cases. Next!

* battered women’s shelters are running a racket that funnels federal dollars to feminists

To have a battered women's shelter, you must have "shelter" and, more importantly, "battered women." If it were a racket, this "shelter" or the "battering" would both be provably false. Neither are. So it's not a racket. Next!

* domestic-violence laws give cover to cagey mail-order brides seeking Green Cards

Solution: Revise the laws awarding green cards and/or citizenships to married couples. Next!

* men are victims of an unrecognized epidemic of violence at the hands of abusive wives.

Step 1: Determine why it's unrecognized. Step 2: Remove cause of unrecognition. Step 3: Count actual cases. Step 4: Profit!

Next!
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:10 PM on November 21, 2009 [14 favorites]


...better illuminated in the arguments themselves.

Make that "in the articles themselves. Sheesh.
posted by bakerina at 9:10 PM on November 21, 2009


bakerina, andoatnp, not that big deal, except that it's on a hot-button issue. bad editing on a buffy retcon post? forgivable. bad editing on a retcon domestic violence post? bad form, at best.
posted by mwhybark at 9:12 PM on November 21, 2009


Warren Farrell's The Myth of Male Power does a good job of explaining what issues a men's movement should be concerned about. Here's a summary.

He was elected three time to NYC chapter of NOW, so it seems that he is not a crank. I'd be interested in hearing what others think about it.
posted by AlsoMike at 9:23 PM on November 21, 2009 [3 favorites]


I have read the Slate article, and I am very confused. Can anyone summarize the point?
posted by lalex at 9:25 PM on November 21, 2009


Reading the excerpt provided for the first article immediately brought to mind this (lengthy) comment that was sidebarred last month. It basically removed any doubts I had about the numbers floating around regarding something I, as a man, have never experienced.
October 13, 2009
"[W]hy women might end up coming across "cold" to men, EVEN IF they don't think of a guy as a potential rapist."
posted by Decimask at 9:29 PM on November 21, 2009


Cool Papa Bell: [Re: false allegations are rampant] This could be proved by noting the high rate of exonerations. What's that? There isn't a high rate? Next!

I'm not sure that's a fair/valid counterargument. "No convicted criminals are exonerated, therefor none were falsely convicted"?
posted by Decimask at 9:37 PM on November 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


I don't think there is ever going to be a situation that both sides feel is "fair"
This could be proved by noting the high rate of exonerations. What's that? There isn't a high rate? Next!
What makes you think that a false claim would lead to an exoneration? The problem if you have a 'he said/she said' situation, and you credit the woman's version of the story over the mans then even if the allegation is false.
Last time I checked, dad had access to an attorney, too. You know, attorneys that make money when they succeed in fraud cases. Next!
They also make money when they fail. And if the laws are not written to take genetic evidence into account, then what exactly is a lawyer supposed to do?
Solution: Revise the laws awarding green cards and/or citizenships to married couples. Next!
Revise them how, exactly? That's kind of a Joe Lieberman answer? Is there a problem? Well, let's just revise the thing with the problem! Well, what revision do you have in mind, exactly? Your "solution" boils down to "Well, solve the problem! Next!" much less incisive then you seem to think.
posted by delmoi at 9:38 PM on November 21, 2009 [5 favorites]


lalex: "I have read the Slate article, and I am very confused. Can anyone summarize the point?"

The Slate article characterizes the Men's Rights movement as a reactionary group framing Feminist legislation as anti-male discrimination.

The other article frames the Men's Rights movement as being a reaction to injustices caused by anti-male divorce, child support, and domestic violence laws.

I am more inclined to agree with the first article. There are problems with how child support is enforced (especially if the father is underemployed or one of the working poor, or rare cases where pregnancy happens through deceit without the father's consent), but that is a matter of details of how the law is enforced, and not a sign of a vast Feminist judicial conspiracy oppressing men. Really it seems to me that they are trying to appropriate the framing style and the tactics of Feminism to undo Feminist gains.
posted by idiopath at 9:47 PM on November 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


Cool Papa Bell - absence of evidence is not evidence of absence
posted by taliaferro at 9:54 PM on November 21, 2009


...or what Decimask said
posted by taliaferro at 9:54 PM on November 21, 2009


Thanks, idiopath. I think I read the slate article as decrying general injustice in the judicial system, whereas your comment suggests the second article is actually more focused on that perspective. I will take another look.
posted by lalex at 10:01 PM on November 21, 2009


On the one hand, the men's groups do have a point - women's advocacy groups have been extraordinarily zealous in helping women pursue and harass alleged abusers, to the point that lots of otherwise good fathers have given up rather than bother.

I don't know if you meant to imply this (and I doubt this whole thing will come as any comfort to you...I don't presume it will), but the first thing that caught my eye is that this makes it seem like women's advocacy groups are different from any other advocacy group. They really aren't. The nature of advocacy is taking a side/stance/idea and fighting for it. It's always at least somewhat related to an unimpeachably noble goal (equality, liberty, justice), but it is not concerned with everything related to noble goals. If women's advocacy groups devoted more of their resources to examining claims, they would have less available to actually support women. So like any other advocacy group, they have to decide where they're going to fall on the practical/idealist spectrum. Are they going to spend more securing victories in their noble fight? Or are they going to spend more making sure they're fighting in the cleanest, purest way?

Advocacy groups are not truth-seekers. They are not analysts. They cannot afford to be. Judges and academics and scientists are in much better positions to find out where all the problems are and find the appropriate solutions to them (what with their great view from the ivory tower). It's no coincidence their jobs are designed with some insulation from culpability (tenure, academic freedom, judicial immunity, lifetime appointment). They are supposed to be in safe places with the freedom to examine all sides of a problem and determine the solution. They can rely on as much context as is needed (and focus on all the noble goals from all perspectives), but are not beholden to the running women-vs-men ledger that advocacy groups have to focus on.

This isn't to disparage advocates. They're the ones who actually get stuff done. But they wouldn't be able to get as much done if they had to satisfy all our standards all the time. Nor am I trying to excuse their actions. But it's their nature, and it shouldn't be made out that women's advocacy groups are exceptionally callous.
posted by aswego at 10:03 PM on November 21, 2009 [9 favorites]


* false allegations are rampant

This could be proved by noting the high rate of exonerations. What's that? There isn't a high rate? Next!


Because it costs (often a lot of) money to defend yourself against these allegations, most guys just suck it up and forget about seeing the kids, pay the child support, and move on.

Point is, I'm not certain there is much correlation between exonerations and actual innocence.

* a feminist-run court system fraudulently separates innocent fathers from children

Last time I checked, dad had access to an attorney, too. You know, attorneys that make money when they succeed in fraud cases. Next!


Almost all of the shelters I have been involved with provide some amount of (freeish) legal support for women.

Fathers are left to piss up a rope. (I was advised by almost all of the attorneys I talked to just forget about seeing my son, pay my child support, and go away - it would have been far cheaper, easier, and safer, to do so.)

The point I am trying to make is that if a woman can successfully claim abuse, she can bring to bear a tremendous amount of support from inside and outside the legal system. What a successful abuse claim requires is sometimes ridiculously low.

This represents a real flaw in the system, especially as fathers have little to no recourse even when they have been demonstrably abused.

This isn't about letting abusive males get off scot free. This is about not letting people (usually women) game the system to the detriment of the other parent (usually men).

