Debunking the "Violence Against Women" Myth

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The following is excerpted from William D. Gairdner's The War Against the Family: A Parent Speaks Out. (Toronto: Stoddart, 1992)


The Facts of Domestic Violence

"North Americans have been bombarded with round after round of explosive stories on how men are violently abusing women (and children), who then march in the streets for public funds to build shelters, pay for therapists, provide welfare, and so on. The standard feminist line is that all family violence is a result of patriarchy, of the imbalance of power in a marriage. Thus, patriarchy causes wife-battering, and the corollary is that women are only violent in self-defence. This standard line of argument is utterly, totally, and suprisingly false.

"There is no doubt family violence exists. It always has and always will. And we may see more of it for the reasons outlined above. After all, human love and sexuality are nothing if not profoundly physical. It is therefore no surprise that sometimes people get hurt under conditions of peak emotion, especially under the growing influence of alcohal and drugs, which provide humans beings with all sorts of illusions and delusions. Personally, I would like to see much, much tougher laws to punish men who rape, and men or women who beat up anyone. My reason for including this section is simply to show how we have been successfully brainwashed by man-hating, politically-motivated feminists to believe that men are the only violent members of society, while women are their genteel loving victims. It all seems to be part of a strategy to discredit the natural family.

"Human violence, like all violence in nature, is a matter of the strong taking advantage of the weak. The very strong and wicked prey on the less so. Strong men prey on women and also on weaker men; weaker men and strong women prey on women and children; women tend to prey on old ladies and children --and on some weak men. Because humans are not perfectible, society must be set up for adequate protection of the weak. No one is well served by gender-bashing disinformation. Consider the following.

"Merlin Brinkerhoff and Eugen Lupri of the University of Calgary, in their study 'Interspousal Violence,' found the same results as U.S. researchers Straus and Gelles: '[I]n marked contrast to the behavior of women outside the home, women are about as violent within the family as men.' And violence occurs among cohabiting couples at double the rate for marrieds. This statistic illustrates the peculiar reality of human love, since nothing in law or love prevents cohabiting individuals from walking out the door. Also curious is the fact that childless couples do more violence, and women employed full-time are more likely to do violence then part-timers. Of 562 Calgary couples studied, 38 percent admitted spousal violence (ranging from mild threats, to slapping, to using a weapon); 75 cases were wife-to-husband violence, 58 were husband-to-wife, and 80 were 'mutual.' On the 'overall' violence (as opposed to 'severe' violence) scale, 'Canadian women reportedly are more likely than men to act violently toward their partners (28.1 percent, vs. 20.6 percent), and are slightly more violent than their U.S. counterparts.

"Dr. Joe Kennedy, and Donald Dutton of the University of Alberta population laboratory, sampled 708 couples, intending to focus on husband-to-wife violence, and were surprised to encounter identical levels of the wife-to-husband variety. However, in the 'serious' category, 'wives were twice as often the perpetrators' (wife hits husband, 4.7 percent; husband hits wife, 2.3 percent). It is widely believed that wife-to-husband violence is mostly self-defence by the weaker sex; but Murray Straus, in follow-up studies of the 428 'battered' women who reported the first hitter (documented in his voluminous U.S. national survey), found that husbands struck the first blow 42.6 percent of the time, and wives 52.7 percent. Research on dating relationships has revealed identical ratios for violence, showing that 'regardless of whether the analysis is based on all assaults, or is focussed on dangerous assaults, about as many women as men, attack a spouse who has not hit them, during a one year period.' Straus concludes women commit assault and hit first about as often as men do (although men may do more damage, depending on the category). Researchers Gryl and Byrd found the same patterns held for dating relationships. In short, the women-are-only-violent-in-self-defence argument does not hold up.

"As for spousal murder, Steinmetz reports that an equal number of U.S. wives and husbands kill each other every year --a pattern that has been stable over time. Despite hysterical and irresponsible reporting such as the article "Women in Fear" in Canada's Maclean's (November 11, 1991), women as a whole are about 35 percent of annual murder victims in Canada. Men are mostly killed by, and are killing, other men. In Toronto, Canada's largest city, of 55 murders in 1990, only 16 were of women. But who is making the case for all these male victims of violence? Not the media. According to Canada's Centre for Justice Statistics, the decade 1980-89 saw an annual average of 640 murders, of which 412 were men and 228 women. Of those legally married, there was an annual average of 81 husbands murdered, and 61 wives (although not always by a spouse). Considering how few common-law marriages there are are, compared with legal ones, the statistics tell us what we suspected. As measured by murder, common-law marriages are wildly more unstable --about seven times more so. For the 10-year period, many more males --and husbands-- were killed than females --and wives. The truth is that while wives tend to be killed by husbands, or intimates, husbands are getting killed by wives, intimates, and by other men too. They are doubly victimized. For the same decade, of the 510 solved homicides in Canada, legally married husbands of the victim were suspects in 14.2 percent, and wives of the victim suspects in 4.4 percent of the 510 cases. Some experts say that if guns were more available in Canada, we would likely mirror the U.S. 50-50 spousal murder figure. Any way you look at it, murder by legally married spouses is a numerically small problem.

