Minister Fentiman’s response to my concerns regarding the ‘Not Now, Not Ever: Putting an end to domestic and family violence in Queensland’ report

My submission to the Queensland Premier’s Taskforce inquiry can be found here, and my response to the Taskforce’s subsequent report can be found here.

There was no formal public review process for considering feedback in relation to the final report and the Task Force Secretariat has been disbanded. As far I am aware the report’s recommendations were simply handed on to the Premier and the relevant committee for further consideration and subsequent implementation (in full or part).

That being the case I pressed both the Premier, and the Minister for Communities, Women and Youth, Minister for Child Safety, for a response to my response to the report. I also passed on a copy of my feedback to each member of the Committee, and the Committee Secretariat.

I have today (7 May 2015) just received the first response to my enquiries:

“Thank you for your email regarding the ‘Not Now, Not Ever: Putting an end to domestic and family violence in Queensland’ report, produced by the Special Taskforce on Domestic and Family Violence. The Honourable Shannon Fentiman MP, Minister for Communities, Women and Youth, Minister for Child Safety and Minister for Multicultural Affairs, has asked me to respond to you on her behalf.

I appreciate your concern for men who have experienced domestic and family violence. No-one deserves to live in fear of their partner or ex-partner. There can however, be no doubt that the overwhelming majority of domestic violence is perpetrated by men against women. I acknowledge your point about the importance of reducing the levels of violence in the wider community, and addressing domestic and family violence is a significant part of that effort. The Queensland Government takes the issue of domestic and family violence very seriously, and is giving careful consideration to the recommendations in the Taskforce Report, and to the evidence supporting the findings. Delivering responses that are evidence-based is important, and there is a growing body of knowledge around how we can improve responses to this critical issue that claims so many lives across the country.

Sustainable responses to domestic and family violence require government agencies to work together with the broader community to create change, support communities to speak out against violence in the home, and to assist those affected, whether male or female.

The department funds a range of services for women, men and children affected by domestic and family violence. These services include Mensline, a statewide telephone counselling ad referral service offering specialist support for men on a range of issues, including domestic and family violence.

Thank you again for sharing your perspective on this issue. If you require any further information or assistance in relation to this matter, please contact Ms Sue Coxon, Manager, Violence Prevention Team, Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services on 3006 8832.

Yours sincerely

Cynthia Kennedy, Chief of Staff
Office of the Minister for Communities, Women and Youth”

I plan to now prepare a response to this email.

Feminists claim domestic violence is caused by ‘rigid gender roles and stereotypes’ (then apply them to men in painting them as perpetual aggressors)

I’d suggest reading the following article and the readers comments that follow it, and then come back for a brief discussion:

Quentin Bryce urges focus on gender inequality to tackle domestic violence (6 April 2015)

Firstly, a few words about Quentin Bryce. Quentin is a former Governor-General who recently chaired a state Taskforce into Family Violence the report for which was released in February 2015 (see related blog posts here and here).

Quentin deserves our thanks for performing that role without sticking out her hand for the sort of generous compensation demanded by other prominent talking heads of the Australian Domestic Violence Industry. Quentin was ill-advised, however, to issue statements during the course of the Inquiry that were pre-emptive and prejudicial, and which clearly signalled her own personal anti-male and pro-feminist agenda (example1example2).

In the article linked above Quentin reiterates a key element of the feminist narrative as it is applied to the issue of domestic violence, that:

“Domestic and family violence is caused by unequal distribution of power and resources between men and women, it’s about the rigid gender roles and stereotypes that characterise our society, and the culture and the attitudes that support violence against women”

Domestic violence does indeed involve an unequal distribution of power, but where feminists get it wrong is that the man need not be the partner wielding the power. The feminist perspective also ignores the reality of domestic violence affecting same-sex couples.

Feminists cling to this notion however because it dovetails with a theoretical framework that they rely upon so heavily, known as the Duluth model.

According to the Duluth Model, “women and children are vulnerable to violence because of their unequal social, economic, and political status in society.” The program’s philosophy is intended to help batterers work to change their attitudes and personal behavior so they would learn to be nonviolent in any relationship. Its philosophy is illustrated by the “Power and Control Wheel,” a graphic typically displayed as a poster in participating locations. (Source)

An excellent rebuttal of proponents of the Duluth model recently penned by South African MRA Jason Dale is well worth reading, with some further criticism here. A further study illustrating the ineffectiveness of the Duluth approach is provided here.

What galls me most, however, is the mind-numbing hypocrisy of feminists asserting that the application of “rigid gender roles and stereotypes” promotes domestic violence, whilst their ongoing portrayal of men as perpetual perpetrators relies upon applying those self-same roles and stereotypes. Cognitive dissonance anyone?

And here’s yet another example, an article entitled ‘Stop gender inequality and you will stop domestic violence‘ (3 September 2015)

See also ‘Testing Predictions From the Male Control Theory of Men’s Partner Violence‘ (2 August 2015)

And in closing perhaps you might like to read ‘Always beating up on men‘ by Bettina Arndt.

Elsewhere in the blog you might be interested in:

Domestic violence is not a gendered issue – Why the pervasive sexist bias against men?

Fudging the figures to support the feminist narrative

My response to the report of the Queensland Task Force on Family Violence

Ms. Annastacia Palaszczuk MP
Premier of Queensland and Minister for the Arts

Dear Premier

As you are aware, the Special Taskforce on Domestic and Family Violence released its report entitled ‘Not Now Not Ever’ on 28 February 2015. I am one of many people who earlier contributed a submission for consideration by the Task Force. I have now reviewed the Task Force’s report and wish to provide you with my thoughts on it.

