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99% of men are rapists or nose-pickers

I’m not a fan of violence against anyone, irrespective of their gender.

But I don’t give a toss about ‘violence against women’, any more than I give a toss about ‘violence against ginger people’ or ‘violence against taxidermists’.

If women were disproportionately likely to be the victims of violence, then perhaps there would be some sanity in focusing campaigns about violence against them. The shooting of a young black man is no more or less bad than the shooting of an old white woman, but focusing anti-gun-crime efforts on young black men does make sense, as they’re the most likely to suffer from it.

But since men are twice as likely as women to be the victims of violent crime, that logic doesn’t seem to apply here.

So, while I’d urge anyone reading this blog who commits acts of violence against people to stop, I wouldn’t be backing Amnesty’s OneTen campaign even if it were honestly promoted and based on real evidence.

But it isn’t.

According to the press release for said campaign: “Each year, around 1 in 10 women in Britain experience rape or other violence”. This is an epic piece of dishonesty, and anyone with any integrity at all should rail against Amnesty for it, no matter how much they oppose wifebeating.

For one, we know, based on the most accurate data collated – the British Crime Survey linked above – that the figure is one in 40, not one in 10.

More importantly, even the one in 40 figure is for all violent crime. Bringing rape, which is perpetrated on less than one in 100 men or women, into the mix is tabloid chicanery at its absolute worst – it is the same literally true but completely misleading statistic as this piece’s headline. Anyone who quotes the incidence of something less serious, but mentions something more serious in the same sentence, is deeply suspect – no matter which particular political direction they’re trying to nudge you in.

And finally… shouldn’t Amnesty be campaigning against abuses of government power, rather than against crime? It’s as if the RSPCA were suddenly to start funding schools in Africa – whether or not it’s a good thing, it’s certainly not what they’re for.

In conclusion: 1:10pm, March 6, 2009 – Time To Finally Give Up on Amnesty International Forever.

Update: oops. Sorry. No, the people who tweeted this campaign aren’t idiots and don’t lack integrity – they’re well-meaning people who presumably didn’t expect a respected and generally good organisation like Amnesty to base its campaign on dishonesty, and who’ve been conned into repeating lies. And that’s precisely why I’m so fucking angry about it..

  1. March 7, 2009 at 1:38 am | #1

    I'm as bleeding heart as they come but I can see the point of this post. Bit of an Amnesty fail if you ask me.

  2. March 7, 2009 at 2:48 am | #2

    The bleeding-heart-ness *shouldn't* have any impact on one's willingness to call out lies. But in practice it does. Already feel slightly like I've been out with a mallet and a hacksaw on a kitten-slaughtering binge.

    (and feeling guilty about Aaron too. I always hoped that if I induced anyone to give up blogging it'd be Guido or Dizzy or JuliaM or similar…)

  3. dsquared
    March 7, 2009 at 2:53 am | #3

    Be a bit careful with the BCS figures on sexual assault – there's a known and big problem of underreporting (including the well-known factoid that when you go back to interview subjects in depth, lots of times it turns out that they've reported something as not being a rape when, based on the facts as reported, it definitely was).

  4. March 7, 2009 at 3:58 am | #4

    I think your post is in bad-faith and targeting an enemy that can really do without your small corner of the Internet having a go at it.

    It comes across that you feel that domestic violence, rape and violence towards women is a 'non-issue'. If it's not then I urge you to re-write your post, if it is then I suggest you spend some time working for the National Domestic Violence Forum as I did.

    You'd learn a few things.

  5. March 7, 2009 at 4:07 am | #5

    I’ve been out with a mallet and a hacksaw on a kitten-slaughtering binge.

    Interesting but not really relevant.

  6. March 7, 2009 at 4:07 am | #6

    Sorry John but I think you've completely failed to grasp or acknowledge the issues and practicalities of violence against women.

    Thumped by a numpty in a pub? What do you do? Put your pint down and run.

    Thumped by your partner at home? What do you do? Run? What if you have small children? What if it's the middle of the night? Where do you run to? What if your partner controls the money and you have none?

