Gathered together are a number of articles related to how men and boys are treated by society and the media. The articles, for the most part, concentrate on misandry, domestic violence and female violence and reflect an anti-RADICAL FEMINIST viewpoint. Although articles are pro-male, they are not anti-female.

Location: Nova Scotia, Canada

Friday, October 28, 2005


Beyond a One Dimensional View: The Politics of Family Violence in Canada

Reena Sommer, Ph.D.

(1997) In K. Bonnycastle & G. Rigakos (Eds), Unsettling Truths, Toronto, Ont.: Collective Press: During the past few years, a renewed interest in examining both sides of the spouse abuse question has arisen. This alternative approach to understanding the problem of domestic violence has met with opposition from feminists who believe that spouse abuse is rooted in power imbalances between men and women where “power” is primarily held by men.

In this essay, I examine some of the issues surrounding one dimensional feminist views of family violence. I begin with the premise that the public’s acceptance of the wife victim and husband victimizer dichotomy stems from the inappropriate application of the ‘patriarchal model’ of spouse abuse to all instances of domestic abuse. I argue that in addition to shaping and reinforcing the public perception of spouse abuse as exclusively a women’s issue, the reliance on over extended and flawed conceptual framework limits studies of family violence to the detriment of advancing knowledge and protecting all families members exposed to domestic abuse.

A perusal through feminist literatures reveals rifts within feminist understanding of violence. Nonetheless, the feminist understanding of violence that has come to dominate not only feminist research and critique but government programs and policy responses is a one-dimensional ‘patriarchal model’ of violence. This essay challenges the dominant feminist stance by:

identifying the limitations of the patriarchal model and the flaws in the research based upon it such as incomplete literature reviews, flawed methodologies and overgeneralized interpretations of findings, and by addressing the criticisms of research conducted from a gender neutral perspective.

The essay concludes by looking at the politics of family violence. I tell my own story about university based measures to silence my research which espouses a gender neutral stance on family violence and raises troubling questions about women’s violence.

Family violence and feminist scholars rarely dispute the seriousness of domestic abuse. Nor do they disagree that socially constructed wall of privacy surrounding families is a major impediment to understanding this form of violence. For family violence researchers, however, the major point of departure centres on resolving whether or not gender should be considered the pivotal variable for identifying victims and perpetrators of family violence. Feminist researchers maintain that women have been and continue to be the victims of domestic abuse perpetrated by men. Feminist advocating patriarchal models of violence claim that male violence is pervasive and normalized; some go as far as to equate violence against women with ‘jungle warfare’ (Yllo 1993). Violence is viewed instrumentally as one of several ways men maintain their dominance (Goldner, Penn, Sheinberg and Walker 1990; Martin 1976) within the context of male entitlement (Dobash, Dobash, Wilson and Day 1992), control, intimidation and isolation (Yllo 1993). Thus, while violence as a manifestation of power and control is understood by feminists to be characteristically within the confines of male behaviour, violence by women on the other hand is viewed as a less frequent event typically occurring in response to male aggression (Saunders 1986).

This feminist argument is based on the belief that women are controlled and disadvantaged systematically by a patriarchal societies (Dobash and Dobash 1979). According to this perspective, men are socialized into violence by multiple social institutions, most notably marriage and family. The Cycle of Violence Theory, borne out of Lenore Walker’s (1979) research on a self selected sample of battered wives is often used to support this position. Walker’s theory explains how a woman’s emotional connections to her partner (e.g., through commitment, love or children), combined with her lack of material resources (e.g., economic and social) in tandem with cyclical fluctuations between periods of abuse and peaceful coexistence lead often to "learned helplessness". This psychological state explains why many battered women never attempt to leave abusive relationships (Walker 1979) even when their lives or their children’s are at risk.

Central to all feminist conceptualization of violence is gender and the insistence that spousal abuse be interpreted as power differentials (Kurz 1993). Based on this approach, all violence tends to be collapsed into the category of ‘male perpetrated’ negating the dynamics of power across different social contexts. This assumption then shapes how spouse abuse is then investigated. For instance, beginning from the premise (that women are victims and men are perpetrators of family violence), ‘patriarchal model’ research typically dichotomizes abuse as being present or absent and characterize violence only in it most severe forms.


The family violence genre of domestic abuse differs from that of feminist research theoretically and methodologically. The most noted study conducted by family violence researchers is the 1975 National Survey on Family Violence (Straus, Gelles and Steinmetz 1980). Considered a landmark study not only because it extended the scope of domestic abuse beyond clinical populations and alerted the world to the pervasiveness of family violence, it also marked a shift in how spousal abuse was to be regarded. For years, domestic abuse was once thought to be a rare event resulting from mental illness or psychopathology (Gelles 1979). This research challenged that belief by demonstrating that spouse abuse is ubiquitous, affecting all levels of society.

Much of the research that followed focused on establishing the prevalence, correlates and social patterns of spouse abuse (Straus et al. 1980). Most recently however, the focus of research has shifted toward incorporating and understanding how the interactions of social forces such as unemployment, stress and past abuse and constitutional factors such as personality, alcohol consumption and a family history of abuse (Bland and Orn1986; Gondolf 1988; Sommer, Barnes and Murray 1992; Sommer 1994) contribute to family violence. Regardless of the approach used, surveys conducted over the past 30 years in the U.S. (Straus et al. 1980; Straus and Gelles 1986; Straus and Kaufman Kantor 1994), Canada (Brinkerhoff and Lupri 1986, Kennedy and Dutton 1989, Sommer 1994) and Britain (Russell and Hudson 1992) consistently suggest that men and women share an equal involvement as perpetrators of domestic abuse.. Therefore, family violence researchers adopt a gender neutral approach in their research recognizing that domestic abuse involves a complex set of interpersonal and social dynamics that stem from maladaptive processes within family systems.

Notwithstanding the contributions made by the women’s movement in bringing the issue of wife battering to the forefront, we cannot overlook the existence of theoretical and methodological limitations inherent in the patriarchal model on which these efforts were based.

To begin, it can be argued that the patriarchal argument is limited because it is dated and ignores the realities of the present. I refer reader to the laws sanctioning spouse abuse dating back to the 1700’s which have been consistently used to support the “male oppressor/female victim” position (Sommers 1994). Alternatively, the evidence demonstrating changes in society’s attitude toward women through progress made in the areas of employment equity, affirmative action and child care have instead been ignored (Sommer 1996). Through the selective presentation of evidence supporting men’s power over women , the experiences of present day western women have been falsely characterized as stagnant and oppressive. Yet, when confronted with research which contradicts the systemic subjugation of women, feminists justify excluding it by alleging that the methodology used in that research fails to consider the qualitative aspects of women’s experiences (Straus and Gelles 1990).

Beyond the above limitations, various inconsistencies are also evident within the existing literature. For example, the literature on violence within lesbian relationships reports that the rates of abuse among lesbians is equivalent to those found within heterosexual populations (Marie 1984; Renzetti 1992). This body of research challenges feminist doctrine espousing that violence against women is the result of men's overt attempts to dominate them or that women are inherently nonviolent. Research demonstrating women’s over-represented as perpetrators in incidents of physical child abuse (Coleman and Charles 1990; Star 1983; Straus et al. 1980) further challenges arguments against women’s proclivity toward violence. Research by Simons (1995) reports that one of the risk factors in a woman’s abuse by her husband is her own delinquency as a child and suggests that a history of maladaptive conduct may be an antecedent to later abuse. Finally, for the past ten years, research on child sexual abuse has identified women as well as men as perpetrators (Kendall-Tackett and Simon 1987; McCarty 1986; Schultz and Jones 1983). Research by Kaufman, Wallace, Johnson and Reeder (1995) adds insight into understanding the female offender by reporting that compared to males, they are more likely to exploit their victims.

A number of salient criticisms can also be raised about the methodological limitations of spouse abuse research guided by the patriarchal model of spouse abuse. While the cycle of abuse provides an explanation of spouse abuse that is consistent with the large number of women identified by clinical samples who refuse to press charges against their partners following a domestic abuse incident or who welcome them back following an arrest, it does not describe the experiences of all women in abusive relationships. The population upon which Walker’s (1979) theory was developed raises questions regarding its application as a universal explanation of wife abuse that polarises victims and perpetrators on the basis of gender. Not only has the practice of overgeneralising this theory generated misinformation, it has also been instrumental in shaping public perception and developing programs, policies and legislation that have little applied value in the general population.

