Thursday, 20 December 2012

Germaine Greer: A lesson that we have not yet learned

FEATURED ARTICLE: This is London calling, and here is a message. In fact, there are two messages in what follows. One for every mother of a son and another, quite different message, to the great and the good of our society.

In 2009, Germaine Greer began a lecture in Liverpool with the line, "What I want you to think about tonight is whether equality is what we want?" She never explicitly tells us what women should want, if not equality. What we get instead is a diatribe intended for a self-selecting audience rather than mainstream consumption—and it makes interesting viewing.

The video below contains a selection of quotes from this lecture, which she called Equality is not Enough.



Germaine Greer is the leading icon of mainstream feminism, a Professor Emerita at the University of Warwick and a Bye-Fellow of Newnham College Cambridge. She is also considered by the establishment to be an influential thinker of our time and, as such, is given prime time coverage by the BBC and others throughout the world. So if you are still clinging to the notion that "feminism is all about equality", then here's the truth in Greer's own words. At the bottom of this page, you will also find links to the full recording.

Superficially, Equality is not Enough is little more than bizarre rambling conjecture, lacking in any rational foundation or academic rigour, and she presents no tangible conclusion. She finishes the lecture with the assertion that women are socialistic because they are hard-working—just like bees. Greer is no fool, however, and she pitches the level of her content to her listeners, simultaneously appealing to their ego while rocking them, almost casually, backward and forth between the two underlying paradigms that form the real basis of the talk. And it is here that the communication takes place, and the message is this:

  • Males are sub-human (the silverback gorilla is an analogy she uses repeatedly), malign and capable only of hard-wired behaviour
  • Women are both virtuous and hard working, but are hated by men and thwarted by them at every turn

Greer's real talent lies, not in any academic prowess, but in the subliminal. I've no doubt that most of her audience believed they were party to some kind of lively intellectual debate. They were not. Instead, they were lead, all too willingly perhaps, through a series of straw man analogies and divisive connotations. Should women want equality with men, given that men are animal-like and malign? She never explicitly answers her own question, although I suspect few actually noticed.

I wonder just how many mothers in the audience of Greer's lecture actually made the connection with reality—that their boys will grow up one day and, when that happens, they will be viewed with contempt by the very women sitting next to them? Or do such women seriously believe that exceptions will be made for their own sons?

History has taught us a valuable lesson that we have not yet learned. Once we stop thinking about a group of people as human, it becomes morally acceptable to target them for aggression and for society to harm them. We like to delude ourselves that we have confined extremist ideology to the past, but we have done nothing of the sort. All we have really done is to ensure that the leading figures of next such ideology will not be instantly recognisable by a silly moustache. So here is a personal message to the great and the good of our time—the academic sycophants, career politicians and corporate sponsors who, in the hope that some prestige will rub off on them as they clink glasses with Germaine Greer at conferences and after dinner speeches, provide her a platform and a veneer of academic credibility.

The message is this:

The day will come when the toxic nature of her ideology is seen for what it is, and when it does, you will not be allowed to simply fade into the background. We intend to personally manacle you to Greer and her ideology, so that your names are remembered in connection with hers.

Further discussion: A separate video discussion, by Girl Writes What, which explores the implications of feminism's tenets is available here: Feminism, y'all gotta own this sh*t.

__________________


Full Lecture: The full video recording of "Equality is not Enough" can be found below. The lecture was recorded at the "Writing on the Wall (Rebel Rants) in Liverpool (2009).

Equality is not Enough - Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Pankhurst - The White Feather Betrayal of History

In modern culture, the story we are given is a simple one—in the past men had the vote and women did not. For example, on the topic of "Women and the Vote", the UK Parliament website states simply and without qualification1, "Before 1918 only men were allowed to vote in parliamentary elections." Indeed, the picture we are generally presented with (such as this poignant example from the BBC) is a very distorted one. According to this popular narrative, the suffragettes led by Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst fought a noble campaign for female suffrage and, after a valiant struggle, were ultimately successful. And curiously, the campaign of intimidation, violence and arson they waged largely goes without criticism.



The reality was much more complex, however, and many important historical perspectives have been airbrushed from of our collective memory. For example, the simple fact was that at the start of the 20th century, most men also did not have the right to a parliamentary vote. But this is rarely mentioned.

Only wealthy property owning men could vote in parliamentary elections, and prior to the 1832 Reform Act, only 2% of men in the UK had such a vote2. As of 1903, this had risen to one third3, but the fact remains that, whilst Mrs. Pankhurst and her supporters were fighting for their right to vote, the overwhelming majority of young men sent to the trenches in 1914 lacked any political franchise. Unlike the suffragettes, however, they were fighting for the their lives rather than the vote.

