Re: VAWA, Title IX, domestic violence
Mon, 13 Jul 1998 13:26:44 -0700

Linda Purrington wrote:

> In fact the researchers do say the women participate in
> domestic violence; they also say that women are the ones usually
> hospitalized....

Have you seen the recent study in the Journal of Emergency
Medicine? It didn't find that at all. "Using logistic-regression
models, we determined that women experienced significantly
more past and present nonphysical violence but not physical
violence than men." The abstract is on line at:

What is significant about that study is that it is the first time
that the interviewing tools (Index of Spouse Abuse) used to
"smoke out" domestic violence in cases where the victim would
rather not admit it (i.e., "I fell down the stairs"), were used on
men as well as women. This procedure gives a radically different
result from the previous practice, which was to use the ISA only
on women, and to believe the men when they said they'd "slipped
carving the turkey".

Men are quite reluctant, for a variety of reasons ranging from a
desire to keep their family problems to themselves, to protecting
their wives, to not wanting to be seen as "wimpy", to admit that their
spouses are violent. Therefore any study that does not actively probe
for F->M domestic violence (using a tool like the ISA) will not find
it, because many cultural factors encourage men to deny it.

There is a table in the Justice Department report "Violence-Related
Injuries Treated in Hospital Emergency Departments" in which they
tabulate the patient/offender relationship in violence-related
injuries. More men declined to say who hit them than there were
female victims of intimate partners. Three times more men than
women would not report who the perpetrator was. Note that I am
not saying that these "declined to say" incidents were DV incidents;
we don't know what they were. What it tells us is that men are far
more reluctant than women are to talk about that sort of thing, no
matter who did it. So if we expect to find F->M domestic violence,
we are going to have to do what these AEM researchers did: we are
going to have to take the cultural factors into account and probe for
Significantly, when this was done, the disparity by sex disappeared.

> If you throw a cup of
> hot coffee at your husband over some argument, and he breaks your ribs,
> leg, arm, skull, and gives you two black eyes and you miscarry--

That kind of highly exaggerated example throws more heat than
light on the subject. It also tends to make it sound like throwing
hot coffee at people is an acceptable thing to do. Well, it's not.

> This research is also beginning to filter down into school settings. If
> a girl and a boy trade slaps, teachers are beginning to look at who has
> more brawn to fling. What you are looking for is not a primitive tally
> stick count of incidents, but a more sophisticated approach to
> preventing a widespread social problem.

Yours is a recipe for teaching girls that they can slap boys with
impunity. By focusing on "who has more brawn to fling", it will
almost always be the boy who will get "in trouble". No one with
children would consider that a wise move. Children are remarkably
savvy about getting each other "in trouble". To make it known to
girls that they can get a boy "in trouble" by hitting him will very
swiftly create an environment so frustrating to boys that they will
ultimately go postal. We already have enough of that. Let's not
make more of it by institutionalizing blatant unfairness born of
sexist stereotypes. Especially not in the name of educational equity.

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