The Lady Garden

Tea and Strumpets


Breaking News: Bob McCroskie won’t be wearing a white ribbon this year. Why? Because it’s not a gender issue. And you ladies should stop telling lies.

If we’re serious about reducing family violence, we need to open both eyes – and tell the truth. The website says “Violence is endemic within New Zealand. One in three women are victims of violence from a partner”. The first part is right – the second misrepresents the facts….But will the researchers ask men to what level they have been victims of intimate partner violence? How many men would say they, too, have been physically assaulted, or made to feel bad, humiliated in front of others or intimidated by their partner?

Now. I’m not going to negate that there is certainly violence against men, nor that women can also commit family violence. (And that your analysis completely – and shockingly – ignores anyone who isn’t cis and hetero.) But if we’re going to have this conversation, wouldn’t it be good to do it without some hand-picked statistics selected to prove Bob’s point?

Here’s one I found, simply by googling “crime stats NZ”:

There were 1,696 fewer family violence offences recorded in 2010/11 than in 2009/10 – a 3.1% reduction. A total of 52,408 family violence offences were recorded compared with 54,104 during the same time last year. This 3.1% drop marks a strong reversal in the steady upward trend of recent years.

Within this figure there were 555 fewer family violence assaults – down -2.1% from 25,935 to 25,380 family violence assault offences. Most of these assaults were male assaults female which decreased by 904 from 8768 to 7864 offences.

Here’s something else I found with a really quick Google:

In 2005 the New Zealand Police recorded 62,470 offence and non-offence family violence incidents; 62,615 children and young people aged under 17 years were involved (TAVF 2006). Between 2000 and 2004 54 women were murdered by men through family violence, and three men were murdered by women (TAVF 2006). Although the overall murder rate is declining, murders that are domestically related are not (TAVF 2006); in fact the number of deaths of women due to domestic violence has increased from an average of nine per year in the 10 years to 1987 (Fanslow et al. 1991) to an average of 15 in the years 2000 to 2004, suggesting a real increase (see TAVF 2006). In 2007, 25 of 53 murders were recorded as family violence-related (TAVF 2007). In 2005 Women’s Refuge supported 17,212 women and 9,904 children (TAVF 2006). Between 90 and 95% of all applicants for protection orders in New Zealand are women, and most respondents are men (Bartlett 2006, Law Commission 2003).

Want more? (if you can stomach it).

  • In 2005/6 NZ Police apprehended 25,356 male family violence offenders compared to 4,135 female offenders.17
  • Researchers have found that some men who have experienced abuse by their female partner find the violence humorous, suggesting that they are not afraid of the abuser, whereas women routinely report experiencing distress or intense fear (for themselves and their children) as a result of abuse.
  • The psychological effects of family violence upon women and children have been found to be far more severe. Twice as many women as men report being significantly affected by partner violence. However, in one New Zealand study both men and women reported depression and alcohol problems linked with experiencing partner abuse. It is not known to what extent the problems identified by the participants preceded the violence.
  • Research suggests that most women’s violence towards men is self-defensive or retaliatory, whereas much of men’s violence towards women is used instrumentally to dominate and control their partner.

I’m sure, if I had the time and the inclination, I could find as many statistics as I wanted. And I am fairly certain that LGBT people would be over-represented therein. But frankly, I don’t feel like spending my afternoon trawling through facts and figures about women being assaulted, smacked around, intimidated or murdered.

But no, Bob, it’s not a gendered issue, is it? And in fact, you’re right, it’s not. But not for the reasons you have. Not because your self-righteous, holier-than-thou, indignant sensibilities are offended by an ad campaign that happens to be aimed at people like you. (Which, as the White Ribbon campaign points out works, because more men respond to messages aimed directly at them.) It’s also not because WOMEN DO IT TOO, no matter how loudly you try to scream that.

It’s not, because stopping family violence is incumbent on us all, regardless of our gender. It’s because standing up and saying “this isn’t OK”, stepping in where we can, helping out where we can, doing what we can do – that’s for all of us. And for you, Bob, to say that you won’t support the campaign because “the statistics lie”, is disingenuous at best, and downright fucking disgraceful at worst. And I know which I believe it is.