"Steinmetz also reported, however, that women are 62 percent more likely than men to abuse children, that boys are twice as likely to suffer at their mothers' hands than girls are, and that throughout history women are the primary perpetrators of infanticide and elder abuse. Toronto social worker David Harper stated his 'conviction, after 20 years in the social services field, that male children are the chief victims of both verbal and physical abuse in the home, and principally at the hands of women' (Toronto Star, April 14, 1992). Let us keep in mind that very small percentages of perverse of violent women do not invalidate my main argument about the family-and-child orientation of women in general. Outside the home, women are less prone to general violence of all kinds. But in a closed, highly emotional setting, the small number who are violent, easily match or exceed the violence by men, especially over their children. While this really seems to contradict the general nurturing tendency of women, we need only remember that violence anywhere is rarely arbitrary. It is natural for women and men to become most loving --and therefore sometimes most hateful-- toward those who constitute the emotional core of their existence. Straus and Gelles report that women tend to use women tend to use weapons far more often than men, that 'wife beating' is 'a political rather than a scientific term,' and that violence by wives has not (yet) been defined as a problem in the public mind. This is a scientist's way of saying that feminists have captured the media. McLeod's studies show that whereas weapons are used in only 25 percent of severe violence against wives, wives use weapons 82 percent of the time; 'clearly violence against men is much more destructive than violence against women... male victims are injured more often and more seriously than female victims...' In another study by Steinmetz (1981) six different societies were examined for spousal violence (United States, CAnada, Finland, Israel, Puerto Rico, and Belize), and in each society the percentage of husbands who used violence was similiar to the percentage of wives; but wives who used violence tended to use greater amounts.

"Elsewhere, in an extensive 1984 analysis of 60,000 homes using U.S. National Crime Survey statistics, McLeod showed that 1.8 million women and 2.1 million men were victims of domestic violence. Despite these facts of life, feminists have been successful to the point of securing legal recognition of 'battered wife syndrome' as 'a legitimate defence against a murder charge' (Toronto Star, May 1, 1990), and women increasingly succeed in the use of charges of past abuse as a justification for killing their spouses. If a man tried to use a 'battered husband syndrome' defence he'd be laughed out of court. Clearly, radicals are 'exploiting the traditional sterotypes regarding women's weaknesses and vulnerability,' as one female scientist said, and this stereotype 'licenses the quick use of deadly force by a specialized group [all women] and stands as an ironic contradition both to the social equality sought by women, and to the basic aim of the criminal law.

"Parenthetically, U.S. data indicate that 60 percent of all child abuse reports are false, and that of the remainder, only 1 percent constitutes what normal people would call true abuse. Apparently the abuse industry is up for grabs by whatever political constituency is first to the starting line. Disinformation is rampant. But new of the fallen nature of women, too, is now seeping through. Dr Fred Matthews of Toronto recently blamed political censorship and cultural myths for the fact that 'we may be creating rapists, men who are angry at women' because they were sexually abused by women and girls. He cited a U.S. study showing that 7.6 percent of boys had been abused in childhood by women (16.5 percent by men). Meanwhile, the New Jersey Department of Human Services analysed 54,366 reports of child abuse, substantiated 36 percent of them, and concluded that 67 percent of victims lived in single-family homes (mostly female-headed), where 77 percent of the crimes were committed by mothers. At least one feminist writer, the American Bell Hooks, has fessed up to the colossal gender distortions on human violence (if only for her own reasons). She says women have to be more honest about female violence and must reject the 'simplistic account of female experience' that once again paints women as victims of men. Her point: Until we admit that women can beat up on men, children and the elderly, we won't believe they can revolt against society as a whole.

"And so it goes. A lot of single mothers fall into child abuse, including allowing or forcing their children to have sex with their live-in boyfriends, who, along with live-ins and step-parents, account for much of the reported incidents of male 'family' violence. (Ever-broader radical definitions of the family will soon include all of society.) Published summaries from American and Canadian daily newspapers of the most gruesome crimes by women are bracing. There are accounts here (reproduced here with some regret, merely to right the balance of perception on crime and gender) of women who have killed their pregnant daughters, suffocated their babies, dropped babies on cement floors, abandoned babies to die of overexposure, beat their kids to death (in one case, for falling out of a high-chair). Scalding babies to death in a bathtub is also common. Women murderers use child starvation a lot. Some mothers simply sell their daughters into prostitution to get cocaine. A favourite trick is throwing newborns into passing garbage trucks. In prior centuries, a mother's favourite method of murdering children was called 'overlaying,' in which a tired mother rolled over the infant to suffocate it, and then awoke to discover the terrible 'accident.'

"Enough said....

"[B]laming men for the problem of family violence in order to discredit the natural family is a vicious tactic. This is especially so when the alternative proposal is more State intervention, more male hating, more retreat from marriage, more childlessness, more divorce, more cohabitation, and more taxes and grants that enable women to fix upon marriage to the State as their best alternative to the real world. In the long run, the State is the worst master of all."