In addition to the inappropriate application of theory, limitations related to problems in reporting of findings and flaws in research design are also evident. The following studies have been selected because they are based on Canadian data: the Canadian Advisory Council on the Status of Women report by Linda Macleod (1987), the Canadian Panel on Violence Against Women (1993), DeKeseredy and Kelly (1993)’s national dating survey, and the Violence Against Women Survey (Canadian Center for Justice Statistics 1994).

Macleod's (1987) study reported that approximately one million Canadian women (1 in 10) annually. When one considers the source of this estimation (from information drawn from transition houses and inappropriately generalized to the female population at large (Lees 1992), one soon realises that it is nothing more than a falsely grounded guestimation. Similarly, the Canadian Panel on Violence Against Women (1993) left the impression that sexual abuse is almost universal when it reported that 98% of a self selected sample of abused women from Metro Toronto had also suffered some form of sexual abuse.

Another set of criticisms relates to the selective analysing and reporting of data, as well as the designing of investigations to generate desired findings. DeKeseredy and Kelly (1993)’s study on dating violence analysed data collected from male and female students who were administered different questionnaires based on their gender. The questionnaires given to the males cast them as the perpetrators while the questionnaires given to the females cast them as the victims. Given this questionnaire structure and a broad definition of abuse used in the study, it is not surprising that 81% of females were reported to have experienced some form of abuse. Although the principal investigators also collected data on females’ use of violence __, these results have yet to be released. This leaves one to ponder whether the researchers’ reluctance to release their findings is because their data on female initiated abuse contradict their theory that males are socialized into violence against women (DeKeseredy and Kelly 1993).

The Violence Against Women Survey (Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics 1994) which interviewed 12,300 Canadian women on their experiences of violence, reported that 51 percent encountered some form of violence at some point during their lives since the age of sixteen. Estimates of violence experienced across various contexts were also reported. However, missing from the Family Violence in Canada report (Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics 1994) were the following findings taken from the Public Use Microdata File Documentation and User’s Guide (Statistics Canada, 1994): 1) being "pushed, shoved or grabbed" was the most common form of abuse experienced by women , 2) only 17% of abused women reported ever fearing for their lives , and 3) only 2.35% of abused women ever contacted a women's shelter (Statistics Canada, 1994). In failing to report these findings along with the others, the report distorts toward the negative the experiences of the majority of women in the general population. By selectively reporting their own data, the Family Violence in Canada report fails to provide balance to the feminist position that violence against women is a pervasive and systemic societal problem.

Beyond the problem of selective reporting of findings, a number of other flaws have also been identified. They include: 1) an unrepresentative sample, 2) the use of double-barrelled questions and over-inclusive questions, 3) biased wording, 4) the presentation of the context of abuse as the proportion of multiple relationships, rather than the proportion of responding women, and 5) the selective citing of research literature to support the conceptual frameworks of feminist advocacy (See Sommer and Fekete 1995 for a detailed discussion).

Criticisms of research conducted from a gender neutral perspective have generally been directed at the Conflict Tactics Scales (CTS) (Straus 1979) because it has been alleged to understate the victimization of women and overstate the violence by women (Straus 1990). Of the criticisms waged, the charges that the CTS fails to examine the context, initiation and consequences of abuse_are the most common.

Those who criticize the CTS for not considering these variables clearly lack an understanding of the purpose and the design of this measure. The CTS is a concise instrument that can be used in interview or self administered formats (Straus 1979) and has the capacity to generate data from large samples. It is designed to objectively measure a broad range of conflict resolving behaviours across varying populations. Straus (1990) argued that an examination of the context, initiation and consequences of abuse as part of the CTS would compromise its conciseness and would also assume a relationship between them and the CTS items. Family violence researchers have alternatively assessed these variables apart from the CTS and analysed their interaction effects (See Kaufman Kantor and Straus 1987; Sommer et al. 1992; Stets and Straus 1989).

In spite of the numerous papers criticizing the CTS, it continues to be the mostly widely used measure of family violence even among feminist researchers (DeKeseredy and Kelly 1995; Okun 1986) . Even when other measures have been employed, the overall estimates of abuse are still comparable (Straus 1993). With respect to the latter, when comparing my own findings based on a random sample of adult men and women living in Winnipeg, Manitoba and using the CTS, with those of the Violence Against Women Survey (Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics 1994) using a modified version of the CTS (e.g., added an item on sexual assault and collapsed “threats” and “the use of a gun or knife” into one item), the overall prevalence of abuse by men was 26.3%.,and 30%, respectively. Even without accounting for variability in abuse rates across the province or differences due to reporting sources, these two findings are nevertheless remarkably similar. Given the similarity in these findings, the question needed to be asked is “why then are the estimates of female perpetrated abuse using the CTS or any other measure deemed less cogent”. Perhaps what is really at issue is the failure of the patriarchal model to explain what it has long espoused.

For me, the most troubling aspect of conducting gender neutral research has been coping with personal attacks. While the attack on The Battered Husband Syndrome was documented by media and academics, other examples of this type of intolerance are less well publicized.

In my own academic history, there have been a few occasions where I became convinced that my work was being criticized not on its academic merit, but rather because it did not mesh theoretically with what I have already described as a dominant feminist approach. Indeed, in one particular instance, my research received front page attention in a local newspaper. Soon after, the family violence perspective employed throughout my work, the credibility of my methodology, my understanding of the literature, and my insensitive commentary was the subject of heavy interrogation by fellow academics. Of course, this should not be unexpected in academia since dialogue and criticism are not only anticipated, but preferred. Indeed, early feminists often suffered and continue to endure marginalization and intolerance.

Whomever this type of academic censorship attacks, whether feminist or family violence researcher, the individual toll quite often results in the cultivation of vendettas and continued intolerance - an atmosphere antithetical to serious scholarship. How unfortunate it is when the advancement of ideology takes precedence over the pursuit of knowledge or the welfare of society. The most damaging effect is that instead of accepting the reality of female perpetrated violence, most feminists dismiss any data that do not mesh with a unidimensional patriarchal model. This tendency undermines their ability to cogently speak to woman initiated violence and stunts the progress of scholarship.

The evidence in this chapter points to researchers’ reluctance to move beyond a one dimensional view of domestic abuse to consider both men’s and women’s relationship to violence. This trepidation, fueled by personal politics or even fear of political and academic reprisal, remains an obstacle to understanding how power and control are negotiated within familial contexts specifically. Because the prevailing view of domestic abuse fails to recognize the interactive and reciprocal relations of violent incidents (and its antecedents), support for the needs of women, men and children living in abusive relationships is limited. Until domestic abuse is seen as a problem stemming from maladaptive family relations embedded within wider maladaptive social conditions, rather than the dysfunctional conduct of one individual, or perhaps one gender, viable solutions to family violence will not be forthcoming.

This justification for using qualitative methods is selective. The literature on family violence contains numerous examples of feminist research using quantitative research methods (DeKeseredy & Kelly, 1995; Koss, Gidycz & Wisniewski, 1987; Violence Against Women Survey, 1994)

Questions regarding female initiated violence were framed within the context of self defence. This estimate was derived from a composite variable assessing reports of violence across a number of contexts (e.g., current and previous intimate relationships, dating relationships, non intimate relationships, strangers) and included forms of violence ranging from threats to the use of weapons. For the majority of women, the violence reported was an isolated incident occurring at some point in the past. For frequency counts on reports of violence across all contexts, see the Violence Against Women Survey: Public Use Microdata File Documentation and User’s Guide (Statistics Canada, 1994).

Ironically, this is a similar criticism that family violence researchers raise regarding feminist studies on wife abuse.

The estimate of abuse noted is based on Manitoba respondents.

Bland R. & Orn H. 1986. Family violence and psychiatric disorder. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry 3: 129-37.

Coleman H. and Charles G. 1990. Family violence. Canadian Journal of Home Economic 40 (4): 174-78.

DeKeseredy W. S. and Kelly K. 1993. The incidence and prevalence of woman abuse in Canadian university and college dating relationships. Canadian Journal of Sociology 18 (2): 137-159.

Dobash R. E. and Dobash R. 1979. Violence against Wives: A Case against the Patriarchy. New York: Free Press.