Firstly some general observations

  • My first impression of the report was favourable in that its tone was generally inclusive and gender neutral in comparison to the more overt anti-male bias of many other reports regarding domestic violence (DV), such as The National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children, 2010-2022. The weakness of the Bryce report though was that the words were not followed-up with conclusions and recommendations when it came to the issue of female perpetration and male victimisation. In addition, there were many things left unsaid in relation to these aspects of DV that should have been addressed.
  • No mention was made in the report of the extent of anti-male bias in the pre-existing debate concerning DV, nor for example of the corresponding lack of resources devoted to male victims. Likewise no mention was made of the puzzling lack of family violence perpetrator intervention initiatives provided for violent or abusive women.
  • The report continues the trend of earlier reports in that it features an inflated emphasis and reliance on communication/education/awareness programs, without properly justifying what had been achieved to date – nor what gains might be predicted in the future. This is confusing as the problem does not seem to be that people are unaware of domestic violence, as was confirmed in the focus groups. How and why will more “awareness” result in lower rates of perpetration? Has this been achieved in Australia? In any other countries? Indeed no effort was made to detail the full extent of previous expenditure in this area, either absolutely or relative to total government expenditure related to DV.
  • The fact that a document word search of the Task Force’s report, using the terms ‘male survivor’ ‘male victim’ or ‘female perpetrator’, returned no results is indicative of the extent of gender bias present therein.
  • I am curious as to why copies of public submissions were not made available online (except of course those people who sought anonymity). Publishing submissions, as for example occurred with the federal Senate Inquiry, would have been consistent with the desire for awareness raising advanced in the report. I have no doubt that there would have been many submissions lodged that, like my own, challenged the dominant feminist narrative regarding DV. It is of concern that no extracts/quotes from such submissions featured within the body of the report, and that all of the references cited were written by those adopting and promoting a pro-feminist perspective. It appears, for all intents and purposes, that all such submissions were simply swept aside.
  • There is a major anomaly in that no ’round table’ was held with members of mens/fathers groups, yet special meetings were held with (for example) members of the Indian and African communities? This despite the fact that the need to involve men was stressed within the body of the report, and that men comprise a substantial number of the victims of DV.
  • It was pleasing to see that the LGBTI community was included in the discussion, as was the issue of elder abuse. Given the latter however I am unclear why (non-sexual) child abuse that occurred in the home was not also discussed in the report. Was this decision made because the pattern of perpetration was at odds with the dominant feminist narrative?

Comments in relation to specific matters raised in the report

Foreword: “Today there are more than 300 women’s refuges around Australia and there have been many advances in the past 40 years in how we deal with domestic abuse”

Why was there no mention of how many beds in refuges are currently available for men?

“It is through listening, sharing and understanding the experiences of those subjected to abuse and violence that we can start to understand how we can put an end to violence, and the action that must be taken.”

And yet no serious effort was made in the report to listen to and understand the circumstances of male victims, and men generally.

Executive Summary:On average, across Australia, one woman is killed by her partner every week.” (p6)

Why was no mention made of the corresponding number of male victims?

“Initiatives such as White Ribbon (a male-led campaign) and Australia’s CEO Challenge (a workplace domestic violence prevention program) are driving campaigns to break the silence surrounding domestic and family violence.”

Yet no attempt was made to quantify the extent to which rates of perpetration have been affected. Does simply “breaking the silence” actually help survivors? Especially when the ‘awareness’ campaign relentlessly drive home a gender-biased and blame-ridden message of ‘men are violent/women are their victims’?

“The majority of people who experience domestic and family violence in Queensland are women. This is not to say that women cannot be the perpetrators of fear and violence upon male victims.”

On a positive note it was pleasing to see that the Task Force did not follow suit and use the misleading phrase “overwhelming majority” as has featured in many other similar reports.

“Men can be and are victims of violence and coercive control, and are victims of domestic and family violence homicides. Any domestic and family violence, regardless of who the victim and perpetrator are, is unacceptable.”

It transpired that this is/was essentially the report’s sole concession to specifically recognising the existence of male victims and their right to be heard and to receive support.

“The Taskforce recommends that Government commission specific reviews into the impacts of domestic and family violence for two targeted vulnerable groups – people with a disability and the elderly. There is a distinct lack of sound and helpful evidence on the impact of domestic and family violence for these two groups, and the Taskforce strongly believes that more is needed to understand the needs and dynamics of elderly and disabled victims”.

The inclusion of these two groups is to be applauded, but men should also have been included and discussed as an at-risk minority for the same reasons as given for including the other minority victim groups.

“The attitudes, knowledge and beliefs of individuals and communities can and do create a culture that justifies, excuses, perhaps trivialises or even condones or encourages domestic violence.”

I disagree with this assessment. Later in the report the Task Force offers, as its sole supporting evidence, the findings of a national survey that did not even bother to ask questions about the community’s views about violence towards men. Thus its findings were compromised by the lack of statistical context or any valid point of comparison.

(p8) “Culture and attitudes affect the ability of victims to report violence and seek help, and influence the willingness of the community to hold perpetrators to account. It affects the behaviour of the professionals within our police, justice, welfare and service-provider systems when called on to deal with and respond to domestic and family violence. Importantly, culture and attitudes inform and influence the decisions of bystanders to either intervene or ignore incidents of domestic and family violence.”

This is highly applicable to the situation of male victims yet no mention was made of them in this regard – a further reason why men should have been included as an at risk minority and consulted with via a separate round-table meeting.

(p12) “Leaving a violent partner or home situation is a difficult step for a victim. If a victim does not know where to go, or does not feel understood or supported by a service, or worse, if there is no service for the particular need, the victim may return to the violence and not try to leave again. Compassionate, coordinated responses provide much needed support to victims trying to leave and will ensure greater success than disjointed and disengaged services can.”

