There has been a startling increase in the number of women who are the perpetrators of domestic violence.
New South Wales Bureau of Crime Statistics figures show that over the past eight years, the number of women charged with domestic abuse has rocketed by 159 per cent.
In 2007, 2,336 women fronted court on domestic violence charges, compared to around 800 in 1999.
Other states haven't released comparable statistics, but if the NSW rate holds good for the other states then over 7000 women in Australia are being charged with domestic violence every year.
How can a physically weaker woman attack her husband or partner? According to the ABC news report,
Ms Price says it is a well-known fact that many abusive women resort to using weapons, or wait to catch their spouse unawares before they attack.
"We have so many reports of people having hot liquids poured over them in bed, glasses broken, men hit over the head from the back, attacked while they're asleep, cut, burnt," she said.
There is resistance to accepting the reality of this female domestic violence. It doesn't fit well with the assumptions of feminist patriarchy theory. According to this theory, men use violence against women to maintain a patriarchal power and privilege over women.
If the theory is true, violence will be directed by men against women; it will be caused by attitudes held as a social norm amongst men; and it will be prevalent amongst all groups of men.
The problem for the patriarchy theorists is that all these claims can be shown to be false. It is not just men who are perpetrators of domestic violence - so are women. Men do not think of domestic violence as an acceptable social norm. Nor is domestic violence found equally among all social classes; it is much more prevalent amongst a social underclass and is linked to stressors such as alcohol abuse, homelessness and unemployment.
And why is patriarchy theory popular? If you believe that gender shouldn't matter, then you have to explain why it mattered so much in the past. The liberal explanation is often that gender existed in the past as an artificial, oppressive social construct rather than something natural.
But why was it constructed? The common answer here is that gender was constructed by one class of people (men) to assert power over another class of people (women).
So it all comes down to theory. First, the theory that gender must be made not to matter. Then the theory that gender must be a social construct. Then the theory that the construct exists to uphold male power and privilege. Then the theory that violence is necessary to uphold this system of male power and privilege.
Reality gets lost in all this. The theory can't explain why men have acted to physically protect women rather than to enact violence against them. The theory can't explain why male culture is set so firmly against male violence toward women. The theory can't explain why it is the poorest of men in the most dysfunctional of circumstances, rather than the most powerful of men, who are mostly responsible for domestic violence. Nor can the theory explain why women are so frequently the perpetrators of domestic violence.
Hat tip: reader George