Saturday, July 29, 2006

Does role reversal work?

Last year Julia Gillard, touted by some as a future Australian PM, urged us to consider the idea of a gender role reversal within marriage. She said of the young careerist woman of the future that,

She should be surrounded by boys who grow up to be men who feel free to make the choice to be the carer, the at-home dad, the part-time working dad, to have more options than being the breadwinner.

I've already had a shot at criticising Gillard's thoughts on the issue. I'd like, though, to briefly revisit question of whether a female provider/male child-carer model of family life can work in practice.

One source of evidence that men and women are not so easily interchangeable in their family roles is a major German study on rates of divorce in Sweden in the 1980s and 90s.

What the study found is that even in Sweden, where feminist values are most strongly entrenched, each rise in the proportion of family income earned by the wife increased the odds of divorce. As the study's authors explained:

There was a clear linear pattern in the effect of a wife's relative income: the higher the wife's share in the couple's income, the higher the divorce risk.

The risk of divorce increased until it was double the rate for marriages with a male breadwinner (see Figure 2 on p.22 of the study for a clear presentation of the study results).

A role-reversed marriage is therefore a considerably less stable option than the regular type.

However, there is even stronger evidence provided by a major Melbourne study that role reversal works poorly in practice. I'll present this evidence in my next post.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Too late for an Australian Republic?

It looks like Australia will never be a republican nation. It is too late for this, as our political class is moving decisively away from nationalism altogether.

A hundred years ago, both republicans and monarchists supported a basically conservative nationalism, based on a common ethnicity.

By mid-century, this conservative concept of nationalism began to give way to a liberal nationalism based on citizenship. This shift to a citizenship based nationalism isn’t surprising. Liberals don’t like the idea that we should be impeded by unchosen attributes like ethnicity. So it came to be thought “discriminatory” to base membership of the nation on a shared ethnicity.

Instead, nationalism was to be based on a common commitment to liberal political values: to “citizenship”. Anyone could choose to become an Australian, as long as they were willing to commit to the requirements of citizenship.

Problem solved for liberals? Well, no. The citizenship model, which has dominated in recent decades, still doesn’t really satisfy the requirements of liberalism. It still involves a discrimination, which gives preference to some individuals (citizens) over others (non-citizens). It involves an “inequality of individual will” in that some are accorded a right or privilege (citizenship) denied to others.

And so the Australian political class is drifting toward the view that even citizenship based nationalism is immoral, and should be replaced by a more overt, open-borders internationalism.

Former Labor Prime Minister, Paul Keating, caught the mood a few years ago when he condemned those whose “exclusiveness” relied on,

constructing arbitrary and parochial distinctions between the civic and the human community … if you ask what is the common policy of the Le Pens, the Terreblanches, Hansons and Howards of this world, in a word, it is “citizenship”. Who is in and who is out.

Such ideas also appear in an article published this week at South Sea Republic, a website dedicated to “Freedom, Liberty, Equity and an Australian Republic”. The article is titled “Nationalism and Universalism”; the author declares early on that he supports universalism as he believes that individuals can’t be equal under nationalism.

He asks,

Can individuals be equal under Nationalist government?

He answers no, as under the current system,

Those not of the nation, or not citizens can also have any political rights ignored. In fact in the nationalist thinking, unless those individuals are a subsumed component of the nation – often through the citizenship process – then they have no political rights …

Nationalism is an inequitable political philosophy which is hostile to universal individual political rights. An example of this in Australia is how the national government dealt with refugees. Due to the discriminate nature of nationalist government …

The idea here is that the rights you have as an Australian citizen must be extended to everyone on the globe: they must be universal, or else you have a case of discrimination and inequality. The author can’t accept a situation in which non-citizens don’t share the same political rights in Australia that citizens do.

If this liberal understanding continues to make ground, then we might one day see an Australian Republic, but it won’t be a nation, not even in the limited form of citizenship based nationalism. If it exists, it will do so only as a conglomerate of universal rights-bearing individuals.

There were many Australians who voted against a republic in the last referendum because they didn’t believe it when republican celebrities, many of them trendy lefties, adopted the mantle of Australian nationalism. It is becoming increasingly clear that such voters were right to be sceptical. In the current intellectual climate, republicanism is going to be increasingly tied to an anti-national universalism.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

The 7UP girls as feminist success stories?