    It is the *details* surrounding violence against women that makes it an issue worthy of highlighting. It is a trap that many women find extremely difficult to escape. It is not like other kinds of violence.

  7. March 7, 2009 at 4:09 am | #7

    @DHG – So you think I can't have a go at people who tell lies to promote their campaign, just because they're nice people acting against a terrible and bad thing?

    Here is a list of selected things I disapprove of, in descending order starting with the ones I disapprove of the most:

    1) rape
    2) domestic abuse
    3) spreading disinformation and lies

    But since 99% of the population also disapproves of 1 and 2, including the majority of the perpetrators of them, I thought writing a post on how bad they were would be a bit pointless.

  8. March 7, 2009 at 4:12 am | #8

    @ Justin, there are hundreds of thousands if not millions of men in this country who suffer financial or emotional abuse, and to a lesser extent physical abuse, from partner or ex-partner, including being chucked out of house and home and being deprived access to their own childred. Would you be so kind as to give them a mention in your next diatribe, please?

  9. March 7, 2009 at 4:12 am | #9

    @Justin – so have a campaign which makes that point, rather than a campaign that tries to make people believe a factoid which is irrelevant and untrue, and I'll endorse it.

    And by 'endorse' I mean 'throw money its way and spend time promoting awareness of it', not just 'write 30 words on Twitter'.

  10. ejh
    March 7, 2009 at 4:34 am | #10

    Time To Finally Give Up on Amnesty International Forever.

    Sorry, your complaint as I understand it is about lack of proportion?

  11. ejh
    March 7, 2009 at 4:35 am | #11

    But since 99% of the population also disapproves of 1 and 2

    Could you source that claim for us, do you think?

  12. March 7, 2009 at 4:39 am | #12

    Heh. As far as I'm aware the question hasn't been asked in any credible opinion polls, because it'd be such a complete waste of time. I've certainly never met anyone who claimed to approve of either rape or domestic abuse. Have you?

    I think it costs about a grand to get a question added to a YouGov poll, maybe we could have a whip-round.

  13. ejh
    March 7, 2009 at 4:45 am | #13

    I've certainly never met anyone who claimed to approve of either rape or domestic abuse. Have you?

    I've certainly come across people that consider battered women "asked for it", and I'm sure you have too.

    Given that you appear to have plucked the 99% statistic out of your behind, can I ask – does that make you a "liar", or just somebody who may have said something without thinking it through?

  14. March 7, 2009 at 4:48 am | #14

    I’ve certainly come across people that consider battered women “asked for it”, and I’m sure you have too.

    Yes. And yet those people would say, if asked, that they disapproved of domestic abuse.

    & the difference between the two situations is that 1) Amnesty's data is false, whereas mine is the a reasonable estimate; and 2) I've used the estimate to answer a minor point in a blog comments section, rather than spearheading a massive nationwide campaign to make people believe that it's true.

  15. ejh
    March 7, 2009 at 4:52 am | #15

    whereas mine is the a reasonable estimate

    Is it? It appears to be based on no statistical evidence at all. It's just what you reckon.

  16. ejh
    March 7, 2009 at 5:03 am | #16

    Incidentally, while you are mouthing off, in your assumed statistical wisdom, about how men get it worse than women, you might to ask yourself whether a women who is assaulted at home (in which, as you survey shows you, women are more likely than men to be the victims) is more likely to be repeatedly assaulted than a man who is to be assaulted outside the home. And you may like to ask yourself whether this, and not just this, makes violence against women something to be concerned about outside the general rubric of "violence". And even if you don't, you might like to ask yourself whether it would be better to disagree with tact and thoughtfulness instead of your habitual shouting act.

  17. March 7, 2009 at 5:41 am | #17

    Of John's two points, the first – that the campaign is worthless because women are not disproportionately affected by violence – is palpably bollocks and anyone who agrees with it is a twat. There are different types of violence and it's not sensible to treat them all as "violence" and apportion resources or importance by some crude statistical chopping up model.

    But his second (main) point about the disingenuous 1 in 10 rape-statistic is absolutely right and true, and anyone who disagrees is an arsehole. And anyone who thinks that because the issue is so important that it's ok to mislead and terrify the public with lies is a prolapsed rectum.

