Domestic violence and the DV policies of family courts and law enforcement is a multi-faceted issue that has an enormous impact on American families. Fathers & Families is hosting a debate between two of North America’s leading domestic violence authorities, feminist DV expert Professor Evan Stark, Ph.D, MSW, and dissident DV expert Dr. Donald G. Dutton.
Evan Stark, Ph.D, MSW (pictured, right) is a forensic social worker who has served as an expert in more than 100 criminal and civil cases, consulted with numerous federal and state agencies, including the FBI and the Centers for Disease Control, and won a number prestigious awards for his work.
Dr. Donald G. Dutton, Ph.D. (pictured, middle right) has published over one hundred papers and ten books, including Rethinking Domestic Violence, The Abusive Personality, Domestic Assault of Women: Psychological and Criminal Justice Perspectives, and The Batterer: A psychological profile.
The debate will run in several segments and will be posted on both www.fathersandfamilies.org and www.glennsacks.com. Readers are asked to keep comments respectful and on topic. Our rules of moderation can be seen here.
All of the posts relating to this debate are available here. Stark and Dutton sparred over numerous issues, centrally the question of whether the DV establishment’s “gender model”–domestic violence is something that men do to women, not vice versa–is the proper way to view DV.
In Stark’s most recent post he criticized Dutton, saying he “bobs and weaves” and that his interpretations of research aren’t accurate.
Below, Dutton responds to Stark.
Glenn Sacks, MA
Executive Director, Fathers & Families
Ned Holstein, M.D., M.S.
Founder, Chairman of the Board, Fathers & Families
Dutton Responds to Stark:
If you have read my previous contributions to this debate, you will have seen that I have been careful to reference the empirical basis for all claims I have made. I do this because the body of scientific knowledge that we are accumulating on domestic violence contradicts the gender paradigm in many critical ways.
“One by one, the central tenets of the gender paradigm have been disproven…There is really nothing left scientifically for the gender paradigm to uphold–the dogma is in shambles.”
In the last segment, for example, I cited large representative sample studies that showed:
1) mandatory arrest did not produce reductions in subsequent domestic violence
2) that constellations of family factors produced the effects mis-attributed to male violence
3) that the most common form of IPV is bilateral- matched for level of severity
4) that we can predict which girls will become violent and victims of violence- it”s detectable from kindergarten age
5) that the “wife battering’ stereotype is only about 8% of all DV- less common than either bilateral violence or husband battering
6) that court mandated “psychoeducational’ programs based on the gender paradigm are colossal failures- in part because they suffer the mis-conceptualizations of the causes of DV put forth by the gender paradigm.
I cited 29 large, well researched studies to support all these claims. What was Evan Stark”s response? Did he alter his dogma to incorporate this new information? Did he provide compelling arguments as to why these studies with a wide range of methodologies should be disbelieved?
Of course not– he hasn”t done that in 34 years!
What he did was to say I was “bobbing and weaving.” That was it.
“[I]t is important to see how the closed dogmatic gender paradigm mind operates. One rule is to ignore all disconfirming data…no matter how well researched.”
I point this out because it is important to see how the closed dogmatic gender paradigm mind operates. One rule is to ignore all disconfirming data as Stark does here–no matter how well researched.
It is only through this systematic ignoring of counter evidence that Stark can continue to recite his gender mantra-male dominance-coercive control-patriarchy–one that has remained unchanged since 1974.
John Archer can perform a huge meta-analytic study of gender and IPV(1) – one that examined 426 studies and generated a collective sample size of 65,000 – and Evan Stark will still prattle on about male dv and domination.
One can point out that Simon et al study (2) of attitudes toward dv found that only 2% of North American males found low levels use of dv for coercion acceptable–in other words, normative acceptance of dv is a myth contradicted by the data.
This will not deter Evan Stark’s recitation of his mantra. It is for these reasons that I was reluctant to engage in this endeavor. It is just not a scientific debate–research and data sets become meaningless, they are just shoved under the feminist rug.
I have written extensively, along with colleagues Tonia Nichols, Ken Corvo and John Hamel, about the slight of hand tricks that the gender paradigm plays with evidence. These include stacking subject samples so that women in transition houses are asked about the violence done to them–other samples are not examined, nor are these women asked about their own violence. No wonder a one-sided picture emerges.
As soon as one moves away from the highly self-selected and unique shelter house samples, results change. They did so when Nikki Graham Kevan (3) applied Michael Johnson”s gender paradigm notion that only males commit coercive DV to a variety of non-shelter samples–she found that women used coercive DV as well.
When Denis LaRoche (4) applied Johnson”s coercion scale to a general population he found the same thing–female coercive DV.
“These results would cause any social scientist to re-evaluate their position. They have no effect on Michael Johnson or Evan Stark or any of the other true believers in the gender paradigm cult.”
These results would cause any social scientist to re-evaluate their position. They have no effect on Michael Johnson or Evan Stark or any of the other true believers in the gender paradigm cult. Johnson”s methodology, upon which his false distinction of coercive dv (all male) and common couple violence (both genders) is based, was to ask women in shelter houses what happened to them. He then generalized from this sample to society as a whole. But as soon as you change the sample, the results change too–women use coercive dv too.
This brings us Evan Stark’s claim that “Mounds of research now show that a typical abusive relationship involves coercive control committed almost exclusively by men.”