Dobash R..P., Dobash R. E., Wilson M. and Daly, M. 1992. The myth of sexual symmetry in marital violence. Social Problems 39: 71-91.

Gelles R. J. 1979. Battered wives. In J. P. Martin (Ed.), Violence in the Family. London, England: John Wiley & Sons.

Goldner V., Penn P., Sheinberg M. and Walker G. 1990. Love and violence: Gender paradoxes in volatile attachments. Family Process 29: 343-364.

Gondolf E. W. 1988. Who are those guys? Toward a behavioural typology. Violence and Victims 3 (3): 187-203.

Lees D. 1992 The war against men. Toronto Life (December): 45-9, 98-104.

Kantor G. K. and Straus M.A. 1987. “The Drunken Bum Theory of Wife Beating.”Social Problems 34: 213-30.

Kaufman K. L., Wallace A. M., Johnson C. F. and Reeder M. L. 1995. Comparing female and male perpetrators’ modus operandi. Journal of Interpersonal Violence 10 (3): 322-33.

Kendall-Tackett K. A. and Simon A. F. 1987. Perpetrators and their acts: Data from 365 adults molested as children. Child Abuse & Neglect 11: 237-245.

Kennedy L. W. and Dutton D. G. 1989. The incidence of wife assault in Alberta. Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science 21 (1): 40-54.

Koss M. P., Gidycz C. A. and Wisniewski N. 1987. The scope of rape: Incidence and prevealence of sexual aggression and victimization in a national sample of higher education students. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 55: 162-170.

Kurtz D. 1993. Physical assaults by husbands: A major social problem. In R. J. Gelles and D. R. Loseke (Eds.), Current Controversies on Family Violence. Newbury Park, CA.: Sage

Macleod L. 1987 Battered But Not Beaten: Preventing Wife Battering in Canada. Ottawa: Canadian Advisory Council on the Status of Women.

McCarty L. 1986. Mother-child incest: Characteristics of the offender. Child Welfare, 65: 447-58.

Marie S. 1984. Lesbian battering: An inside view. Victimology 9 (1:, 16-20.

Okun L. 1986. Woman Abuse: Facts Replacing Myths. Albany, N.Y.: State University of New York Press.

Martin D. 1976. Battered Wives. New York, N.Y.: Pocket Books

Renzetti C. M. 1992. Violent Betrayal: Partner Abuse in Lesbian Relationships. Newbury Park, Ca.: Sage Publications.

Saunders D. G. 1986. When battered women use violence: Husband-abuse or self defence? Victims and Violence 1 (1): 47-60.

Scultz L. and Jones P. 1983. Sexual abuse of children: Issues for social service and health professionals. Child Welfare 62: 101.

Simons R. L., Johnson C., Beaman J. and Conger, R. D. 1993. Explaining women's double jeopardy: Factors that mediate the association between harsh treatment as a child and violence by a husband. Journal of Marriage and the Family 55: 713-23.

Sommer R., Barnes G. E. and Murray R. P. 1992. Alcohol consumption, alcohol dependence, personality and female perpetrated spousal abuse. Personality and Individual Differences 13 (12): 1315-23.

Sommer R. 1994. Male and Female Perpetrated Partner Abuse: Testing a Diathesis-Stress Model. An unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Manitoba: Winnipeg, Canada.

________. 1996. Controversy within family violence research. In R.J. Simon (Ed.), From Data to Public Policy. Lanham, MD.: University Press of America.

Sommer R. and Fekete J. July, 1995. How Stats Canada distorted the perception of violence against women in Canada. A paper presented at the Fourth International Family Violence Research Conference: Durham, New Hampshire

Sommers C. H. 1994. Who Stole Feminism? How Women Have Betrayed Women. New York, N.Y.: Simon & Schuster.

Star B. 1983. Helping the Abuser: Intervening Effectively in Family Violence. New York, N. Y.: Family Services Association of America.

Statistics Canada 1994. Violence Against Women Survey: Public Use Microdata File Documentation and User's Guide: Ottawa, Ontario.

Statistics Canada 1994. Family Violence in Canada. Ottawa, Ontario: Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics.

Steinmetz S. K. 1978. The battered husband syndrome. Victimology 2 (3-4): 499-509.

Stets J. E. and Straus M. A. 1989. The marriage license as a hitting license: A comparison of assaults in dating, cohabiting and married couples. Journal of Family Violence 4 (2): 161-80.

Straus M. A. 1979. Measuring intrafamilial conflict and violence: The Conflict (CT) Scales. Journal of Marriage and the Family 41: 75-88.

__________.1990. The Conflict Tactics Scales and its critics: An evaluation and new data on validity and reliability. In M.A. Straus & R.J. Gelles (Eds.), Physical Violence in American Families: Risk Factors and Adaptations to Violence in 8,145 Families. New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Publishers.

________. 1993. Physical assaults by wives: A major social problem. In R. J. Gelles and D. R. Loseke (Eds.), Current Controversies of Family Violence. Newbury Park, CA.:Sage.

Straus M. A., Gelles R. J. and Steinmetz S. K. 1980. Behind Closed Doors: Violence in the American Family. Anchor: New York, N. Y.

Straus M. A. and Gelles R. J. 1990 (Eds.). Physical Violence in American Families: Risk Factors and Adaptations to Violence in 8,145 Families. New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Publishers.

The Canadian Panel on Violence Against Women 1993. Changing the Landscape: Ending Violence-Achieving Equality. Ottawa, Ontario: Minister of Supply and Services Canada.

Walker L. E. 1979. The Battered Woman. New York, N. Y.: Harper & Row, Publishers.

Yllo K. A. 1993. Through a feminist lens: Gender, power and violence. In R. J. Gelles and D. R. Loseke (Eds.), Current Controversies on Family Violence, Newbury Park, CA.: Sage.


Tuesday, October 11, 2005


What about girls? Are they really not aggressive?

Many of the books or papers on aggression in children focus primarily on boys. Most people assume that boys are more aggressive than girls, which leads to problems for boys, but not for girls, in their peer relationships. In fact, many of the research studies that examine aggressive children only include boys.


In her recent work, Dr. Nikki Crick of the University of Minnesota has challenged the assumption that girls are not aggressive (Crick, 1996; Crick & Grotpeter, 1995; Grotpeter & Crick, 1996). Dr. Crick argues that girls have not been found to be aggressive in previous studies because researchers have been looking at the wrong kind of aggression.

Most of the previous research, as well as interventions with aggressive, peer-rejected children, define aggression as either physical or verbal behavior intended to hurt another person. Crick believes that girls, in general, do not engage in this type of aggression against their peers. They do, however, employ relational aggression. Relational aggression is behavior specifically intended to hurt another child's friendships or feelings of inclusion in a peer group. An example of relational aggression would be a child spreading hurtful rumors about another child so that other children are less inclined to be friendly toward her. Or, a child might retaliate against another child by not including her in the play group. Relational aggression, then, is deliberate manipulation on the part of a child to damage another child's peer relationships.

Crick's work with elementary school children has demonstrated that the degree of aggressiveness exhibited by girls has been underestimated, mainly because it is difficult to measure. Clearly, when one child hits another, that child is behaving in an overtly aggressive way. In contrast, how do you tell when one child has started a rumor about another?

Because adults are not always privy to the comings and goings of children's peer groups, they may be unaware of any relational aggression. Although Crick detected overlap in teachers and children's reports of relational aggression in the classrooms where she conducted her research, she did not detect complete overlap. In other words, relational aggression occurred without the knowledge of the teacher.


Using measures completed both by teachers and children, Crick found that girls engaged in higher levels of relational aggression than boys. Girls who engaged in relational aggression exhibited a number of adjustment difficulties, and had self-reported higher levels of depression, loneliness, and social isolation than their peers. In addition, peers disliked relationally aggressive girls more than other girls.

Girls who engaged in relational aggression early in the school year were more likely to be rejected by their peers later in the school year than girls who did not engage in relational aggression early on. Not surprisingly, children who demonstrated relational aggression at one time point were likely to continue using it throughout the school year.

Because research finds relational aggression to be a relatively stable behavior in children, Crick's research has implications for practitioners who conduct interventions with peer-rejected children. Clearly, children who engage in relational aggression are candidates for peer relationship intervention programs to prevent future peer rejection.


