On an almost daily basis there is an article published somewhere in the Australian media claiming there is an epidemic of ‘male violence’. These articles are all constructed to a well worn formula and assert the same erroneous stereotype over and over again. A stereotype is by definition a means of creating a sense of prejudice. It takes a common human behaviour, such as greed, aggression or incompetence, and ‘associates’ it with the ‘target’ group as a way to diminish their humanity. It also claims that the other group (stereotype means ‘two types’) are free from this behaviour.
The ‘male violence’ stereotype associates men with the perpetration of violence, and implies that women are free from it. But ‘male violence’, which is interchangeable with ‘men’s violence’, is no more real than ‘Jewish Wealth’ or ‘Black Anger’ or ‘Women’s Driving’ or any of the other stereotypes that have been used to marginalise and vilify different groups over the years.
Like all good stereotypes, the phrase ‘male violence’ is the tip of the iceberg. It sits atop a whole raft of false allegations about men and domestic violence that have been drilled into our brains over the last 40 years. Let’s break these myths down.
1. There is an ‘epidemic’ of domestic violence: Actually, domestic violence rates are remarkably stable and predictable over time. Over the last three years there have been moderate increases in DV rates, but that is consistent with tough economic times. More family stress combines with an increase in alcohol consumption to result in more arguments getting out of hand. Women’s violence against their partners also rises at these times, though men rarely report violence against them.
2. Men are more violent than women: In terms of physical violence by men against men, this is true, though the research shows that women commit a lot more of what psychologists call ‘indirect’ or ‘social’ violence against each other than men do. In terms of violence between men and women in intimate relationships, an extraordinarily large body of evidence consistently shows that men and women are equally violent. The Partner Abuse State of Knowledge Project has recently reviewed over 12000 research papers to determine this conclusively.
3. Men’s violence is motivated by ‘Patriarchal Control’: This idea is sometimes referred to as the Duluth Model and is the cornerstone of feminist theories about domestic violence. It stipulates that domestic violence is committed exclusively by men against women for the purpose of controlling and oppressing them. Family violence researchers call this pattern of behaviour ‘intimate terrorism’. Once again the evidence is overwhelmingly against this idea. Only a very small percentage of domestic violence is found to be motivated by control, and studies find that it is a motive for women as well as for men in equal proportions.
Most domestic violence is called ‘common couple violence’ in which the violence is committed by both people and is motivated by feelings of revenge, frustration and anger. The real causes of domestic violence are well researched and understood. Low socio economic status, poor educational attainment, poor psychological development, a history of trauma and abuse, mental health issues, addictions and witnessing family violence as a child are all significant contributors to the likelihood of adult domestic violence perpetration. Gender is not.
4. Saying ‘No to Violence’ will stop it happening: This idea comes from the notion that domestic violence is a culturally driven phenomenon, and therefore if we change the culture we will stop it occurring. The truth is that the ‘gender paradigm’ has entirely failed to have a positive impact on domestic violence for more than 40 years. Programs that employ it simply don’t work, and waste hundreds of millions of dollars of public funds. Recent attempts to declare this model to be ‘best practice’ and ‘evidence based’ are simply a smokescreen by the feminist lobby. The evidence is clearly against it. How else could we be having an ‘epidemic’ of domestic violence after 4 decades of these programs?
The greatest success with reducing domestic violence has been achieved through couples counselling and relationship skills training, often combined with individual therapy for both parties. This is because these treatments address the whole problem, not just half of it.
In many first world countries the women’s lobby has succeeded in making it illegal for judges to refer violent couples to these effective treatments, and mandatory to refer them to the ineffective and sexist ones that they provide. In Australia we have seen legislation created that actually states that domestic violence is predominantly perpetrated by men for the purpose of control, therefore pre-biasing the prosecution to ignore the evidence and assume the male to be guilty, a violation of every principle of natural law.
5. Feminism is trying to stop domestic violence: If the feminist lobby were actually trying to stop domestic violence they would have to recognise the failure of their model and adopt programs that have been proven to work. Instead they are fighting tooth and nail to minimise awareness of their failure, and of women’s perpetration of violence, and prevent effective programs from getting funded.
The real evidence on domestic violence has been presented to the feminist lobby repeatedly, and efforts to have them recognise the true nature of the problem have been violently refused for over 4 decades, even up to death threats being made by women’s groups against researchers and critics.
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Adam is a provisional psychologist and counsellor working in Melbourne Australia. He has been helping people to resolve trauma and find empowerment for 25 years. Adam specialises in men's counselling and his experience has led him to become a passionate advocate for men's rights and men's empowerment. He does not however call himself a 'masculinist' as he equally supports women in their entitlement to dignity, safety, opportunity and equality.