Some factual statements

Note: see update at the bottom

I’m holding points 1-8 to be non-controversial; let me know if you, err, controvert them.

1) Rape is very bad.
2) Long-term psychological, bullying abuse is very bad.
3) Violence per se is bad, but not very bad.
4) Nearly all raping is done by men, mostly against women.
5) Nearly all violence is done by men, mostly against men.
6) When men commit long-term psychological bullying abuse, they tend to use violence as the primary tool.
7) When women commit long-term psychological bullying abuse, they tend to use words and non-violent actions as the primary tools.
8) While bruises are worse than cutting words, the thing that actually matters in both cases is the emotional bullying.

So what? Well, if you’re concerned about physical violence, then that’s not primarily an anti-women thing, because men mostly do it to other men. And if you’re talking about emotional bullying, nor is that, because women do it to men just as much as men do it to women (non-violently, mostly, but that isn’t the point, as we’ve already accepted that domestic bullying is a completely different category from ‘normal’ violence). So what on earth are campaigns like OneTen about?

Q: why the fuck can’t we just campaign against abuse, and against beatings, and against the two when they overlap, without it becoming some kind of bizarre Spare Rib-y crusade against the wickedness of chaps and in favour of the epic brilliance of the ladies?

Update: I think I’ve worked out, at least in my own head, what bothers me about the campaign, and yet why the last post probably does miss a point about the specific evils of male-on-female violence:

1) Women are more likely than men, by an enormous margin, to be seriously physically assaulted or murdered by their partners. The proportion of women to whom this happens is well below one in ten, but it is well above one in a hundred, which makes it one of the most prevalent forms of serious violence.

This is a terrible thing, rightwing twats who seek to talk it down should be reviled at all times, and we should all do whatever we can to oppose it, to punish the people who perpetuate it, and to marginalise the people who tolerate it. It *is* fundamentally a feminist, male vs female issue, and a the-law-taking-things-seriously issue, and needs to be resolved.

2) a lot of relationships between men and women, men and men, and women and women – probably around one in 10 in a given year, probably more than that over a lifetime – are emotionally and sometimes physically abusive. There is a fairly even gender split between men and women both in terms of who the victims are and who the aggressors are.

This is a bad thing, but it’s basically the ’shitty’ end of the relationship scale; for as long as people are sometimes good and sometimes bad and fall in and out of love with each other, it’s going to be hard to alleviate. Better communication, better counselling, better social education would have some impact on this, but it’s not going to go away and there’s only a limited amount any of us can do about it.

11 thoughts on “Some factual statements”

  1. Why do we need to 'campaign against abuse'? There are perfectly good laws against physical violence, which appear to enforced by and large, although, AFAIAA, no laws against emotional or psychological bullying.

    I had a fairly violent/psychopathic father, but the occasional beating did not disturb me nearly as much as the constant eternal psychological warfare and emotional blackmail. Seeing my sister being thrown down the stairs probably upsets me more than any other single childhood memory because there was absolutely nothing we could do to help her.

    In case you're wondering, our mother was a bit of a cow as well and never stuck up for us.

  2. I'm still incoherent after sleeping badly. Does "gradations of violence" count as a cavil to your list? (The general problem with all statistics, as it ever was and ever shall be, is in the categories and not in the counting.)

    I have some other general instinctive problems with your post, clearly set out though it is, but will hold off until I can reflect on this a bit more rationally. Or until I have some beer later, in which case advance apologies for drivel

  3. "rightwing twats who seek to talk it down"?

    What about "leftwing" twats who seek to talk it down?

    WTF has their wing got to do with it either way? You seem to think that a lot of bad things are bad because they're bad, and they're equally bad regardless of what arbitrary groups the victim and the perpetrator belong to. But "talking down" violence is an exception, I take it? I'm not saying it necessarily shouldn't be. I just wish you'd share the reasoning that got you there.

    "There is a fairly even gender split between men and women both in terms of who the victims are and who the aggressors are."

    Maybe so, but I'd like to see a link to some numbers.

    Anyhow. There's a clear set of cases where long-term emotional bullying is combined with physical bullying, and in those cases there's no "fairly even split"; it's almost always a man bullying a woman. Your set of Venn-diagram abstractions leaves out a lot of messy detail there, about male and female roles and how men and women relate to each other. If we want to have any hope of changing the behavior, we have to look at why perpetrators do it, and why victims put up with it. You can't do that in an honest or useful way while pretending it could just as easily be women beating up on men. It can't. If it could be, it would be. But it isn't. It's annoying and destructive when these facts are offered as evidence that all men who pick their noses are rapists, but you can't let that push you into making too-charitable assumptions about the small percentage of rapists who DO pick their noses. Or, uh, nose-pickers who beat up their wives, rather.