The system as it currently stands is pretty severely broken, and it serves very few very well. It is in society's best interests to improve it.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 10:07 PM on November 21, 2009 [7 favorites]


MRAs have become as shockingly effective as creationists and have as much validity at the debating table. There's no equivalence between domestic violence advocates and MRAs, at least when it comes to base-line legitimacy and willingness to participate in an honest evidence-based discussion. Like vaccine skeptics and creationists, they demand a seat at the table in an undereducated sound-byte based culture that demands "both-sides" without recognizing that one side is completely uninterested in living in the reality-based community.

As I said before, in the thread dedicated to this discussion, Sadly, there's very little to these groups that's rational and well-meaning.

As a man, I'm deeply offended that anyone espousing such a ridiculous set of beliefs would ever claim to advocate on my behalf. I'm equally offended when Klansman claim to represent the entirety of the white race and sometimes I can't tell the groups apart.
posted by allen.spaulding at 10:11 PM on November 21, 2009 [13 favorites]


aswego: That's a good point. Advocacy groups, even advocacy groups for a good cause, can have significant negative effects as well as the positive ones. Unfortunately it is quite difficult to criticize those negative effects without appearing to criticize the advocacy group's entire platform.
posted by Justinian at 10:21 PM on November 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


See, for example, Mothers Against Drunk Driving
posted by Justinian at 10:25 PM on November 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


But it's their nature, and it shouldn't be made out that women's advocacy groups are exceptionally callous.

To be clear - I think that womens shelters often do a lot of good and unfortunately necessary work. I'm not trying to unfairly disparage what they do. And yeah, for brevity, I have to generalize a bit, so I hope people will bear that in mind when replying.

That said, it should be possible to talk about the flaws in the system and how those flaws are exploited - and how to prevent or reduce those exploits. It really is a feminist issue because the flaws that exist can, and are, exploited by men as well - and the only thing limiting that is a lack of effective organization on the part of the fathers. Right now, it's limited to the ones with (good?) lawyers.

(On preview, also what Justinian said.)

I should also point out that I don't have a very favorable opinion on MRAs, at all. That said, I happen to know from experience that the family court legal system sucks ass if you're a guy.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 10:30 PM on November 21, 2009


Hmmm, so if what these MRA's say is true and men are being abused in equal proportions to women and are being falsely accused so rampantly (that, in itself being a form of emotional abuse), why don't they do what the women's groups did and set up programs to help these victims?

Where are all the battered mens shelters? Or the aid for men escaping violent situations with their children? Or the free legal aid for these men who have been victimized by their partners? Help in getting restraining orders or custody? (For, these children should not be left with a violent mother, should they?) Or the public awareness campaigns that make it more acceptable for men to come forward if they have been abused.

What? Most battered men are in same-sex relationships and battered by their male domestic partner and there is little interest in helping them by MRAs? What? Most men don't really want full physical custody of their children and have to give up everything and go on the run to find a path out of violence? Oh? It seems like most MRAs are really interested in just fighting against feminist groups who are doing these things for female victims? Hmm... telling.

(For the record, I do recognize that there truly are men who are being abused by both male and female partners and deserve help. This is where I would start if I were a group who wanted to advocate for abused men. It doesn't seem like these groups are terribly interested in abused men. Just fighting against women who accuse men of abuse and their advocates.)
posted by Bueller at 10:59 PM on November 21, 2009 [20 favorites]


I'm well aware that anecdote !+ data, however, I can only speak from experience.

I have personally been witness to a false allegation of domestic abuse when, in the particular case I know, the woman in the relationship wished to leave the house but found that she had little resources by which to do so -- so she showed up at the local battered women's shelter and said that her partner had abused her and the children.

Personally, I consider him to be particularly lucky that they eventually parted on more amicable terms, as he was prevented from being convicted merely by accusation and would have been unable to see his daughter again.

There's no getting around the fact that in modern American society, there is a subset of transgressions where accusation comes with the presumption of guilt, and domestic abuse is one of them.
posted by chimaera at 11:33 PM on November 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


I hope this doesn't come across as condescending, since that's not my intention... I'd just like to compliment this thread for having an entirely civil discussion on these serious issues, with different points of view getting a fair hearing. When I saw that a thread was going to involve phrases like "men's movement," "men's groups," and "men's rights," my expectation was that any potential substance would be buried by snark. I'm glad to see I was wrong.
posted by Jaltcoh at 12:46 AM on November 22, 2009


If a female victim testifies against a male defendant in a domestic violence case, the standard of proof is similar to the standard of proof in a witch trial in Salem -- being accused is proof of guilt.

in modern American society, there is a subset of transgressions where accusation comes with the presumption of guilt, and domestic abuse is one of them.

What? I mean where is the evidence for either of these claims? I have been working in the court system for over 20 years, and I am sorry to say that DV victims, who are overwhelmingly female or males in same sex relationships, are still blamed for their abuse and disbelieved in the criminal system. And no one has switched around the burden of proof or lightened in these cases, either. In the family law system, I am truly sorry that pogo fuzzybutt had such a bad experience, but usually in a DV case victims are not advantaged in family law, in large part because when a relationship breaks up the perpetrator has control of the finances and is hence often the only person with a lawyer And when it is a represented versus a nonrepresented party, guess who wins on everything? (I found the comment above about shelters having lots of money to hire lawyers for DV victims almost bitterly amusing. DV victims are very lucky if a lay advocate shows up for court with them.) And also, did you know that DV victims have huge problems keeping their kids in the dependency system, because they are so often blamed for not protecting their children from the abuse the victim suffered from?

I would share with you some of the really benighted current attitudes about DV prevalent among many judges and lawyers but why ruin your day?

In short, in my experience DV victims are still having a really hard time, in and out of the court system. The feminist advocacy may be better, but the DV problem goes on.
posted by bearwife at 2:24 AM on November 22, 2009 [21 favorites]


My wife has occasionally lost control to the point of violence. She sent me to the emergency room once for stitches and head x-rays. She's threatened me and herself with knives. Most of this has calmed down considerably, as of late.
Once, when I came home to find her tearing up all my books, after trashing a lot of my other stuff - I just turned around and walked down to the police station. They were very nice to me there, and I met with a counselor who gave me some DV literature (all of it written for women, though).
The nice officers also explained to me that if they were called to my house, and there were *any* signs of violence, there was a 99% chance that *I* would be the one going to jail for the night.
Also, my wife is from a country that does not recognize international laws on spouses kidnapping kids, so if we were to ever divorce, she would take my son 11,000 miles away and I would not see him again. In this matter, I would have absolutely no legal recourse, other than barring her from re-entering the U.S.
So I'm thankful there haven't been many outbursts lately, because my only options if things had gotten too difficult to bear would be to give up my son and walk away, or stay, defend, and wind up in prison.
posted by bashos_frog at 4:56 AM on November 22, 2009 [6 favorites]


Anyone familiar with the concept of privilege (unearned and unacknowledged advantages) will immediately see that these MRA are utterly full of shit and completely offensive.

These are just a few examples of male privilege that as men, the MRA are afforded:

I am far less likely to face sexual harassment at work than my female co-workers are.

On average, I am taught to fear walking alone after dark in average public spaces much less than my female counterparts are.

My elected representatives are mostly people of my own sex. The more prestigious and powerful the elected position, the more this is true.

When I ask to see “the person in charge,” odds are I will face a person of my own sex. The higher-up in the organization the person is, the surer I can be.

As a child, I could choose from an almost infinite variety of children’s media featuring positive, active, non-stereotyped heroes of my own sex. I never had to look for it; male protagonists were (and are) the default.

I do not have to worry about the message my wardrobe sends about my sexual availability or my gender conformity.