Previous research on children's peer relationships has shown that having at least one friend buffers a child from some of the negative effects of peer rejection. Because relational aggression involves manipulating friendships, Crick and Grotpeter (1995) were interested in examining the friendships of relationally aggressive children. Friendships of relationally aggressive children did not differ from those of nonaggressive children on measures of caring, companionship, and helping one another. Relationally aggressive children's friendships did differ from nonrelationally aggressive children in several ways, however. First, relationally aggressive children and their best friends reported higher levels of intimacy in their friendships than did other children. This high level of intimacy probably puts the nonaggressive friend at risk because the relationally aggressive child has ready access to important, private information about the other child. A relationally aggressive child could easily use threats to disclose the information to manipulate her friend. Second, a high level of exclusivity exists in the friendship with the relationally aggressive child. Again, this may put the other friend at risk to be manipulated because she may have limited friends to turn to as alternatives. A final feature of these friendships is their high degree of internal relational aggression. Relationally aggressive children direct many of their aggressive behaviors toward their friends. These findings are dramatically different from those of overtly aggressive children and their friends. Overtly aggressive children tend to behave aggressively toward those external to the friendship rather than toward each other. The aggressive behavior is directed outside the dyad.

This line of research clearly will be of interest to practitioners as it develops. Although no interventions have been developed to date using this information, practitioners should develop prevention interventions with relationally aggressive children.

By Nina S. Mounts, Ph.D.,
The Ohio State University
Human Development and Family Life Bulletin
A Review of Research and Practice
Volume 3, Issue 2, Summer 1997

Crick, N. R., & Grotpeter, J.K. (1995). Relational aggression, gender, and social-psychological adjustment. Child Development, 66, 710-722.

Crick, N. R. (1996). The role of overt aggression, relational aggression, and prosocial behavior in the prediction of children's future social adjustment. Child Development, 67, 2317-2327.

Monday, October 10, 2005


Congress Should Kill Discriminatory Domestic Violence Act
The Violence Against Women Act is a living symbol of anti-male bias in law

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) will expire this September if it is not reauthorized by Congress. Largely viewed as an anti-domestic violence measure, VAWA has become a flashpoint for the men's rights advocates who see it instead as the living symbol of anti-male bias in law.

Although a significant number of domestic violence victims are male, VAWA defines victims as female. As one result, tax-funded domestic violence shelters and services assist women and routinely turn away men, often including older male children.

Estimates vary on the prevalence of male victims. Professor Martin Fiebert of California State University at Long Beach offers a bibliography that "summarizes 170 scholarly investigations, 134 empirical studies and 36 reviews."

It indicates that men and women are victimized at much the same rate. A lower-bound figure is provided by a recent DOJ study: Men constituted 27 percent of the victims of family violence between 1998 and 2002.

Accordingly, men's rights activists accuse the VAWA of not merely being unconstitutional for excluding men, but also of dismissing the existence of one-quarter to one-half of domestic violence victims.

The criticism should go deeper. In many ways, VAWA typifies the legislative approach to social problems, which arose over the past few decades and peaked during the Clinton years.

The legislative approach follows a pattern: public furor stirs over a social problem; Congress is pressured to "do something;" remedial bureaucracy arises, often with scant planning; the problem remains; more money and bureaucracy is demanded; those who object are called hostile to "victims."

VAWA arose largely from the concern stirred by feminists in the '80s. They quite properly focused on domestic violence as a neglected and misunderstood social problem. But their analysis went to extremes and seemed tailor-made to create public furor.

As an example, consider a widely circulated claim: "a woman is beaten every 15 seconds." The statistic is sometimes attributed to the FBI, other times to a 1983 report by the Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Statistics. But neither the FBI nor the DOJ sites seem to include that statement or a similar one.

Men's rights activists contend that the elusive statistic derives from the book Behind Closed Doors: Violence in the American Family (1980) by Murray Straus, Richard J. Gelles and Suzanne K. Steinmetz. The book was based on the first National Family Violence Survey (1975), from which the FBI and other federal agencies drew.

The survey does support the claim that a woman is battered every 15 seconds but also indicates that men are also victims. By omitting male victims from their efforts, however, domestic violence activists create the impression of a national epidemic that uniquely victimizes women who require special protection.

In response to public outcry, Congress was pressured to "do something." It passed VAWA in 1994, granting $1.6 billion to create a bureaucracy of researchers, advocates, experts, and victim assistants, which some collectively call "the domestic violence industry."

Reauthorized in 2000, VAWA's funding rose to $3.33 billion to be expended over five years. Now, VAWA 2005 seeks more money.

Voices like the National Organization for Women insist that "the problem" remains. To argue for the "growing problem of gender-based violence," however, NOW reaches beyond traditionally defined violence against women and seeks to protect high school girls from abusive dating experiences. NOW states, "Nearly one in three high-school-age women experience some type of abuse -- whether physical, sexual or psychological -- in their dating relationships."

Without expanding the definition in such a manner, it would be difficult to argue for more funding.

Data indicates that traditionally defined violence against women has declined sharply. The rate of family violence reportedly "fell from about 5.4 victims per 1,000 to 2.1 victims per 1,000 people 12 and older," according to DOJ statistics.

VAWA 2005 faces much more opposition than its earlier incarnations. One reason is that men's rights activists have been presenting counter-data and arguments for over 10 years.

Advocates of VAWA 2005 have responded with pre-emptive accusations that paint opponents as anti-victim: for example, "If Congress does not act quickly to reauthorize the legislation, they are putting women's and children's lives at risk."

But most of the anti-VAWA arguments are not anti-victim. Many are anti-bureaucracy and could apply to any of the so-called "industries" created by the legislative approach to social problems. (The Child Protective Services is another example.)

Some anti-bureaucracy objections focus on the billions of dollars transferred into programs, often with little oversight or accountability attached.

Other objections point to those dollars being used for political purposes rather than clear and immediate assistance to victims. The misuse of tax dollars is most often alleged on the grassroots level, where men's rights activists often face VAWA-funded opposition to political measures, especially on father's rights issues.

One incident in New Hampshire illustrates the point. Earlier this year, The Presumption of Shared Parental Rights and Responsibilities Act was defeated by vehement opposition from the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence. The coalition both wrote to and spoke before the Legislature. Accordingly, father's rights advocates in New Hampshire are seeking language in VAWA 2005 to prohibit any VAWA-funded agency from "legislative lobbying, advertising, or otherwise supporting the endorsement of, or opposition to, any state proposed legislation" which is not explicitly related to the prevention of domestic violence.

I think they should seek to kill the act entirely. I believe VAWA is not only ideologically inspired and discriminatory, it is also an example of why bureaucracy-driven solutions to human problems do not work.

I hope VAWA becomes the Titanic of the legislative approach to social problems. I hope it sinks spectacularly.

By Wendy McElroy,
30 June 2005


Remembering America's War Dead - Who Never had the Right to Vote

Sadly, our societal institutions are a little misandrist these days, respecting the sacrifices of millions of men who died in our nation’s wars with questionable sincerity. The lack of respect appears to extend to all male veterans, living and dead. Ironically, some say hypocritically, a large segment of our nation chooses to blame men for the violence that plagues the world, and our society at home. Our nation is a little “gender short sighted” in embracing a gender feminist movement that says, “Men are prone to violence and use violence to have power and control ,” then passes laws so the male gender is almost exclusively the only one required to serve in combat situations.

Historically, it is men who almost exclusively make up the millions who’ve been “asked” to die for their country, and in that group of millions is a select group of men seldom mentioned. Sadly, that group of Americans (all male) from a recent time in our history, were asked to make the supreme sacrifice for their country (and did so) without having ever been granted the sacred right of voting in their own country (America). Their story is a sacrifice, not fully told or honored as we ring the sacred bell of freedom in patriotic celebration for our most revered heroes, the honored dead, this Memorial Day.

Much has been written and talked about in gender feminist, women’s studies circles about the privileges that males in American society enjoy, and the historic oppression that women have endured. Here is one example:

“Over the course of a semester in any Women’s and Gender Studies course, students become aware of how, despite extraordinary advances in recent decades, gender inequality still permeates our society. Every male in the U.S., no matter his age or race or class, finds his path made just a bit smoother every day because he happens to have an X and Y chromosome.” - Women's and Gender Studies Newsletter, The College of New Jersey, April 2002, Male Privilege, Men’s Responsibility, by Michael Robertson

I have heard nary a word in any college class, about the historical oppression that males have endured as a group. The historical, “Patriarchal” oppression of women’s voting rights never fails to occupy a significant amount of curriculum time in these classes. Yet, there are few if any women who lived in the 20th century who endured the oppression of their voting rights on a scale comparable to the thousands, or tens of thousands of men who died fighting for their country in war (without ever having had the right to vote).