The suffragettes, fronted by the organisation founded by Mrs. Pankhurst and her daughters—the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU)—weren't the only group of the period campaigning for suffrage. Whereas other groups supported universal adult suffrage, such as the Labour movement, the suffragettes advocated a separate bill for wealthy women with property, i.e. women such as themselves. It is somewhat perverse, therefore, that the suffragettes have become synonymous with universal suffrage when this simply wasn't the case at all.

The following extract from the Socialist Standard4 in 1908 makes clear its opposition to their proposals.
"Men vote at present under the £10 franchise. The suffrage is thus upon a property basis with plural voting for the wealthy. Therefore, according to the proposals of the women Suffragists, only those women having the necessary property qualifications are to be allowed to vote. This excludes not only all those single working women unable to qualify because of their poverty, but it also bars practically the whole of the married women of the working class who have no property qualifications apart from their husbands'. Further, it increases enormously the voting power of the well-to-do, since the head of the wealthy household can always impart the necessary qualifications to all the women of his house, while the working-man, through his poverty, is entirely unable to do so."
John Bruce Glasier, chairmen of the Independent Labour Party, wrote in his diary after a meeting with Emmeline and her daughter Christabel that they were guilty of "miserable individualist sexism", and that he could not support their organisation.

Throughout the first decade of the 20th century, Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst waged a campaign of intimidation, violence, vandalism and arson. Shortly after the outbreak of war, however, they agreed to cease their militant activities and the WSPU was promptly awarded a grant from the government5 for the sum of £2,000 (not an insignificant amount back then). Emmeline Pankhurst also declared her support for the war effort and began to demand military conscription for men (which was not introduced until 1916).

Furthermore, the suffragettes were among those who handed white feathers to males not in uniform, including teenage boys as young as 16. Sylvia Pankhurst wrote in her chronicle, "The Suffragette Movement"...
"Mrs. Pankhurst toured the country, making recruiting speeches. Her supporters handed the white feather to every young man they encountered wearing civilian dress, and bobbed up at Hyde Park meetings with placards: "Intern Them All."
Being both socialised to serve their country and subject to such stigmatizing female coercion, many males felt no option but to enlist in a war that would killed millions of them. A poignant example of this is given by the following incidental comment found in a book of the period about the lice and fleas that afflicted soldiers living in squalid trenches6.
"...the half-hysterical ladies who offer white feathers to youths whose hearts are breaking because medical officer after medical officer has refused them the desire of their young hearts to serve their country."
While her suffragettes carried placards demanding the "right to serve" by undertaking war work, Mrs. Pankhurst proclaimed that "The least that men can do is that every man of fighting age should prepare himself to redeem his word to women..."

Some 8.7 million British men redeemed themselves in the trenches of the First World War. For them, it wasn't a right, but an obligation. Some 704,803 men from the UK were killed and a further 2.2 million wounded7, with many losing limbs. The overwhelming majority of these never had the vote, but they were expected to lay down their lives nevertheless. There are few references to the average age of the British soldier and, in any case, many teenage boys lied about their age in order to enlist. However, of those executed for failing their obligation to redeem their word, as Mrs. Pankhurst put it, the average age was in the mid-twenties8.

Contrary to popular perception today, the suffragettes did not have widespread support at the time, especially given their proposal for limited female suffrage and advocacy of violence. Nevertheless, Emmeline Pankhurst wielded considerable influence amongst society's political elite and from 1914 onward the government, being primarily concerned with the war effort, considered that the WSPU would be useful in helping to breakdown union resistance to women filling the roles left by men in the workplace.

It certainly cannot be denied that, in times past, society placed gender specific burdens and expectations on men and women. Many argue that given the brutal hardship of life, far from being detrimental to women, such distinctions were largely beneficial. However, with the advent of industrialisation throughout the 19th century, society was changing rapidly and things also had to change as far as society's roles for men and women were concerned. But did the WSPU campaign of intimidation and destruction hasten female suffrage, or delay it? Speaking in 1913, Prime Minister Lloyd George, exclaimed...
"Haven’t the Suffragettes the sense to see that the very worst way of campaigning for the vote is to try and intimidate a man into giving them what he would gladly give otherwise?
At the conclusion of the war, women over the age of 30 became eligible to vote in parliamentary elections. Rightly or wrongly, it was argued at the time that the age restriction was necessary to avoid a gender imbalance in voting given that so many young males had lost their lives. By 1928, however, universal suffrage for both men and women over the age of 21 became a reality.