It would have been highly relevant to note here the fact that many helplines and related web pages pointedly assume that male callers are perpetrators and female callers are victims. All such information, and such services, should be made non-judgemental and gender neutral. 

(p13) “Much of the focus in this report and elsewhere is placed on victims, but cultural change needs to happen to stop perpetrators from using violence and coercive control in their relationships. Any integrated service response must include programs to address perpetrator behaviour and hold perpetrators to account”.

Why was no mention made of the need for perpetrator programs for violent women? There is a cultural problem with the community ‘looking the other way’ in relation to abusive women and the Task Force report only perpetuates that situation. 

No male perspectives were provided in section 3, and Section 3.3 made no mention of the mens/fathers rights perspective put forward in any of the submissions. This section of the report was given over to advancing one ideology, and one alone, that being gender feminism.

(p105) “Training and games provide opportunities to engage boys and men in conversations and actions around understanding domestic and family violence, without the involvement of women and in a traditional or stereotyped ‘masculine’ environment. Just starting the conversations will make significant steps toward changing attitudes and behaviours.”

This implies that men/boys are the problem and/or that girls don’t play sport, and/or that sporting venues constitute a “a traditional or stereotyped ‘masculine’ environment”. This is inaccurate, unhelpful, and simply conforming to dated stereotypes. Why not have the same program for girls/women? Why could this not have been written as: 

‘Training and games provide opportunities to engage adults and children in conversations and actions around understanding domestic and family violence, without the involvement of members of the opposite gender’

(p142) “Further, in the National Crime Prevention Survey, one in four young Australians admitted having witnessed physical domestic violence against their mother and/or step-mother”.

It would have been more appropriate to report that ‘23% of young people between the ages of 12 and 20 years had witnessed an incident of physical violence against their mother/stepmother and 22% against their father/stepfather’ (Source)

(p151) “Alarmingly, the most recent national survey about community attitudes towards violence against women revealed that significant numbers of Australians believe there are circumstances in which violence can be excused. More than 1 in 5 agreed that partner violence can be excused if the person is genuinely regretful afterward (21%) or if they temporarily lost control (22%). These statistics are disturbing and indicate attitudes that trivialise violence by suggesting that violence against a partner can be excused. There is no excuse for domestic and family violence”.

It should have been noted that this survey did not ask about community attitudes towards violence towards men, thus there is no context in which the results may be interpreted. If the surveyors had bothered to ask about men, they might well have found that the community was even more complacent about violence towards men than women. This is not to suggest that any such complacency is good/better, but rather that the issue is one of social attitudes towards violence generally rather than sexism towards women.

(p152) Both Our Watch and White Ribbon ignore female perpetration of violence. There are other groups working in the field that hold a different perspective. Why was no mention made, for example, of the One in Three organisation?

(p154) “We will only achieve long-term and lasting change if we address the causes of domestic violence. International evidence shows the causes are complex – unequal distribution of power and resources between men and women, rigid or narrow gender roles and stereotypes, and a culture and attitudes that support violence” 

The two references cited to support this assertion were written by a hardline feminist researcher and a feminist advocacy group. Feminists rely heavily on a theory known as the ‘Duluth Model’ in their approach to DV. Whether or not the factors they mention are, in fact, the primary “contributing factors” is highly debatable. Alternative perspectives should have been provided in this section of the report, in order to provide a more thorough and more balanced coverage of the topic. An example of an alternative perspective worthy of consideration is presented in this article.  

(p155) “The most recent data released from the Australian Bureau of Statistics in August 2014 shows a widening of the wages gap between men and women in Australia with women currently earning 18.2% less than men.”

This is an average figure for all men and all women and cannot and should not be extrapolated as an indicator of gender bias or discrimination. The so-called gender gap is a complex issue and one that is routinely misrepresented by feminist advocacy groups

(p156 and again at p162-167) “There appears to be a significant gap between an individual’s belief that the violence is wrong, and the willingness to talk about the violence or take action to do something about it.”

It would have been relevant to note that this gap is greater in the case of people witnessing a man being assaulted than in the case of a woman

(p159-160) Mention should have been made of the fact that the media focuses overwhelmingly on male-perpetrated domestic violence, and on promoting a view that only men are responsible for such behaviour. This mirrors the message disseminated in most existing education/awareness campaigns such as those mentioned in the Task Force’s report.

(p171) “It is crucial for men to show leadership in the community in their actions to prevent domestic violence and to address the social and cultural causes of domestic violence. It is also important for them to demonstrate the value of healthy and respectful relationships.” Surely the same could, and in fact should, be said about women? Why wasn’t it?

(p173) The White Ribbon ‘breaking the silence’ campaign has been criticized for only focussing on the responsibilities of boys to treat members of the other gender with respect. It basically shames boys for being male and let’s girls ‘off the hook’ entirely in terms of how they act towards boys. This is not gender equality, it is gender bias or sexism.

(p176-179) This section is unbalanced and excessively influenced by feminist ideology. It absolves women of any responsibility whilst pushing all responsibility onto men (despite the fact that it admits that few men commit violence against their partners)

Domestic violence is a men’s issue because their wives, mothers, sisters, daughters and friends are being harmed. We know that most men do not commit violent acts in the home, however their attitudes are pivotal to accountability and responsibility for that violence because the majority of violence against women is perpetrated by men.”

Instead of that wording, why not this version instead?

Domestic violence is a women’s issue because their husbands, fathers, brothers, sons and friends are being harmed. We know that most women do not commit violent acts in the home, however their attitudes are pivotal to accountability and responsibility for that violence because a substantial proportion of violence against men is perpetrated by women.

