DV Conference Report #14: ‘Groupthink’ on Their Side-and on Ours Too

Sacramento, CA–Background: The historic, one-of-a-kind conference “From Ideology to Inclusion: Evidence-Based Policy and Intervention in Domestic Violence” was held in Sacramento, California February 15-16 and was a major success. The conference was sponsored by the California Alliance for Families and Children and featured leading domestic violence authorities from around the world. Many of these researchers are part of the National Family Violence Legislative Resource Center, which is challenging the domestic violence establishment’s stranglehold on the issue. The NFVLRC promotes gender-natural, research-based DV policies. I have been and will continue to detail the conference and some of the research that was presented there in this blog–to learn more, click here. Dr. Donald Dutton (pictured, photo by Kevin Graft) is one of the premier domestic violence authorities in the world. He co-founded the Assaultive Husbands Project in 1979 and has published more than 100 papers and books, including the Domestic Assault of Women, The Batterer: A Psychological Profile, The Abusive Personality, and his latest work, Rethinking Domestic Violence. Dr. Dutton can be reached at At the Sacramento conference, Dutton criticized the way the domestic violence establishment–of which he was once very much a part–has distorted the research to minimize and ignore female and mutual domestic violence. He also criticized feminist “Groupthink,” but what I found most interesting about it is that his analysis could easily apply to elements of the men’s and fathers’ movement, too. According to Dutton, Groupthink occurs “when an activist group with a predetermined direction confers in isolation from dissenting views.” In these situations, Dutton says: 1) Status is gained from taking more extreme positions (in the pre-determined direction). 2) People with strong needs for dominance will advance more extreme positions in order to gain status, power and control of the group. 3) These traits will then be projected onto the outgroup (“battering is all about power and control’). In our movement, one can certainly find people who seek to gain status “from taking more extreme positions.” One can also find people projecting the worst traits onto the outgroup, in our case, the feminist movement. Personally I have no use for the ludicrous pretense that our side is always good and right and virtuous and their side–the feminist side–is always bad and wrong and evil and sleazy. As I’ve noted on many occasions, as our movement expands and builds, I hope we won’t simply replace one set of Groupthink with another.

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