Why is feminism such a damaging theory? As evidence consider an article penned by Jane Caro, a 48-year-old Sydneysider. Writing about the British 7UP documentary series, in which a group of 14 Britons has been interviewed every seven years beginning in 1963, she asks why there are only 4 women in the group. Her answer is:

Because in 1963, it was assumed that anything interesting would happen to men, girls would simply grow up to be wives and mothers … Yet 1963 was literally on the threshold of possibly the greatest social revolution in the history of the modern world: the remarkable and rapid change in the status and destiny of women.

Straight away we get to the basic problem: the idea that being a wife and mother is an inferior and uninteresting status and destiny for women. We are supposed to believe that a woman working in an office for a boss has a higher status and a more rewarding life than a woman who marries and raises a family.

Most women, even careerist women, don’t really see it this way. Most nominate their motherhood role as being the most important thing in their lives. So why does Jane Caro assert the opposite?

Here we get to the liberalism on which feminism is built. The liberal idea is that we are more human when we choose who we are – when we shape our own destiny. But this puts women in a difficult position, as the motherhood role has a lot to do with unchosen biology and longstanding convention. It is difficult to justify the motherhood role in terms of liberalism.

And so Jane Caro contrasts the ‘constancy’ of the motherhood role with new lifestyle choices available to women after 1963. She writes of the motherhood role:

this had been the constant way of things for at least 2,000 years. It was so unremarkable as to be assumed to be immutable, unchangeable, something that could be utterly relied on.

This is in contrast to the situation after 1963 in which,

For the first time in recorded history, women began to have choices about the kind of life they would live.

So, motherhood gets a bad rap as it’s so conventional that it was once considered immutable or unchangeable. Better to have “choices” asserts Jane Caro. But what are these choices? If I begin again with the last quote, we get a clear answer:

For the first time in recorded history, women began to have choices about the kind of life they would live. Indeed, Apted’s four girls, particularly those from working class backgrounds have demonstrated precisely that. One has had a high-powered career and in the last film had chosen to become a single mother; another is a single parent due to divorce and the third, who runs a mobile community library for children, has not had children at all. The upper class girl, after a startling adolescence, has lived a more conventional life, revolving around marriage and full-time motherhood.

Without doubt, the increase in the choices women have about the shape their lives will take has been exhilarating, exciting and not before time.

Jane Caro thinks it is “exhilarating” and “exciting” that the three working-class women have failed to marry and have children. For her, being divorced or childless or opting for single-motherhood represents something positive, because it provides “choice” through which women can shape their lives.

Again, this is an artificially ideological view. Most of us grow up wanting to marry successfully and have children. It is not the choice to be a single parent or a divorcee we hanker after. Jane Caro herself is no exception to this. She writes elsewhere the following about her own youthful dreams:

As for my personal life, as well as wanting a career, I also wanted a family. I knew that a career on its own would be a lonely life. To only have a family would be better than to only have a career, but I wanted it all – a whole career and a whole family. I married when I was twenty-seven and at twenty-nine, right on schedule (so-called), the biological clock ticked … I took five years off to raise my children. I never considered I would go back to advertising.

What Jane Caro wanted most of all was a husband and children - "a whole family" - and she got them. But when writing articles, she doesn’t draw on her own personal experiences, but on the logic of her political views (strange considering the feminist motto that “the personal is the political”). Instead of wanting to create the conditions in which people can marry and raise children successfully, she celebrates instead the decline of traditional family life as opening up “choice” for women – the choice to be unconventional by being divorced, or childless or a single mother.

Then we get another souring consequence of feminist politics. In describing the progress made by women after 1963 in gaining choice, she writes approvingly that:

They began to dress, drive, work, earn, talk, smoke, drink and behave like men.

That this change in behaviour occurred is true to a degree. But is it a positive thing? In terms of liberal theory, and feminist theory, it might seem to be a good thing. After all, we don’t get to choose which sex we are, so for a woman to behave in a feminine way might seem to be overly conventional, or a merely “biological destiny”. In terms of theory, therefore, acting like a man might appear to make a woman have more choice or more control over her destiny.

But in real life acting against gender doesn’t work so well. It turns us against our own instincts and our own identity, and it disappoints our heterosexual interest in the opposite sex.

In fact, it’s interesting that feminists like Jane Caro usually pragmatically ditch such ideas in their own personal lives. This is what she writes (in a separate article) about her own efforts to appear attractively female:

As I approach 50, I am occasionally asked if I would ever consider getting “work” done: “work” being the current euphemism for plastic surgery (and, yes, I do feel vaguely insulted). But even if we wouldn’t resort to such extremes, most of us still spend a small fortune on expensive face creams we know don’t work and spend hours and hundreds of dollars at the hairdressers and the beauticians. We’re all going to pilates or yoga or spin classes. We say for our health, but we really mean our shape.

