Calling all men who don't like violence

Saturday was International Women’s Day. I didn’t get any flowers, or a cup of tea in bed or anything like that. Am I not an international woman?

And I didn’t even get to go to the Million Women Rise March in London because I went up to the Liberal Democrat Conference for the weekend. I did though comfort myself with the Women Liberal Democrats (WLD) fringe session in celebration of the day. I would like to thank Cllr Bobbie Chettleburgh for bringing up the issue of domestic violence in the UK in the session; I had been preparing this blog on rape and domestic violence for some days and it was good to know that I wasn’t the only person up there getting more and more concerned.

Although I didn’t make it to the march this Saturday, I did go, with my Mum, on the Reclaim the Night march last November. My favourite slogan was:

“Whatever I wear, wherever I go
Yes means yes and no means no”

Which in a country, like ours, where the conviction rate for rapes hangs around the 5.7% mark is something that clearly needs repeating; and I did, very loudly, all the way up Charing Cross Road that Saturday night!!

5.7% It’s an appalling statistic, isn’t it? And a statistic that the police know that they’ve got to improve on, as much of the problem is as a result of victims dropping out of the process:

“research shows that attrition - or cases dropping out - happens at every stage from initial complaint to trial. But Yates said the biggest attrition rate was with the initial police investigation. If inertia followed a complaint, "what was always going to be a difficult case can often become an impossible one"

By the time the police have got involved, it’s already too late, the crime has been committed. Our aim should be to stop the crimes in the first place.

All types of violence against women, not just sexual, is very, very common. One in four women will experience some kind of domestic violence during their life time. (I realise domestic violence is a far wider category than rape, but stick with me for the moment).

And if that many women experience domestic violence it means that there are a lot of men out there being violent towards women.

So, how many? Well, I don’t know and nor does anybody else, because it’s not the kind of thing we talk about in polite company. But what if it was, for example, a 3:1 ratio to account for say more than one woman being subject to violence from the same man or the few women who receive violence at the hand of another woman? That’s still millions of men and that really is shocking. I can hardly believe that number myself and I don’t find domestic violence hard to imagine at all; I know women who have experienced domestic violence and I’ve witnessed it. Yes, me the epitome of middle class, female professional!

Violence towards women is one of life’s great levelers; in both victims and perpetrators it crosses class, income group, educational attainment, colour, nationality, race, religion, political views, language and age.

And it makes me wonder, how many people have to be doing something before it becomes a cultural norm?

It’s not a new fangled thing, sweeping the nation like bird flu could. I think it has always been ‘acceptable’ to be violent towards women, behind closed doors.

I think the situation may even be improving, it’s hard to know. What is good is that the police now take it more seriously and don’t stand there like a bunch of lemons, as they used to in the seventies, in people’s driveways refusing to come across the threshold because ‘it’s a domestic’ and therefore none of their business.

Improving it may be but it’s not gone. Making something illegal doesn’t change whether it’s culturally acceptable. Proactive prosecution of the crime, when it comes to light is definitely a start but we need more than just the law.

Silence about something, not mentioning it, like we don’t mention the prevalence of domestic violence, is tantamount to being complicit.

And this is, of course, where the solution lies. Last year, I blogged about the White Ribbon Campaign. I was very excited because this is a campaign by men to stop male violence against women. Domestic violence is too often treated like a women’s issue. But it’s not a women’s issue, it’s a man’s issue. And whilst men are the problem they are also the solution.

The White Ribbon Campaign aims to get men to create the new cultural norm that it’s not acceptable to be violent towards women. It works by getting men talking about it and promoting that there is nothing masculine about hitting women.

You know, I am pretty sure, that me blogging about the fact that it’s wrong to hit women isn’t really going to have any impact on a man’s behavior, if he is that way inclined. He probably already knows that women don’t like it; but if he overhears, perhaps at the pub or in the office, another man start talking about how unacceptable it is, how unmanly it is, then that might just make a difference.

So back to the issue with rape.