I can ask for legal protection from violence that happens mostly to men without being seen as a selfish special interest, since that kind of violence is called “crime” and is a general social concern. (Violence that happens mostly to women is usually called “domestic violence” or “acquaintance rape,” and is seen as a special interest issue.)

If I have children with a wife or girlfriend, and it turns out that one of us needs to make career sacrifices to raise the kids, chances are we’ll both assume the career sacrificed should be hers.

Magazines, billboards, television, movies, pornography, and virtually all of media is filled with images of scantily-clad women intended to appeal to me sexually. Such images of men exist, but are rarer.

posted by autoclavicle at 5:09 AM on November 22, 2009 [5 favorites]


So, autoclavicle, are you saying that
"I am far less likely to face sexual harassment at work than my female co-workers are."
and
"I am far less likely to win custody of the kids in a divorce settlement."
just kind of cancel each other out?

(wrong) x 2 = right

Genius!
posted by bashos_frog at 5:26 AM on November 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Part of male privilege is having the privilege to deny it exists, because it's so normal to you. Why are men "far less likely to win custody of the kids in a divorce settlement"? Child-rearing usually involves the woman sacrificing her career for it--one example of male privilege. If she has no career, and was already raising the children, short of documented proof of child abuse/neglect, what sense does it make to award the children 100% to a man? Oh yeah, because instead of thinking about what's best, some men are just eager to get back at their ex-wives!
posted by autoclavicle at 5:44 AM on November 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


Not true.

Men sacrifice for their children too. What the fuck do you call going to work at a job you hate every day for a few decades? Oh yeah, absent father.
posted by fourcheesemac at 6:09 AM on November 22, 2009 [5 favorites]


what sense does it make to award the children 100% to a man? Oh yeah, because instead of thinking about what's best, some men are just eager to get back at their ex-wives!

If you're going to assume that a man only wants to take care of his kids to get back at his ex- then you come off as points-scoring and not trying to communicate. Please don't do this.
posted by Space Coyote at 6:16 AM on November 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


> As a man, I'm deeply offended that anyone espousing such a ridiculous set of beliefs would ever claim to advocate on my behalf.

Ditto.

I myself have experienced violence at the hands of a female partner, but you know what? I'm able to look beyond my own experience and realize that women are far more likely to be victims and the system is still heavily stacked against women. Anyone who thinks men have the right to play the victim card in this society is dangerously delusional. (Which is not to say that some men are not victims, or that the court system cannot be improved. There is no perfection in this world.)
posted by languagehat at 6:54 AM on November 22, 2009 [4 favorites]


"Men sacrifice for their children too. What the fuck do you call going to work at a job you hate every day for a few decades? Oh yeah, absent father."

You mean that job,
* you were more likely to get due to being a man?
* where you earn more than a female co-worker in the same position?
* that you are more likely to find advancement in, due to your gender?
* where you are less likely to be sexually harassed than a woman?
* where if you fail or make a mistake, it won't be attributed to your gender in someway?

And as opposed to what you call a woman who doesn't stay at home to raise her children and do the majority of the housework: a selfish, bad mother?

"If you're going to assume that a man only wants to take care of his kids to get back at his ex"

The man (who was content to assume his non-abusive ex-wife be the primary caregiver until they got divorced) isn't trying to seek full custody just to get back at her/"win" or to get a "clean break" from her? Interesting, I have some friends who will love to hear that their fathers weren't just being petty when they were using dirty tactics during their divorces.
posted by autoclavicle at 6:58 AM on November 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


On average, I am taught to fear walking alone after dark in average public spaces much less than my female counterparts are.

that's a shame, because on average a man is a lot more likely to be killed or injured in an assault than a woman is

Part of male privilege is having the privilege to deny it exists, because it's so normal to you.

of course, the usual point of "privilege" arguments is to shut down conversation from members of the "privileged" group

Child-rearing usually involves the woman sacrificing her career for it--one example of male privilege.

and sacrificing one's emotional life for a career is what? yes, women are told that they have to choose between career and child-rearing in our society, but men are pretty much told they have to go for career

those who are successful are "privileged" - those who aren't are despised

women have "privileges" too - the privilege not to be drafted, the privilege to back away from physically challenging and dangerous occupations without being told that they're "less of a woman", the privilege of being seen as legitimately fulfilling one's gender role whether staying at home or working at a job

being male can be a heavy burden in this society - and your privilege arguments simply add guilt to that burden - they do nothing to lighten it

but you sound too bitter to be actually concerned with the welfare of men as well as women
posted by pyramid termite at 7:02 AM on November 22, 2009 [7 favorites]


of course, the usual point of "privilege" arguments is to shut down conversation from members of the "privileged" group

Minimizing and denying your privilege is a common defense mechanism.

the privilege not to be drafted, the privilege to back away from physically challenging and dangerous occupations without being told that they're "less of a woman"

These are NOT privileges, but rather benevolent sexism:

"Although benevolent sexism may sound oxymoronic, this term recognizes that some forms of sexism are, for the perpetrator, subjectively benevolent, characterizing women as pure creatures who ought to be protected, supported, and adored and whose love is necessary to make a man complete. This idealization of women simultaneously implies that they are weak and best suited for conventional gender roles; being put on a pedestal is confining, yet the man who places a woman there is likely to interpret this as cherishing, rather than restricting, her (and many women may agree). Despite the greater social acceptability of benevolent sexism, our research suggests that it serves as a crucial complement to hostile sexism that helps to pacify women’s resistance to societal gender inequality."
- Peter Glick and Susan Fiske's article, "An Ambivalent Alliance: Hostile and Benevolent Sexism as Complementary Justifications for Gender Inequality" in American Psychologist, 2001.

If your local library's databases give you access to American Psychologist, I would encourage you to read more in-depth.
posted by autoclavicle at 7:32 AM on November 22, 2009 [6 favorites]


I happen to know from experience that the family court legal system sucks ass if you're a guy.

I happen to know that the family court legal system sucks ass if you have less money.

when a relationship breaks up the perpetrator has control of the finances and is hence often the only person with a lawyer And when it is a represented versus a nonrepresented party, guess who wins on everything?

This. Only, not so much "perpetrator" as husband with full time job plus large inheritance versus stay at home mom with no personal funds.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:35 AM on November 22, 2009


Minimizing and denying your privilege is a common defense mechanism.

you understand that you haven't made an actual reply here - thus reinforcing my statement that you're using the privilege argument to shut down conversation

These are NOT privileges, but rather benevolent sexism:

i see nothing benevolent about a system that results in the deaths of millions of men - or in a conversation in which you reply to my complaint about the roles men are forced into with a statement that continues your complaint about women and their roles

it's not ALL about you and YOUR sex role

you're not listening - you're not conversing - all you want to do is go on and on about male privilege without considering the negatives we men have to deal with

you're not interested in a real dialogue
posted by pyramid termite at 7:40 AM on November 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


This. Only, not so much "perpetrator" as husband with full time job plus large inheritance versus stay at home mom with no personal funds.

you realize that in most jurisdictions the court can require the person with money to pay for the spouse's lawyer, too?
posted by pyramid termite at 7:43 AM on November 22, 2009


that's a shame, because on average a man is a lot more likely to be killed or injured in an assault than a woman is

Every time this topic of domestic violence comes up, I can't help but think about the constant stream of news stories about men killing their wives/girlfriends and sometimes their children as well. There is always a claim about how domestic violence by women against men is under-reported. I can't address that because there are no undisputed figures. However there is no disputing that men are much more likely to kill their spouses.