  18. March 7, 2009 at 6:22 am | #18

    I agree with Justin and Larry, John. Your point about the stats stands and I applaud you for it but your justification for condemning the entire campaign is flawed. Your argument seems to be that focusing specifically on violence against women is a form of positive discrimination and, therefore, unjust. But any campaign is, by its nature, confined to a given issue. Let's face it, we are all, effectively, campaigning for an end to violence. All violence. Focussing on single issues, however, is a way of making progress. Its how civil rights have advanced throughout history so to condemn it is more than a little odd.

    Just my 2p.

  19. hellblazer
    March 7, 2009 at 6:46 am | #19

    If women were disproportionately likely to be the victims of violence, then perhaps there would be some sanity in focusing campaigns about violence against them.

    JB, I think several possible important qualifiers could be put in front of the word "violence", such as "culturally sanctioned", or "under-reported", or — as EJH points out — "repeated". That would still be a conditional statement, but with a fairer albeit leading hypothesis.

    I don't like the use of dodgy stats either. But neither do I agree that all violent crime is equal, nor with a glib use of stats as rejoinder.

    Good to see you back, btw.

  20. March 7, 2009 at 9:38 am | #20

    I think the above thread serves as an admirable example of how lefties think that the 'righteous' card trumps the 'facts and logic' card.

    Although John B is a leftie, he sticks to facts and logic (as far as possible) and draws conclusions therefrom rather than the other way round. Where said facts support a 'left wing' position, everybody is happy. The minute he takes a step back and point out that lefties are using fake statistics to further their cause (and he has not in any way played down what a lot of women – particularly among Muslim households – have to endure) he is pilloried as some evil baby-eating wife-bearing chauvinist (and I have no reason to assume he is).

    Just sayin', is all.

  21. hellblazer
    March 7, 2009 at 11:20 am | #21

    I think the above comment serves as a salutary example of how tossers think that the ‘self-righteous’ card trumps the ‘basic reading comprehension’ card.

    Joost sayin' laik.

  22. March 7, 2009 at 11:42 am | #22

    someone else has made a rather good snarky comment @ mark, which I can't work out how to approve on the phone i'm using right now but will appear upthread in due course. from my perspective, you have a point re aaron, ejh and dan hg, but fuck those three, they never had anything interesting to say anyway.

    the comments of justin yogurt, larry and punkscience are relevant, and they're lefties who're worth reading. I don't like the casual conflation of 'violence against women' and 'domestic abuse' (cos women never go out, right?), and again this is why the amnesty campaign is a massively ill-judged piece of nonsense, but we're agreed on the stats point, and they've made me think on the broader point. I still believe my point stands, and that there's a lot of earnest but meaningless liberal-boy posturing going on in this thread, but i'm far too drunk right now to get into a debate about whether boy-violence or girl-violence is harder to escape.

    finally, interesting one way or another that no women have commented on this at all, innit? (ditto twitter, xcept catdon thought I sounded a bit curmudgeonly…)

  23. March 7, 2009 at 12:51 pm | #23

    There's only one way to settle this, a Fun Online Poll (cut and paste into your sidebar):

    Have you ever picked your nose or raped a woman?I've picked my nose, but I've never raped a womanI've never done eitherI've never picked my nose, but I have raped a womanBoth. Ain't I a stinker?  pollcode.com free polls

  24. March 7, 2009 at 12:54 pm | #24

    OK, that went badly wrong. Send me an email for the code or set up your own poll.

  25. March 7, 2009 at 1:10 pm | #25

    It's pretty easy, from a comfortable middle class male perspective, to sling around ideas like "only one in 40 women have been raped." Unless you've actually talked to women, especially poor ones. Rape is terribly underreported, for very good reasons.

    Talk to your female friends, John B. Or rather, listen to them. See if you don't find a figure much nearer to one in four than one in 40. Even in your safe and sheltered environment.

    Not that it means anything about 99% of men except that that proportion like to look the other way and let the 5% get on with it. Maybe that's something you should get angry about, dear.

