Not too long ago, the Australian Men’s health movement took down numerous false claims about domestic violence in a government document. After months of delay, the ombudsman admitted that there were numerous factual errors in the document, all of which tended to either exaggerate the impact of domestic violence on women or downplay its impact on men.
Well, now the White Ribbon Foundation is doing the same thing (with $1 million of taxpayers’ money) and once again the organization Men’s Health Australia is fighting back. Here’sa short article on the dustup between the two (Articles About Men, 11/24/10). And here’s the MHA piece detailing the many errors by the White Ribbon Foundation (Men’s Health Australia, 11/4/10).
Keep in mind that the White Ribbon group has been charged by the Australian government to
work in regional, rural and remote communities – particularly in high schools – to influence the change of attitudes and behaviours that perpetuate violence against women in Australian society.
As such, it would be nice if they’d get it right. But when the subject is domestic violence, the claims are often false and always in one direction – toward exaggeration of men’s violence against women and downplaying of women’s violence against men.
Now, anyone can make mistakes, but when the mistakes tend invariably in one direction, there’s more than just run-of-the-mill incompetence at work. And what’s at work is a campaign, not just to reduce domestic violence, but to bring state power to bear against men. By downplaying or ignoring women’s violence against men, women tend to be exempted from the same exercise of state power against them.
And it’s working. Just a few weeks ago, the Australian Attorney General issued a set of guidelines for family courts to use in custody disputes that would not only dramatically expand the definition of domestic violence but do away with many penalties for false claims. Anyone who believes those new regulations, if implemented, would be used in a gender-neutral way hasn’t been living on the planet long.
So, for example, the White Ribbon folks claim that,
“There has yet to be any work done on the impact of violence on men”s overall health, i.e. its contribution to the burden of disease. We, therefore, don”t yet know the impact of men”s violence against men from a public health point of view.’
But that’s just flat wrong as anyone who’s reasonably familiar with the literature on domestic violence would know. As MHA says,
The contribution of violence to the burden of disease in both men and women has been studied for many years. The most recent data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare found that homicide and violence contributed 6,535 disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) in male victims, and 2,686 DALYs in female
victims (Begg et al 2007, page 222).
And so it goes through error after error after error, all aimed at one target – getting people to believe that men’s violence against women is more widespread and serious than it is while women’s against men is less so. Again, public monies are being used to fund disinformation about domestic violence.
And let’s not forget (as if the Australian Attorney General would let us) that domestic violence is the major – perhaps the only – weapon the anti-dad crowd has with which to make war on fathers and their connections to their children. So the more disinformation there is about DV, the more likely it is that fathers will continue to lose their children to false claims by mothers bent on denying them custody by any means available.
As it is, the vast majority of people cannot help being misinformed about the facts of domestic violence. Hey, 40 years of bad facts and bad logic will do that to you. Unfortunately, family court judges are often among them, so the more of this stuff there is polluting public discourse on the subject, the more likely are fathers to lose their children and children to lose their fathers.
There once was a bumper sticker that read “There’s No Excuse for Domestic Violence.” That was then; this is now. For decades now, there’s been a cottage industry one of whose products is obscuring the facts about women’s DV against men. In short, there are plenty of excuses for domestic violence and they’re all based on the sex of the perpetrator and that of the victim.
And the beat goes on. Thanks to Men’s Health Australia for standing firm in the raging torrent.