From the American Bar Association web site:
In 2000, 1,247 women and 440 men were killed by an intimate partner. In recent years, an intimate partner killed approximately 33% of female murder victims and 4% of male murder victims.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, between 1998 and 2002:

* Males were 83% of spouse murderers and 75% of dating partner murderers
* 50% of offenders in state prison for spousal abuse had killed their victims. Wives were more likely than husbands to be killed by their spouses: wives were about half of all spouses in the population in 2002, but 81% of all persons killed by their spouse.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:53 AM on November 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


If a female victim testifies against a male defendant in a domestic violence case, the standard of proof is similar to the standard of proof in a witch trial in Salem -- being accused is proof of guilt.

in modern American society, there is a subset of transgressions where accusation comes with the presumption of guilt, and domestic abuse is one of them.

What? I mean where is the evidence for either of these claims? I have been working in the court system for over 20 years, and I am sorry to say that DV victims, who are overwhelmingly female or males in same sex relationships, are still blamed for their abuse and disbelieved in the criminal system.


I do not doubt for a moment what you are saying about where you live. I don't know where you live, and I have never practiced law there. But I certainly have practiced law where I live. I have tried more domestic violence cases than I can recall. I have watched probably ten times that amount of other domestic violence cases.

Our DA's office has a "no dismissal" policy in domestic violence cases. Part of the DA's job is to assess the cases that come before them and to dismiss the ones that have no merit. Their "no dismissal" policy is clearly an ethical violation as it means they are prosecuting cases even when they feel there is no probable cause in the case. This policy is not in writing, of course, as the elected DA would be in serious trouble with the State Bar. But the individual assistant DA's prosecuting these cases through the years have made it clear that the policy exists.

I have tried and seen countless cases where the woman says X happened. The man says Y happened. They both testify. There is no physical evidence. There are no eyewitnesses. Under these circumstances, I would estimate that men get convicted over 95 percent of the time.

I have seen several cases where the woman testifies and says nothing happened. The man testifies and says nothing happened. There is no other evidence offered. The judge looks at the allegations and finds the man guilty anyway. I have seen this. Multiple times. I have never seen another kind of criminal case where the judge finds someone guilty when there has been no evidence of guilt presented. Why do those cases even get tried? Well, the DA's office is not allowed to dismiss cases even when the victim comes to court and says that she made everything up.

That is the reality where I practice law.
posted by flarbuse at 7:56 AM on November 22, 2009 [10 favorites]


Every time this topic of domestic violence comes up

read the quote in context - i was replying to a quote about assualt in PUBLIC spaces, not domestic violence
posted by pyramid termite at 7:57 AM on November 22, 2009


you realize that in most jurisdictions the court can require the person with money to pay for the spouse's lawyer, too?

Not quickly enough it seems. Lawyers usually want lots of cash upfront, and the bills are not covered until the divorce is finalized. In my own case, my lawyers got tired of waiting and told me I needed to come to an agreement because they could no longer handle my case without payment. Meanwhile, my ex was quite happy to drag things out for years.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:58 AM on November 22, 2009


TL;DR. I mean this whole thread.

This dialog is news to anyone? Surprise! Spousal abuse is a real problem, and is linked with, but not limited to, gender power imbalance, our attitudes toward violence in general, the need to define gender as a fixed bi-polar fact, the dichotomization and general lack of nuanced approach to law and righthood.

Yes, there may be measurable differences in how men and women are treated by the police and court systems, but there are also difference in how men and women are treated in general. This extreme imbalance that is present in nearly every milieu is harmless in some cases and very damaging in others. It is both representational of a general problem, and contributes to the more violent expressions of this imbalance.

So, perhaps we should be looking at how family courts do their business. Is the "what is best for the child at any cost" is the wrong approach? Maybe it isn't. I don't know. I do know we need a more nuanced attitude in general, first, before the courts will be able to respond to the need for change.

For example, focusing on something as lop-sided as "the rights of a father" or "rights of men" is chock full of fail. Rights are not a scarcity model, with only some going to you and the rest going to me. There is freedom to, and there is freedom from.

And in a society that grows a legal system that seems to be incapable of recognizing the nuances between a genitor vs. a pater is doomed to treat both men /and/ women unfairly.

That unfairness is going to be expressed in a lop-sided manner that cannot hope to be solved by some feeble expression if "men's rights."
posted by clvrmnky at 8:01 AM on November 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


read the quote in context - i was replying to a quote about assualt in PUBLIC spaces, not domestic violence

I realize that you were talking about men being assualted when they walk in public spaces (usually being assaulted by other men) I am bringing the discussion back to domestic violence, because that is what the original post was addressing.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 8:04 AM on November 22, 2009


Not quickly enough it seems.

it is a shame that the system often doesn't work for people in spite of what the law says

frankly, we need a legal system that isn't so damn focused on money
posted by pyramid termite at 8:05 AM on November 22, 2009


you're not interested in a real dialogue

The burden of proof is not on me, because you are not truly interested in a "dialogue." Your mind is already made up that I am full of shit. You don't care. I already know that you will deny research into nonconscious ideology (such as sexism and racism) because when it involves addressing your position of power in society as a man, it is too uncomfortable for you.

All you have are things like "sacrificing emotional life" (wtf is an emotional life, how is it fulfilled by staying at home with children and housework, and how does having a job "sacrifice" it?) and complaints that you, too, are equally affected by sexism because you had to register for the Selective Service, etc.--none of which are compelling arguments against the existence of privilege, and some (benevolent sexism) actually reinforces it but your mind is closed to that possibility.

The burden placed upon masculinity would be lighten by more men recognizing their privilege and actively dismantling it.
posted by autoclavicle at 8:05 AM on November 22, 2009 [4 favorites]


WRT Male Privilege:

I do not have to worry about the message my wardrobe sends about ... my gender conformity.

I really don't want to get involved in this debate, but this strikes me as the kind of thing somebody would only say if they had never actually met a man. In what mainstream culture is the above statement even remotely true for men?
posted by Dreadnought at 8:07 AM on November 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


> it's not ALL about you and YOUR sex role

The lack of self-awareness necessary to write these words is amusing.

> you're not interested in a real dialogue

Same here.
posted by languagehat at 8:18 AM on November 22, 2009


The burden of proof is not on me

nor on me - as perceptions and feelings about my role as a man in society are to be expressed and worked through, not "proved" in some kind of patriarchical debating club

it's odd how in supposedly denying the negatives of my gender role, you are actively reinforcing them - with the same kind of male-centric tropes such as "burden of proof" that men have used against feminists

internalize the system much?

All you have are things like "sacrificing emotional life" (wtf is an emotional life, how is it fulfilled by staying at home with children and housework, and how does having a job "sacrifice" it?)

i forget, men aren't supposed to have those feelings

you're reinforcing the burdens men have by your arguments

why don't you just tell me to "man up" and be done with it?

go on - keep marginalizing my feelings and my thoughts by telling me that it's all an expression of privilege and power and you don't actually have to LISTEN to what i have to say about what it feels to be a man or what the consequences might be of that

funny how you're turning out to be a carbon copy of the oppressors you fight against
posted by pyramid termite at 8:27 AM on November 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


well, i'll come back in a few years - it's obvious that people just aren't ready for this conversation yet
posted by pyramid termite at 8:29 AM on November 22, 2009


The burden of proof is not on me, because you are not truly interested in a "dialogue." Your mind is already made up that I am full of shit. You don't care.

