Okay. I’m going to explain to you why MRAs attack feminism:
Back in the 1970s and 1980s, just as domestic violence was being brought to public awareness in the UK, there were two schools of thought.
1) DV is primarily a generational issue of learned violence with multiple contributing factors. Children grow up in violent households and learn that conflict resolution through violence is normal. Other contributing factors include but are not limited to alcohol and drug abuse, poverty, external stressors (such as losing a job), personality disorders and mental illness. Both men and women can be batterers, and are at roughly equal rates. This was the school of thought embraced by Erin Pizzey, a woman who grew up with two violent and abusive parents, and who went on to open the world’s first battered women’s shelter (Chiswick Women’s Aid) in 1971. She formed her point of view both from her experiences with two violent parents, and her experiences in the shelter, where 60% of the women she helped were as violent as, or more violent than, the men they were fleeing, and who were often violent with other female residents and their children. Initial gender-neutral studies coming out in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and hundreds of much more thorough ones over the past 30 years, have confirmed her hypotheses.
2) DV is primarily a problem of patriarchal masculinity. Men are trained by culture norms to see women as sub-human subordinates, and to enforce male dominance over women and children through family violence and terrorization. This hypothesis of “patriarchal terrorism” is called “the Duluth Model”, and at best, it represents the smallest minority of cases, with “matriarchal terrorism” being up to two times as prevalent, and “common couple violence” (typically reciprocal and temporary) representing roughly half of all cases. Strangely enough, it is the most widely used model in the world. It is the model that Refuge (the feminist charity that essentially hijacked Chiswick Women’s Aid) uses. It’s the model that is used to train law enforcement, social workers, guardians ad litem and judges. It is the model that the US Violence Against Women Act is based on, as well as DV legislation in the UK, Canada and pretty much every other Western country. It has informed nearly every public awareness campaign for 4 decades. It’s fully entrenched in law and policy, to the point where at least half of all jurisdictions employ “predominant aggressor policies” that use gender profiling rather than fact finding in arrest procedures, and in the US, VAWA funding is denied to agencies that so much as allow couples counselling for marginal cases.
Model (2), the Duluth Model, is the feminist model. It is based entirely on “patriarchy theory” and feminist notions of gender power relations. It has been described as a “data-impervious paradigm” by researchers. It applies a single, ideologically poisoned “cure” to a multifaceted problem, “treating” people for diseases they don’t have, while leaving their actual problems to fester.
Now, as an MRA, I would like to see male victims of domestic violence receive the same care and assistance that female victims do. I would like to see cases of common couple violence (remember, typically reciprocal and temporary) be treated through counselling, rather than enforced permanent family separation. I would like to see men with children have better options than 1) risk a kidnapping charge, 2) leave the kids alone with a violent woman, or 3) stay and swallow the abuse. I would like to see men who call police for help have a better chance of being helped than arrested, instead of the other way around like it is now.
So. You tell me. How do I make all these things happen without attacking feminism? You know, the ideology that applied “patriarchy theory” to domestic violence, came up with the Duluth Model, wrote it into law and policy, and jealously guard it from criticism? How do I convince lawmakers and bureaucrats and directors of agencies to abandon a model built upon the ideologies of feminism without ever mentioning feminism? Without ever uttering the words, “feminists got it wrong”?
Moreover, given the scads of evidence that DV is not significantly gendered, why SHOULD I avoid attacking feminism? In light of this evidence, feminism’s clinging to Duluth is an unjustifiable slandering of men, masculinity and traditional norms.
I once gave an example in a video:
Society believes that black people were particularly prone to a certain kind of crime. Whether it is cultural or biological, this practice which only blacks engage in justifies treating them differently.
What happens when society finds out that blacks and whites commit this crime at roughly the same rates? That blackness and propensity for this crime are not connected in any way?
If society was feminists, and blacks were men, they would scream ever louder that blacks are the primary offenders and that other races almost never commit such crimes, that the crime itself stems from “toxic, hegemonic blackness”, they would ignore the evidence, suppress the evidence, intimidate or shun researchers who produce the evidence, engage in threats of violence against researchers who publish the evidence, and continue their attempts to entrench their view of blackness being integral to said crime into legislation and policy.
When Erin Pizzey first began talking publicly about violent women and the true nature of domestic violence, she was protested by feminists. Picketed by feminists. Threatened by feminists. Her charity was subject to a hostile takeover by feminists. She had to have a police escort everywhere she went, and was instructed to have all her mail redirected to the bomb unit. When her family dog was shot, she fled the UK and lived in hiding in the US for 10 years.
All of that was the result of feminists practicing feminism, EoT. Pizzey was a heretic speaking inconvenient truths, the most inconvenient one being that women can be just as shitty, brutal, violent and abusive as men can within their family relationships.