Most of the women I know regard buying a swimming costume as one of the most painful experiences in life. Exquisitely beautiful young women of my acquaintance complain about their (invisible) flaws. And I am, and always have been, one of the worst ... In the West, an entire gender, while claiming to be newly liberated, has never been more neurotic about the way they look.

Jane Caro, therefore, is not at all willing to sacrifice her own desirability as a woman by dressing or behaving like a man. She leaves this to the less pragmatic or more gullible of the feminist cohort.

Finally, by making “choice” (shaping one’s own destiny) the key aspect in our humanity, feminists set men and women against each other. We get a kind of permanent gender war. Why?

If getting to enact my will is what matters, then the key thing is that I have the power to do so. In particular, I need to have power over other people, so that it is my will which triumphs and not theirs. This means that in relationships, in families and in the wider society, it has to be either men who get this power as a group or women.

That’s why there is such a triumphalist tone in Jane Caro’s article. She asserts that it is women now who have power at the expense of men rather than vice-versa, and that men will just have to learn to live with their now inferior status. As a sampler of this, consider her claims that,

Society remains fundamentally uncomfortable with the public and private power their ability to make choices has given women ... Perhaps it is the nature of choice that when one group gains more of it, another group loses some ...

It is also understandable that many men feel as if they have lost choice and power. That they are the new “women” if you like, who have no choice but to trail along in the turbulent wake of their womenfolk ...

Is this really what relationships are about? I expect that if we really believed this, most of us would stay single. Who wants to compete for power as the central aspect of a personal relationship?

But the Jane Caro view is another ideological distortion. What makes us human is not our capacity to enforce our will on others, thereby gaining choices to construct our life path. If we drop this ideological view, then a more attractive vision of personal relationships emerges.

What if part of our humanity is our instinct toward romantic love, and marital love, and maternal and paternal love? If true, men and women would not be competitors, but would fulfil each others’ most important needs. It would no longer be “power” over the opposite sex we would be seeking, but rather qualities inspiring love and trust.

In summary, the idea that what matters is “choice” leads to some unwelcome conclusions, namely that motherhood is inferior to careers; that a stable family life is inferior to divorce, single motherhood or childlessness; that it is progressive for women to dress like men and behave like men; and that the struggle for power is central to relationships between men and women.

The smarter, more pragmatic feminists don’t really act according to such theory, even if they seek to persuade others to do so.

It would be smart for us to drop the theory altogether. This doesn’t mean, of course, that choice itself is inherently bad, but rather that it is not what defines our humanity. It shouldn’t be made the arch organising principle of life, thereby undermining important things we receive as a longstanding tradition or as an aspect of our unchosen nature.

Isn’t it more intelligent of us to maximise choice in contexts where this is of most benefit to us, rather than to apply it everywhere like an ideological axe, not caring what we cut away in the process?

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Do some women seek abuse?

Feminists like to portray domestic violence as being a result of the "social construction of masculinity".

This gives the impression that there is reason for women to fear men in general, especially masculine men. It also suggests that men need to reform by rejecting a traditional masculinity.

However, before men rush off to sign up for basket-weaving courses, they should consider the following. As I pointed out in a recent article, research shows that men initiate violence in only 15% of cases of domestic violence. It is much more common for the violence to be mutual, or for it to be initiated by women alone.

(Those who doubt that women can inflict serious harm on a male partner might consider cases such as the Swedish woman who earlier this month poured boiling water on her sleeping husband.)

And what of those 15% of cases where the woman is the victim of male violence? A newly released British study suggests that roughly a quarter of such women go straight from one abusive relationship to another. In other words, for psychological reasons they seek out abusive men.

This doesn't excuse the abusive men. But it decreases the statistical likelihood that a well-adjusted woman will be abused by her male partner.

As I noted in my earlier article, in the course of a year there is a roughly 1.5% chance of a woman being hit by her male partner. That figure of 1.5% includes those women who seek out violent partners. So women who aren't seeking out abuse will be the victims of hitting in a little over 1% of all relationships.

So should women fear the garden variety male? Given the research, I don't see why. A woman who chooses an emotionally stable, protective, non-alcoholic, socially successful male is statistically unlikely to be physically attacked by her partner.