Today, next to the Houses of Parliament in London, stands a bronze statue of Emmeline Pankhurst. Located at the right-hand side of the half-rotunda extending from the base, there's a dedication to her daughter Christabel. In fact, Emmeline had two other daughters—Sylvia and Adela, both of whom were equally instrumental in the formation the WSPU. However, you will find no reference to either Sylvia or Adela at Emmeline's statue, and on gaining an insight to the Pankhurst family life, it's hard not to feel a degree of compassion for them...

In real life, Emmeline was an abusively controlling mother and her children were born into an emotionally toxic environment. Sylvia wrote in her chronicle of Adela...
"The desire was a reaction from the knowledge that though a brilliant speaker and one of the hardest workers in the movement, she was often regarded with more disapproval than approbation by Mrs Pankhurst and Christabel, and was the subject of a sharper criticism than the other organisers had to face."
Clearly, Christabel was Emmeline's protégée and nothing Sylvia or Adela could do would have ever met with their mother's approval. After their father's death in 1898, Adela gave a similarly desolate account of family life...
"Mother was now involved in public work. We had no friends, we played no games and went nowhere… she took no interest in our affairs. Christabel seemed at a distance, Sylvia hopelessly depressed… Public life was a relief to her…"
Emmeline and Christabel were enthusiastic advocates of violence but, as female members of the upper-class, they were relatively immune from harm themselves. With the increasing and widespread use of arson by the WSPU, both Sylvia and Adela distanced themselves from such tactics and rejected their mother's politics, eventually becoming estranged from her. Fearing Adela would criticise the WSPU in public, Emmeline had Adela sent to Australia in 1914 on a one-way ticket. She never saw her again.

The forced feeding of suffragettes in prison is widely held up today as an example of their bravery. Although Emmeline and Christabel urged others to do so, neither of them were willing to submit to it themselves (only Sylvia had the courage to do so). Tended by servants and chauffeured to rallies in a motorcar, Emmeline Pankhurst's life was one of privilege—she never had to face the horrors which she readily advocated for others. It is a travesty that this women is so idolised by our modern political establishment, and her ideology so misrepresented in our culture.

By Andy Man

Acknowledgement. Female narration provided by "Girl Writes What" (used with permission). For her full discussion concerning the white feather campaign and the US male-only draft, see her blog.

References:

1. UK Parliament website, Women and the Vote. Link: http://www.parliament.uk/about/living-heritage/transformingsociety/electionsvoting/womenvote/
2. Steve Moxon, The Woman Racket ("True Sufferers for Suffrage")
3. Spartacus Educational, Emmeline Pankhurst. Link: http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/WpankhurstE.htm
4. Socialist Standard, No. 46 June 1908 ("Suffragette Humbug "). Link: http://www.worldsocialism.org/spgb/socialist-standard/1900s/1908/no-46-june-1908/suffragette-humbug
5. Spartacus Educational, Emmeline Pankhurst. Link: http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/WpankhurstE.htm
6. The Minor Horrors of War, 1915. Link: http://archive.org/details/minorhorrorsofwa00shipuoft
7. Chris Baker. The Long, Long Trail, The British Army in the Great War. Link: http://www.1914-1918.net/faq.htm
8. Wikipedia, The British Army during World War I. Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Army_during_World_War_I

Saturday, 11 August 2012

The State of Play for Men: Gender Pay Gap

Myth: Sex discrimination in the workplace is responsible for the wage gap between the genders, with women being paid less than men for the same work1.

Summary: Often cited, but overly simplistic, comparisons of earnings between men and women fail to account for differences in hours worked, family commitments, occupational and life-style choices, not to mention the hazardous and arduous conditions of labor intensive jobs typically performed by men. When these differences are properly taken into consideration, it becomes clear that claims of widespread discrimination are baseless.

Discussion: In June 2011, President Obama claimed that2, "Women still earn just 77 cents for every dollar a man earns." This figure originates from the US Census Bureau report for the year 2010 which compares the median* full-time earnings of women to those of men3. A separate report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) for the same year reports a different value of 81% for earnings ratio4. (The BLS report compared weekly earnings, whereas the Census Bureau report compared annual earnings.)