I was interested to read on PC Bloggs how many of the commenters on a recent post about rape were concerned about the inability to work out what has happened if the woman is say, drunk or not. But this I think is missing the point and ignoring what consent is.

Positive consent is not the absence of dissent. It should be very clear to a man when a women is consenting to sex, there should be no mistake. If a man waits for a woman to give positive consent to sex then he is not in danger of raping her. There should be no waiting for a woman to say no. If she can’t say no, because she’s too drunk, then she can’t say yes, can she? A woman who is playing hard to get is not giving positive consent.

As the chant goes, it doesn’t matter what a woman is wearing only yes means yes and no most definitely means no.

Again, the solution is in changing the norms of behavior or in other words the prevalent culture that finds an absence of dissent a case for assuming there was consent. It is men who need to be demand positive consent from their sexual partners and not go forward without it, not women who need to be clearer. It is men who are the solution.

So, to all you guys who have read as far as this, I say: Please, don’t think because you would never dream of being violent towards another person or not getting anything less than positive consent that you have no part to play in changing these pernicious norms of society. Even though you may not be aware, it is likely you will know women who have experienced domestic violence and probably the men who have perpetrated it.

I am looking at those men, who know that violence is wrong and who understand what positive consent means, to help spread the word to all men what is and isn’t acceptable.

If you want to find out how then join the White Ribbon Campaign and pass it on.

16 comments:

Antony Hook said...
10 Mar 2008, 18:26:00

Jo,

You are completely right. As you say, just because one thing is the law doesn't mean culture and behaviour changes.

In relation to both sexual violence and non-sexual domestic violence I think very many cases fall into two categories.

You have men (often but not always younger men) who perhaps under the influence of drink themselves sexually assault a woman without her consent. The best answer to that is: publicity for serious penalties for that behaviour, and the encouragement of a culture that treats that it as socially unacceptable.

The second category is (often older people) in unhappy marriages who turn to either violence against each other or sex against the wishes of the other person. The only answer to that is better support for people in marital difficulties, a society that doesn't encourage people to marry for the sake of it (so they don't marry the wrong person or too early in life and regret it later) or support (including effective economic support, especially in the case of women) to help them leave a marriage and move on before (further) violence.

CalgAdvocate said...
10 Mar 2008, 22:02:00

I am man and I don't like violence.
I especially don't like violence against men perpetrated by women.
All the research on domestic violence demonstrates a ratio of 50/50.
Until we recognize our equal part in domestic violence women will not be taken serious enough to be recognized as equals.
If men and women are equals in perpetrating domestic violence should we seek manners to protect both?

Earl

CalgAdvocate said...
10 Mar 2008, 22:06:00

I am a man and I don't like violence.
I especially don't like domestic violence against men perpetrated by women.

Earl

Jo Christie-Smith said...
11 Mar 2008, 09:12:00

Well, you know Earl/CalgAdvocate that's just not true that ALL research demonstrates a ratio of 50/50.

Whilst I acknowledge that there is violence on men perpetrated by women and that it is likely to be underreported for many, many cultural reasons, it is not as big a problem as violence on women perpetrated by men; not by a long shot.

Jo Christie-Smith said...
11 Mar 2008, 09:20:00

Antony,

Hmmm, well, although there undoubtedly categories like that I wouldn't go as far to say the majority of cases of male violnece against women are like that. I don't personally know of any...but hey, that's probably a postive thing!

I think the 'rationale' behind domestic violence is far deeper and ingrained into society. It is not as a result of a situation that one finds oneself in, such as a unhappy marriage.

It is instead a culture that allows people to think that an acceptable way to behave is to hit someone who, in the case of male violence perpetrated on female violence, usually, although not always, smaller and physically weaker than you and less able to defend themselves or fight back. It is in short the action of a bully and a show of power.

It is not as a result of people getting married for the sake of it; plenty of men who get married for the sake of it manage not to hit their partners no matter how much they may resent their mariatal situation.

