The cornerstone of the feminist approach to domestic violence is known as the ‘Duluth Model’, which is often illustrated as follows:
The Duluth Model is “based in feminist theory positing that domestic violence is the result of patriarchal ideology in which men are encouraged and expected to control their partners”. (Source)
It is my position, and I am certainly not alone in this regard, that applying this theoretical framework to most (let alone all) incidents of domestic violence is highly misleading and inappropriate.
Further, if gender inequality is the most significant precursor in relation to domestic violence, then:
Why is the incidence of domestic violence greater in lesbian couple than in heterosexual couples?
How might one explain the already high and growing levels of female-perpetrated violence generally?
How might one explain the significant geographical variations in the incidence of domestic violence? The chart below, for example, looks at variations in the incidence of DV in the Australian state of New South Wales.
Why does there exist a very considerable number of male victims of domestic violence?
How might one explain the relatively high levels of child abuse and neglect involving single mothers?
Why is the level of domestic violence so high in countries like Sweden that, even feminists would agree, have a higher than average level of gender equality?
These categories or situations of domestic violence are not the inconsequential anomalies that many propose them to be. On the contrary, they constitute very large and substantial pieces of the domestic violence jigsaw.
In an intimate partnership between two people of different genders, an unequal balance of power can be a factor contributing to DV. But what feminists refuse to concede is that the partner asserting most power need not be male, and often isn’t.
The Duluth Model and its chief proponents are discussed at length in this illuminating series of email exchanges (mirror here).
“… the Duluth model essentially views all female transgressions as being self-defensive in nature (even against children!) and can be attributed either to previous victimization by a male or to an allegedly oppressive “patriarchy” (Dutton and Corvo, 2007)”
I would urge you to take a moment now to read Jason Dale’s detailed and insightful commentary. The quote below has been attributed to Ellen Pence (Wikipedia).
Drive: The wheels come off (3 August 2020)
Duluth worked even better than I expected (25 July 2019)
You can’t help men by attacking masculinity, by Dr John Barry (27 November 2018)
Setting the record straight on Duluth (6 February 2017)
The Duluth model is working as designed; you won’t smart mouth her again, by Dalrock (3 February 2017)
Taking an in-depth look into domestic violence research – The Duluth Model (6 September 2015)
The Gender Paradigm In Domestic Violence: Research And Theory (2005) by Donald G. Dutton and Tonia L. Nicholls
One thought on “The Duluth Model: The theoretical basis for the feminist approach to domestic violence”
The Duluth model is everything that was done to me. I stayed 54 yrs with my husband. He was very narcissistic, musician that lived 2 different lives. Different on stage and used sex to build his business??? What business? A band that were male prostitutes. Acted like an angel at home. Would help with cooking, grocery shopping and dishes. I was raised on a small island and had very shallow views, had been deserted twice by my father which took a toll. Did not believe that this man married me to come to the USA since I was one of 8 children born in another country of an American father who registered us with the American consul.
My husband was Asian and raised in a British Colony so I never even thought of him abusing me. When my first child was born he would threaten to take my son away from me if he didn’t get his way. Being threatened raised my fear level as I had seen abuse as a youngster where our work girls daughter had her tongue cut out after being raped. I would stand by the Duluth model.