Both these figures are widely quoted to suggest that there is a significant gender wage gap due to discrimination in the workplace. These figures are, in fact, crude comparisons which take no account of the different occupational choices, hours worked, and personal circumstances of men and women. In testimony given to the U.S. Senate, Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, Heather Boushey summarises recent work done by researchers Francine Blau and Lawrence Kahn who found that 58.9% of the pay gap can be explained by measurable personal and occupational factors, leaving 41.1% as 'unexplained' by known factors5. If this proportion is applied to the BLS earnings ratio (i.e. 19% * 0.411), it would produce an 'unexplained pay gap' between men and women of 7.8%, a value significantly less than the 23% implied by President Obama.

In the UK, the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings for 2011 found that men's median full-time weekly earnings were £538, compared with £440 for women6. This yields a weekly female-male ratio of 82%, a value almost identical to that given in the BLS 2010 report in the US. However, the UK survey report doesn't quote this figure itself but, instead, calculates the pay gap using hourly median earnings (excluding overtime), and determines the value to 10.5%.

The narrowing of the pay gap as the time period used to measure it decreases can be explained by the fact that men work more hours than women in full-time employment. Indeed, the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings for 2011 finds that men in full-time employment work on average 40.2 hours per week, compared with women who work 37.4 hours7, (i.e. men work, on average, 7.5% more). Furthermore, the survey finds the proportion of pay attributed to overtime and bonuses are significantly higher for men than for women8. The use of hourly earnings, excluding overtime, rather than weekly or yearly earnings, thus eliminates differences due to the hours worked and overtime rates, giving a more accurate result.

Nevertheless, an apparent pay gap of 10.5% remains, even when taking into account overtime and hours worked. The UK Home Office website provides an explanatory breakdown of this pay gap9, as follows:

  • 22% is due to the different industries and occupations in which women work
  • 21% is due to differences in years of full-time work
  • 16% is due to the negative effect on wages of having previously worked part-time or of having taken time out of the labor market to look after family
  • 5% is due to formal education levels

This leaves 36% unexplained by any of the above factors. Applying this proportion to the UK earnings ratio would leave an unexplained pay gap of only 3.8%. Although the UK Home Office, itself, admits that this differential as 'unexplained', it suggests that discrimination may be an important factor, but provides no justification for this claim.

For those working part-time, rather than full-time, the UK Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings finds that pay gap is negative at -4.8%. This means that women actually earn more than men for the same number of hours in part-time employment10.

Turning back to full-time employment, however, a study conducted by American and Korean researchers in 2004 investigated the reasons for the wage gap, including the unexplained proportion often attributed to discrimination. They concluded:11
"In simple models, personal and work characteristics account for two-thirds of the pay gap, but one-third is accounted for by other considerations. Many allege that discrimination explains this one-third. In particular, they allege that women are relegated to poor paying jobs, and thus women in general have lower wages because they are crowded into women’s jobs. In short, they claim occupational segregation is responsible for women’s inferior economic wellbeing.
"This study investigated the relationship between occupational sex segregation and wages. The empirical findings refute the claim that the number of women in one’s occupation negatively influences wages. Instead, the paper supports hypotheses relating to efficient job matching. Women choose female jobs to earn a relatively greater amenity package than they would have received elsewhere. Similarly men choose male jobs to earn relatively more."
The figures reported by the US Census Bureau, the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Office for National Statistics in the UK, all clearly show that men earn more than women overall. This is undeniably the case. However, often cited, but overly simplistic, comparisons of earnings fail to account for differences in hours worked, family commitments, occupational and life-style choices, not to mention the hazardous and arduous conditions of labor intensive jobs typically performed by men (men account for 92% of all workplace fatalities in the US in 201012). When these differences are properly taken into consideration, it becomes clear that claims of widespread discrimination are baseless.

In fact, according to the most recent US Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 4 in 10 working wives out-earned their husbands in 200913. Just what would it take to close the overall pay gap still further? Would national policies designed to restrict the numbers of men in high-paying jobs be needed, for example? Or, perhaps, would it be necessary to deny women personal freedoms concerning life-style and family so that they, in effect, have no choice but to spend more time at the workplace?


*Note. The term median is a statistical measure which refers to the midpoint in a sequence of observed data values. It is not the same as the average, or mean, value. It is generally accepted that the use of the median gives a more representative picture than the average value in many cases, especially where a few exceptionally high or low observed values (outliers) may skew the results.

