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Jonesboro and the Politically Embarrassing Side of Domestic Violence

The recent shooting tragedy in Arkansas has saddened us all to a great degree. I was further shocked when I received a press release from The Domestic Violence Project, Inc./SAFE House in Washtenaw County, Michigan titled "Arkansas School Shooting Gender Hate Crime, Says Domestic Violence Experts" The release quotes Susan McGee, The Domestic Violence Project, Inc./SAFE House Executive Director:

"The crime is about men's entitlement to women in relationships. It is about male violence against women and girls. It mirrors the dynamics of hundreds of domestic violence homicides."

Ms Mcgee also stated:

"If we JUST blame a 'violent culture', or we JUST work on banning guns, the Jonesboro school killings will happen again, and again, and again. To prevent future murders of girls, we must understand the dynamics of this murder, and all the murders of women and girls by male intimate partners. This should be a wake-up call to the nation. All of our daughters are in danger."

Circumstantial evidence indicates that gender was an issue in the killings, but there is absolutely no proof that this is the case. Gender is likely a piece of the puzzle, but hardly the definitive factor. I found this feministic stance highly offensive, based on the statistics I have discovered on "intimate partner" violence/homicide in the U.S.

Consider the following:

The U.S. Department of Justice released a study on domestic violence and spousal homicides on July 11, 1994. In this study it is reported that women kill men at approximately the same rate as men kill women in "spousal" homicides. (A "spousal" homicide is defined as a husband or wife killing the other or a homicide perpetrated by a common-law marriage partner on the other partner.) In addition this study also reported that children were killed by mothers in 55% of all parental homicides.

Also, at the 13th World Congress of Sociology, on July 19, 1994 it was reported that for the U.S. for 1992: For the average of reports by males and females: Husband on wife severe assault occurred at a rate of 2.0%, whereas wife on husband severe assault occurred at a rate of 4.6%. And husband on wife minor assault occurred at a rate of 9.9%, whereas wife on husband assault occurred at a rate of 9.5%.

Additionally, the Justice Department's Report "Violence by Intimates" (March 1998) claims there are about 150,000 male victims of violence by intimates ("intimates" are defined as significant others, boyfriends, girlfriends, or ex-spouses) annually. The same report states that between 1976 and 1996, approximately 13,000 men were murdered by their spouses or ex-spouses compared to approximately 21,000 women murdered by men. Additionally, the report clearly states that black males, are MORE likely to be killed by an intimate than black females. I interpret the main finding of the report to be that women are more likely to be victims of intimate violence, although men are victims too. (You can download a copy of the report from the DOJ's website.)

Keypoints:

  • 1) Women kill men at approximately the same rate as men kill women in "spousal" homicides
  • 2) The rate of husbands severely assaulting wives is grater than wife on husband severe assault, but minor assaults are statistically identical. ("Minor assults" are defined as slapping, kicking, scratching, pushing, throwing objects, etc.)
  • 3) The ratio of female to male murder victims by the hand of an intimate is 1.6 to 1 over the past two decades.

Why haven't we heard more about domestic violence against men? When the term "batterer" is used it is almost always in the male context. Why?

In a Washington Times interview, Murray A. Straus, a sociologist and co-director for the Family Research Laboratory at the University of New Hampshire, blames "women in the battered [women's] shelter movement" for denying that women physically abuse husbands, ex-husbands and boyfriends, or playing down such abuse.

"There's this fiction in the shelter movement that in all cases, it's him, not her" who is responsible for domestic assaults, Mr. Straus said.

Mr. Straus said at least 30 studies of domestic violence - including some he's conducted - have shown both sexes to be equally culpable. But he said some of the research, such as a recent Canadian national survey, "left out data on women abusing men ...because it's politically embarrassing."

In summary let me state that women do bare the brunt of domestic abuse in our society, but the polarized, politically motivated picture some feminists paint is greatly inaccurate and misleading. The attempt to turn an abhorrent tragedy into a political catalyst is degrading to the entire feminist movement.

If we look at the Jonesboro killings as JUST a "Gender Hate Crime" it is clear we will miss the issue completely. The real issue is: Why are our children killing children, and why do we feel so helpless to stop it?

© 2005 - 2012 Hal Levy and the above captioned author.