You breeze in here, making a bunch of sweeping claims about men (men are more interested in being petty or revenge during divorce proceedings, for example,) then hostilely refuse to consider any other perspective? Stop ruining this conversation.
posted by Snyder at 8:39 AM on November 22, 2009


One of the main tenets of much feminism is that sexism is damaging for men as well as for women, even if it privileges men as a whole. Certainly that damage can also consist of trapping men in violent situations because of sexist assumptions about the ability of men to control women via violence and the inability of women to do the same to men. And of those assumptions shaping court decisions that are unjust.

Can we try and start from there?

There are several truths here:

1. MRA groups have a checkered history and have done things like try to shut down funding for women's shelters or agitate for the rights of men to force women to have abortions that make their claims of only wanting equal justice non-convincing (especially in light of their total non-interest in following the model of women's groups and setting up funding for men's shelters). Whatever the motivations of individual men in the MRA groups, the leadership at least appears to be far more interested in dismantling women's access to protection from domestic violence and abuse than in actually helping men being abused.

2. Individual men have been abused by female partners and/or dealt unfairly with in the justice system in regards to child custody, etc.

3. Evidence and statistics overwhelmingly show that men perpetrate more violence against women and other men than women do against men. This truth does not invalidate the experience of individual men abused by women, but men who want justice need to stop denying it as well, because it creates hostility and distrust between them and feminists who are their potential allies.

4. Feminists in general do not want a system that privileges women; they want equality. Equality would benefit men being battered as well as women; equality does not mean that women go back to being unprotected from battering as men currently are. It should be possible to allow men to seek protection from DV situations without stripping women of those same protections.
posted by emjaybee at 8:45 AM on November 22, 2009 [23 favorites]


i forget, men aren't supposed to have those feelings

I'm a bit confused--how are one's feelings nurtured by caring for children and cleaning the house, but not in the workplace? If someone chooses not to have children or be a stay-at-home mother, are they deficient in their "emotional life" because of that decision?
posted by autoclavicle at 8:54 AM on November 22, 2009


I'm a bit confused--how are one's feelings nurtured by caring for children and cleaning the house, but not in the workplace?

Have you ever had to work?
posted by Snyder at 9:05 AM on November 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


Have you ever had to work?

Do you consider raising children or housework to be "work," equal to working full-time?
posted by autoclavicle at 9:27 AM on November 22, 2009


If someone chooses not to have children or be a stay-at-home mother, are they deficient in their "emotional life" because of that decision?

I think, in general, making a baby smile can be more emotionally rewarding than making a middle manager smile. YMMV.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:39 AM on November 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


^ But the point is people need a choice, some people are emotionally rewarded by the workplace and some by raising kids, no one should be forced to either role.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:40 AM on November 22, 2009


Furthermore, the law in North Carolina is that if a woman assaults a man, she can get up to 60 days in prison. If a man assaults a woman, he can get up to 150 days in prison.

As an aside, an equally interesting combination of laws shows that (see above) you can get up to 60 days for punching a man in the face (the gender of the defendant is irrelevant -- as it always should be), but you can get up to 120 days in prison if you threaten to punch someone in the face.

That's right. If I say, "I'm going to punch you in the face," then I get 120 days. If I actually punch you in the face, I get 60. Welcome to the law.

posted by flarbuse at 9:40 AM on November 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Furthermore, the law in North Carolina is that if a woman assaults a man, she can get up to 60 days in prison. If a man assaults a woman, he can get up to 150 days in prison.

This law operates under the "benevolent sexism" that a woman is weak and can't be as violent or do as much damage as a man.
posted by autoclavicle at 9:48 AM on November 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Have you ever had to work?

Caring for children and cleaning the house are work. I can't believe that's something you need to be told.
posted by palliser at 9:50 AM on November 22, 2009


Also, bashos_frog, holy shit. Keep yourself and your son safe. I know you'd hate for your boy to grow up thinking that's what love looks like. But I understand you're in a really tough position, with the possibility of international kidnapping.
posted by palliser at 9:54 AM on November 22, 2009


Are there any advantages females have in society that don't come under the umbrella of benevolent sexism?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:54 AM on November 22, 2009


I think, in general, making a baby smile can be more emotionally rewarding than making a middle manager smile. YMMV.

The point is that a man succeeding at his workplace is more likely to be regarded as "success" than a woman raising children or keeping the house clean--the latter is just what's expected.
posted by autoclavicle at 9:54 AM on November 22, 2009


autoclavicle: ever read Susan Faludi's Stiffed? Quite a good followup to Backlash.

She argues that men also have their roles and identities carefully bounded. They are "privileged", but to throw off this privilege is to relinquish ANY place in society. Whereas feminism has at least thus far given women a choice of socially acceptable stereotypes narratives to define their feminine identity (are you a stay-at-home mom? a sex-and-the-city professional? an independent career woman? a working mom?), men have one. One that is nearly impossible for any non-white, non-upper-middle-class man to fulfill.

The genius of Stiffed is its attempt to show men the chains of male privilege (which are firmly anchored to class and race) and give them the bolt cutters.
posted by xthlc at 10:00 AM on November 22, 2009 [6 favorites]


Are there any advantages females have in society that don't come under the umbrella of benevolent sexism?

How about the heightened sense of smell while a woman is pregnant? However, it serves an evolutionary purpose that's largely pointless these days--we've developed other ways to ensure our safety.
posted by autoclavicle at 10:05 AM on November 22, 2009



The point is that a man succeeding at his workplace is more likely to be regarded as "success" than a woman raising children or keeping the house clean--the latter is just what's expected.


Men aren't expected to work?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:25 AM on November 22, 2009


autoclavicle: You're not helping your position any. Really. We had been having an actual dialogue before you showed up with your shitbomb.
posted by Justinian at 10:33 AM on November 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Caring for children and cleaning the house are work. I can't believe that's something you need to be told.

True enough. What I meant was work in the sense of "working class." I assumed that was obvious. Perhaps I should have said job. Childcare and housekeeping are both work, and difficult, but does not exist within the same sphere as labor within the economic market, and does not have the same drawbacks or offer anything like the same rewards. For someone to cavalierly dismiss the often exhausting and soul-deadening properties of many, if not most, jobs, is indicative of that person having never actually held one. This is not an ad hominem. It does mean that perhaps that person ought to listen to others instead of assuming they know everything already and have to show the rest of the world the error of their ways.
posted by Snyder at 10:38 AM on November 22, 2009


> autoclavicle: You're not helping your position any. Really. We had been having an actual dialogue before you showed up with your shitbomb.

No, actually she's making a lot of sense, and clueless men piling on her are just proving her point.
posted by languagehat at 10:43 AM on November 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


No, actually she's making a lot of sense, and clueless men piling on her are just proving her point.

No, they are not. They came in here with an irrelevant (and stupid) screed, and then proceeded to respond to anyone who disagrees with them with attacks on their character and the character of men.
posted by Snyder at 10:51 AM on November 22, 2009


Content: I have to second xthlc's recommendation of Stiffed, especially in regards to Backlash. It's been several years since I read it, but I recall it puts paid the notion that men are totally free agents within the current American patriarchy, and without becoming apologia for reactionaries or anti-feminists. She can honestly explore the motivations of people like The Promise Keepers without getting into polemics. It's a very interesting book.
posted by Snyder at 10:57 AM on November 22, 2009



The point is that a man succeeding at his workplace is more likely to be regarded as "success" than a woman raising children or keeping the house clean--the latter is just what's expected.


That's true. Conversely a man raising his children and keeping the house clean while his wife works is most often seen as a male failure. Outside of sitcoms.

I don't think female on male violence is at the epidemic level that supports system wide re-wiring of domestic violence laws.

