Friday, August 11, 2006

Who are the victims of violence?

The Australian Bureau of Statistics has released a survey on personal safety in Australia. As reported in today's papers, the survey finds that men are twice as likely as women to be victims of physical violence or threats (1 in 10 men as opposed to 1 in 20 women).

Women were more likely to experience sexual violence than men (1.6 to .6) - note, though, that men are still a significant component even in this category of violence.

The statistics don't support the usual feminist take on violence, in which an oppressor male enacts violence against an oppressed female to uphold patriarchal control. It's difficult to accept this view when violence is mostly directed against men themselves.


  1. Your posts begin to seem one-sided... I don't give a rats what the usual feminist take on violence is. Everyone accepts that violence is just as wrong whether it's perpetrated on a woman or man. Look at the stats on who it's perpetrated by though...

  2. Lisa, if everyone accepts that violence is just as wrong if perpetrated on a man or woman, then where are the campaigns against violence directed toward men?

    Such campaigns always assume that women are the victims and not the perpetrators.

    The reason for this is an ideological one. Feminists have a patriarchy theory in which violence is understood to be a means by which men as a dominant class use violence in a systemic way to oppress women as a class.

    You can only maintain this ideological view through heavy filtering of the facts: you leave out the instances in which women are the perpetrators of violence and in which men are the victims of violence.

    This creates a false view of the real situation, and it disrupts, unnecessarily, the relations between young men and women.

  3. Bobby, if you looked at what mark wrote, you will see that men are twice as likely to be victims of physical violence as women. So when you talk about more women reporting violence, are you then talking about sexual violence (over 2 times as likley to happen to women as to men) and saying this is trivial?

    [anonymous, apologies for omitting the first part, but I'd like to discourage ad hominem comments. - Mark]

  4. I don't believe that the patriarchy as oppressor theory holds much weight, especially considering the male dominated power structures of some matriarchal sub saharan African societies - but still, I find it hard to accept that violence against women and men is the same thing.

    Our natural reaction to vision of a man assaulting a woman is to judge him as weak and low caste. I think the debate about violence towards women should focus on what a non masculine characteristic it is.

  5. Bobby, do you have any facts, statistics or proof to back up your argument? Or is it all just what you think? I know I could argue that most violence is perpetrated by men against women, based on people I know personally, but that would hardly be reliable data. Unless you are working in the field of domestic vioence, you need more than just what you have seen, because it is a relitively limited area.

    I do however, agree with you about the ads, we should be saying no to violence against anyone, male or female.

    [Understood Mark]

  6. Good answer Bobby, I guess I don't really want statistics, but my query is how do we reconcile two completely different points of view, when our judgements have been made in similar ways?

    "...but then I also understand that the current generation is intellectually lazier, and that ‘thinking’ is very much out of fashion."

    I think you are being short sighted in your generational attitudes, you must realise that all generations think badly of the ones below them, and it gets passed on every time. Just the same as moral panics, every generation has one, starting with Jazz through to Elvis then Heavy Metal right up to Hip-Hop.

  7. Bobby, the cold war is over. Crossing out communism and putting feminism in its place is irrational, to say the least. Tilting at windmills is the best way to describe it.

    I see this so much, people who take one thing and apply it to everything that is wrong. All the problems of the world are the fault of liberalism/feminism/ environmentalism/political-correctness/ect ect ect.

    The majority of the population are NOT feminists. What kind of skewed feminist literature have you been ingesting (and seen others take on) that leads you to think feminism will leave women alone and miserable? Forget Germaine Greer, feminism didn't end there, it's moved and so has everyone else.

    Maybe you had a run in with a few men-haters, they exist, same as misogynists, and neither is really very fun to hang around. But the destruction of men is not what feminism is about.

    Strangely I find myself defending feminism, when I do not know anyone who would call themselves such a thing and have read comparatively little about the subject compared to other matters. However, by painting everything with the brush of feminism, you create a very "with us or against us" kind of dichotomy and whether I like it or not I find myself on the other side of the line.

    I take umbrage with some of your comments, not because my "core beliefs are unworkable" and your comments expose them to be as such, but because they insulting to men and women, and any kind of progress which has been made in breaking down the rigid gender barriers which oppress both sexes.

    Live and let live indeed.

    [Also, talking about ancestors who fought for priviliges, I assume you are not excising the suffragettes]

  8. Anonymous, I think you're wrong in several respects.

    First, you suggest that it's people who object to the "isms" (liberalism, feminism etc) who are irrationally applying blame, since the isms don't really exert such influence.

    Your view here is wrong, as the Western political class is orthodox to an extraordinary degree in holding on to these "isms". That's why society continues to be shaped around the principles of liberalism and its derivatives (feminism, political correctness).

    I'm reading a book called "The ethics of identity" by Anthony Appiah. In the introduction he talks about the kinds of issues raised by liberalism and says of these issues "Indeed, I hope to persuade you that they are significant even if, mirabile dictu (miraculous to say), you do not find yourself disposed to think of yourself as a liberal at all."