I am not sure what studies constitute these “mounds of research’ but I am willing to bet they are the same old one-sided studies of women in shelter houses again generalized to the broader community. In community samples coercion does not differ by gender (5, 6).
“Jan Stets…studying 1,295 couples. As she put it ‘wives report more frequent control over their spouses than husbands do.'”
Jan Stets came to this conclusion after studying 1,295 couples. As she put it “wives report more frequent control over their spouses than husbands do.”
Rich Felson and Margaret Outlaw had an even bigger sample–the national survey data from the VAWA survey. Despite the fact that this survey filters out male victimization because it is less likely to be considered a crime, the survey did assess coercion via a five item scale for controlling behaviors used by each spouse. In analyzing the data on coercion the authors concluded “the findings indicate no support for the position that husbands engage in more marital violence than wives because they are controlling’ (p.387).
The respondents data indicated that control was rare for both husbands and wives but more likely in lower socioeconomic strata. So using data from the VAWA Survey itself, Felson & Outlaw get results that are disconfirming of the gender paradigm notion of male coercive control. I do hope that Evan Stark will read these papers instead of doing his usual head-in-the-sand routine. They provide a much needed antidote for his dated and narrow view of coercion and gender, a counter-view that is not merely reinforced by asking one sided questions from shelter samples.
I have debated gender paradigm “true believers’ before–both Ed Gondolph and Michael Johnson at various times. Gondolph was going on about how psych-educational interventions were really OK because his own study had found a 40% recidivism rate (which he seemed to think was an acceptable rate). I pointed out that Feld & Straus found that when left alone, men reporting use of severe abuse only recidivate 42% of the time.
Also, when you read the fine print in Gondolph”s method section, you found the disclosure that 40% of the men in treatment had wives who hit them first. Gondolph doesn”t like to mention this. It does seem to indicate that convicting and treating the male only was a bad idea.
“[A] false dichotomy is being misused in family courts to create false expectations in judges about the source of risk for children.”
Johnson is similarly circumspect about his flawed methodology–he does disclose it in a feminist sociology journal–I guess in there it”s a badge of honor. The problem remains that his false dichotomy is being misused in family courts to create false expectations in judges about the source of risk for children.
Johnson concluded his debate with me by saying “assume that all violence is intimate terrorism (which is ‘largely male perpetrated and related to gender attitudes’) until proven otherwise.” One thing you find with cults–and I have compared the gender paradigm to a cult before (7)– like a cult they have a simple, attenuated set of beliefs that all adherents repeat. One sees this in the Johnson statement above or in Stark”s latest recitation of the gender dogma.
Like cults, the paradigm adherents are data resistant–one sees this in Starks” reaction to 29 well designed studies disconfirming the paradigm as “bobbing and weaving.” Like cults, the central dogma remains unchanged in the face of disconfirming evidence.
“Advocates of the gender paradigm love crime victim surveys because they can capitalize on the fact that female violence is not considered a crime by the general population to ‘prove’ the greater incidence of male violence.”
Contrast this cultic approach to a scientific approach; disconfirming evidence must be accounted for either by showing the research was poorly designed and the results dismissed or by changing the theory to accommodate the new results. The gender paradigm tried to discredit the Conflict Tactics Scale because they didn”t like the fact that it was used to show female violence. However, that scale remains 16 times as sensitive as “crime victim surveys.’ Advocates of the gender paradigm love crime victim surveys because they can capitalize on the fact that female violence is not considered a crime by the general population (8) to “prove’ the greater incidence of male violence.
One by one, the central tenets of the gender paradigm have been disproven–the studies above by Stets and Felson disconfirms the male-coercion arguments, Simon”s survey disproves that there is acceptance of violence to women, the developmental trajectory studies prove that female violence is a trait not a “self defense’ reaction, personality disorders rather than gender predict use of IPV.
There is really nothing left scientifically for the gender paradigm to uphold–the dogma is in shambles. It is for this very reason that Evan Stark recites the paradigm one more time, refers to unreferenced “mounds of research’, depicts a “typical abusive relationship” as male controlled. In When Prophecy Fails, social scientists infiltrate a doomsday cult and observe their behavior when the doomsday comes and no catastrophe occurs. The cult members behave just Evan Stark is behaving–by increasing their strident spreading of the central dogma–and, of course, without proof.
[Note: All of the posts relating to this debate are available here. Dutton’s citations are after the page jump.–GS]
1. Archer J. Sex differences in aggression between heterosexual partners: A meta-analytic review. Psychological Bulletin. 2000;126:651-680
2. Simon TR, Anderson M, Thompson MP et al. Attitudinal acceptance of intimate partner violence among U.S. adults. Violence and Victims. 2001;16:115-126
3. Graham- Kevan N, Archer J. Using Johnson’s domestic violence typology to classify men and women: Victim and perpetrator reports. International Family Violence Conference. Durham. New Hampshire, 2007
4. Laroche D. Aspects of the context and consequences of domestic violence- Situational couple violence and intimate terrorism in Canada in 1999. Quebec City: Government of Quebec, 2005
5. Stets J, Hammond SA. Gender, control and marital committment. Journal of Family Issues. 2002;23:3-25
6. Felson RB, Outlaw MC. The control motive and marital behavior. Violence and Victims. 2007;22:387 – 407
7. Dutton DG. The gender pardigm and the architecture of anti-science. Partner Abuse. 2010;1:5 -25
8. 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