Tuesday, November 24, 2009

There is an angry core of Australian men who use cyberspace as the latest forum to unload on how women have done them wrong

My observations left on the newspaper site but may not be published.

My goodness David you are a genuine Feminist. So glad to make your acquaintance. Do you exaggerate that "all" the men who complain are "angry"? Do you resort to hyperbole to defend the honour of feminists when you state "Setting aside the fact that there's no such thing as an over-exaggeration,..."

Well Mr. Penberthy you have been co-opted and you clearly have no clue at all about the wrath wrought by the opposite sex when they decide their partner is deserving of let me see where do I start...oh yes... verbal abuse which becomes at first annoying, then tiring and then just plain abusive. Do you not think men have feelings and their self esteem can be debilitated by constant emotional tirades? Then there is the matter of emptying the bank accounts and maxing out the credit cards. Then there is the use of weaponry such as 4.5' wooden rake handles which can kill. Did I mention getting beat on the head when not looking with a 10 lb water jug? How about your spouse robs, through fraud, your employer and ruins your career and does the same thing in a family business ruining the business.

You have not done any research to write this column and that is too bad but then its typical of those with your "manly" mindset. You criticize others for not providing citations but you argue the other way without citing any thing of merit either. You believe men are invincible and I'm not exaggerating (sarcasm). You really do not have a clue about the level of abuse women are capable of within a partnership and we haven't even gotten to emotional abuse through the alienation of children. Have you explored the abuse of children at the hands of females in your country. You should and you will be surprised to learn they are the leading gender in that respect. That is the same in the USA where single moms lead the pack for both maltreatment and killing of their children. It gets worse when you add in her new boyfriend.

In most western countries Domestic Violence is pretty much equal between genders. In my country of Canada 7% of females and 6% of males are impacted according to our lead Statistics gathering government agency. We live in a world suffused with mythological statistics that only women are victims and much of it is propaganda or gathered incorrectly. Its a pity.MJM

White Ribbon Day in forum's sight

News image Andrew O'Keefe 20091125

Ambassador: Entertainer Andrew O'Keefe spreads the White Ribbon Day message.

A few weeks ago we ran a column on The Punch website, examining their emergence. The piece documented

how even those columns with the most innocent subject matter, such as breast cancer, maternity leave, child care

or body image become a vehicle whereby crotchety men can bemoan the apparent neglect of men's health issues, the economic pressures faced by single dads and the raw deal they get from the courts.

The article had the unsurprising effect of attracting, well, an angry core of Australian men who use cyberspace as a forum to unload on how women have done them wrong.

There was a depressingly pertinent example of this mindset this week and it's worth pinging the perpetrators over it, as it demonstrated all the nonsensical self-pity of the men-are-victims-too brigade.

Bizarrely enough, the target of their anger this time was White Ribbon Day - you know, the wildly radical outfit that believes it's wrong to hit women, which argues that the overwhelming majority of victims of physical violence in the home are women, and that women are more likely to be sent to hospital or killed as a result of domestic violence.

Yes, the same apparently sinister organisation that believes it is appropriate that boys and young men should have their thinking challenged at a deliberately early age on the subject of how they treat girls and young women.

Let me be clear. The White Ribbon Day people argue those things because they are actually true. They advocate education programs for young blokes because the best way to address bad thinking is to nip it in the bud.

But it was White Ribbon Day that copped a clip over the ear from the Men's Rights Agency, which is the closest thing we have to an American-style woe-is-us men's movement in Australia.

I'm not sure how they do their sums but they claim that the domestic violence figures - official government statistics, no less - used by White Ribbon Day organisers have been exaggerated by 400 per cent and that one in every three victims of domestic violence is a man.

There is no evidence provided by the Men's Rights Agency to back up this claim of one in three, unless by domestic violence they are also counting psychological violence of the "For

God's sake, honey, will you stop watching the footy and just mow the bloody lawn" variety.

Their distortion of the stats is one thing. However, if they want to suggest that 33.3 per cent of domestic violence victims are called Nige and Bazza, and are hiding in the broom cupboard begging for mercy as the little lady gives them the rounds of the kitchen, sensible people will see it for the crock that it is.

But their continuing attempts to win a cheap headline and deter government from financing childhood education projects through White Ribbon Day should be deplored.

Parents are reporting their concerns when their sons come home wearing the WR wristband and then begin asking questions, which suggest the boys fear their future will be one of violence, the Men's Rights Agency said this week.