The 19th amendment to the U. S. constitution, giving women the right to vote, was ratified on Aug 26, 1920.

Many states were even allowing women to vote before this date. Within the time parameters of the date of passage of the 19th amendment, it is fairly safe to say that, no woman, born in the 20th century, was ever denied the right to vote in America in her lifetime (at least because of her gender). My own dear Mom who was born in 1908, and who died in 1997 at 89 years of age, was never without her right to vote upon reaching the eligible age of 21.

In the 60’s and 70’s the Vietnam conflict was raging, and once again, males only were required by law to register for the draft when turning age 18 (Selective Service has no requirements for females to register, but many harsh penalties for men who fail to register). Once again, males only were being drafted and sent to fight in this nation’s war. Once again, men comprised over 99.99% of the dying and wounded, and as history shows, many of them didn’t even have the right to vote. I’m sure young men of less than voting age died, or were wounded, or served in WWI, WWII, and the Korean War as well, but from what I’ve read it appears the age of the American Serviceman was as young as it’s ever been during the Vietnam conflict.

I can only speculate that the reason for the spike in the number of deaths in the 19 and 20 year old age groups (see below) was due to the fact that at age 19, often on a man’s birthday, he would receive a letter from his draft board beginning with the salutation, “Greetings.” He really didn’t need to read the rest. Translating that into simple terms, “Your drafted buddy!” I know. I got one of those letters.

Often at this point, many guys would enlist in a favorite branch of the service, sometimes trying to negotiate some civilian transferable job training out of a recruiter, but often a guy just waited for the inevitable paper work giving instructions as to where he was to report for boot camp.

On the web page listing the names of the people whose names appear on the Vietnam wall there is a wealth of information detailing the lives of those who died.

The information appears far better documented than that from earlier wars, and there’s even a search engine to make doing research a whole lot less time consuming. The sad truth of the matter is that there were so many names that came up, when I put in the search criteria, that I kept getting “There were too many matches,” as an “invalidating” response. I swallowed the lump in my throat, narrowed my search to just include California men who died in the Vietnam conflict (who were not 21 years of age), then I was even more saddened to see how many of them were so very young. The results are as follows:

There was one (1) - 17 year old.

There were two hundred twenty eight (228) - 18 year olds.

There were eight hundred twenty five (825) - 19 year olds.

There were one thousand three hundred seventy two (1,372) - 20 year olds.

That makes for a sub total of 2,426 men, but we must subtract the men who died after July 1, 1971. On July 1, 1971, the 26th amendment to the U.S. Constitution became law and 18 year olds were given the right to vote. I rechecked the dates for all 2,426 California men who died in Vietnam and subtracted 45 of them, under 21 years of age, who died after July 1, 1971. After subtracting those 45 men, I wound up with a great grand total of two thousand three hundred eighty one (2,381) California men who died in Vietnam without ever having the reached legal voting age.

All eight (8) American women who died in Vietnam where over the age of 21 at the time of their deaths. However, all those who died serving their country in Vietnam (without ever having the legal right to vote) were male.

There were many, many other 20th century, American men, and a few women, who didn’t have the right to vote while serving their country in the military in time of war (because they were less than 21), who are still alive today. I’m one of them. I was in Vietnam, or Southeast Asia in 67, 68, 69 and 70 for a total of 21 months, and I was first allowed to vote in the Nixon/McGovern election of 1972 after I was honorably discharged from military service.

Please remember, the male deaths I am citing are only from one state (California) and one war (conflict), Vietnam. There are names from 49 other states on the Vietnam Wall memorial. There are thousands, or more likely tens of thousands, of young men who died in Vietnam without ever having had the right to vote. There are men, many men, from other wars in this century who gave their lives for America without ever having been given the right to exercise their choice for the leadership and direction of their country.

The further back we go in time, the more difficult it becomes to get detailed information concerning America’s war dead, but this site offered relevant data concerning the lives of twelve courageous Marines who where involved in one of the most famous and celebrated events of WWII, the flag raising on Iwo Jima

It bears mentioning that there were actually two flag raisings on Iwo Jima, but it is the second one that is most often remembered due to a photograph that has become nothing short of an American icon,

The lives of the second flag raisers at Iwo Jima are chronicled on this web site,

One key piece of information that can be gleaned from the information given on the “Find A Grave, Claim to Fame: Flag Raisers at Iwo Jima” web page is the age of those flag raisers at the time of their deaths. Of the twelve flag raisers, six died in the war, and four of those six died having never reached America’s legal voting age of 21:

Block, Harlon Henry, November 6, 1924 d. March 1, 1945 (age 20 years, 3 months)

Charlo, Pvt. Louis Charles, September 26, 1926 d. March 2, 1945 (age 18 years, 5 months)

Sousley, Franklin, September 19, 1925 d. March 21, 1945 (age 19 years, 6 months)

Thomas Jr., Boots (Ernest Ivy) March 10, 1924 d. March 3, 1945 (age 20 years, 11 months)

Considering the present, politically correct, gender feminist climate in America’s educational and governmental institutions, I guess I really don’t expect much recognition concerning the historical voting oppression experienced by America’s apparently ten’s of thousands of eternally silenced American males.

In California, where I live today, we don’t talk about men’s historical oppression in any college classroom that I’ve seen, and we sure don’t bring it up in the politically correct halls of our government buildings. On a trip to Sacramento (California’s Capitol) a few years back, I visited a local museum in “old town.” I was appalled to see an exhibit honoring the contributions of Californians to WWII, where a woman stood prominently in the foreground in military garb and a male G.I. stood obscurely behind her, almost as an afterthought.

Today in Iraq, women comprise roughly 3% of America’s war dead and casualties, and they are exempted by current law from the vast majority of combat. From this Time Magazine Cover of 2003 (Person of the Year) it appears some journalistic paradigms don’t require nearly the same sacrifice of women before they are honored in standing in front of, instead of beside, men.

Special services and privileges for women, and special duties and responsibilities for males seems to be the forte in all areas of life in America today (not just in the military), especially in politically correct California. By California law there is no recognition of men as victims of domestic violence (only females) - even if you‘re a male veteran and victim of a battering wife. Shelter services for battered men are virtually non-existent.

For years some male California veterans have been horribly targeted and cheated by Paternity Fraud, while California governments at all levels do everything they can to consider the rights of California’s male veterans last.

For the men of California who died serving their country in Vietnam (having never enjoyed the privilege of voting), all the recognition I’ve ever seen them receive in “Academia” is that they where patriarchs (prone to violence) who where unfairly entitled with privilege by fact of their male birth. I find it ironic that our liberal colleges plaster billboards in the hallways of classroom buildings with posters asking, “What can men can do to stop their violence against women,” while hypocritically doing nothing to see that males aren’t unfairly targeted by law for military service, and the violence the ensues subsequently. I find it hypocritical that Title IX, especially in California, spends so much effort worrying about equity in sports programs, but ignores combat roles for females. When will that playing field be leveled?

Under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), billions have been spent to help women who’ve "allegedly" been victims of violence, while purposely, systematically, egregiously ignoring male victims of heterosexual, intimate partner violence. Much of VAWA’s money has come to California, yet there’s pitifully little money available under this program to help the many men who are victims of heterosexual, intimate partner violence. Shockingly, the sexist, anti-male VAWA is coming up for billions more in reauthorization money. Where is a Violence Against Men Act (VAMA) for our returning war vets? At last count, about 97% of America’s war dead and wounded in Iraq were men. Historically, that number has been 99.999%. Spending billions more on a fraudulent Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) that does nothing for men, and is heavily lacking in any kind of scrutiny or accountability is a gross misspending of taxpayer’s money. When we consider that our returning male war veterans have been intimately exposed to the most horrific experiences of violence, that flagrant fraud known as VAWA is all the more despicable for its anti-male, anti-veteran sexism. VAWA is not only a California disgrace, it’s a National disgrace.