    So for Appiah, a philosophy professor at Princeton, addressing an audience of intellectuals, it would be a kind of miracle if someone in his audience were not a liberal.

    Feminism is simply liberalism applied to gender and the family. Yes, most people do not identify as feminists. But government policy is based on feminism, and all girls get a strong dose of it at school, university and through women's magazines.

    For this reason, feminism does strongly influence the behaviour of women, particularly those roughly in the age group 18 to 30.

    Anonymous, you yourself have been affected to an important degree by feminist theory. You talk about progress "in breaking down the rigid gender barriers which oppress both sexes."

    But why focus on gender in such a negative way? Why not instead express an admiration for those who best represent the masculine or feminine virtues?

    The answer is that we live in a liberal society, and liberalism asserts that we are fully human only when we are free to choose who we are for ourselves.

    Gender is not something we get to choose, but is something we're born into, so it conflicts with the underlying principles of liberalism.

    Therefore, gender is looked on negatively or suspiciously by feminists as something limiting or oppressive, rather than something positive to individual identity and to the heterosexual appreciation of gender difference.

  9. Anonymous, it's a bit difficult to rebut your claim that feminism isn't disruptive to the personal lives of individuals in the short space of a comment.

    So, if you're interested here are some links to articles which discuss such disruption:

    1) Disruption to personal relationships and family formation

    When liberalism fails

    An Australian Carrie

    2) Disruption to motherhood

    Is family a valid feminist choice?

    3) Disruption to fatherhood

    The Old Father

    Fatherless America

  10. I have to say, first off, that these skinny posts are quite annoying, Mark is there any way to allow for wider text?


    First, you suggest that it's people who object to the "isms" (liberalism, feminism etc) who are irrationally applying blame, since the isms don't really exert such influence.

    No, I was not denying that the various "isms" do not have influence, what I am saying is that the arguement generally asserts that there was some kind of perfect society which was then ruined by some kind of "ism", laying all the blame at this "isms" feet, which I find simplistic.


    "But why focus on gender in such a negative way? Why not instead express an admiration for those who best represent the masculine or feminine virtues?"


    I express a negativity to the way gender is used to put people in boxes and say what they can and cannot do or be. If we are talking virtues, not abilities, because those are more so tilted one way or another, I'm trying but can't think of any virtues which are distinctly male or female.

    By the way, how do homosexuals fit into conservative ideology or theory on gender?

  11. Okay, so we had some laws which pulled women out of the ranks of second class citizens. Which ones do you disagree with?
    Does the fact that we have a welfare system, medicare and state owned utitities does not make us all socialists by your logic?

    I am not putting women up on some pedastal, but 'oppressive female matriarchy' is a lot rarer than partiarchy, which has been removed from a state level, but most definitely still exists in some families and relationships. This isn’t in the past, it still goes on.

    “No-one can agree ‘what’ feminism IS…”

    Except you, you know what it is, that everyone is a feminist and that is why society is so screwed up.


    “Men weren't oppressed. Women weren't oppressed. I hardly think that those minority of bully feminists that have persuaded you that a woman's 'boredom' at home equated to 'oppression' is anything to call a 'truth'”


    Yes, the world was a happy place. Oh, for those simpler times when men did all the voting and things like ‘feelings’ were confined to women. Sarcasm aside, I am talking not just historically but also contemporarily, having to submit to someone who is meant to be your partner is oppression, feeling that you have to have the last word in order to save face is the other side of the coin. Spousal abuse is just one part of the oppression, exclusion, physical or verbal violence from ones own sex if one strays across the gender line is still prevalent through primary school right up and through adulthood.


    “What rigid barriers? That girls are now taught that a career is the ‘holy grail’, and motherhood is something pushed to the side - that can wait until much later? (often too late?). “


    Nonsense, how many little girls do you know, that are given briefcases instead of dolls to play with? They are given choices, same as guys, and stupid rules, like women having to leave a job upon marriage, have been removed.

  12. Oh bobby, people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones, especially such mis-aimed ones. Accusing me of using a straw man argument you do the very same thing yourself.

    When I said gender roles were oppressive you claimed this was no more than boredom suffered by housewives, I disputed this by raising the issue of abuse, you then concede that yes, more than boredom occurs like abuse, but I am accusing all men of it. You, sir, are the one setting up straw man arguments. In my post I state that patriarchy “…most definitely still exists in some families and relationships…” How is saying “some” making all relationships and men abusive? I have never claimed that, never would. I was saying more than that anyway, abuse is at least frowned upon by society and a punishable offence, but it is the least common or public form of oppression, others are more subtle and ingrained.

    Submit, as in love, honor and obey, that kind of submit. Don’t twist my argument by throwing in more straw men. What you seemed to be saying, if I haven’t misunderstood you, is that a relationship should be run as a meritocracy?