Let's stop playing the gender blame game


Your editorial called for policy to be based on evidence. Let's start with policy on domestic violence. On December 5, 2011 the day before the annual anniversary of the Montreal massacre, the FREDA Centre at Simon Fraser University released a report, funded by the Justice Institute of British Columbia entitled 'Domestic Violence Prevention and Reduction in BC 2000- 2010.

The executive summary of the report took all of two paragraphs to define domestic violence as violence against women and then to "justifies the use of this term to reflect the language adopted by provincial policy without losing the gendered language of feminist scholars".

These "feminist scholars" have sold us a bill of goods. In November of 2011, Daphne Bramham wrote an article on domestic violence claiming that half of all BC women had been either physically or sexually assaulted and that only 8% of domestic violence victims are male ( elderly or disabled males as she put it).

Both the report and her article misrepresent domestic violence in crucial ways that influence our currently ineffective response to the problem. Domestic violence statistics are often inflated from government systems. Criminal justice statistics of domestic violence reflect not only true rates but also systematic biases in the way the police handle and subsequently record domestic violence.

Women are ten times more likely than men to call the police for domestic violence intervention (1) and far more likely to get a police response, including arrest (2). Hence, it appears from police statistics that men are the most frequent perpetrators. The reality is that when large sample victim surveys ask about domestic violence , the stereotype of the male as a perpetrator/bully and the female as hapless victim is not supported by the data.

Surveys from 1989 to 2007 keep finding the same thing; that women perpetrate domestic violence (including severe domestic violence) at least as much as men (3) and the most common form of domestic violence is two -way- both partners assault each other at the same level of severity.(4 5) Women are hurt somewhat more but only somewhat- men get hurt too for the obvious reason that everyday weapons get used, knives, frying pans, and boiling water, amongst other things(6) Here's another surprise, according to a recent survey by the Center for Disease Control, "husband battering" (where the woman uses severe violence against a non-violent man) is three times more common than wife battering(7).

Stats Can surveys also find gender equality in domestic violence perpetration and victimization rates (which they put at 1.3% per year) (4,8) . Controlled studies find that the same action is viewed differently by research subjects when the genders of the perpetrator and victim are varied.(9,10) If a man does it (for example- asks his wife where she has been) it is seen as abuse or control. If a woman does it, it's not. These results are found whether the research subjects are the general public or professional psychologists.

When the first shelter for battered men was set up in New Hampshire, the men reported that when they had called local women's shelters to ask for help they were told that they were the real batterers. All of these men had been injured, many were severely injured (11). When a spousal homicide occurs, the media asks the head of a local women's shelter why it happens. She will inevitably describe it as another example of violence towards women. When Marc Lepine killed women in a mass shooting in Montreal, it was presented as an example of male violence towards women. When Denis Lortie killed people in the Quebec Assembly the year before, he was simply a madman. The truth is, they were both psychotic.

The gender paradigm that shapes our views on domestic violence is pervasive and affects everything from police responses to custody decisions in family court (12). The problem is the scientific data do not support the gender paradigm beliefs- they were just a political theory that was wrong when it was written and is even more askew in the present.

We could improve our response to domestic violence by focusing more on prevention programmes and dropping the current government sanctioned discrimination that allows only women into shelters. Many abusive couples would benefit more from marriage counselors than the so called ineffective "psychoeducational" programmes currently in use.

Time for a change!

FROM: Prof-Don Dutton  --  TO: The Editor, Vancouver Sun

Don Dutton is a professor of psychology at the university of British Columbia.

Scientific References

1. Stets J, Straus MA. Gender differences in reporting marital

violence and its medical and psychological consequences. In: Straus M,
Gelles R (eds). Physical violence in American families. New Brunswick, N.J.:
Transaction Publishers, 1990.

2. Brown GA. Gender as a factor in the response of the

law-enforcement system to violence against partners. Sexuality and Culture.
2004;8(3-4):3- 139.

3. Archer J. Sex differences in physically aggressive acts

between heterosexual partners: A meta-analytic review. Aggression and
Violent Behavior. 2002 2002/0;7(4):313-51.

4. Whitaker DJ, Haileyesus T, Swahn M, Saltzman L. Differences in

frequency of violence and reported injury between relationships with
reciprocal and non-reciprocal intimate partner violence. American Journal of
Public Health. 2007;97(5):941-7.

5. Stets J, Straus MA. The marriage license as a hitting license:

A comparison of dating, cohabiting and married couples. Journal of Family
Violence. 1989;4(1):37-54.

6. Archer J. Sex differences in aggression between heterosexual

partners: A meta-analytic review. Psychological Bulletin. 2000

7. Stets J, . , Straus MA. The marriage license as a hitting

license. . In: Gelles MSaR (ed). Physical violence in American Families. New
Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Publishers, 1992:227 -44.

8. Canada S. Family violence in Canada: A statistical profile.

In: Canada S (ed). Ottawa, 2009:1-51.

9. Follingstad DR, DeHart DD, Green EP. Psychologists' judgments

of psychologically aggressive actions when perpetrated by a husband versus a
wife. Violence and Victims. 2004;19(4):435-52.

10. Sorenson SB, Taylor CA. Female aggression toward male intimate

partners: An examination of social norms in a community-based sample.
Psychology of Women Quarterly. 2005;29:79-96.

11. Hines DA, Douglas EM. A closer look at men who sustain intimate

terrorism by women. Partner Abuse. 2010;1(3):286 - 313.

12. Dutton DG. The gender paradigm and the architecture of

anti-science. Partner Abuse. 2010;1(1):5 -25.

We only support organizations who show an understanding that children need both parents, and that either parent is equally capable of the choice to perpetrate hate or declare peace.

Petition2Congress Logo
We, the undersigned, are writing in hopes of bringing to your attention a dire misjustice that is occuring in our state as well as many others across the US. Laws enacted to protect the victims of the vile crime of domestic violence are being misused by both citizens as well as law enforcement, and in this process innocent men's lives are being destroyed. In most states, the burden of proof is being thrown out and the simple word of the accuser is being taken without question, many times without the accused even being allowed to speak. True victims of domestic violence, some of whose names you will find below, find this to be deplorable. Not only can a woman falsely accuse a man of domestic violence without fear of consequence, but the accused man has no voice against her. The accuser can be a mentally disturbed individual using such laws to exact her revenge against a man who simply does not want to be in a relationship anymore, and her word is automatically taken, even when no evidence is in place. The man in such cases is automatically arrested, injunctions are automatically set in place, and even if he is able to prove his innocence in court he has lost months of his life due to the fact that she cried wolf. Worse yet are the cases of these innocent men who are poor and have no means to hire private attorneys. Their public defenders assume they are guilty and therefore do only the bare necessities to be their legal voice.We are not in any way asking for a revocation of the laws that protect true victims of domestic violence. Our wish is that these laws be revisited and indications made to to allow for criminal and civil prosecution when someone, whether male or female, has misused these laws in a vindictive and cunning way. We also would ask that law enforcement officers, public attorneys, and judges be forced to recognize the precept that the accused is innocent until proven guilty. Unfortunately, in the cases of domestic violence accusations, the opposite is true. An example of this is that of a 20 year old Florida resident who made the bond that was set for him, only to be picked up the very next day without provocation. The accuser in this case simply told the court she was afraid. He had done nothing in terms of trying to contact her or see her, and was not without several witnesses the few short hours he was free. Something must be done to prevent those who would lie about being a victim of domestic violence from continuing to do so. If it is not, our prisons will be overrun with innocent men and our streets will be controlled by the women who sent them there.

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