The MRA says there is no excuse for the intrusion of the White Ribbon message into our schools, particularly with their brand of over-exaggeration

of male violence and denial of violence by females.

Setting aside the fact that there's no such thing as an over-exaggeration, it would be nice if the Men's Rights people could line up this army of angry families who are appalled by this innocent educational gesture and, while they're at it, maybe they can also wheel out those long-suffering men for whom home is a place of terror.

Otherwise, we should just recognise it for the cant that it is.

David Penberthy is editor of The Punch website and a former editor of the Daily Telegraph newspaper


Men's Rights ~ Feminism should be about equality--for males too.



Cathy Young, 11.19.09, 10:30 AM ET

Earlier this month DoubleX, Slate's short-lived female-oriented publication (launched six months ago and about to be folded back into the parent site as a women's section), ran an article ringing the alarm about the dire threat posed by the power of the men's rights movement. But the article, written by New York-based freelance writer Kathryn Joyce and titled "Men's Rights' Groups Have Become Frighteningly Effective," says more about the state of feminism--and journalistic bias--than it does about men's groups.

Joyce's indictment is directed at a loose network of activists seeking to raise awareness and change policy on such issues as false accusations of domestic violence, the plight of divorced fathers denied access to children and domestic abuse of men. In her view, groups such as RADAR (Respecting Accuracy in Domestic Abuse Reporting) and individuals like columnist and radio talk show host Glenn Sacks are merely "respectable" and "savvy" faces for what is actually an anti-female backlash from "angry white men."

As proof of this underlying misogyny, Joyce asserts that men who commit "acts of violence perceived to be in opposition to a feminist status quo" are routinely lionized in the men's movement. This claim is purportedly backed up with a reference that, in fact, does not in any way support it: an article in Foreign Policy about the decline of male dominance around the globe. Joyce's one specific example is that the diary of George Sodini, a Pittsburgh man who opened fire on women in a gym in retaliation for feeling rejected by women, was reposted online by the blogger "Angry Harry" as a wake-up call to the Western world that "it cannot continue to treat men so appallingly and get away with it." But does this have anything to do with more mainstream men's rights groups? The original version of the article claimed that Sacks, who called "Harry" an "idiot" in his interview with Joyce, nonetheless "cautiously defends" the blogger; DoubleX later ran a correction on this point.

Sacks himself admits to Joyce that the men's movement has a "not-insubstantial lunatic fringe." Yet in her eyes, even the mainstream men's groups are promoting a dangerous agenda, above all infiltrating mainstream opinion with the view that reports of domestic violence are exaggerated and that a lot of spousal abuse is female-perpetrated. The latter claim, Joyce asserts, comes from "a small group of social scientists" led by "sociologist Murray Straus of the University of New Hampshire, who has written extensively on female violence." (In fact, Straus, founder of the renowned Family Research Laboratory at the University of New Hampshire, is a pre-eminent scholar on family violence in general and was the first to conduct national surveys on the prevalence of wife-beating.)

Joyce repeats common critiques of Straus' research: For instance, he equates "a woman pushing a man in self-defense to a man pushing a woman down the stairs" or "a single act of female violence with years of male abuse." Yet these charges have been long refuted: Straus' studies measure the frequency of violence and specifically inquire about which partner initiated the physical violence. Furthermore, Joyce fails to mention that virtually all social scientists studying domestic violence, including self-identified feminists such as University of Pittsburgh psychologist Irene Frieze, find high rates of mutual aggression.

Reviews of hundreds of existing studies, such as one conducted by University of Central Lancashire psychologist John Archer in a 2000 article in Psychological Bulletin, have found that at least in Western countries, women are as likely to initiate partner violence as men. While the consequences to women are more severe--they are twice as likely to report injuries and about three times more likely to fear an abusive spouse--these findings also show that men hardly escape unscathed. Joyce claims that "Straus' research is starting to move public opinion," but in fact, some of the strongest recent challenges to the conventional feminist view of domestic violence--as almost invariably involving female victims and male batterers--come from female scholars like New York University psychologist Linda Mills.