References:

1. Example: Pay Equity & Discrimination. Institute for Women's Policy Research. Link: http://www.iwpr.org/initiatives/pay-equity-and-discrimination/
2. White House (June 04, 2012). Remarks by the President on Equal Pay for Equal Work via Conference Call. Link: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/06/04/remarks-president-equal-pay-equal-work-conference-call
3. United States Census Bureau. Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2010. Page 5. Link: http://www.census.gov/prod/2011pubs/p60-239.pdf
4. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Women in the Labor Force: A Databook, December 2011. Page 1. Link: http://www.bls.gov/cps/wlf-databook-2011.pdf
5. Heather Boushey (March 11, 2010). Strengthening the Middle Class: Ensuring Equal Pay for Women. Testimony of Heather Boushey (Senior Economist, Center for American Progress Action Fund) before the U.S. Senate, Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. Link: http://www.americanprogressaction.org/issues/2010/03/pdf/Boushey_testimony.pdf
6. Office for National Statistics. 2011 Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (based on SOC 2010). Page 1. Link: http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/dcp171778_256900.pdf
7. Office for National Statistics. 2011 Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (based on SOC 2010). Page 24. Link: http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/dcp171778_256900.pdf
8. Office for National Statistics. 2011 Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (based on SOC 2010). Page 23. Link: http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/dcp171778_256900.pdf
9. UK Home Office (August 2012). Link: http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/equalities/women/women-work/
10. Office for National Statistics. 2011 Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (based on SOC 2010). Page 7. Link: http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/dcp171778_256900.pdf
11. Soo Kyeong Hwang and Solomon William Polachek (2004). Occupational Self-Selection and the Gender Wage Gap: Evidence From Korea and United States. Link: http://www2.binghamton.edu/economics/wp04/WP0413.pdf
12. US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey, and Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, 2012. Page 10. Link: http://www.bls.gov/iif/oshwc/cfoi/cfch0009.pdf
13. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Women in the Labor Force: A Databook, December 2011. Page 78. Link: http://www.bls.gov/cps/wlf-databook-2011.pdf

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Hitting Out

It was the mid-1980s, and I was fourteen years old. I'd recently seen the movie An Officer and a Gentlemen, and became interested in karate as a result.

Now, I ask you, what teenage boy wouldn't want to do karate after watching that movie?

I think the scene where teenage Zack gets beaten up by a Filipino gang did more to get young boys involved in martial arts than anything else at the time. It certainly worked on me, and I started attending a local karate club shortly after. I became reasonably good at karate over the next year or so.

I'm not sure whether, if I'd have continued, I would have become exceptional or anything, but I was keen and that's what mattered. And I certainly looked up to the instructor of the club—he was a strong male role model for me, and I would have followed his every instruction without question. If he had told me to jump off a cliff as part of a martial arts training exercise, I would have done so without too much hesitation.

But there were some unhappy aspects of my childhood. I didn't mix too well, and in some ways, the truth was that I lonely and isolated. I spent most of my time reading science books, programming computers and listening to classical music. In fact, I thought that everybody my age did those kind of things, but later, I would learn that this wasn't the case. An interest in the opposite sex didn't happen for me until I was seventeen years old, but around the age of fourteen to fifteen, the only things I cared about were computers, electronics and science.

So getting involved in martial arts was an important break for me. It gave me an interest that was not solitary in nature, and it did a lot for my self-esteem. But then one week, a sequence of events would have unfortunate consequences for me. These are memories I've not been back to for a very long time.

The club I attended practised the Shotokan style of karate, and during training sessions, we would often find a partner and spar with each other. I liked sparring session best of all, because it was competitive. It was kind of like play fighting I guess, but it wasn't full contact and pretty harmless. However, I recall that in one of these sessions I was tapped on the shoulder by a woman who had been sparring with someone else behind to me. She told me that I had caught her hand with a stray kick. I hadn't realised, but she seemed OK, so I apologized and thought nothing more of it at the time.

Later the same week, there was another, but unrelated incident. An older woman attended the club one evening. She was in her forties perhaps. As far as I can remember, it was the first and only time she came, and as we often did, we paired up for a sparring session that evening. I found myself in the unfortunate situation of having to pair up with her.

Looking back now, it's obvious to me that a genuine desire to learn karate was not the real reason she was there. I suspect that there had been some anguish in her life, and perhaps she was there because she wanted to learn "self defence". I don't know, but whatever the reason, the only thing she wanted to do that night was to hit out at a male—any male. And a fifteen year old boy would do.

She came at me, her face contorted in rage, wildly swinging hook punches. This wasn't karate at all! Confused, I simply moved around and avoided all contact with her. At the end of the session I went to shake her hand, which was the custom, but she walked off toward the instructor. A few seconds later, he called me over.