Chris Green said...
11 Mar 2008, 11:52:00

Re Violence against Men.
1 in 4 women experience violecne in their lifetime, and 1 in6 men. However when we look at severe violence adn on going violence (more than 5 incidents) 89% of incidents is Violence of Men against Women. This is physical violence, but we must also prevent violence which doesn't leave marks- the threats, the emotional violence, all about power and control. This is why White Ribbon Campaign UK works to end the gendered violence perpetrated by men against women. We want all violence to stop, but this is our priority. We are a completely volunteer staffed organisation so welcome any men to work with us, adn would welcome the opportunity to speak at a fringe meting at Liberal Party Conference or to meetings around the country.
PS We were present as supporters at the recent Million Women March , and the NUS Reclaim the Streets March in Manchester. Check out the website whiteribboncampaign.co.uk
Of course we want to stop all violence

CalgAdvocate said...
11 Mar 2008, 16:32:00

I am a male victim of female perpetrated domestic violence, personally what I suffer today due to the lack of services is a big problem to day which is a huge problem for me and other men.

When you look into actual research verses anecdotal whoozles this is what is found;

http://www.csulb.edu/~mfiebert/assault.htm
SUMMARY: This bibliography examines 209 scholarly investigations: 161 empirical studies and 48 reviews and/or analyses, which demonstrate that women are as physically aggressive, or more aggressive, than men in their relationships with their spouses or male partners. The aggregate sample size in the reviewed studies exceeds 201,500.

Government of Canada General Social Survey 2000; 8% of women and 7% of men were abused by their partner in the past 5 years, only to be followed by
Government of Canada General Social Survey 2005; 7% of women and 6% of men were abused by their partner in the past 5 years.

I just supplied over 200 research documents demonstrating equality in domestic violence; are you saying that women are not men's equal?
In return please provide me with only 3 research studies that demonstrate other than male to female equality.

I said all research demonstrated 50/50 I ask that you prove me wrong.

earl

CalgAdvocate said...
11 Mar 2008, 17:08:00

Without equality of services for male and female victims of domestic violence gender equality can never be achieved.
Even if women are 89% of the victims of domestic violence are you able to justify that the remaining 11% of male victims of female perpetrated domestic violence are not deserving of any serves?
If I said to you that since people of colour only make up 11% of the victims hence they are not deserving of services you would, in all rights, call me a racist.
So dening 11% of the victims of domestic violence, male victims of female perpetrated domestic violence, in all rights, is a sexist and anti male.

Earl

Jo Christie-Smith said...
11 Mar 2008, 17:12:00

Earl,

i am sorry that you are a victim of male perpetrated violence. However, just a cursory look at the list of studies you cite does not convince me. Many of the studies talk about initiatiion..which could be something like a woman slapping a man around the face and her ending up in hospital from reciprocated violnece. I nthose studie all that is recorded is that the woman 'started it'.

They also talk about people 'admitting' to violence..well, you know there's just not so much of a social stigma attached to a woman admitting that she threw something at her partner as a man admitting that he has hit her. When a man hits a women neither of them tend to talk about it.

So, Earl, I suggest you look at the stats that Chris kindly gave in his comments. You have not convinced me that women are as violent towards men as men are towards women. I'm sure if you wanted to you could find many other studies which say the opposite but I rather suspect that you don't want to.

I can see you're very angry about all of this and from your perspective it must feel like nobody is listening but my posting was about male violence towards women.

As Chris said, all violence is bad.

Jo Christie-Smith said...
11 Mar 2008, 17:14:00

Earl,

I never said that male victims of female violence shoudln't be helped; my posting hower was about victims of male violnece.

All violence is bad.