Contrary to Joyce's claims, these challenges, so far, have made very limited inroads into public opinion. One of her examples of the scary power of men's rights groups is that "a Los Angeles conference this July dedicated to discussing male victims of domestic violence, 'From Ideology to Inclusion 2009: New Directions in Domestic Violence Research and Intervention,' received positive mainstream press for its 'inclusive' efforts.'" In fact, the conference--which featured leading researchers on domestic violence from several countries, half of them women, and focused on much more than just male victims--received virtually no mainstream press coverage. One of the very few exceptions was a column I wrote for The Boston Globe, also reprinted in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Whatever minor successes men's groups may have achieved, the reality is that public policy on domestic violence in the U.S. is heavily dominated by feminist advocacy groups. For the most part, these groups embrace a rigid orthodoxy that treats domestic violence as male terrorism against women, rooted in patriarchal power and intended to enforce it. They also have a record of making grotesquely exaggerated, thoroughly debunked claims about an epidemic of violence against women--for instance, that battering causes more hospital visits by women every year than car accidents, muggings and cancer combined.

These advocacy groups practically designed the Violence Against Women Act of 1994, and they dominate the state coalitions against domestic violence to which local domestic violence programs must belong in order to qualify for federal funds. As a result of the advocates' influence, federal assistance is denied to programs that offer joint counseling to couples in which there is domestic violence, and court-mandated treatment for violent men downplays drug and alcohol abuse (since it's all about the patriarchy).

Against the backdrop of this enforced party line, Joyce is alarmed by the smallest signs that men's rights groups may be gaining even a modest voice in framing domestic violence policy. She points out that in a few states, men's rights activists have succeeded in "criminalizing false claims of domestic violence in custody cases" (this is apparently meant to be a bad thing) and "winning rulings that women-only shelters are discriminatory" (in fact, the California Court of Appeals ruled last year that state-funded domestic violence programs that refuse to provide service to abused men violate constitutional guarantees of equal protection, but also emphasized that the services need not be identical and coed shelters are not required).

To bolster her case, Joyce consistently quotes advocates--or scholars explicitly allied with the advocacy movement, such as Edward Gondolf of the Mid-Atlantic Addiction Research and Training Institute--to discredit the claims of the men's movement. She also repeats uncorroborated allegations that many leaders of the movement are themselves abusers, but offers only one specific example: eccentric British activist Jason Hatch, who once scaled Buckingham Palace in a Batman costume to protest injustices against fathers, and who was taken to court for allegedly threatening one of his ex-wives during a custody dispute.

The article is laced with the presumption that, with regard to both general data and individual cases, any charge of domestic violence made by a woman against a man must be true.

One case Joyce uses to illustrate her thesis is that of Genia Shockome, who claimed to have been severely battered by her ex-husband Tim and lost custody of her two children after being accused of intentionally alienating them from their father. Yet Joyce never mentions that Shockome's claims of violent abuse were unsupported by any evidence, that she herself did not mention any abuse in her initial divorce complaint, or that three custody evaluators--including a feminist psychologist who had worked with the Battered Women's Justice Center at Pace University--sided with the father.

More than a quarter-century ago, British feminist philosopher Janet Radcliffe Richards wrote, "No feminist whose concern for women stems from a concern for justice in general can ever legitimately allow her only interest to be the advantage of women." Joyce's article is a stark example of feminism as exclusive concern with women and their perceived advantage, rather than justice or truth.

Cathy Young, a contributing editor at Reason magazine and columnist for RealClearPolitics.com, is the author of Ceasefire: Why Women and Men Must Join Forces to Achieve True Equality. She blogs at www.cathyyoung.wordpress.com.


Fathers 4 Justice to protest at cathedral

A Fathers for Justice group will be demonstrating at Canterbury Cathedral as part of their campaign to change family law.

New Fathers for Justice are urging all dads who will not be able to see their children this Christmas to join them at 10am on Saturday, December 12 to support their campaign.

The group will be dressed in Santa costumes to put pressure on the church to help them “put the father back into Christmas”.

A spokesman for the group said: “New Fathers for Justice will yet again attempt to get our message across to the church which, like this arrogant Labour government, had ignored the plight of fathers since they have been in office.

“We are urging the church to support us in our fight to change family law and plug dads back into families in time for Christmas.

“We see this as a great necessity as we are now potentially only six months away from the general election. We hope that the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams will help us with the plight of dads in Britain this Christmas.”

The group has urged dads to come along with banners and wearing Father Christmas outfits.

Campaigners from father’s rights groups have made a name for themselves using direct action campaigning methods to fight for better rights for fathers who want to see their children.

High profile demonstrations include a campaigner dressed as Batman staging a five-hour protest on a Buckingham Palace ledge and a father dressed as Spiderman protesting on the London Eye for 18 hours, causing it to close.

The work of Fathers 4 Justice and the Pain of Fathers ~ Activism in the UK

Equal and Shared Parenting ~ The Movie