Women must also challenge violence committed by other women!

Some further revised wording for the Government’s consideration:

‘There are three key forms of action that people can take in helping to reduce and prevent intimate partner violence:

  • Avoiding the personal use of violence against their partner
  • Intervening in the violence of other people
  • Addressing the social and cultural causes of violence’

(p235) Currently, there are 14 services funded by the Queensland Government to provide perpetrator intervention initiatives for the following regions: Townsville; Mount Isa; Gold Coast; Murgon; Toowoomba; Rockhampton; Brisbane; Cairns; Roma; Maroochydore; Ipswich; and Logan. In addition, there are two services funded by the Commonwealth”.

How many of these cater for violent women? Any of them? Surely this is relevant to the discussion?

Comments in relation to the Task Force’s recommendations

17. It was most pleasing to note that the monitoring and evaluation of programs was identified as a priority area

18-23. These recommendations demonstrate an excessive emphasis/reliance on communications. How will this help? Apart from just sounding good? No clear nexus between spending money here and actually fixing the problem

24-29. It should have been made clear that such programs should be aimed at both boys and girls (re: respecting the other gender) and not simply a platform for anti-male messaging.

Why was there no suggestion of using female role models? This goes against the general thrust of the report, and implies that it is only male behaviour that is the problem, and that no effort/adjustment is needed on the part of women/girls

31-37. The recommendations in relation to domestic violence leave should have clearly identified that both men and women would be eligible for such leave

67-70. The names of alleged perpetrators and victims should be protected to the same extent. If the victim’s name is withheld until such time as a conviction is recorded, then so to should the alleged perpetrators name be protected from publication

“… reviews and updates the Professional Practice Standards: Working with men who perpetrate domestic and family violence”.

To be consistent with the general thrust of the report it would have been desirable to have this document reviewed and re-launched as Professional Practice Standards: Working with PEOPLE who perpetrate domestic and family violence OR have a separate document written for female perpetrators. To do otherwise is simply to unquestioningly accept an unacceptable and gender-biased status quo.

84-88. Why was no mention made of the existing supply of and demand for shelter beds for male victims?

96-98. Why was no mention made of the fact that this type of specialist court has just been de-funded by the WA Government as they were found to be counter-productive? (Source)

Conclusion

The continued focus on the feminist perspective towards domestic violence, and the exclusion of other perspectives that are equally or perhaps even more valid, is deeply troubling.

Mens violence towards women is a very important issue, but at the same time we must remain mindful of the fact that it is but one component part of a bigger issue. Everyone is important and we need to focus on achieving a reduction in violence to adults and children whether they be male, female or transgender.

I believe that real gains will elude us until such time that we adopt a holistic, practical and non-ideological approach to this most pressing and complex social problem.

My submission to the Premier’s Special Taskforce on Domestic and Family Violence in Queensland

A submission to the Premier’s Special Taskforce on Domestic and Family Violence in Queensland

Introduction

Thank you for according me the opportunity to contribute my ideas in relation to this pressing social concern. My submission touches on all six elements of the Task Force’s Terms of Reference, but with perhaps a slightly stronger emphasis on:

  • Educating and engaging Queenslanders to create a community that supports respectful relationships, practices positive attitudes and behaviours and promotes a culture of nonviolence
  • Defining the scope of violence, assault and abuse to be addressed in a domestic and family violence strategy and whether it would be appropriate for such a strategy to focus on particular or defined sections of the community in order to have the most impact.

The true nature of domestic violence

Domestic violence (DV) comprises man-on-man, woman-on-woman, man-on-women, and woman-on-man violence. There is also a very substantial incidence of bi-directional violence, whereby both partners perpetrate violent and/or abusive acts against one another.

IPV-TruthwgrayThe US organization ‘Stop Abusive and Violent Environments’ (SAVE) examined DV research results from around the world and noted that “These studies show that rates of female perpetration are very similar to male perpetration rates.

The authors concluded that the results of this review suggest that partner abuse can no longer be conceived as merely a gender problem, but also (and perhaps primarily) as a human and relational problem, and should be framed as such by everyone involved.

These conclusions mirror findings in the United States, where research shows men and women initiate most forms of abuse at equal rates, for similar reasons, and rarely in self-defense.” [1]

I applaud the fact that the Task Force’s Terms of Reference do not demonstrate the gender bias that is otherwise widespread within the debate regarding domestic violence, and amongst many of the staff of relevant agencies and advocacy groups. Such bias promotes a view of ‘domestic violence’ that is overly simplistic and which misrepresents DV as ‘men’s violence towards women’.

This focus on violent men and their female victims is more indicative of the pervasive influence of feminist ideology within the DV sector, rather than being an accurate reflection of patterns of DV perpetration.[2] Further, this systemic gender bias against men constitutes a significant barrier to effectively addressing domestic violence and better supporting the welfare of all victims of DV.

It is my firm belief that a solution to the problem of domestic violence will continue to elude us as long as agencies continue to only acknowledge and address one piece of the puzzle.

Others who have advanced a similar perspective have been accused of seeking to ameliorate the behavior of male perpetrators and/or to downplay the suffering experienced by female victims. I wish to assure members of the task Force that this is most certainly not my intention.

How has the misleading view of domestic violence as being synonymous with male violence towards women become so worryingly widespread?