When I got there, I caught the end of her calmly explaining how I had hit her. It wasn't true, but I never got the chance say a word.

Without, a second thought, the instructor turned to me and "punched" me in the stomach. He held back the blow, so the effect was more one of shock rather than physical harm. He said something about not hitting women and told me to get back in line. I just kind of accepted my "punishment" because I didn't really understand what had just happened. I remember thinking it was a bit unfair, but I don't recall reading too much into it at the time. I was more confused than anything. I never saw her again anyway, but things didn't end there.

I turned up for training at the club, as usual, the following week. What I didn't know then was that the first women, the woman who I had accidentally clipped with a stray kick the week earlier, had spoken to the instructor since. She had, apparently, received a fractured bone in her wrist. I say "apparently" because I hadn't known about it—I only learned that information quite sometime later through a chance encounter. However, on the basis of what he heard, the instructor had decided that he was going to teach me a lesson, I guess.

Toward the end of the class, he interrupted training and asked me to come out to front, where he had pulled out a table. He told me to get on it and to start doing press-ups, which I did. This went on for quite some time, and I began to struggle because the sweat that was dripping from me on to the smooth table surface was causing my feet to slide uncontrollably.

Next, he suggested that we spar—just him and me—in front of the class. As a lanky teenager against a fast and powerful adult black belt, I stood absolutely no chance. Time and again, he punched me in the forehead and my legs buckled underneath me, and each time he dragged me up by my hair and forced me to carry on.

In reality, the attack was controlled and I suspect that his targeting of my forehead, rather than landing punches on my nose, was deliberate. Nevertheless, it was a public beating and a humiliation that was intended to be some kind of example. Eventually it ended, and so did the class. In the changing room later, a guy told me that he thought what had just happened was "wrong".

I cried while cycling home that night, without actually knowing why.

I went back to the club a few times, but my heart was never in it after that and I soon stopped going. I switched from karate to running, fell back into solitary activities, and spent my evenings with computers, electronics, physics books and science fiction. People were too difficult, confusing and painful for me.

I had lost something important that night.

Afterword: I originally wrote this as an experiment in challenging society's attitudes toward males. However, the account is entirely true—it happened to me. But it's not your sympathy I want, but for you to ask yourself a few questions...

In the text, I qualify the woman's actions with, "I suspect that there had been some anguish in her life." Maybe you felt a little sympathy for her, despite her anger? I certainly did, and in fact, it felt almost obligatory for me to put in some kind of compassionate justification for her behaviour in there. But then I asked myself, why? Would I have been so considerate if she had been a he, for example?

Ask yourself this...

What would your reaction be on reading a story in which a 40 year old man turns up to a karate club one night and deliberately attempts to punch a 15 year old girl in the face?

No doubt you would simply regard him as a monster, and nothing more. Please don't misunderstand me; this isn't about a bad woman or a bad man, it is about the double-standards in our attitudes.

Moreover, were the actions of the club instructor in my story not really based on misguided notions of chivalry, rather than any rational assessment of the situation? Is it not true that it is often males who display prejudice to other males, but it is not actually regarded as prejudice in our society? Would he have been so willing to beat up a 40 year old woman, had he known the truth, I wonder? (I'm not suggesting that's what he should have done.)

Finally, I also wanted to communicate that men and boys have feelings—we hurt. Not just physically, but emotionally too. It seems that this needs to be said, because male suffering often goes unseen and unacknowledged. In fact, hostility toward males is normalized in the media to such an extent that males are seen as legitimate targets of aggression. How often do you see TV shows or commercials where a man gets slapped in the face or kicked in the groin, and invited to laugh?

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

The State of Play for Men: Domestic Violence

Myth: Domestic violence is a crime largely perpetrated by aggressive men against women.

Summary: Men under report incidents of domestic violence targeted at them, and society downplays the scale of male suffering, and in many cases, refuses to acknowledge that it exists at all. In fact, recent studies on both sides of the Atlantic are increasingly showing that men are affected by domestic violence at least as much as women.

Discussion: In 2000, the National Violence Against Women Survey estimated that there are 830,000 male and 1.5 million female victims of domestic violence in the United States each year1. More recent studies are increasingly presenting a picture of approximate parity between the sexes in terms of partner violence, however. For example, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is a federal agency under the Department of Health and Human Services, but it also recognised for its research into domestic and sexual violence. In 2011, it published the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey which shows that 5.0% of men and 5.9% of women reported experiencing rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in the 12 months prior to taking the survey2.