  26. hellblazer
    March 7, 2009 at 7:26 pm | #26

    I'm a bit surprised that you felt moved to this post, John, since from by brief skim over the corresponding LibCon thread, I thought MatGB and Jennie Rigg had also made the point of campaigns for good causes being undermined by statistical illiteracy/dishonesty. And if I may be cynical for a moment, for them to say it might be more convincing to supporters of 1 in 10 than for you to say it.

    God that last sentence was crap (the structure I mean, possibly the attempted point). Apologies all, dog tired.

  27. hellblazer
    March 7, 2009 at 7:34 pm | #27

    JB: finally, interesting one way or another that no women have commented on this at all, innit? (ditto twitter, xcept catdon thought I sounded a bit curmudgeonly…)

    Perhaps due to (readership) sample bias?

  28. March 7, 2009 at 7:44 pm | #28

    "I always hoped that if I induced anyone to give up blogging it’d be Guido or Dizzy or JuliaM or similar…"

    Heh. Well, no point in having grandiose, unachievable ambitions, I suppose, if you're going to have any ambitions at all…

  29. Neil
    March 7, 2009 at 11:24 pm | #29

    There's also a wider point here: That if someone asks you to sign up for some campaign or other you'll almost certainly not be signing up for what you (or they) think you're signing up for.

    There's a kind of continuum, I think, between "sign up for this campaign to abolish kitten-kicking" (who could disagree with that), through "do this political compass quiz" (and discover, via it's Scientific Graphical Proofiness, why you should join the libertarian party) to "take this personality test" (and find out how all your personality defects are caused by space-alien-ghosties, in return for an ongoing fee and lifetime commitment).

    Perhaps I should start a campaign to have them all abolished. Yeah. Does anyone here want to sign up?

  30. March 7, 2009 at 11:56 pm | #30

    I'm with you on this one John. It's not just the dodgy figures that irritate me but it's the whole Domestic Abuse against Women thing. Women don't have exclusive rights to the label. Domestic Abuse happens to females and males so if Amnesty are going to run a campaign it should include ALL sufferers. And if any one uses the phrase 'if a woman hits a man it is 'normally' in self defence', my head will pop. Amnesty, get your facts and figures right, include all sufferers and then kick off a massive campaign. Failing that, shut up. You are doing more harm than good.

  31. March 8, 2009 at 2:03 am | #31

    "See if you don’t find a figure much nearer to one in four than one in 40."

    That's per lifetime, not per year. If rape were evenly distributed through the female population, then a 1% annual incidence would imply that 80%-ish of women were raped during their lifetime.

    Which is a fucking terrible thing and something which we should fight against, but not something we need to tell mad lies about much higher annual rates to show.

    "from by brief skim over the corresponding LibCon thread"

    Didn't read said LC thread. This was entirely inspired by yesterday's mass Twitterthon.

    "Domestic Abuse happens to females and males"

    It does, however chronic, serious controlling physical domestic abuse is primarily perpetuated by men against women to a massive degree (of course, non-violent, serious, controlling, bullying is the other way round. But it doesn't directly kill anyone or leave scars, so it doesn't get counted.)

    Overall, Neil is the thread winner. And EJH is a pompous posturing prick.

  32. DiscoveredJoys
    March 8, 2009 at 5:29 am | #32

    Definitions are important – whenever I see a 'campaign' I look for the definitions and I rarely find them. Remember the 1 in 4 statistic for domestic abuse against women in the front windows of the Body Shop. It turns out the statistic used included self defined abuse varying from physical assult through to being criticised or called names.

    Amnesty International has swerved a bit over the last couple of years. I used to think its aims were admirable and evenhanded. I now think they may be well intentioned but not evenhanded. A previous campaign was about slavery and people trafficking, but the figures and statistics were only about women and children, avoiding the large numbers of men who also suffer.

    Detect a trend here? I'm no mens rights activist and I certainly don't condone domestic violence and abuse against women or rape. But I also don't condone domestic violence or abuse or rape against men (and children if they too have been marginalised).