The traditional masculine code forbidding violence against women works well in general. It needs to be encouraged, not overthrown.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Costello helps set important principle

Peter Costello has made a breakthrough of sorts. He is the first leading politician I know of to recognise an important principle in immigration policy.

For years Western countries have taken the most skilled workers as immigrants from the world's poorest nations, thereby helping to perpetuate the poverty in those countries.

This problem was highlighted by Tim Colebatch, the economics editor for The Age in October 2005. Colebatch wrote two important articles (see here and here) in which he set out the considerable evidence that wealthier nations were harming poorer countries by taking their professional workers as immigrants.

For example:

- 75% of all graduates from Tonga and Samoa and 62% of all graduates from Fiji have emigrated, mostly to Australia and New Zealand.
- 89% of graduates from the Caribbean have emigrated to Western countries.
- within 10 years of graduating 75% of doctors trained in Ghana had emigrated.
- 91% of surgical posts in Malawi's hospitals were vacant in 2003 because local doctors had emigrated. Only 23% of nursing posts were filled. One hospital with funds to employ 24 surgeons only had one.
- Overall one third of highly qualified Africans live in the West

This year Australia has come under pressure from Pacific nations to open our borders to accept "guest workers". The Pacific nations appear to see this as their economic salvation.

The Government has so far rejected the proposal. I was impressed by the reasons given by the Treasurer, Peter Costello. He has argued that it isn't in either Australia's interests, or those of the Pacific nations, to pursue such a policy.

He wants the Pacific nations to focus on what they need to do at home to develop their economies, rather than relying on the Australian economy. He message was that,

The absence of corruption, the observance of law and order, the recognition of important economic institutions and private property are all critical for development in the Pacific. Until such time as governance is put on a sound footing, then living standards won't rise.

But most significantly he warned of the "expatriate" option for Pacific nations by noting:

... if they keep sending their best and their brightest off to Australia, that's not going to help them long-term. They need their best and their brightest to stay in their own countries.

So finally it's been said! A leading Government figure has taken on board the kind of evidence presented by Tim Colebatch.

Peter Costello, to his credit, is taking a principled and long-term view of the issue. Instead of accepting the idea of the Pacific nations remaining undeveloped, and sending workers off to Australia, he is looking toward the conditions for development in these countries, so that they have a chance to develop toward modern economies of their own.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Is Pearson right to criticise conservatives?

I have considerable respect for Noel Pearson, a prominent leader of Australia’s Aborigines. So I was interested to read an article he wrote recently for The Age, in which he made a measured criticism of Australian conservatives.

According to Pearson, Australian conservatives are right to insist that Aborigines need to embrace modernity “when it comes to the fundamental economic and social organization of societies. It is natural for peoples to advance from hunting and gathering to agriculture and industrialism.”

He also agreed that “rigour” was necessary in researching Australian history, and that conservatives were correct in criticising welfare dependency and substance abuse in Aboriginal communities.

However, he thought that some conservative figures, such as historian Keith Windschuttle, lacked empathy and that,

The coldness that characterises Johns and Windschuttle is an inexplicable antagonism to Aboriginal Australians’ wish to remain distinct.

The left & separatism

It might surprise some readers that I agree substantially with what Pearson has to say.

However, to explain why I agree, I need to set out briefly the two basic political positions on Aborigines held by the white political class.

The first position is the left-liberal one. Left-liberals have generally taken the separatist position, that Aborigines should live according to their own traditional culture.

There are significant problems with this left-liberal view. First, left-liberals don’t seem to have adequately considered how traditional Aboriginal communities might be made viable. Many remote communities have become highly welfare dependent and dysfunctional.

Second, the left-liberal view reflects an underlying and damaging ideology. Leftists, even when they dominate, like to see themselves as outsiders and dissenters. Their self-concept is that they are the reformers of an unjust society.

Left-liberals also hold the view that they are morally superior because they practise an ideal of non-discrimination toward the (unassimilable) Other better than the “less enlightened” white mainstream.

These political positions have certain consequences. First, it’s difficult for left-liberals to argue that Aborigines should adapt to white norms. Left-liberals want to push the idea that our society is unjust and corrupt, not that it is something positive for others to aspire toward.

Furthermore, if I want to establish myself as someone who is superior for practising non-discrimination then it makes no sense for me to want Aborigines to adapt to white cultural norms.