On the web site of the National Coalition of Free Men, Los Angeles, NCFMLA addresses the issue of the position of Deputy Secretary of Men’s Veterans Affairs, or rather the lack of that position. NCFMLA’s insight speaks volumes about the lack of respect and honor that the State of California shows to its current male war veterans:

“In the matter of veteran's affairs, California has established a "Deputy Secretary of Women Veterans Affairs" that has responsibility over women's veteran affairs. Nevertheless, male veterans are apparently seen by California as being war chattel that is to be consumed in battle and returned in a casket. Otherwise, California would recognize the equal need for a "Deputy Secretary of Men's Veterans Affairs." It seems clear that California presumes that males have no need for a "Deputy of Male Veterans Affairs," because of their gender and their absence of value - except that derived from being war chattel.”

Let us place our hands over our hearts, face the flag and give a special salute to those “overlooked” American men who never got the chance to vote in their lifetimes. Let us salute all the brave Americans who gave their all for the freedom our country enjoys today. Let us not forget this Memorial Day how actively our country works, especially in California, to disenfranchise America’s male military veterans for the sake of an un-American gender feminist agenda. The un-American gender feminist agenda that bigotedly strives to undermine the constitutional guarantees of equal protection, equal rights, and equal justice for all (including men) honors no one, but instead, harms us all.

by Ray Blumhorst, May 28, 2005


Prone to Violence
Erin Pizzey

Erin Pizzey founded the first refuge for battered wives in 1971. As a result of that work there is now refuge all over the world. She is also a writer and a journalist. She has two children and two grandchildren from her first marriage. She has written: Scream Quietly or the Neighbors Will Hear, Infernal Child and The Slut's Cookbook.
The events and incidents referred to in this book are based on the authors' personal experience and information given to them. The names of the persons referred to in the text work have been altered and all reasonable steps have been taken to ensure that they are not identifiable.


The premise of our work is that every baby needs to feel love and happiness. A baby will bond these instinctive feelings to whatever people and situations are available. It is the birth-right of every child to be surrounded by nurturing and loving parents in an atmosphere of peace. In a non-violent family, a child grows up in such an atmosphere, and then, working from the secure base of being loved, will develop an independent and choosing self that is able to recreate happy love both in future relationships and with its own children. In a violent family, however, this birthright to love and peace is betrayed, because from the moment of conception the child lives in a world where emotional and physical pain and danger are always present. The child then bonds to pain. This bonding becomes an addiction to pain. The child then cannot grow to form an independent self, because he or she is slave to this addiction. Throughout life, the person then recreates situations of violence and pain, for those situations stir the only feelings of love and satisfaction the person has ever known.

Whether the children of violent families learn to find satisfaction through the inflicting or the receiving of emotional and physical pain, the violence that these people live on is merely an expression of pain. The role of the caring community is to undo this fundamental betrayal of people who have been emotionally disabled by their violent childhoods. By creating a loving environment in which deep internal work can be done to help violence-prone people to understand and to overcome their addiction to pain, these people can then learn to trust and be happy in love instead of pain.

This book records ten years of work in such a community, along with the techniques and insights gained through these years.

The work now continues in Britain through Women's Aid Ltd., which runs a house in Bristol.
The Author 19 February 1982


The idea of a meeting place for women and their children grew out of my disastrous brush with a local group of the newly emergent Women's Movement in 1971. I was then feeling lonely and isolated, with two small children to care for, and a husband frequently away. When I first began to read the articles that other women were writing, I felt they were writing about me. It was certainly a liberation to find I was not the only woman who could not knit or sew, and that there were other women out there who shared my pathological hatred of housework. I began to look out for our nearest group.

Unfortunately that group, in particular, seemed to be more concerned with world politics than with my day-to4ay problems, like how to cope on my own with two children, two dogs and a cat - for the loneliness was sometimes dreadful. Luckily I did meet some women like myself who wanted not only to bring up their children properly at home, but also to use their energies and talents in improving our community life, so that we would no longer feel so cut off and isolated that we lived our lives on valium. Therefore we left it to the women's group to decide the solution for world problems, and got on with the more immediate task of finding a place where mothers could meet each other and bring their children.

So with two of my friends I began to scout round Hounslow for a little house to use as a women's centre. Eventually Hounslow Council wrote to me about No.2 Belmont Terrace, and I collected the keys. When I first opened the door, I burst into tears -it was derelict. But it was ours! By now our group had grown quite large, and we
determinedly got on with the work. Harry Ferrer, our plumber, showed us how to fit pipes and mend washers, and we completely renovated the building until one day it was ready for occupation.

Mothers living locally began to call by on their way to and from school. They would stop in for a chat or to share a problem with us. Gradually we all pooled our knowledge and began to learn the complex Social Security laws. We discovered that many women would come to see us who could not face anything as authoritarian-seeming as a town-hall or a Social Services department. We had created a very happy little community of people from all walks of life, who knew that any time they were lonely or in need of company they just had to go down to No.2 Belmont Terrace, and someone was almost sure to be there to talk to. And even when no one was there, it was still a warm, welcoming place to take your kids. Then home did not seem so much like a prison.

All this changed the day the first battered woman walked through the front door and showed me her bruises. 'No one will help me,' she said. Those words took me back to a time in my own childhood when no one would help me - as I begged them to bury my mother because my father refused to. 'I will help you,' I promised her, and refuge was born.

Within weeks there were at least forty mothers and children packed into four tiny rooms. Fortunately for me, our predicament was high-lighted in a small piece written by a journalist for the Observer. After that a man called by one day and, sitting himself down on a mattress, asked me what I most needed. 'A new house,' I told him. 'Go and find it,' he said. I did. This man was Neville Vincent, the Managing Director of Bovis Ltd. In November 1974 we acquired a much larger house in Chiswick High Road. However, we were still not out of the woods. Even as we moved in, our numbers were already too great. We were still officially overcrowded. Because at that time there was nowhere else for women to run to, I insisted that no one should ever be turned away. As a result, although we were legally allowed to house only thirty-six residents, our numbers sometimes went as high as one hundred and fifty mothers and children.

My colleague Anne Ashby agreed with me over the 'open door' principle, and we enshrined it in our policy that the door would remain open day and night. This, of course, created an unbearable tension between ourselves and our local Borough, who quite rightly were worried by the overcrowding, the ensuing health hazard, and the possibility of fire. On 29 April 1976 the Borough first took me to court for overcrowding.

Just before I was to appear in the Acton Magistrates' Court, I was invited to tour America with Tina, Nikki, and Annie, who were working with me at the time. I was genuinely startled and moved that anyone should consider that we had anything valuable to offer, so I accepted at once. We flew into New York on 12 March 1976, and visited sixteen other cities to raise funds for new refuges springing up all over the USA. I remember that I was particularly interested in finding if anyone else had come to similar conclusions on why some people actually choose violent relationships - which is the major theme of this book. But in response I mostly met again the hostility of those people who insisted that all women were simply victims of male oppression.

It seems to me that America's Women's Movement is much more broadly based than its British counterpart. It was with members of the National Organization of Women that we had the best dialogues - at seminars and meetings where people wanted to share a sense of bewilderment arising from the fact that now there were established refuges, so many women seemed to be merely using them like revolving doors. They would come to the refuges when the level of violence got too much, only to return to their violent men for another few weeks, and then come back to the refuges again for help.

Some of the refuges dealt with this problem by allowing such women three visits only. As they explained to me, this rule meant that the staff could concentrate their efforts on the women who genuinely wanted to get out of violent relation-ships. But they knew, just as we did, that if you wanted to do effective work in a refuge, the problems attached to women who seemed unable to stay away from violence would have to be fully explored sooner or later.

Our trip ended with a lunch of honour in Washington DC, sponsored by Congresswoman Lindy Boggs and Congressman Newton Steer. As I stood to give my speech in a lovely room surrounded by members of Congress on Capitol Hill, it was bard not to feel bitter that back home, within a few weeks, I would be facing charges in an English court for carrying out the refuge work I was now describing to a supportive audience.

Thanks to a brilliant manoeuvre on the part of our barrister Stephen Sedly and David Ormondy, a public health adviser, the Acton Magistrates' Court found me not guilty of overcrowding. The good news was followed immediately by bad news. Hounslow appealed, and got ready to take me to the High Court in the Strand.