In 2006, the Journal of Family Psychology (an American Journal) published the results of research which found that, between couples, the incidence of male-to-female violence was 13.66%, but for female-to-male violence it was actually higher at 18.20%3. It also found that women were twice as likely as men to initiate severe violence against their partners. This finding is supported by a more recent California State University survey of some 286 scholarly investigations, 221 empirical studies and 65 reviews independent studies. It concludes that women are as physically aggressive, or more aggressive, than men in their relationships4.

In the UK, the British Crime Survey (BCS) for 2010/11 reported similar results as the CDC survey in terms of the male-female violence ratio. It found that 5% of men and 7% of women had experienced domestic abuse in the year prior to the survey5. It also found that 3% of men and 4% of women reported that they had experienced stalking in the previous year5.

PARITY, a gender equality campaigning charity in the UK, submitted a memorandum to the UK Parliament back in 2007 stating:6

"There is now a considerable body of evidence, in particular by a succession of detailed Home Office surveys in the past decade of interpersonal violence in England and Wales, to demonstrate the existence of a substantial level of female violence against male partners, including severe and/or repeated physical assault. Despite this, support services specifically for male victims are largely absent or inadequate, and few women are actually charged or prosecuted for domestic violence against a male partner."

The number of women convicted of domestic abuse in the UK has, in fact, increased fourfold in the last 7 years, from 806 in 2004/5 to 3,965 in 2010/117. However, of all prosecutions for domestic violence in England and Wales, approximately 93% of them are against men8.

Men are much less likely than women to tell others about what they had suffered. The BCS found that only 19% of male victims would tell someone in a professional organisation--half the number of female victims (44%). It also found that 28% of male victims do not tell anyone--more than twice the proportion for women8.

In fact, men attempting to report violent assaults against them can expect to face disbelief, ridicule and counter allegations. Only 10% of men will tell the police in the UK, three times less than women9. In their memorandum to the UK Parliament, PARITY stated, "Anecdotal evidence suggests that the police and other agencies...are often not even-handed in their response to male victims...in a significant number of cases arresting the male victim instead of the female perpetrator."

On the other side of the Atlantic, a recent Canadian study reported similar results. It found that women are four times more likely to report partner violence to police than men10, and concludes that: "Men who are involved in disputes with their partners, whether as alleged victims or as alleged offenders or both, are disadvantaged and treated less favorably than women by the law-enforcement system at almost every step."

Organisations working with male victims also report a high degree of scepticism amongst professionals and the public towards male victims of domestic violence11. Much of the literature produced in the field of domestic abuse quote female victim statistics only, while completely omitting those for males, thus suggesting that the problem only applies to women. In fact, some women's organisations even go as far as to make the highly dubious claim that a staggeringly high percentage of men (90%) who report that they are victims of domestic violence are lying (they are abusers pretending to be victims). This claim is refuted by the Mankind Initiative, a charity working with male victims in the UK. According to its own screening program, 98.75% of men calling its helpline are true victims12. It notes that no there is no equivalent research on females as no organisation is willing to make the same assessment.

Moreover, the very narrative of domestic violence itself is often framed in a female only context by international bodies, governments and support organisations around the world. For example, the United Nations defines domestic violence as follows13:

"Any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivations of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life."

By this definition, therefore, male targeted domestic violence simply does not exist. This is the same definition used by many organisations in the UK, including the Crown Prosecution Service and the Equalities and Human Rights Commission. In the US, there is VAWA--the Violence Against Women Act, which is administered by the Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women. There is clearly no recognition of men, other than as perpetrators, in this narrative.

Correspondingly, there is little in the way of support for male victims. There are over 1200 abuse shelters in the United States, but few will accept men. For example, Los Angeles County funds two dozen shelters exclusively for abused women, but only one shelter will accepts male victims14. In the UK, the situation is similar, if not worse. There are 7,500 beds in refuges dedicated to women, but there are only 72 beds that can be used by men15 (the majority of these can also be used by women). And while a woman fleeing abuse may find a shelter that will take both her and her children, a man attempting to do same will fear arrest for kidnap16, irrespective of whether he is the victim or not.

Over the years, large sums have been spent by governments around the world on campaigns to encourage women to report domestic violence and to seek help, with no similar campaigns targeted toward male victims, or provisions made for them. The crude negative stereotyping of men as aggressors and women as victims has no doubt obscured men's suffering from society's view. While the well founded fear and stigma that prevents men from coming forward to report their suffering remains, the true picture of domestic violence will always be incomplete.