This, first of all, would lessen the idea of Aborigines being the “other” toward whom we can prove our non-discrimination. Second, it would show the opposite of what the left-liberals are aiming at: they want to prove that they do not preference their own culture – how can they do this if they call on the designated “other” to adapt to the norms of their own society?

This explains, I believe, why the left is so wedded to the idea of Aborigines living according to their traditional culture, even though the left is generally hostile to traditional culture.

It explains also why the left is so keen to promote the idea that it is we who should learn from the Aborigines rather than vice versa. This attitude not only displays leftist dissent from their own society, it also demonstrates clearly their own non-discriminatory lack of preference.

Thus you find leftists like Robert Bosler who can write that,

Many of us knew we had right here ... what any truly clever country would have cherished: the Australian Aborigine.

What richness we have, right here, waiting patiently, with whom we can one day sit, at their feet, and learn philosophical means for our salvation from the destruction we ourselves wrought on our natural world ...

The world’s teachers are right here. Our world’s beautiful precious gift ...

No wonder our Aboriginal brother and sister is hurting, with so much precious knowledge to give, and a government not wanting us to hear. What burden of riches they carry, and we see only their suffering under its weight.

This is a political posture. It is highly unlikely that Robert Bosler would actually want to live a traditional Aboriginal lifestyle. In fact, it would conflict with much of his liberalism to do so.

Finally, the leftist view has been damaging because, as dissenters, leftists have used the Aborigines to make a case against their own society as being oppressive, violent, unjust and illegitimate. The left is therefore associated with a negative, gloomy and guilt-ridden approach to their own tradition, an approach which has been described as the “black armband” view of Australian history.

The right & assimilation

In contrast to left-liberals, right-liberals tend to take a positive attitude toward their own society. For them, “Australia” is identified with liberalism itself (and not much else) – with concepts like individualism and the free market. Therefore, they see an attack on Australia as an attack on their own liberal politics.

This has one particularly useful outcome. Right-liberals don’t feel the need, like leftist dissenters do, to use Aboriginal history to undermine the moral legitimacy of their own society.

Therefore, it is no accident that it was a right-liberal, Keith Windschuttle, who delivered the main blow to the “black armband” history of Australia, with his impressive work The Fabrication of Aboriginal History.

Nor is it an accident that right-liberals like Keith Windschuttle generally prefer the idea of Aboriginal assimilation, rather than separatism. In part, this is simply because the right-liberals are not “dissenters” and so are more comfortable with the idea that others might usefully adapt to their own society.

But there is more to the right-liberal idea of assimilation. Liberals believe, as a first principle, that we are distinctly human because we are free to choose for ourselves who we are. In other words, we are self-determining individuals.

However, our ethnicity is something important to our identity which we don’t get to choose. Therefore, for ideological reasons, liberals believe ethnic identity to be morally illegitimate: it becomes, within their intellectual framework, a limitation on individual choice, a constraint on individual freedom.

Usually left-liberals apply this logic toward their own, mainstream identity. For the reasons I outlined earlier, they are often more sympathetic to the traditional culture of minorities.

Right-liberals, though, are more consistent. They oppose the influence of ethnic identity on both the mainstream and on minorities.

For instance, the right-liberal columnist, Andrew Bolt, once condemned an Aboriginal tribe for wanting to retain possession of some historic tribal artefacts. He described the tribe’s wishes as “racist” and claimed that they were making the mistake of forgetting,

The humanist idea that we are all individuals, free to make our own identities as equal members of the human race. In this New Racism, we’re driven back into tribes.

Right-liberals, therefore, do not want Aborigines to retain a separate ethnic identity or existence, any more than they want whites to do so. For them it would not matter, or might even be thought a good development, a development of the freedom to create our own self, if Aborigines ceased to exist as a distinct entity, leaving only individuals.

Let me give just one example of this kind of thinking. Peter Howson was a Liberal Party minister for Aboriginal Affairs in 1971-72. He wrote a newspaper article in 2004 in which he welcomed “the relatively successful integration of many Aborigines”.

What were the indicators of this “successful” integration? For Howson, the promising facts were that 70% of Aborigines had moved to large towns or cities and that nearly 70% were married to non-indigenous spouses. Howson wanted to speed up this trend by removing government assistance for remote communities and by subsidising housing costs for Aborigines willing to move outside of traditional communities.

There was no hint in this article of regret that the Aborigines might disappear as a race if such trends were to be encouraged. For Howson, “integration” is to be the aim, even if this imperils the future existence of the Aborigines.


