Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

A bit more about domestic violence

If  you inhabit the same precincts of the blogosphere as I do, you have probably read plenty of late about the Men's Rights Movement and Men's Rights Activists. Their basic claim seems to be that they have a right to be jerks and they are oppressed by people who claim otherwise; and they seem to favor tactics such as death and rape threats against women who disagree with them. I'm sure there are people who consider themselves MRA's who behave better and make more credible claims, e.g. that men are discriminated against in child custody disputes, but it's the former category that's been getting the attention.

Anyhow, I'd like to discuss a specific area of controversy. Linking to Wikipedia is maybe an easy out, but in this case it's a good place for an overview. The fact is, as I mentioned in my last post, surveys generally find that violent acts by domestic partners occur at about the same rate by women against men as by men against women. An academic who is well known for loudly proclaiming this fact is Murray Strauss who complains, rightly perhaps, that it is widely ignored. However, although he tends to bury the lede, he also notes in the journal Partner Abuse (2010, sorry no link available):

The exception to gender symmetry is that the adverse effects of being a victim of PV are much greater for women than for men. This can be considered a difference in context, but the fact that adverse effects are consequences rather than causes of PV needs to be kept in mind.

Attacks by men cause more injury (both physical and psychological), more deaths, and more fear. In addition, women are more often economically trapped in a violent relationship than men, because women continue to earn less than men and because, when a marriage ends, women have custodial responsibility for children at least 80% of the time. On the other hand, the adverse effects of emotional abuse, while not a focus of this article, are often greater than those of physical PV, with a comparable impact on both men and women victims (Hamel, 2009; Lawrence, Yoon, Langer, & Ro,
2009; Taft et aI., 2006)

Still, the greater adverse effect of physical PV on women is an extremely important difference, and it indicates the need to continue to provide more services for omen victims of PV than for men victims. In addition, as will be explained later, the greater adverse effect on women is one of the things that underlie denial of theevidence on gender symmetry.

In other words, you can lie with statistics. Strauss comes in for a lot of heat from feminists, but he really doesn't deserve it. He's trying to get us to work with the true facts, which actually forces us to think more deeply.

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