References:

1. Patricia Tjaden and Nancy Thoennes. Extent, Nature, and Consequences of Intimate Partner Violence, Findings From the National Violence Against Women Survey. US Department of Justice. 2000. Link: https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/181867.pdf
2. National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, 2010 Summary Report. National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Page 39. Link: http://www.cdc.gov/ViolencePrevention/pdf/NISVS_Report2010-a.pdf
3. McDonald R. Estimating the number of American children living in partner-violent families.
Journal of Family Psychology, Vol. 20, No. 1, pp. 137–142. 2006. Link: http://smu.edu/experts/study-documents/family-violence-study-may2006.pdf
4. Martin S. Fiebert, California State University, Long Beach. References examining assaults by women on their spouses or male partners: An annotated bibliography. 2012. Link: http://www.csulb.edu/~mfiebert/assault.htm
5. Homicides, Firearm Offences and Intimate Violence. Supplementary Volume 2 to Crime in England and Wales 2010/11. Page 88. Link: http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/publications/science-research-statistics/research-statistics/crime-research/hosb0212/hosb0212?view=Binary
6. Memorandum (Appendix 2) submitted by PARITY to the UK Parliament Select Committee on Home Affairs Written Evidence in 2007. Link: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200708/cmselect/cmhaff/263/263we03.htm
7. ManKind Initiative, 21 key facts about male victims. Link: http://www.mankind.org.uk/pdfs/21%20Key%20Facts_Feb%202012.pdf
8. Crown Prosecution Service. Defendants prosecuted in England and Wales for domestic violence crimes in 2009/10. Link: http://www.theyworkforyou.com/wrans/?id=2010-12-08b.29433.h
9. Homicides, Firearm Offences and Intimate Violence. Supplementary Volume 2 to Crime in England and Wales 2010/11. Page 96. Link: http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/publications/science-research-statistics/research-statistics/crime-research/hosb0212/hosb0212?view=Binary
10. Brown, G. (2004). Gender as a factor in the response of the law-enforcement system to violence against partners. Sexuality and Culture, 8, 1–87.
11. UK House of Commons Select Committee on Home Affairs, Sixth Report May 2008. Link: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200708/cmselect/cmhaff/263/26307.htm
12. ManKind Initiative, 21 key facts about male victims. Link: http://www.mankind.org.uk/pdfs/21%20Key%20Facts_Feb%202012.pdf
13. UN Declaration of Violence Against Women, Article 1.
14. Glenn Sacks. July 2012. Link: http://www.glennsacks.com/kuehls_marriage_license.htm
15. ManKind Initiative, 21 key facts about male victims. Link: http://www.mankind.org.uk/pdfs/21%20Key%20Facts_Feb%202012.pdf
16. Glenn Sacks. July 2012. Link: http://www.glennsacks.com/kuehls_marriage_license.htm

Friday, 15 June 2012

Misandry in the 21st Century

I oppose misandry and the institutionalised inequalities in family life, the divorce courts, the work place, education, health care and the media.




So what is misandry anyway?

In short, it is the hatred of men and boys--the counter-part of misogyny. Whereas the word 'misogyny' is well known and widely used, the term 'misandry' is hardly known at all--in fact your spell checker is unlikely to even recognize it as a word. You see, society pretends that males are 'privileged', and therefore misandry cannot exist. In fact the opposite is true, and men and boys are subjected to routine phyiscal, sexual and emotional abuse. In today's society, we are the ones who are impoverished, marginalized, exploited, humiliated and ridiculed. The thing is, this abuse has been normalized to such an extent, that it is not only acceptable, but is hardly recognized for what it is.

The first part of video shows extracts from a US TV show called "The Talk" in which an horrific attack on a man is discussed by the all female panel and audience. The point is not so much the sickening attack itself, although it is sickening and a tragedy, but how misandry has become so normalized that it is considered perfectly acceptable to ridicule victims of torture and mutilation on prime time television--provided that those victims are male.

The second part of the video deals with how males are ridiculed in TV ads, how violence against us is portrayed as normal, and how positive male role models have been withdrawn from TV and cinema over recent years. The accumulative effect of this on the self-esteem and mental well being of young boys growing up today's world is incalcuble.

Note. Suicide is the Biggest Killer of Men in the UK, according to CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably). American males between the ages of 20 and 24 have a suicide rate that is seven times higher than that of women (National Center for Injury Prevention and Control).

Note. This video contains short extracts from various sources. Copyrighted material is the property of the respective owners. The principle of "fair use" is claimed for the non-commercial purpose of critical review in the public interest.