During this time, through a series of fortuitous events, we managed to persuade the reluctant civil servants to give us a grant of £2,000 a month. This generosity could have had something to do with the threat of our group arranging a sit-in outside 10 Downing Street. We numbered about one hundred and twenty mothers and children, and we were already well known for our immediate ability to get on the streets with our placards and demand action where necessary. We had received a reassuring letter saying that our application for a grant would be considered. However, we heard nothing for several months, and it was not until October 1974, the day before the publication of my book Scream Quietly or the Neighbours Will Hear, that a cheque arrived by taxi, with a letter from the Department of Health and Social Security.

Meanwhile, during the Conservatives' period in office, I had been encouraged by Sir Keith Joseph to apply for an Urban Aid Grant of £10,000 a year. The Urban Aid scheme was a very new idea in those days. Hounslow had many other schemes to put forward to the Government, but due to local pressure and the continued support of a local Labour councillor, Jim Duffy, they did put my scheme in. To their surprise and my amusement, it was granted. By this time, help came from another direction. David Astor had resigned from the Observer and offered me his services. He brought with him the kindly and powerful figure of Lord Goodman. Now, at least, Anne Ashby and I were no longer on our own.

We had a curious mixture of dedicated staff and volunteers. We scoured London, taking possession of empty houses belonging to other boroughs which refused to take financial responsibility for their own families, who turned up on our doorstep. We took these houses over by night, to create new communities for such additional families. By the time of the court cases, Chiswick Women's Aid had established twenty-two squats, and had also acquired the Palm Court Hotel (forty-five private suites), three Greater London Council properties, and a large vicarage in Bristol. Even so, at our main refuge we had to erect large garden sheds in the backyard to cope with the overflow of one hundred and fifty mothers and children living in the house.

As the case in the High Court approached, the battle lines were set, but I was no longer powerless, or fighting in a vacuum. We had Lord Gordon on our side, and I felt very much more confident. In the late spring of 1976, Hounslow took me to the High Court, where I was found guilty of the charge of overcrowding. We appealed this decision, and the matter went to the House of Lords in March 1977. There the five Law Lords reluctantly found me guilty, and I returned to Acton Magistrates' Court for sentencing.

During this time, and responding to so much publicity, other groups had formed to take up the idea of refuge for women and children. Many comprised good, loving people, both men and women, who sincerely wanted to help, but there were also the usual faces seen around all social movements, and I was wary enough to stay clear of their politics. I never saw Women's Aid as a movement that was hostile to men, but The National Federation, which quickly formed, made it quite clear that men were the enemy. This view totally rejected our own philosophy - which cannot be encapsulated in a political theory, but which recognises that the basis of the problem is a human one: violence occurs in both men and women. That is not a politically fashionable view in certain quarters, and, indeed, for them we were outcasts from the very beginning because we had always employed male workers at our Refuge - and we also ran a special house for the men of the problem families who sought our help.

The civil servants, who hated our open-door policy as much as they hated our evidence of the mistreatment of problem families by the various State-run agencies saw their opportunity to get rid of us. They removed our grant on the grounds that we were not a national organisation, even though we had been officially declared so by the Charity Commissioners and our mothers and children came from all over Britain. They handed the grant to the National Federation instead. At about the same time, Hounslow Council voted to remove our Urban Aid Grant, thus hoping to starve us into submission. Fortunately, they did not know that I had been given a sum of £50,000 by an anonymous well-wisher, which I had tucked away in bonds for just such an occasion. Those staff that could afford to all gave up their meagre salaries. Most of us were volunteers, so that presented little problem, and we soldiered on.

The final court case was my sentencing at the Acton Magistrates' Court on 6 October 1977. The following February, in response to a letter from one of our mothers, the Queen intervened and saved the Refuge.* The war was over, and the rest is history. This book is not about the politics of survival for pressure groups, because that is a whole book in itself. This book is about the problem families and my (and later Jeff's) work with them. Scream Quietly or the Neighbours Will Hear is about how people are violent. Infernal Child, my autobiography, is about how a violent childhood affects children. Prone to Violence is a book about why people are violent. In these pages we can all recognise parts of ourselves, and hopefully, in gaining understanding, we can learn compassion, and in turn help to persuade our society to refrain from further brutalising already brutalised people.

*The Court sentencing and the letter from Buckingham Palace (quoted in full) are described in Chapter Five.



How Will We Cure the Radical Feminist Cancer?

A malignancy spreads by invading its neighboring cells, taking over their internal control processes, and inducing the cells to assume grotesque shapes and sizes.

This is an apt metaphor for radical feminism, which seduces intelligent, caring young women; plies them with warmed-over Marxist slogans; and turns them into gender crusaders who seemingly have lost all semblance of reason and compassion.

By its own admission, radical feminism seeks to curtail or destroy the most cherished values of democratic free market societies: the traditional family, limited government, and the culture of life itself.

Even the notion of truth itself has come under attack by postmodern feminism, which claims that truth is simply another tool for the patriarchal subjugation of women. "A set of subjective views has emerged as sacrosanct, beyond criticism," Howard Schwartz concludes in The Revolt of the Primitive. "The result is that a vicious bias has triumphed over fact."

Left to itself, feminism will eventually collapse under the weight of own logical inconsistencies, social intolerance, and reluctance to assure the continuation of the species. But our generation would still have to answer to our children and grandchildren who one day will ask us, "Why did you sit by and do nothing?"

Thirty-five years after bra-burners captivated the nation's campuses, radical feminism has become firmly entrenched in our society. In order to cure a cancer, you have to attack the root of the problem.

The Sisterhood operates from three strongholds: the academy, the government, and the mainstream media. And this is where we need to apply the tincture of truth.

1. The Academy. Women's studies programs serve as the base camp for feminists to recruit a new crop of well-educated women. Noting the factual errors and myths that pervade women's studies courses, Christine Stolba issues a cautionary note that "revolutions often end up devouring their own children."

The cure? Students need to file lawsuits demanding that these universities establish men's studies programs to serve the dwindling male student body. After all, Title IX of the Civil Rights Act was intended to benefit men and women alike.

2. The Government. Over the past 15 years our elected officials have enacted a bevy of laws intended to appease their female constituents. Problem is, many of these laws weaken the nuclear family, violate men's civil rights, and make women beholden to government hand-outs. Case in point: the controversial Violence Against Women Act, which comes up for its five-year renewal in Congress later this month.

The treatment of choice: Male voters need to start demanding that their politicians answer to their concerns and needs. And lawmakers need to consider whether their chivalrous instincts are unfairly biasing the laws they enact.

3. The Media. Our feminized society is seemingly addicted to stories that serve up a daily diet of victimization and gender grievance.

Recently I came across this 72-point headline in USA Today: "Abuse Found in Military Schools." The article goes on to recite this shocking statistic: "The report cited 2004 Pentagon data showing 50% of women at all three academies were harassed, mostly verbally but dozens suffering physical abuse."

But exactly how did the Pentagon researchers assess abuse and harassment? Was bruising a female cadet's feelings considered abusive? Was it exactly 50% of women, with identical percentages at all three military academies? What is the title of this report, so the reader can verify its conclusions? Why wasn't anyone interviewed to provide balance to the doubtful claim of rampant harassment?

And come to think of it, how many male cadets experienced any form of abuse?

The answer to these important questions is left to the reader's imagination. Bottom line, this article bears all the telltale signs of a journalistic snow job. But that didn't stop the USA Today editors from running the article on the front page of its August 26 edition.

The treatment? The public needs to contact editors and tell them we're sick and tired of being force-fed with feminist agitprop.

Once we challenge the feminist cultural hegemony and remind them how many privileges and advantages the average American woman enjoys, the gender warriors may come to realize that much of their sense of oppression is self-inflicted.

Thanks to the advances of medical science, cancer is now a curable disease. Still, surgery is always painful, and recovery may be slow. But this we know for certain: acquiescence to the rad-fems' ever-escalating demands is the formula for the continued unraveling of the social order.

September 7, 2005
by Carey Roberts


Several cases involving alleged or proven sex between female teachers and male students have been hitting front pages across the nation.

It all seemed to begin with Mary Kay Letourneau. The Seattle teacher served seven years in prison for molesting a sixth-grade student. That relationship eventually produced two children. Letourneau and the now 22-year-old were recently married.