DV advocacy groups, social commentators, and even senior members of the public service, have repeatedly stated that “the overwhelming majority of domestic violence in Australia is perpetrated by men against women”.[3] This is quite simply untrue. Numerous respected and non-ideologically biased researchers have found that between one and two-thirds of the victims of domestic violence are male.[4] The variation in findings was dependent upon variables that included the country surveyed, sampling techniques and the definition of ‘domestic violence’ employed. Other research has also highlighted the fact that large numbers of men commit suicide as a result of either being subjected to domestic violence, or after having been falsely accused of perpetrating domestic violence.[5]

Indeed I can assure members of the Task Force that much of the data about patterns of domestic violence that appears in the media, and in the web sites of DV agencies, is woefully misleading. This is unfortunate as suitable data, albeit sometimes imperfect or incomplete in some regards, is available for those who genuinely seek it. From this one might conclude that misleading statistics are at times being deliberately advanced in order to support a particular ideological perspective that, as previously noted, is held by many working in the field of DV. And in fact there is clear evidence that this occurs relatively frequently and with complete impunity.[6]

One red flag for astute observers is the absence of comparative statistics for male victimisation within much of the literature about domestic violence. In some cases this is because men were not surveyed, or failed to ask the appropriate questions regarding female perpetration and male victims. In other cases the relevant comparisons were available but were not reported, presumably as doing so might undermine a predetermined narrative and/or preferred conclusion.

The view that is put forward by most within the DV sector is that their preoccupation with male violence is justified because the number of female perpetrators is minimal – that female abusers are virtually an insignificant aberration.

When provided with irrefutable statistics showing near gender symmetry in rates of perpetration, the fall-back position is typically that a focus on male offenders remains valid because females only perpetrate violence in self-defence, that the physical violence they perpetrate is less severe, and/or that the impact of DV is greater for women than men.

The first statement is demonstrably false[7] and the subsequent statements demand careful qualification to be of any value in framing an appropriate policy response.

Focusing wholly on male perpetration of violence masks the extent of female perpetration of domestic violence, as well as a trend of increasing violence by women and girls generally

The Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) prepared a submission to the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault. RAINN is the USA’s largest anti-sexual violence organization. In that submission they wrote:

“… an inclination to focus on particular segments of the student population (e.g.,athletes), particular aspects of campus culture (e.g., the Greek system), or traits that are common in many millions of law-abiding Americans (e.g., “masculinity”), rather than on the subpopulation at fault: those who choose to commit rape. This trend has the paradoxical effect of making it harder to stop sexual violence, since it removes the focus from the individual at fault, and seemingly mitigates personal responsibility for his or her own actions.”[8]

Now if we change ‘sexual violence’ to ‘domestic violence’ you might see where I am heading with this. As stated earlier, many within the DV sector are loudly asserting that ‘domestic violence is men’s violence towards women’, and devoting their resources to educating/shaming men as a collective group. But by doing so they are inadvertently sending a message to violent women that ‘whatever you are doing must be something other than domestic violence’, and ‘given the violent nature of men your actions might well be justified’.

It also follows that violent women would be less concerned about being prosecuted in the knowledge that they will probably be believed more readily than their male partner should the authorities become involved.

The claim that women are rarely responsible for domestic violence becomes all the more implausible when one considers recent trends showing substantial increases in violent crime by women and girls.[9] Such increases also exceed the trend in similar crimes by males.

What other problems are created by failing to acknowledge violent women and male victims of DV?

The ‘DV=Mens violence towards women’ focus is reflected in language and in statements that paint a picture of all men as abusers or potential abusers. Web site content, even to promote help-lines, is written in such a way as to pre-judge visitors based on their gender. I will provide a link to one such site in a footnote, but the agency in question is by no means unusual in this regard.[10] The material posted online in most Australian federal, state, and NGO web sites dealing with DV is assiduously judgmental and anti-male in its nature.

Take for example the document the ‘National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children’ which sets the scene for addressing domestic violence at both federal and state level. That document, as do many others like it, waves away the welfare of battered men within the first few paragraphs. The Plan states “While a small proportion of men are victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, the majority of people who experience this kind of violence are women in a home, at the hands of men they know.  Men are more likely to be the victims of violence from strangers and in public, so different strategies are required to address these different types of violence.”

As a consequence of both the message being communicated by DV agencies, and broader social forces at work (i.e. anti-male bias and sex-role stereotyping), many male victims are discouraged from coming forward to report crimes and/or seek assistance. By the same token it is also entirely likely that the overt profiling undertaken by DV agencies results in fewer women coming forward to seek help for their own aggressive tendencies.

Under-reporting by male victims then has a flow-on effect of reinforcing the misconception that there are few female aggressors, that facilities for male victims are unnecessary, that survey question on male victims/female aggressors are redundant, etc.

There are many reports of male victims who do come forward being treated with suspicion, if not downright hostility. They claim to not have been believed, and that they were considered as abusers who were denial. Even when they are treated sympathetically, the next problem they encounter is that there are either nil or minimal services (e.g. beds in shelters) or assistance available to men, and particularly men accompanied by children.

When this mantra of ‘DV=men’s violence towards women’ is disseminated through the community via the media it encourages the view that men are inherently violent, and that should you see a man involved in a violent incident with a woman then the man is immediately assumed to be the instigator and perpetrator of violence.

This is clearly demonstrated in the videos available at http://www.fighting4fair.com/promulgating-inequality/differing-public-response-to-partner-violence-depending-on-gender-of-victim/

Be assured that men suffer deeply from the affects of domestic violence. Another largely unreported outcome of the current situation is a very high rate of male suicide linked to involvement in domestic violence – which is often exacerbated by subsequent isolation from children.[11]

A man’s separation from children can and does occur regardless of whether the father is the perpetrator, the alleged perpetrator, and/or the victim of domestic violence (as for e.g. in the case where no emergency accommodation is available for fathers with children).

Queenslanders deserve good governance, transparency and accountability with regards to public funds directed towards the fight against domestic violence

It is a sad fact that when society places a particular group of people on a pedestal then the result is often a scandal, as normal common-sense oversight is relaxed, criticism quashed, people abused or taken advantage of, and public funds misspent or otherwise wasted. Unfortunately I believe that we are now beginning to see this happening within organizations driven by feminist ideology, and particularly in the field of domestic violence.