However I say that even as my own brother was falsely accused of abuse as tactic during a horrific divorce. His Ex was advised to file the complaint by her lawyers as a negotiation tactic knowing my brother is in Law Enforcement. The hint of such thing would kill his career. He had to cave into her demands so she dropped the complaint. Real scum bag stuff. But only possible because so many men beat the shit out of their wives.
posted by tkchrist at 11:10 AM on November 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


Interesting thread, mostly anyways.

It's caused me to realise I've been hit in the face by female partners in both of my long-term relationships (no, I did not use or return violence, myself). I'd never really thought about that before. And they were hitting me as hard as they could.

I wasn't really hurt physically either time, but it was very shocking and took me utterly by surprise. It never even occurred to me to report it to police; indeed, I don't think I've ever even articulated it to anyone before.
posted by stinkycheese at 11:12 AM on November 22, 2009 [1 favorite]



"Men sacrifice for their children too. What the fuck do you call going to work at a job you hate every day for a few decades? Oh yeah, absent father."

You mean that job,
* you were more likely to get due to being a man?
* where you earn more than a female co-worker in the same position?
* that you are more likely to find advancement in, due to your gender?
&c.


autoclavicle, that's not actually a counter argument; even though those points are true, it doesn't mean that there's not a gender-based expectation re: men being providers. If you're just going to refute that with a screed about male privilege, you've missed the point that there are gender expectations on both sides that reinforce each other. If you want to promote the idea that women can be providers if they want, then you've got to get beyond the reinforced cultural roles men are expected to play as they are two sides of the same coin.

It doesn't change anything to argue about who has it worse, because you are still in the thrall of perpetuating stereotypes and gross generalizations.
posted by oneirodynia at 11:16 AM on November 22, 2009 [4 favorites]


You mean that job,
* you were more likely to get due to being a man?
* where you earn more than a female co-worker in the same position?
* that you are more likely to find advancement in, due to your gender?
&c.


Benevolent sexism.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:46 AM on November 22, 2009


it's odd how in supposedly denying the negatives of my gender role, you are actively reinforcing them

Thank you for saying this.
posted by Jaltcoh at 11:55 AM on November 22, 2009


You mean that job,
* you were more likely to get due to being a man?
* where you earn more than a female co-worker in the same position?
* that you are more likely to find advancement in, due to your gender?
&c.


I frequently see these kinds of assertions made, but I rarely see them supported with convincing evidence (as opposed to sensationalistic factoids). Note: the frequent refrain that women make 80% of what men make, without controlling for any variables, is irrelevant. In fact, it's worse than irrelevant; it's actively misleading. Saying that women make slightly less than what men make, controlling for selected variables but leaving other possible benign explanations of the gap uncontrolled for (hours worked, experience, voluntary life choices, etc.), is an improvement but still unsatisfactory.

I'm totally open to the possibility that gender discrimination in the workplace is as rampant as you make it sound, but it's a pretty incendiary charge that should be concretely supported, not just taken for granted as if it were a fundamental tenet of feminism.

If you had to choose whether to be a young man or a young woman in current-day America, just based on employment prospects, which would you pick? It's far from obvious to me. If you wanted to be more likely to earn a bachelor's degree, have more social freedom not to participate in the conventional workforce, and make more money in a big city, you might choose being a woman.
posted by Jaltcoh at 12:15 PM on November 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Childcare and housekeeping are both work, and difficult, but does not exist within the same sphere as labor within the economic market, and does not have the same drawbacks or offer anything like the same rewards. For someone to cavalierly dismiss the often exhausting and soul-deadening properties of many, if not most, jobs, is indicative of that person having never actually held one.

Yeah, I agree with you that the person checking my groceries is in a far worse position to receive emotional fulfillment from her work than I am, when I take a couple of toddlers there. I'm doing what I want to be doing, first of all, which probably puts me ahead of 80% of people generally.

But it's also not necessarily true that women are advantaged by doing more childcare and housework, in terms of having a fulfilling emotional life. I've definitely done a lot of jobs for pay, and there's always been quite a bit of drudgery, punctuated by satisfaction in a job well done, or interactions with co-workers, or something else that makes the day pleasanter than otherwise. Anyway, it's quite similar with childcare -- wiping the same 12-square-foot area of kitchen floor three times a day, after they drip breakfast, then lunch, then dinner on it, is never going to be anything other than not-fun; but then yeah, as furiousxgeorge put it, babies' giggles are unbeatable if you're into that sort of thing.

i guess what I'm saying is that it doesn't seem to me to be a clear win for "women may sacrifice financial autonomy, but men sacrifice emotional fulfillment," given that there's a balance of drudgery and reward in childcare/housework as well, and that for people who feel like they have to do it (because, for instance, their work wouldn't cover childcare costs), it may be the other way around. Not to mention, there is some emotional satisfaction in receiving a paycheck -- and in its never being doubted that what you do all day is real work.
posted by palliser at 12:19 PM on November 22, 2009



you realize that in most jurisdictions the court can require the person with money to pay for the spouse's lawyer, too?


Again, from experience, this is true, but with two significant limitations. First, this assumes both parties have attorneys to begin with. In a DV case, the usual scenario is that the partner with power and control also controls the funds and hence the victim spouse has no lawyer at all. So there is no one to ask that the party with funds pay the fees of the other party. Second, although courts can order one represented party to pay the other's fees, it is unheard of for all the other parties's fees to be covered. Usually the transfer covers only a small part of the actual fees. This usually means that if there is ever a trial, the less advantaged spouse's partner will withdraw.

I hope I don't need to point out how dramatic the results in these differing level of access to counsel are likely to be.

One more thing: re all the men on this thread reporting female violence, I think it important to note that almost every study that looks at who is violent doesn't find a difference between men and women. And I'd add that the women who are violent should in my view be prosecuted. But domestic violence is the use of violence (and isolation, financial control, threats, animal abuse, property destruction, etc) for purposes of power and control. You have to look at how the violence was used and how effective it was to figure out if you have a DV situation. Sadly, the literature and our experience also tells us that men are overwhelmingly more likely to be DV perpetrators. Though may I point out that this is a very small percentage of men. Most men are lovely people, like those on MeFi.

Also, Bashes Frogs, re your situation please consider talking to a lawyer. You have some documented history you've described. It is actually possible to go to court and gain custody right up front in a dissolution case, along with safeguards to prevent kidnapping.
posted by bearwife at 12:50 PM on November 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


palliser, those are all good points that I agree with totally. I've tried to not to say that the housework and childcare is necessarily more satisfying or less strenuous than a paid job, but I understand that I may have seemed like I was. For the record, I don't think that women, or anyone for that matter, are more advantaged vis a vis childcare or housework. I do think that a problem with the breadwinner spending most of their time out of the house is that they can have a lot less meaningful interaction with their children, the whole "absent father" syndrome.

I agree that there is no clear win. My criticism was that men are somehow advantaged by being expected to work, (especially in light that there is a prejudice against men who stay at home,) and that working a paid job is somehow more rewarding than housework/child care.
posted by Snyder at 1:11 PM on November 22, 2009


To say that men face certain difficulties and disadvantages is not to deny the difficulties and disadvantages that women face. I find the comments that explain how those problems are often related to be the most constructive. Seriously, it's not zero sum. We can all lose! Women can get screwed and men right alongside them, often by the same broken system, and all of those experiences are real and worth thinking about and discussing.

It's possible to discuss the problems that men face without comparing them to the problems women face or suggesting that because men face problems, the problems of women don't matter. And vice versa.