Therefore, Noel Pearson is right to worry that figures like Windschuttle are unsupportive of the wish of Aborigines to remain a distinct entity.

Pearson calls Windschuttle a conservative, and it’s true that he would probably be labelled this in the media. However, as I’ve tried to explain, Windschuttle is better described as a right-liberal, rather than as a conservative.

As it happens, Windschuttle himself identifies as a liberal. For example, Windschuttle was invited onto an ABC radio panel to discuss a “major classic of liberalism” by the nineteenth century Australian right-liberal, Bruce Smith, called Liberty and Liberalism.

Windschuttle was asked whether he associated Bruce’s work with the Sydney intellectual tradition he himself belongs to. Windschuttle replied:

Oh yes. If you were to write an intellectual history of Sydney, Smith would be one of your heroes.

It’s not that I expect Noel Pearson to change his terminology. However, he is less likely to find the views of figures like Windschuttle “inexplicable” if he remembers that they belong most truly to a liberal, rather than a genuinely conservative, tradition.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

More feminist wrongs?

What causes domestic violence? Feminists claim that the problem is “systemic” – that the whole social system of patriarchy is to blame. Patriarchy, assert the feminists, is a system of male domination over women, with domestic violence being an expression of this male dominance.

For this reason, feminists often suggest that all men are implicated in allowing domestic violence to occur and that the more powerful men in society (e.g. judges and politicians) are most involved in covering for such violence.

The feminist Gloria Steinem once wrote along these lines that,

Patriarchy requires violence or the subliminal threat of violence in order to maintain itself ... The most dangerous situation for a woman is not an unknown man in the street, or even the enemy in wartime, but a husband or lover in the isolation of their own home.

Swedish feminist Gudrun Schyman is even more to the point in telling us who she blames:

It’s every man and in every class of society.

In 1994 the Keating Government in Australia even unveiled a National Strategy on Violence against Women based on this patriarchy theory. The spokeswoman for the strategy, Kate Gilmore, blamed all men by denying that “men that are violent are different from every other man in the country.” She went so far as to write that,

You can see the tyrants, the invaders, the imperialists, in the fathers, the husbands, the stepfathers, the boyfriends, the grandfathers, and it’s that study of tyranny in the home ... that will take us to the point where we can secure change.

The conservative view on domestic violence could hardly be more different. Conservatives recognise, as a powerful motivating factor in men, an instinct to protect and provide for their wives and family. Therefore, men who bash their partners are, in the conservative view, breaking with a masculine code of protecting women from physical harm, rather than seeking to enforce a patriarchy.

In other words, men who are domestically violent are flouting traditional masculine norms, rather than following them.

So is it the feminist or conservative view which is more correct? Some recent research has once again cast doubt on the feminist approach to domestic violence.

One study, conducted by researchers from three American universities, and based on interviews with 1,635 couples, was recently published in the Journal of Family Psychology.

The study found that men had inflicted severe violence on their female partners in 3.63% of the couples, but that women had inflicted severe violence on their male partners in 7.52% of the couples. So women were twice as likely to be severely violent as the men.

As the researchers themselves concluded:

As expected from previous research with this and other community samples (Archer, 2000), differences were observed in the rates of male and female partner violence, with female violence occurring more frequently.

These research findings fit the conservative view, that men are likely to restrain themselves from acting violently toward women, rather than the feminist one, that men commit violence against women to uphold male dominance.

An even more detailed study was published in May of this year. The study looked at partner violence in university students across 32 different countries. Over 13,000 students participated in the study.

This research found that across all 32 countries, severe violence had occurred in 10.8% of relationships. However, of these violent relationships, only 15.7% involved male-only violence against women (i.e. roughly 1.5% of all relationships). In 29.4% of cases, there was female-only violence against men, and in 54.8% of cases both the male and female were violent.

So again, female-only violence against men is roughly twice as common as male-only violence against women.

Why were the women violent toward their male partners? According to the study “the most usual motivations for violence by women are coercion, anger, and punishing misbehavior by their partner.”

So domestic violence has other causes than the “social construction of masculinity” or “patriarchal domination”. This is clear from the fact that women are even more likely than men to initiate domestic violence. It ought to be clear, also, from other research which has found that domestic violence, like all violence, occurs much more commonly amongst the young, and that factors like ethnicity and alcohol abuse also strongly affect the incidence of domestic violence.

Hat tip: Carey Roberts