Unlike Letourneau, Pamela Turner, a Tennessee gym teacher, pleaded no contest to having sex with a 13-year-old student and is serving a nine-month sentence that resulted from a plea deal.

Sandra "Beth" Geisel, a former New York Catholic high school English teacher out on bail on statutory rape charges involving a 16-year-old student, was arrested Friday for alleged drunk driving. The Albany-area mother of four is the wife of a bank president.

And in Florida, middle school teacher Debra Lafave, has offered an insanity plea for her alleged affair with a 14-year-old boy.

What's behind the seeming spate of teacher-student sex?

Lafave's ex-husband, Owen Lafave, discusses it with co-anchor Julie Chen on The Early Show Monday, along with Dr. Julia Hislop, a clinical psychologist and author of the book "Female Sex Offenders."

Lafave says his ex-wife has never told him why she (allegedly) did it "and that's one of the hardest things that I've had to go through, is that I've never received a reason why."

He says he had "no idea" anything was going on "and hindsight is 20-20. I can look back now and see some things that were peculiar about her behavior. But I had no idea anything like this was going on."Hislop observes that there probably aren't more cases of teacher-student sex of this type these days than there used to be; it's more likely that there are just more being reported.

Why are women finding themselves in these types of relationships?

"One of the more common findings," Hislop explains, "is that they tend to have fairly severe sexual abuse histories themselves. That won't be the case with every woman, but (it's) a fairly common finding. They also tend to have mental health difficulties, not generally severe mental illnesses, but things along the lines of depression, anxiety, sometimes drug or alcohol problems or personality problems.

Asked about the insanity defense his ex-wife plans to use, Lafave told Chen, "With insanity, the burden of proof is on the defense. They have to prove that she didn't know what she was doing was wrong.

"However, in her particular case, she was being treated for depression, she was being treated for anxiety, as well as an eating disorder. So a lot of the characteristics that the doctor just described did fit her.

"(But), I mean, I think we've all heard the audiotapes and we can all draw our own conclusions. But it sounded like she knew what was she was doing was inappropriate and wrong."

Hislop says there are numerous signs parents can pick up on that a relationship of this sort might be developing.

"The dynamics," she points out, "can run the gamut between very violent assaults, just as with a male offender, and things that progressively cross boundaries. So, when teachers or other female grownups are progressively crossing boundaries, engaging in more and more inappropriate touch, more and more alone time with the children, are bringing up sexual material or personal disclosures into conversations with kids, those would be warning signs.

"Usually, when those warning signs are there, however, the person isn't a sex offender, but the progression can go in that direction from the mildly to more increasingly inappropriate interactions."

Lafave says the 15-year prison sentence Debra could get if convicted is "excessive," but some jail time is in order.

Hislop agrees, saying, "I don't know this case particularly. I have not been involved with the case. But the women who've done these things to children put them in high-risk situations and at high-risk for emotional difficulty, and certainly just as with males, some degree of punishment is probably indicated if guilt is found. Also, they tend to have a great deal of treatment needs. So, a combination of the two."

August 22, 2005


Just as likely as women to be battered, says researcher

EDMONTON, Alberta, Canada -- Husbands and boyfriends are abused by their partners far more often than most Canadians realize, yet there is virtually no support for battered men, attendees of a two-day conference heard Saturday.

"All we hear about is violence against women and children," says Grant Brown, an Edmonton lawyer who helped organize the conference, held at the Edmonton Art Gallery.

"They just ignore the fact that men are just as likely to be victims of domestic violence. ... They just refuse to address the issue."

The conference, which highlighted the gender bias in Canadians' understanding of domestic violence, was organized by the Gender Issues Education Foundation, an Edmonton-based organization.

"Remember Wayne Bobbit? He actually became a comedy routine," said University of British Columbia forensic psychologist Donald Dutton.

"But we know that young women these days are more violent than their boyfriends. That's what the data shows."

While it is true that women are more often victims than men, Dutton says the number of men is not as small as many believe. According to his research, 4.2 per cent of abused women and 2.6 per cent of abused men report "repeated, severe battering."

He says researchers routinely ignore this fact because of pre-conceived ideas about domestic violence -- namely, that men are always the abusers and women are always the victims.

This unwitting bias in domestic violence research has influenced policing, custodial hearings and even public policy, Dutton says.

A researcher for 31 years in the field of domestic violence, Dutton was not invited to the Alberta-government-sponsored World Conference on the Prevention of Family Violence, which will be held in Banff at the end of the month.

He and organizers of Saturday's conference say that is a sign of the one-sided approach the province is taking to domestic violence policy.

Psychology professor John Archer from the United Kingdom's University of Central Lancashire also studies aggressive behaviour, and his most recent work also shows women and men are equally violent in relationships.

"More of the women than men were injured," he says, "but there is still quite a large number of men who were injured in domestic incidents."

Archer's study found nearly two-thirds of abused women suffer injuries, compared to roughly one-third of men. That number may be low, however, because men are less likely to seek medical help.

"You can't base public policy on half of the data," Archer says.

"If you're going to do something about partner violence then you can't ignore a big group of the victims."

SOURCE: The EDMONTON JOURNAL, October 09, 2005


When a female teacher in Tennessee was charged this week with having sex with a 13-year-old male student, the case focused attention on a type of sexual abuse that often goes unreported.
While there is a greater awareness of such crimes, the Tennessee prosecutor pursuing the recent case, along with several psychologists, say such incidents are still viewed less seriously than those involving grown men and girls.

"Unfortunately, they look at it as the 'Mrs. Robinson syndrome' and think everything is OK," says Dale Potter, district attorney for Warren and Van Buren counties in Tennessee. He was referring to the woman in the 1967 film The Graduate who seduces a younger man.

"But it's my understanding there are some long-term effects for male victims in this kind of situation," he says. "And from my perspective, a sex-abuse case is a sex-abuse case. We don't look the other way as to who the victim is and who the suspect is."

Pamela Turner, 27, an elementary school teacher in McMinnville, Tenn., was charged Monday with having sex with a student at his home and at school.

One of the most publicized cases involved Mary Kay Letourneau, an elementary school teacher in suburban Seattle who spent 7½ years in federal prison for having sex with a student that began when he was 12. Letourneau, 43, had two children with the boy, Vili Fualaau, who is now 21. She was released from prison in August.

Another teacher, Debra Lafave, 23, in Florida was arrested in June on charges that she had sex with a 14-year-old student. The number of female sex offenders is "significantly smaller" than male offenders, says Dale Bespalec, chief psychologist at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility and a former sex offender specialist for Wisconsin's Department of Corrections. He says the ratio of male-to-female offenders is about 500-to-1.

Bespalec says some female sex offenders have a deviant sexual attraction to children or are severely mentally ill. But the largest number have "boundary issues" about crossing the edges of appropriate behavior. "And they're frequently involved in care-giving or situations where those boundaries are more easily traversed," such as teaching, he says.

Boys are also less likely to report abuse than girls, Bespalec says. That's often because boys in general are discouraged from complaining. They could be embarrassed if the abuser is a male. And society is disinclined to believe that women are sexual abusers, he says.

But the impact of sex abuse on boys can be just as devastating as it is for girls.

"There's a betrayal of trust (by) an adult who violated boundaries," says Louis Schlesinger, a forensic psychology professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City.

Effects of the abuse can vary, he and other psychologists say, from difficulty forming healthy relationships to sexual problems. Boys may also suffer among their peers.

"They're subject to humiliation and being made fun of in ways that a female victim may not be," Schlesinger says.

Female offenders also tend to be treated more leniently by the criminal justice system than their male counterparts.

"In some ways, males are likely to be seen as more predatory and females more likely to be seen as having a mental health issue," Bespalec says. Women are frequently referred to counseling, while men typically serve some time in prison and attend a treatment program for sex offenders, Bespalec says.

Letourneau, for example, was initially given conditional release and told to seek treatment. She had to serve her prison term after being caught again with the student.

Some psychologists also note that Letourneau, Lafave and Turner are attractive women — a factor in the amount of publicity their cases received.

"I think people can't quite fathom why somebody so attractive wouldn't go for somebody who has more status and power," says Miriam Ehrenberg, a psychology professor at John Jay College who has specialized in the psychology of women. "So it's a story that piques people's interest."

By Charisse Jones