Thursday, July 02, 2009

Romulus to blame for domestic violence?

When did the history of women's abuse begin? According to one feminist scholar, writing for a a law school casebook, it began in the year 754 BC, under the reign of Romulus of Rome.

But there are some problems with her account, as Christina Hoff Sommers explains:

Lemon's Domestic Violence Law is organized as a conventional law-school casebook — a collection of judicial opinions, statutes, and articles selected, edited, and commented upon by the author. The first selection, written by Cheryl Ward Smith (no institutional affiliation is given), offers students a historical perspective on domestic-violence law. According to Ward:

"The history of women's abuse began over 2,700 years ago in the year 753 BC. It was during the reign of Romulus of Rome that wife abuse was accepted and condoned under the Laws of Chastisement. ... The laws permitted a man to beat his wife with a rod or switch so long as its circumference was no greater than the girth of the base of the man's right thumb. The law became commonly know as 'The Rule of Thumb.' These laws established a tradition which was perpetuated in English Common Law in most of Europe."

Where to begin? How about with the fact that Romulus of Rome never existed. He is a figure in Roman mythology — the son of Mars, nursed by a wolf. Problem 2: The phrase "rule of thumb" did not originate with any law about wife beating, nor has anyone ever been able to locate any such law. It is now widely regarded as a myth, even among feminist professors.

There is a more detailed account by Christina Hoff Sommers of the myth of the "rule of thumb" here.

I can only repeat a point I have often made before: we should be wary of claims made by feminist academics regarding domestic violence. They are unreliable.

It was only back in May that I reported on the debunking of two other claims. The first was that 1 in 3 boys think it OK to hit girls. This caused outrage around Australia - until it was revealed that the statistic was false. The research had actually shown that 1 in 3 young people think it OK for girls to hit boys.

The second claim was that domestic violence is the leading cause of death for young women. A British statistician looked at the evidence and, unsurprisingly, found it to be a "rogue statistic", i.e. false.

These false statistics proliferate because so many feminist academics are commited to patriarchy theory, which claims that men created the artificial categories of male and female to secure an unearned privilege for themselves. This means that society has been expressly organised for the oppression of women, with violence against women representing a social norm.

The theory says that violence against women must be an integral part of the fabric of society - the trick for feminists who follow patriarchy theory is coming up with evidence to justify such a claim. The evidence that is presented, when checked, often turns out to be bogus, as is clearly the case with the "rule of thumb" myth.

Hat tip: What's Wrong With the World


  1. Feminist's adherence to the tactic of manufacturing information is evidence of that lack of real data to substantiate their patriarchal worldview. When you are patently wrong, misdirection and confusion of the issues are the fallback course of action. This shows itself in the claims of a wage gap, of domestic violence and so many others. So many people cling desperately to their denial about what is really holding them back in life, their own inferiority.

  2. When law is based upon feelings or assumptions, injustice follows.

    This post is pricesless. Thank you.

  3. Actually the Romans women had greater freedom then did Greek and especially the Middle Eastern cultures. This can be seen in their architecture, the Roman home had no separate woman’s quarters and was designed for doing business and entertaining which meant that Roman women had much more contact with the wider society. The Greek and Middle Easterners homes had separate woman’s quarters and were not designed to for bringing in outsiders either for business or pleasure. While not “equal” in the sense they had the same duties and privileges as Roman men, Roman women were much freer then other major cultures of the time