    You were doing very well while you stuck to the general point that this is not the predominant pattern for violence in the UK. Right, it ain't, and the Panic Campaign mentality demands that we go all emotional and focus resources on one photogenic issue while slighting others. Panic Campaigns can perform a necessary service in focusing attention on issues that've been disproportionately ignored, but sometimes the relatively obscure issues are obscure because they are getting as much attention as they merit: Nobody worries much about people struck by lightning, but then again, damn near nobody IS struck by lightning.

  4. What about “leftwing” twats who seek to talk it down?

    I don't think it's possible to simultaneously be leftwing and talk down the fact that women are disproportionately likely to be the victims of serious violent assault or murder at the hands of their partner, if you're using leftwing to imply any kind of social worldview (rather than just 'the workers should control the means of production', in which case fair enough).

    Maybe so, but I’d like to see a link to some numbers.

    The update was copied and pasted from a comment on Unity @ LC's piece, which links to more relevant numbers than you could shake a stick at. The BCS Intimate Violence numbers for 2007-08 are the ones you want.

    There’s a clear set of cases where long-term emotional bullying is combined with physical bullying, and in those cases there’s no “fairly even split”; it’s almost always a man bullying a woman.

    I don't believe that's true… at least, I don't think any of the evidence presented by AI or the assorted BCS reports shows that that's true, and the accounts I've read of male victims of long-term emotional bullying suggest physical attacks take place in those cases too.

    The main difference is, they generally don't put him in hospital or make him be dead.

  5. "The main difference is, they generally don’t put him in hospital or make him be dead."

    Not to mention that while male on female violence is under reported, female on male violence will hardly ever be.

  6. John, I agree that Amnesty's stats may have been overstated, but I don't think there's anything wrong with an International organisation spending money on a capmpaign for Bristish awarness. Perhaps next year they'll focus on South Africa where this is happening. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/mar/12/eudy-simelan...

    Perhaps an organisation like http://www.survivorsuk.org ought to do a similar study and spend time and effort on incidences of male on male domestic violence. Should there be charities that do this kind of work on a gender basis, like Refuge for women and Survivors for men? Or perhaps gender neutral charities (like Amnesty) should feel free to waylay into the topic, roll their sleeves up and campaign.

    I really wish I could dig out a para from the charity commissions website that I spotted a few months ago. It said that domectic violence/rape/anti violence charities collectively receive less public donations than animal charites. (anti-violence charities are often supported heavily by local government or core Dept of health etc)

    The only justification for over stimulation of facts is shock value. The issues around domestic abuse are complicated, far reaching, and deeply deeply unsexy for a charity campaigning. It's not like breast cancer care, where women are pr'd to death with tragic tales of loss and survival. Women who escape domestic violence/rape want to keep quite. The public don't want to think about it and it doesn't get the support it needs.

    You probably won't agree with me, but as feisty independent woman I was really taken aback to find out recently that a member of my family had experienced domestic violence. I never thought it would happen in my family. So I will back up a comment by someone called Martin much much higher up. Domestic violence is more insidious, more secret and more complicated than any statistics could ever hope to reflect.

    Refuge estimates that two women are killed every week due to domestic violence. In my very humble opinion if that Amensty campaign saves one womans life, it's worth the money.

  7. "I don’t think it’s possible to simultaneously be leftwing and talk down the fact that women are disproportionately likely to be the victims of serious violent assault or murder at the hands of their partner, if you’re using leftwing to imply any kind of social worldview"

    Except of course when it's perpetrated by a Muslim or anyone else on the darker side of pale behind closed doors in Britain or completely openly in any one of dozens of countries around the world. In fact now I come to think of it, it's *only* Leftwingers who do that, isn't it?

  8. And your reply to the point being made, or is my (former, as it happens, but that's by the by) political affiliation grounds to enable total avoidance of the fact that all those who excuse domestic violence on grounds of 'cultchah' are pretty much without exception on the Left and those who refuse to do so on the Right?

  9. Actually that's not fair. Should rather read 'those on the Right would invariably fail to do so'. Apologies for implying that almost *all* Leftist commentators would excuse domestic abuse on cultural grounds. There are plenty of decent ones who wouldn't.

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