The problem with these MRA groups is that they seem to be at least as much about silencing women as they are about empowering men. If we let them persuade us that we can only empower men at the price of silencing women, then... the terrorists win? She said with almost no irony.
posted by prefpara at 2:18 PM on November 22, 2009 [5 favorites]


You have to look at how the violence was used and how effective it was to figure out if you have a DV situation.

I'd love to see the pamphlet for this idea.
posted by stinkycheese at 3:40 PM on November 22, 2009


Bearwife,

Why are women beating their men up?

I'm not convinced of the value of this "domestic violence" vs. "violence that happens to be between two partners that live together but is for some totally non power/control reason" dichotomy you're drawing, but maybe you can shed some light?
posted by effugas at 4:16 PM on November 22, 2009


Wait a second, bearwife, you're putting forward the theory that punching your spouse in the face isn't domestic violence if you aren't very strong?
posted by Justinian at 4:44 PM on November 22, 2009


The consequences of our gender constrain us. This is how it has always been. This is wrong.
posted by digitalprimate at 5:02 PM on November 22, 2009


"Battered women’s shelters are running a racket that funnels federal dollars to feminists"

Wow. That's the most amazing quote ever. It's like a whole new level of unfathomable asshole-ism.

It should be accompanied by pictures of puppy-kicking and peeing on orphans.
posted by rokusan at 5:06 PM on November 22, 2009 [3 favorites]


pyramind termite: the privilege not to be drafted...

autoclavicle: These are NOT privileges...


That's a mind-boggling statement. Not being drafted is not a privilege? Of course it is. At best, you're simply demonstrating that it's always possible to dismiss female privileges as not really being privileges. This is pure ideology, totally disconnected from reality. In the real world, being forced to fight and possibly die in a war is a very bad thing; being able to feel confident you won't be subjected to this is a very good thing. It's not a subtle point.
posted by Jaltcoh at 8:56 PM on November 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


I should add that autoclavicle is, of course, right that there is plenty of "benevolent sexism" toward women, including the fact that they're not drafted even when there is a draft. But to leap from that observation to saying women aren't privileged is illogical. Sexism and privilege toward a particular gender can coexist. In fact, both men and women are the recipients of different kinds of sexism and privilege. Society is complicated.
posted by Jaltcoh at 9:08 PM on November 22, 2009


OK, for all who are interested:

Here is a website with some generally accepted definitions of domestic violence, which is indeed the use of violence or other coercive tactics for purposes of power and control. This is a very bad thing: victims of domestic violence lose their autonomy, their self esteem, and sometimes their lives. FYI one steady statistic in almost every jurisdiction is that 1/3 to 1/2 the homicides are domestic.

It is also bad, of course, if partners are physically violent with each other, which studies indicate is equally likely for either gender. Aside from DV situation (use of violence/coercion for power and control), there are lots of reasons violence can happen, not limited to mental illness, anger control problems, and situational violence.

I don't know why some women hit men, and as I said above I think such women should be prosecuted for assault, I just want to make the point that a lot of confusion arises when you don't look at context, like the popular mythology that women also engage in (true) DV and don't get punished for it.

The other source of confusion here is that most states have laws that define DV as any violence between intimate partners or family members. That definition is overbroad, though. Any violence is bad and deserves criminal consequences, I do believe, but DV needs more, like an educated court system and resources to get DV victims and their children out of danger and safe. And finally, though this is controversial for some in the field, I think DV treatment can be very effective, again based on my experience and some good research in the field.
posted by bearwife at 11:16 PM on November 22, 2009


The other source of confusion here is that most states have laws that define DV as any violence between intimate partners or family members. That definition is overbroad, though.

What? This is a stunning assertion. Those laws are what define domestic violence. You don't get to define it however you want and then wave away the actual laws which govern domestic violence. Furthermore, I note that neither the CDC nor the NHS agree with your purported definition. Nor does the Department of Healt and Human Services. Nor does the Department of Justice. Nor does... well you get the picture. You'll note from that website you linked to that the groups proposing the definition you support are the very kinds of advocacy groups we're talking about. Accepting the definition of advocacy groups while rejecting the definitions accepted by the CDC, the NHS, HHS, DoJ, the actual courts responsible for judication of domestic violence and so on and so forth is, not to put too fine a point on it, nuts.

No, you don't get to handwave away half of all domestic violence situations because it doesn't fit some pre-conceived ideological framework of yours.
posted by Justinian at 11:53 PM on November 22, 2009


Well, Justinian, which Department of Justice are you referring to? Here is the DOJ definition, and it too refers to the use of "abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner." This is the commonly accepted definition.

Look, the definitions in state law are broad because legislators understandably don't want to miss any qualifying offenses. But this problem comes up often in the law: yet we know that it is foolish to say that, for example, every person convicted of drug possession is addicted and needs treatment. A very large percentage of cases that are "DV" by state law definition warrant screening for lethality indicators, resources for housing and safety planning, and perpetrator treatment. But not all do.

And again, I'm not suggesting that anyone minimize or not punish intimate partner violence, in or out of a coercive, controlling context. I have said that repeatedly. But it isn't effective, and leads to a lot of confusion, to pretend that every single case that falls within the broad definition should be viewed or handled the same way.
posted by bearwife at 12:15 AM on November 23, 2009


The CDC on domestic violence which they call "intimate partner violence". The NHS on domestic violence. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence defintes it as "...abusive behavior perpetrated by an intimate partner against another". And so on. I really can go on.

Again, the medical and legal sources definite domestic violence as violence by one partner or former partner against another. It is the advocacy groups, and sites which link to the definitions provided by advocacy groups, which define it in such a way as to restrict it to mostly male-on-female violence. Why should we accept the advocacy group definition instead of the one from the CDC or the NHS or from the courts actually adjudicating these cases every day?

FWIW, The DOJ definition you link is from the Office of Violence Against Women (which makes it less surprising that the definition is attempting to restrict it in this fashion) and it appears they are getting it from the National Domestic Violence Hotline which is a resource for, again, women who are being abused. I know I saw a more inclusive definition elsewhere on the DOJ site. I would spend the time to track it down if I thought it would matter, but that you are completely eliding the fact that the definition you are pushing is the one used by advocacy groups rather than medical or law sources makes me inclined to think you are just going to repeat the same thing over and over.
posted by Justinian at 12:47 AM on November 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


But it isn't effective, and leads to a lot of confusion, to pretend that every single case that falls within the broad definition should be viewed or handled the same way.

Saying that both are "domestic violence" does not imply that they should all be handled the same way. But it's the more restrictive definition which leads to confusion not the broader. The more restrictive definition you support is exactly the reason why so many people do not realize that incidence of violence between male and female partners in relationships is much more equal in terms of how often it occurs. When you say that "domestic violence" is primarily a male-on-female issue it makes people believe exactly that; that female violence in a relationship is much rarer. That is misleading, not calling all violence between intimate partners "domestic violence".

As you say, the results are statistically very different. Men are much more likely to seriously injure their partners and much more likely to kill them. But that can be addressed without misleading people about the frequency of men being hit or abused. And, yes, being hit (as in a serious blow in anger) by your girlfriend/wife/whatever is absolutely abuse even if she happens to be weaker and thus doesn't do any serious injury.
posted by Justinian at 12:53 AM on November 23, 2009


Justinian, it seems to me that you're ignoring the fact that these terms have a reality-based purpose: determining where public resources are best directed, in terms of which situations put people in most need of outside assistance. The more restrictive definition of domestic violence incorporates the idea that the victim has been systematically deprived of autonomy and thus needs assistance in getting out.