Millions of dollars of taxpayer funds and donations are already being poured into the fight against domestic violence, and this is rapidly increasing. A large proportion of this money is subsequently finding its way to feminist advocacy groups like ‘Our Watch’ and ‘White Ribbon Australia’.

We want to think that throwing money at a problem will make it go away, and that high-profile and politically-savvy advocacy groups should be well-positioned to use funds to good effect. There is a time to make decisions with the head and not the heart (or with an eye on short-term PR value), and the fight against domestic violence is such an example. The Government should consider whether more might be achieved by greater funding of government agencies providing direct assistance to those in need, rather than for example directing funds to a non-government organization who may direct funds towards salaries, rent, conferences and securing the services of marketing/PR firms.[12]

This topic was recently addressed by well-known Canadian activist Karen Straughan:

“Violence against women in any form has been a HUGE cash cow for feminism. The more they inflate their claims regarding its pervasiveness in society, the more money pours in, and the more power they have to tinker with legislation and policy. Because it is such an emotionally charged subject, any rational scepticism of these claims (as to whether they are true in the first place, or whether feminists are accurate in their estimates of pervasiveness), is easily deflected by attacking the sceptic.”

You can demonstrate until the cows come home just how much certain feminists are profiting from generating an inflated fear of violence against women among the public (the average [almost always feminist] director of a battered women’s shelter here in Alberta rakes in over $100k/year, and in the US, that number can be significantly higher), and people won’t care, because ending violence against women is THAT important. They won’t see the people who claim to be working to end it as the exploitative con-artists or ideologically driven religious inquisitors that they are.

If you point out that a very lucrative industry has formed around these issues, and that like any organic entity, this industry will work to sustain and grow itself rather than the other way around, you get called a conspiracy theorist. Even though none of these claims require a conspiracy to be valid–all they require is human nature.” [13] 

An appropriate focus for education and for remedial action

I believe that there is a role for educational messages but that these should be gender-neutral. The community should be truthfully informed that there are both male and female perpetrators, that there are male and female victims, and that in many cases both partners engage in violence and abuse. The community should be told that any/all violence or abuse in the home is inappropriate and harmful for everyone involved, and particularly for those children who witness that abuse.

I believe that there is no legitimate objective basis for addressing in isolation, let alone focusing resources on, any one particular group of victims or abusers. In particular I object to the current gender-based approaches to addressing domestic violence. I say deal with the whole problem. Fix the whole problem.

I believe that agencies or organizations active in the DV field should provide services, counseling and support to both male and female perpetrators and male and female victims. I believe that government funds should be allocated where they will be most effective, and that this may mean that most funds are directed towards government agencies who provide practical assistance, rather than to advocacy groups paying PR/marketing firms to develop and implement costly ‘shame and blame’  campaigns of dubious value.

My recommendations to the Task Force

  1. First and foremost, I would implore members of the Task Force to consider this submission, and the linked references it provides, with an open mind and in an objective manner.

Please be open to the possibility that the limited success achieved to date in addressing DV may be due in part to shortcomings in both the philosophical approach that is driving current efforts, and the fixed attitudes and preconceived notions of many of those tasked with addressing the issue.

Indeed I am very much aware of the ‘elephant in the room’ that is feminist doctrine, and of the combative ‘us and them’ approach often adopted by adherents to that movement. But as is usually the case, we can and must find a middle path that will lead us to a fair and workable solution to the scourge of domestic violence.

2. Please evaluate and modify all documents and web content produced by relevant agencies in order to identify and remove any bias that might be present in relation to gender or sexual orientation. None of this material should pre-judge who is or might be the perpetrator or the victim in the relationship, or their motivation for coming forward to seek help.

3. Ensure that possible bias in relation to gender or sexual orientation is removed from survey instruments and that research methodology is carefully vetted in order to ensure accurate, unbiased and truly representative findings.

4. Evaluate and adjust the composition of relevant sections within agencies, committees, and panels dealing with DV issues so that, as far as practicable, they are representative of the broader community, particularly in relation to gender and sexual orientation.

At the moment it is my impression that many such groups are currently overwhelmingly comprised of people in a very narrow demographic , typically tertiary-educated women aged 25-45 who identify as feminists. It is highly probable that this is introducing a degree of bias which could limit the scope of approaches being considered or undertaken to address the problem of DV.

5. Do everything possible to ensure good governance and the cost-effective use of public monies. Grants should stipulate the need for key performance indicators, gender neutrality and natural justice, together with requirements for performance reviews and auditing. It is also important that any budget committee, steering committees or similar should contain representatives who are completely independent, in a financial sense, from any of the matters being considered. It would be naïve to assume, given the huge amounts of money directed towards domestic violence at the state and federal level, that there was no potential for financial considerations or self-interest to influence decisions regarding expenditure priorities.

6. Evaluate and adjust the allocation of funding and resources so that it is in accordance with the reality of the domestic violence problem in its entirety. In the first instance this would almost certainly necessitate additional resources being directed towards male victims of domestic violence and counseling for female perpetrators of violence.

7. Although it may be beyond the scope of the Committee’s consideration the manner in which the welfare of men has been largely ignored in the case of DV is indicative of the lack of any real advocacy for the interests of men and boys within the spheres of both federal and state government.

This contrasts strongly with the situation for women where there are generously-funded agencies, or at least sections within agencies, to address and advance the interests of women and girls. This may not be the time or place to consider this issue, but if we as a community sincerely aspire to gender equality, then this it is a disparity which should not continue to go unquestioned.