CalgAdvocate said...
11 Mar 2008, 17:53:00

To Chris Green;
In all Western Countries the victim numbers are very close; but to say women experience violence more in their lifetime is questionable.
In Western countries; male homicides are 2 times that of women, male victim assault rate is 4 times; according to police data.
In addition; 97% of work related deaths are men, men die 5 years earlier, 87% of homeless are men while the majority of once homeless women live in low cost housing, 80% of the victims of suicides are men, the vast majority of soldiers who protect you and me are men and they die in the line of duty to protect you (any gratitude for their sacrifice?), more men than women have less than 4 limbs and the list goes on.
Chris said: "We want all violence to stop", but women's violence against men can continue. I see a lack of gender equality. Maybe some Animal Farm style equality?
"all about power and control"; that is the Duluth Model of power and control based, not on fact or proven theories, but stories put together to create the power and control wheel. There is no basis of proof and recent reports and research has demonstrated it does not work. The idea behind the theory is to reeducate men into being more like women. You can not tell me a man living with women who is a border line personality (over 80% of BLP are women) is exerting power and control over her, he is protecting himself.
White Ribbon campaign; a money making organization seeking approval of women by bashing men for them. I have no respect for them.
Either all victims and all perpetrators are treated with the same services the outcome is gender discrimination and sexism.


Earl

CalgAdvocate said...
11 Mar 2008, 18:13:00

Chris,
I am a male victim of female perpetrated domestic violence and I do recognize that it may be difficult for you to say.
I never say that women are not abused, but a woman slapping a man is criminally an assault and if the woman hits a man is he not deserving of protecting himself? If I hit a man who is bigger and stronger than I am I should be smart enough to realize that I am putting myself in danger.
Chris does not cite his stats but offered a number, but I am sure they are representative of police arrest reports and not the actual hitting.
You said; "if you wanted to you could find many other studies which say the opposite but I rather suspect that you don't want to."
That was my challenge to you because for more than 15 years I have been asking for studies that demonstrate that women are victims at a large percentage than men, no one has been able to provide me with studies, and I have personally looked for them, if you can find them steer me in that direction.

But I am sure you will have a reason that it is not your responsibility to find studies because you can;t they don;t exist.

I state that male and female violence against women is wrong, but I also say female violence against men is wrong; that violence against anyone is wrong and not justified because of their gender.
Earl

Feminist Avatar said...
13 Mar 2008, 12:28:00

Many studies suggest that as many women have perpetrated an act of violence in the home as men, but most of these studies also recognise that the scale and nature of the violence is very gendered. Women are more likely to be violent in self-defence. In fact a signficant number of abused women have used self-defence against a violent spouse, which, if you only count instances of violence, disguises the dynamic. Most studies do not take account the scale of violence, so that a slap is given equal weighting to severe assault. They also often lump together all instances of domestic violence, whether it is against a husband or a child, which inflates the number of women who are violent as many child abusers are women.

I do think that we need more education that all forms of violence whether perpetrated by men or women is wrong. The media often presents images of women slapping men who are behaving badly with little demonisation of such behaviour, as if violence is acceptable under those circumstances. This is a picture we need to work against. BUT, this should not be allowed to hide the fact that women are disproportionately hurt by domestic violence, due to physcial weakness, social expectations that promote the idea that men should be allowed to control women through violence, and because women do not have the same socio-economic resources as men that allow them to leave violent situations. Th social context in which the violence is committed fundamentally changes its meaning and consequences.

Jo Christie-Smith said...
13 Mar 2008, 13:55:00

Hi Feminist Avatar,

Thanks for your calm and balanced review of the comments! Very good points made and a much better analysis of how studies can come to such conclusions as a result of not analysing the scale and nature of the violence.

I absolutley agree about the social acceptability of some of the violence that men receive at the hands of women, such as slapping. It does have to become socially unacceptable.

CalgAdvocate said...
13 Mar 2008, 15:54:00

Thanks Feminist Avatar for a reasoned reply.
To view family violence as a gender issue creates "sides", I view family violence as a social issue that can be solved for both genders. I am not into a gender war I am into finding social issue solutions.
Acts of self defense are not counted since they are secondary, and studies have shown that more women throw the first hit than receive.As I said before I was the victim of her violence and her control albeit she was much smaller than me; size does not mean anything.
I asked for directions to 3 studies which demonstrate that women were the victims more often than men (I sent the Fiebert bibliography with 200 studies demonstrating 50/50) can you at least send me one study.

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