    I am sad to say that many good charities and pressure groups are highjacked by people who are often worthy but have with a more limited focus – and the less socially visible members of the victim societies get 'overlooked'.

  33. hellblazer
    March 8, 2009 at 5:51 am | #33

    While my above snark was directed at Mark Wadsworth's post, I see that JB has applied it to some others. I'll just say that 'self-righteousness' is not limited to those who wear sandals, eat muesli and then hug trees. Bounderby, anyone?

  34. ad
    March 9, 2009 at 4:53 am | #34

    Time To Finally Give Up on Amnesty International Forever

    It depends what you mean by "give up". You should only give up on trusting them.

  35. ejh
    March 10, 2009 at 2:19 am | #35

    Anyway, that 1% figure turns out to be 1 in 7

  36. March 10, 2009 at 2:30 am | #36

    That's the cognitive dissonance bit.

    I've tried to track down the Mori Ipsos poll in question, but they only seem to have published the PR so far. Given the way the PR is phrased and my experience in surveys, the questioning process for the men in question (who are still proper idiots, and who are still unequivocally wrong) will have gone like this:

    Q: "do you approve of domestic abuse"
    A: "no"
    Q: "do you think it's ok to give your partner a slap"
    A: "err, probably not"
    Q: "what about if she went out and acted like a slut at other men"
    A: "well, maybe"

  37. ejh
    March 10, 2009 at 2:38 am | #37

    Well let's hope so eh? Because otherwise you'd be making quite a lot of things up, wouldn't you?

  38. March 10, 2009 at 2:44 am | #38

    Having worked in that industry, a hell of a lot of people make a hell of a lot up. If the Home Office's MORI survey, the point of which was to promote its domestic violence campaign, wasn't primarily designed to maximise headline-grabbing stats about idiotic males, then levels of saintliness at both institutions approach those of Mother Theresa.

    And in that context, unlike the Amnesty one, I've no problem with the prompting. The fact that 1 in 7 men will say something so fucking moronic, nevermind evil and misogynistic, when prompted is scary – and would have made a better and more robust campaign point than Amnesty's original one.

    But those men still wouldn't say, when asked, that they approved of domestic abuse (similarly, 99% of men would say they disapproved of child abuse, but I'd stake my balls that at least one in seven would say that it was OK to sleep with a 15-year-old if she had big knockers, was a bit of a slapper and was well up for it).

  39. ejh
    March 10, 2009 at 2:58 am | #39

    Uh huh.

    I think they very much have said that.

    And I think you're struggling here.

  40. March 10, 2009 at 3:00 am | #40

    (my abusive original comment in this slot edited into serious response out of respect for myself, not for EJH. But my patience for responding to this kind of idiotic, wittery point-missing is wearing seriously thin).

    No, they haven't said that, that's the point – they are deluding themselves that what they are describing and what they are stating as acceptable doesn't count as domestic abuse, just as the man who hits on the 15-year-old is deluding himself that that doesn't count as child abuse. That's why it's called cognitive dissonance; that's why I raised the whole bloody subject.

    The same's true with rapists. While a small proportion do accept that they're rapists and/or think that rape is OK, a much larger proportion believe that yes, real rape is terribly terribly bad, but that all they did was to help someone who really wanted it make up her mind, and she's only complaining cos they didn't ask her out afterwards, etc etc.

  41. Martin
    March 11, 2009 at 4:29 am | #41

    Amnesty has long been damaged goods.

    It bangs on about minor infractions of an ideal world when committed by UK, Israel or US, but gives little coverage of atrocities & chronic breaches of human rights committed by Muslims.

    Martin

  42. per
    March 13, 2009 at 8:43 pm | #42
  43. vanessa
    April 7, 2010 at 10:01 pm | #43

    i personally think the whole abuse thing against women and children should stop.they are the most vulnerable and therefore the government should do their bid to protect them.

  44. April 8, 2010 at 12:42 am | #44

    Vanessa wins the much-coveted award for "most contentious comment ever made".

  1. March 8, 2009 at 5:14 pm | #1
  2. March 9, 2009 at 11:01 am | #2

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