[1] http://www.saveservices.org/dvlp/policy-briefings/partner-abuse-worldwide/

[2] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=–Pk25vBeHg (Donald Dutton video)

[3] http://www.fighting4fair.com/misrepresenting-reality/this-is-what-a-lie-looks-like-domestic-violence/

[4] http://www.fighting4fair.com/misrepresenting-reality/domestic-violence-one-sided-media-coverage-and-bogus-statistics/

[5] http://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/abs/10.5042/jacpr.2010.0141

[6] http://www.fighting4fair.com/misrepresenting-reality/fudging-the-figures-to-support-the-feminist-narrative-domestic-violence/

[7] See for example http://www.mediaradar.org/docs/Dutton_GenderParadigmInDV-Pt1.pdf, See  p687

[8] https://rainn.org/images/03-2014/WH-Task-Force-RAINN-Recommendations.pdf

[9] http://www.fighting4fair.com/women-behaving-badly/on-the-recent-increase-in-violent-crime-carried-out-by-women-and-girls/

[10] http://www.fighting4fair.com/misrepresenting-reality/addressing-anti-male-bias-by-an-australian-state-government-department/

[11] http://mediaradar.org/docs/Davis-DomesticViolenceRelatedDeaths.pdf See Conclusion

[12] White Ribbon Australia is simply provided here as an example of a NGO active in the DV field, and for which financial records are publicly available http://www.whiteribbon.org.au/publications/previous-annual-reports and http://www.acnc.gov.au/RN52B75Q?ID=D19DFBA4-B116-4C8A-B1CF-9509317B0877&noleft=1

[13] http://owningyourshit.blogspot.com.au/2014/11/false-allegations-are-rare.html

Postscript:

The report of the Taskforce was released on 28 February 2015, and I have prepared a response to it that can be read here.

Initial media coverage included:

QLD domestic violence report unveiled (28 February 2015)

Call for specialist courts to deal with ‘scourge’ of domestic violence (28 February 2015)

Domestic violence rising in Queensland according to new report (1 March 2015)

In August 2015 the Queensland Government announced that it would implement all 140 recommendations of the Bryce report

In September 2015 the Queensland Government announced that Quentin Bryce would head a Task Force in relation to domestic violence

Domestic and Family Violence Implementation Council

#HeForShe: Men pressed into service with nary a hint of ‘quid pro quo’

The last few years have seen a surge of social programs calling on men to step up to the line to perform some pledge or action for the womenfolk. These have been launched by government agencies, pro-feminist not-for-profits and various social media personalities. The foci of these demands for action have related mainly to sexual assault, domestic violence, and employment opportunity.

The #HeForShe hashtag/movement/thing was a reasonably high-profile example of such a campaign from the second half of 2014. The links below provide a small sampling of some of the other campaigns that have been and/or are now taking place:

One Billion Rising, A Call to Men#YouOKSisWhite Ribbon campaignPolished Man, Red my Lips, Beards Against Abuse, Walk a mile in her ShoesWhat Men Can Do, Men Stopping Violence, and #LeanInTogether

walkamileMale Champions of Change (also discussed herehere and here) is a home-grown campaign which has now spawned a ‘Female Champions of Change‘ program. And no, the latter campaign was not intended to provide a corresponding support network to champion the welfare of men. Beyond Australia there is a similar program known as Men Advocating Real Change (MARC), mentioned in this article.

Most of these campaigns have been packaged on the basis of selling a message to the broader community that feminists want to be inclusive and work with men to address shared issues of concern. Perhaps feminists realise they now have a serious image problem, having been stung into action by developments like the #WomenAgainstFeminism movement. The problem though is that beneath the shiny wrapping paper, the nature of the various campaigns runs contrary to any notions of equality, mutual respect or inclusiveness.

Firstly these campaigns all seem to be promoted on the basis of overstating men’s responsibility for both causing, and solving, each particular issue. At the same time they underplay or ignore the accountability of women in contributing to the problem, as well as their own responsibility in relation to undertaking any necessary remedial action.

There seems to be a fundamental hypocrisy associated with a movement that claims that women are strong and equal, yet continually demands that men step up to address women’s apparently helplessness in the face of real or imagined adversity.

Secondly, it is telling that no similar movements have been proposed or created by women to support men. In fact, there is no sense of reciprocity whatsoever. Nor is there generally even any acknowledgement that men might need or deserve similar recognition or support.

It is, in short, very much a one-way street. Given the many areas of relative disadvantage for men and boys this seems grossly inequitable. The underlying factor here is a culture of gynocentrism, explained here, here and here.

Thirdly, and in what must be a soul-destroying experience for the ‘white knights‘ who flutter around these campaigns like moths to a flame, many feminists resent men who openly support these campaigns. Do read this criticism, by a feminist journalist, of an admittedly  ludicrous initiative by male staff of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

And thus whilst we have one group of feminists demanding that men ‘help’ women, other feminists berate them for interfering in women’s issues and/or for seeking thanks/congratulations for being good. This is apparent, for example, in this Facebook post about a recent campaign known as ‘Red my Lips’ … peruse the bitter and angry comments by feminists and other ‘white knights’ directed at men behind the campaign – and men generally.

Why haven’t the men of Hollywood spoken up? (11 October 2017)

We Need Fraternity Men to Do a Lot More Than ‘Walk a Mile in Her Shoes’ (4 June 2017)

It’s not enough for men to turn up. They have to do the work, by Clementine Ford (13 March 2017)

Men can stop sex-trafficking (20 January 2017)

Why do so few men turn up to hear women speak? (10 March 2016) Australia. And of course no reciprocal expectation on women to attend events addressing male issues (unless to pull fire alarms and disrupt proceedings). See also my related blog post here.