The features of a domestic violence relationship that make full-on outside intervention necessary -- not just prosecution of an individual offense, but providing shelter, food, assistance in supporting dependent children, ongoing protection against a former partner who would do serious injury in retaliation for leaving the relationship -- are, as you note, pretty much exclusively features of male-perpetrator situations.

You're saying it's "nuts" to take into account the severity of the violence in determining what falls under the definition of "domestic violence," but I think it's far more nuts to equate shoving a violent partner away to shoving a quiescent partner down the stairs, as the MRA groups do when they come up with their "statistics" on the incidence of intimate partner violence.
posted by palliser at 6:37 AM on November 23, 2009


Couple things:

First, what palliser said above. This.

Second, some of these things that commenter are saying are unfair to men (such as the draft or benevolent sexism situations such as "women and children first" or the pressure for a man to be a provider) ARE unfair to men. But this is exactly why feminist use the expression "the patriarchy hurts men, too." These gender constraints are part of a systemic PATRIARCHAL society that feminist are fighting against. Men who chose to perpetuate the system of entitlement by keeping women in an oppressive situation are also keeping themselves limited to the confines of that binary gender system.

Is there a woman out there who wants her cake and to eat it, too? Who wants equal pay but also wants to remain outside of the selective service system? Certainly. There are all kinds of people out there and not all women represent the views of all other women. But this is not what mainstream feminism is or has ever fought for. Feminism is about equality of treatment, opportunity and value beyond gender roles. All things which will help men, too.
posted by Bueller at 7:21 AM on November 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


Second, some of these things that commenter are saying are unfair to men (such as the draft or benevolent sexism situations such as "women and children first" or the pressure for a man to be a provider) ARE unfair to men. But this is exactly why feminist use the expression "the patriarchy hurts men, too." These gender constraints are part of a systemic PATRIARCHAL society that feminist are fighting against. Men who chose to perpetuate the system of entitlement by keeping women in an oppressive situation are also keeping themselves limited to the confines of that binary gender system.

Bueller, I assume I'm one of those commenters you're talking about -- I've made comments about how things are unfair to men. Well, I completely agree that "the patriarchy hurts men too." I've recently been reading the self-proclaimed "radical feminist" Bell Hooks's fantastic book The Will to Change, which is entirely on this point. I'm always glad to see this pointed out, but I'm not sure why you would assume (if you are assuming) that commenters who are making the kinds of comments I've made (about the draft, etc.) don't understand this.

As for your final point, I hope you're right about "mainstream feminism," but this is far from obvious to me. I wish more feminists would be clearer about this. And I don't just mean professional/academic feminists who make it their life's work to write nuanced, rigorous essays and books on these topics, but also random women and men who are casually commenting on the internet or talking with friends or what-have-you. (That said, it's entirely possible that they are clear and that I've missed it; if so, I would of course stand corrected.)
posted by Jaltcoh at 8:29 AM on November 23, 2009


Actually, Justinian, I think we really are arguing here about terminology, not substance, since I don't disagree that any assault (in or out of a relationship) is criminal and should be sanctioned. As Palliser said so well and you seem to concur, the advantage to identifying which intimate crimes are also part of a pattern of using abuse for power and control (which for everyone's info happens in some LGBT relationships too) is deploying resources appropriately.

Here is the difficulty with always talking about "intimate abuse" or "domestic violence" though -- there is no limitation, no agreement that we are talking about the same phenomenon when you drop the reference to the use of power and control. Yet I can't realistically think of a good legal definition that is sufficiently inclusive but excludes intimate violence which is not for power and control. Can you? This is actually a really important question, because we could all spend a lot more productive energy on combating and stopping the kind of intimate abuse which is for power and control if we could get on the same page in distinguishing these cases.

It is really important, of course, that everyone, including the DV advocacy community you seem to distrust, acknowledge that men and women are equally capable of being violent. But in my experience there is also a tendency to then conflate all types of intimate violence, which i turn leads quickly to lawyers and judges who overlook or minimizing the kind of abuse for power and control purposes which 1) harms men too 2) not infrequently leads to homicide 3) does lasting and profound damage to the nonviolent partner and 4) is damaging to children as well.
posted by bearwife at 12:20 PM on November 23, 2009


If, a small minority, say, 10% of accusations, are obviosly false,
posted by idiopath at 8:18 PM on November 21 [+] [!]


On reconsideration, change my 10% to .1%, the logic still works out.
posted by idiopath at 8:20 PM on November 21 [+] [!]


Dude, .1% is an OUTLIER. And that so many men are concerned about OUTLIERS means they are either stupid, or wanting an excuse.
posted by bravelittletoaster at 2:58 PM on November 23, 2009


bravelittletoaster: yes, and that point is orthogonal to the point I was making. As far as I am concerned these guys can go eat a pancake and shut up because they are wrong and they are liars, but I was trying (a bit inarticulately) to talk about the dynamics of more credible claims deciding not to go to court than false ones.
posted by idiopath at 3:01 PM on November 23, 2009


If your ten percent, or even one tenth of a percent is enough to get a reasonable person all worked up over the injustice which is supposedly inflicted onto men as a class, then surely that same reasonable person would be downright hysterical over the much larger percentage of women who are literally too terrified and too trapped to see help.
posted by bravelittletoaster at 3:05 PM on November 23, 2009


I was told I'm supposed to pretend that men actually respect women, when I'm at this site. Excuse me that I don't always remember.
posted by bravelittletoaster at 3:08 PM on November 23, 2009


I may not be making myself clear that I think that they are making a tempest in a teapot and that there is no epidemic of false accusations. I was merely speculating as to why someone making a true accusation is more likely to drop the claim than someone making a false one.
posted by idiopath at 5:06 PM on November 23, 2009


Dunno if people are still reading this thread, but here is an article from my rather enlightened state which points out of why we maybe should be concerned that domestic abuse still isn't being treated seriously enough.
posted by bearwife at 5:07 PM on November 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Until we acknowledge that sex roles are not completely socially constructed but rather determined in significant ways by biology, we're just blabbing about ideology.

In real life, at the median, men are naturally more aggressive than women. Women are naturally primary caregivers to young children.

Look at any other primate - nay, mammalian - species and get back to me when you can deal with the facts. I'm a proud feminist, but liberation cannot be based on a fantasy, for either gender. Because gender is the cultural surface of sex roles, which no law or custom can override

Unless you think we aren't animals. In which case your delusional thinking goes beyond gender issues.
posted by fourcheesemac at 12:38 AM on November 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


fourcheesemac: "Until we acknowledge that sex roles are not completely socially constructed but rather determined in significant ways by biology..."

I can pretty much accept this with the caveat that natural does not mean good, or right, or best. It is for example completely natural for the strongest to kill and eat the weak, and their children, among these primates that you mention.* Our culture is not a perversion of nature but for the most part an improvement upon it.

* With the bonobos being the single notable exception. They have sex to resolve conflict instead of waging war and killing and eating foes.** They hunt and eat other primates but not their own species.

** And I am sure with the requisite technology they would be smoking weed, dropping acid, and making and wearing tie-dye clothing.
posted by idiopath at 9:43 AM on November 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


Of course. Civilization requires the repression of our natural instincts to some extent. And I fully agree that "natural" is neither good nor bad. Very much agree. It just is. But denying our nature has any determining significance for our behavior is a bad way to do good.

And bound to fail.
posted by fourcheesemac at 11:52 PM on November 29, 2009


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