What does it say about feminism’s attitude toward men that the mere assertion that men are no more flawed than women are, that men are no more prone to sub-human, beastly behavior than women are, that men are NOT uniquely monstrous compared to women, could provoke a campaign of abuse and threats that left a philanthropic woman living in exile out of fear for her life, and those of her children and grandchildren? What does it say about feminist theories that terrorism, malfeasance and denial of evidence is required to protect and preserve them? What does it say about feminists that even when they are shown the evidence, they maintain their belief that the earth is 6000 years old, and redouble their commitment to write that belief into law and policy? Because, you know, if they acknowledged the evidence that the earth is not 6000 years old, they might have to question their belief in the rest of the scripture, and we can’t have that, can we? If domestic violence isn’t “patriarchal terrorism”, then maybe the “patriarchy theory” they used to construct the model isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, right?
As far as I’m concerned, you can call yourself a feminist. No skin off my nose. But if you think that MRAs can make one ounce of difference for marginalized and victimized men without criticizing and dismantling feminism and its pet theories, I would implore you to point out an alternative.
How do we get Duluth out of our legislation and policy without saying, “feminists got it wrong”? How do we prove they got it wrong without pointing out how they’ve suppressed decades of evidence of female intimate partner violence, both by failing to acknowledge it in their own research, and intimidating and blacklisting researchers who do publish data on it? How do we keep that guy out of jail when he calls police without questioning the feminist assumptions upon which arrest policies have been formed? And how do we get our message out without antagonizing feminists when it is the message itself that antagonizes them?
You tell me, EoT. I can wait. We’ve already been waiting for 4 decades, after all.
I would guess that the “sunken cost fallacy”, and “when in doubt, shout”-esque belief perseverance play huge roles in their desperation to cling to these models. Many feminists have made entire careers, pots of cash and became highly respected, high-status individuals developing and promoting “theories” that are essentially garbage. It’s got to be difficult to consider that it’s all based on bullshit. As well, these “theories” are internalized by adherents into an aspect of their personal (“I’m a feminist”) identity as just and moral persons. Abandoning them must be very difficult.
And for people who believe they are doing the right thing, and who use their activism to bolster their sense of themselves as good, moral, just people, to acknowledge that they had it wrong all along is to acknowledge that they have, directly, or indirectly, perpetrated inconceivable harm on others. It is likely much more difficult for a doctor who has performed 1000s of circumcisions than it is for a lay person to accept evidence that the practice perpetrates a net harm, because such an admission necessarily means that he himself has perpetrated harm on 1000s of helpless babies. Perhaps it is psychologically easier to maintain the illusion that the practice is beneficial. It certainly must be easier to sleep at night believing you’ve spent decades helping babies rather than harming them. Just as it must make it easier for a feminist to sleep at night if she clings ever harder to her belief that only men abuse their partners when she is told men are more likely to be arrested than helped when they call police. To admit her belief is false is to admit that she has supported the arrests of innumerable innocent men, and the enabling of innumerable violent women.
Even for those (mostly younger) feminists who do not zealously guard the Duluth Model out of cognitive dissonance, their own sunken costs, or personal identity issues, and who can and do acknowledge the reality of the domestic violence problem… well, this is all fine and dandy, and ultimately, useless. Who cares what Joe feminist Sixpack or Jane feminist Appletini think? Duluth is entrenched. It’s written into law, policy, training materials and public awareness efforts. Old school feminists, like those who booted Erin Pizzey from her charity and chased her out of her own country over ideological differences, have a stranglehold on what has become a multi-billion dollar, government funded industry.
Different laws and policies cannot be implemented without throwing out the old ones. Throwing out the old ones can’t happen without effectively debunking the Duluth Model. If the Duluth Model is feminist theory, based on feminism’s grand, unifying theory of “the patriarchy”, then that means debunking feminist theory, in whole or in part. There’s no way to do that without ever criticizing feminism.
Even if there were no feminists standing in our way, screaming “MISOGYNIST!” at anyone who questions Duluth, and blocking attempts to bring attention to the real nature of domestic violence, which there ARE… the crux of the matter is that Duluth is a feminist model, based on broader and more encompassing feminist theories that attempt to explain the nature of sexual relations in society in their entirety. There’s simply no way to explain that Duluth is bunk without explaining WHY it’s bunk, and there’s no way to do that without subjecting feminist ideas to vigorous scrutiny and challenge.
What people like EoT are demanding is that Galileo should have promoted the heliocentric model without ever criticizing the deeply entrenched, state and church sanctioned belief that the sun revolves around the earth. Without ever saying, “the vatican has it wrong,” or “this belief in a geocentric system is based on false, dogmatic thinking on the part of religious leaders” or “the church is wrong-headed and irresponsible in its doctrines and teachings.”
Would you have asked that of him? To never say, “the vatican is full of shit when it comes to geocentrism” when promoting the truth of heliocentrism? How on earth do you think he was supposed to say, “my idea is correct” without ever uttering the words, “and their idea is wrong”?
- Karen Straughan appears on Australia’s ‘Outsiders’ program - June 6, 2017
- Feminism and the disposable male - October 6, 2016
- Ogres, onions and men’s issues advocacy - September 20, 2016
- Why MRAs attack feminism - July 18, 2015
- On nerds and “entitlement”: An open letter to The Two Scotts - January 4, 2015