She for He – Part 1 – Introduction (9 March 2016) Video by Canadian Association for Equality

Most disturbing of all are those instances where men are called upon to aid and abet the indoctrination of boys in feminist doctrine as discussed at ‘We must stop indoctrinating boys in feminist ideology‘ (20 July 2015)

Consider next the example of the uproar over University of Tasmania’s ‘women’s officer’ (8 April 2015) Isn’t this also #HeForShe? Why aren’t the women cheering this fellow? Here’s how this story ended – yeah feminism! Further discussion and readers comments here and here

If men owe women chivalry, what do women owe men? (30 November 2015)

NCFM Member Man Up asks Big Brothers Big Sisters of San Diego why they don’t ask women to women up? (25 October 2015)

The 30% Club is coming to Australia, but ‘men speaking for women’ may miss the point (9 March 2015)

Catering to men’s rights is not the point of feminism (15 October 2014) Now that’s telling us! Silly me, I always though feminist was about gender equality

Oh and this is rich. Actress Rose McGowan castigates gay men (“as misogynistic as straight men, or more so“) for not doing more to advance women’s rights in the middle East. More here

We have just seen Julien Blanc tossed out of Australia, a fellow that apparently makes a living running seminars on how to pick up women. I don’t support him or the whole PUA thing, but yet again I can’t help noticing that men were called upon to deal with him.

Still in Australia, ex-Governor-General Dame Quentin Bryce headed a Task Force on Family and Domestic Violence. Submissions to the Inquiry had just closed at the time this article appeared in the pro-feminist Guardian newspaper. It seems that those people who prepared submissions need not have bothered, as Quentin already knew that men were the problem and that the “the key drivers of change should be men and police“. That’s right ladies, no need to lift a finger, off you go and get yourselves a nice cup of tea whilst the menfolk cop all the blame plus the job of making things right.

Michelle Obama urges men at women’s summit to ‘be better’ (14 June 2016) Hmm, I wonder how she would feel if someone got up on a stage and urged black people to ‘be better’? But wait, don’t the klan do that already?

Ooh this is a bit funny naughty – feminists might go blind if they read this

The three reasons I don’t support feminist equality campaigns (13 December 2015)

Why the #YouOKSis “White Feather Campaign” failed … badly (11 December 2014)

White House calls on men to ‘step up’ in sexual assault prevention (19 September 2014) also here

Men have a special privilege of having to help women, I think we should check it (14 February 2015) Article and linked reddit discussion thread

Stella McCartney’s right: Women can use their ‘weakness’ as a form of strength (1 October 2014)

Finally, some blinding irony with the movement called ‘Men Speak Out‘  who “aim to engage men in the process of ending FGM and, on a larger scale, to end violence against women and promote gender equality through a human rights’ approach“. Bearing in mind, of course, the negligible level of interest/activity by feminists in ending the practice of involuntary male circumcision.

wendyT

Specifically on Emma Watson and #HeForShe

Fans rush to Emma Watson’s defence after she’s branded a ‘hypocrite’ and a bad example of feminism for braless magazine cover (3 March 2017) Hypocrisy

Would any women here be interested in a ‘She for He’ campaign? Reddit discussion thread with further discussion here

The Reality of #GiveYourMoneyToWomen (31 May 2015)

Seven things Tony Abbott should start fixing now that he has joined HeforShe (4 March 2015)

Youtube video #1 concerning Emma Watson’s speech (23 September 2014)

Youtube video #2 concerning Emma Watson’s speech (23 September 2014)

Youtube video #3 concerning Emma Watson’s speech (23 September 2014) See feminist reaction in comments section

The five little words that betrayed Emma Watson, by Ally Fogg (23 September 2014)

Janet Bloomfield talks about #HeForShe (23 September 2014) YouTube video

Sorry, Privileged White Ladies, but Emma Watson isn’t a ‘Game Changer’ for Feminism (24 September 2014)

Resurgence of feminists soliciting for male allies (25 September 2014) Reddit mensrights discussion thread

Emma Watson leads the retreat for UN feminism (25 September 2014)

The UN’s risible #HeForShe campaign: Pointless self-flagellation for sex-starved beta males (25 September 2014)

Sorry, Emma Watson, but HeForShe is rotten for men (26 September 2014)

Four reasons I won’t be one of the men signing Emma Watson’s #HeForShe pledge (26 September 2014)

Stefan Molyneux on Youtube about Emma’s speech (29 September 2014)

Emma Watson and the future of feminism (6 October 2014)

#HeForShe was nicely summed up by ‘Mean0Dean0’ in a reddit discussion thread on the matter:

The very concept of “He For She” makes women look like helpless children. This isn’t even “She for She,” implying sisterhood and communal responsibility. This isn’t even “We For She,” which is one-sided and focused on a minority of victims of violence and social problems, but at least community-minded. “He For She” blatantly states that men have all the power (even when they don’t) and that women need men to do their work for them (even when THEY don’t).

It’s regressive and gender-traditionalist and feminist all in one, simultaneously telling women that they can be free to be doctors or lawyers or strippers on poles, so long as big strong men open up all the big heavy doors for them. It’s patronizing to women and insulting to men, and if a man had come up with the hashtag he would have been called out as a patriarchalist traditionalist chauvinist pig. “Let’s help out those less fortunate little ladies, eh guys? Guys???”

Emma Watson – classic hypocrisy (September 2014)

sheforhe heforshe

 

 

 

 

 

Elsewhere in this blog you might also be interested in:

Women are held accountable for … (say hello to the Teflon Gender)
‘Bristly Woman’ campaign launch
Good manners versus chivalry
I thought women were meant to be more empathetic?