Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Domestic violence and men's rights (by Suzie)

This article on Alternet suggests society should help men who experience domestic violence at the hands of women. That seems only fair. But the article is a good example of how statistics can be misused and experts presented as objective. It states:
Although [U.K.] government statistics estimate that one in six men suffer some form of domestic abuse during their lifetime compared with one in four women (and there is consensus among those working in the area that men are far less likely to seek help than women, meaning the number could be even higher), violence perpetrated by women against men remains one of the least openly discussed problems in today's society.
        Some readers might assume that 1 in 6 men suffer abuse by women since the article tells the story of two men attacked by female partners, and never mentions same-sex relationships. But gay men experience a fair amount of domestic violence. Here are statistics for the U.K.  and the U.S. (Yes, I understand that women also abuse other women.) 
        From the statistics in the Alternet article, readers might get the impression that women abuse men almost as much as men abuse women. Professor Richard Gelles has an excellent response to similar statistics in the U.S.:
   To even off the debate playing field it seems one piece of statistical evidence (that women and men hit one another in roughly equal numbers) is hauled out from my 1985 research - and distorted - to “prove” the position on violence against men. However, the critical rate of injury and homicide statistics provided in that same research are often eliminated altogether, or reduced to a parenthetical statement saying that “men typically do more damage.” The statement that men and women hit one another in roughly equal numbers is true, however, it cannot be made in a vacuum without the qualifiers that a) women are seriously injured at seven times the rate of men and b) that women are killed by partners at more than two times the rate of men.
     The Alternet article makes no mention of politics. But Erin Pizzey, the quoted expert, thinks that feminists are man-haters bent on destroying the family, and that gender has nothing to do with domestic violence. 
     Have you heard all this before? Yeah, me, too. So, why do journalists still muck it up? Are they biased? Or, are they so ignorant of the issues that they don't even know enough to do a quick search of the Internet?