18 responses to “In OMG WHAT ABOUT THE MENZ??!!1? news

  1. Amanda November 24, 2011 at 3:52 pm

    I’m waiting for Garth George and possibly Micael Lhaws to jump on the bandwagon and defend their friend.

  2. PedantMoz November 24, 2011 at 4:04 pm

    Tallulah, one small nitpick (since it seems like that sort of post):
    Researchers have found that some men who have experienced abuse by their female partner find the violence humorous, suggesting that they are not afraid of the abuser, whereas women routinely report experiencing distress or intense fear

    I’d probably leave that one out since it’s offensive and IMO counters your overall point. “some men find it humorous” and “women routinely” are unrelated, and swapping the genders doesn’t change the accuracy of the statement. The first part is just another way to minimise and downplay domestic violence. Sure, it’s DV against men, but approvingly quoting someone who is doing that doesn’t help you sound reasonable and balanced.

    (feel free to delete this comment if you act on it).

    • tallulahspankhead November 24, 2011 at 4:29 pm

      I left it in on purpose. I was slightly baffled that something with language that loaded was include in a “fact sheet” about domestic violence.

      I guess the point I was trying to make, and I should maybe have articulated this further, is that you can make statistics and studies say what you want, but women are overwhelmingly on the receiving end of violent assaults in relationships.

      [eta: also, I wasn’t really ‘approvingly quoting’ anything. Merely demonstrating what turns up on a fairly simple google search.]

    • ludditejourno November 24, 2011 at 10:43 pm

      Hey PedantMoz, I suspect this is a bit of a clumsy take on something which happens often to advocates working with men who use violence. When men are referred to stopping violence programmes (usually because they are the perpetrator for a protection order, or because they have a charge for assault, sometimes because they self-refer) they tend to have a bunch of excuses for using violence. There are a whole bunch of “my girlfriend’s annoying/she was asking for it” type things, and there are often a bunch of “she hit me too, I was just as big a victim as she was, bloody cops they won’t listen.”
      One strategy stopping violence facilitators have when this happens is to ask the man if he was scared of his girlfriend. The vast majority of the time he will scoff and say “don’t be so stupid, she’s a girl”. Very occasionally a man in these circumstances will say “Yes” – as in one every five years. So that may be what this quote is, very clumsily, trying to capture/

      • PedantMoz November 25, 2011 at 11:56 am

        I suspect this is a “where you stand” situation. People who work with men who are in legally-mandated programs to help them not be violent see a biased section of the population. So their views are coloured by that.

        But to me, what you’re describing is a failure of the theraputic relationship. You seem to think that it’s good that men are stopped at “men are not afraid of anything”, rather than looking at why they’re angry, and why that leads to violence. Because IME it’s often fear that drives them, and a lack of tools for dealing with that fear that leads to violence. But I’m not a trained professional in this, it’s just something I have a personal interest in and have read a bit about. It may be that saying “never admit fear, but don’t hit your partner” is a better approach.

        • ludditejourno December 3, 2011 at 10:40 am

          Yep, I agree with you on the first point – but it’s also not uncommon for men from this population (those going through the justice system because they have been charged with violence) to say they were victims of violence too. And these men too are often involved in men’s rights groups which protest outside judges houses and harass Family Court lawyers etc etc etc. So they have a significant, perhaps out of proportion to their numbers, profile.
          I don’t think you’ve understood my original point, or I’ve phrased it too clumsily perhaps. Facilitators don’t see men saying they are not afraid as good. The whole point of these programmes is opening up other kinds of emotional expression than the default of anger. What they see it as – and these are trained professionals – is an indication that the allegations of victimisation are justifications for their own violence, rather than genuine examples of domestic violence. I could not agree less that it’s a “failure of the therapeutic relationship” to encourage emotional honesty and discourage excuses for perpetrating violence. It’s the point of the therapeutic relationship, the opportunity for changing behaviour.

    • Hugh November 25, 2011 at 4:43 am

      Yeah, there is a huge amount of social pressure on men not to admit to being afraid of women, so I think any research that picks this up needs to very careful. While there may be some people who genuinely find it funny I would suspect that there are many who don’t find it funny but who feel like that’s the only legit way to respond without seeming like a woos.

      • ludditejourno December 3, 2011 at 10:43 am

        Hugh, I think you are underestimating the skills sets of these facilitators, who are very very good at opening up space for men to express a range of emotions. As for not being a wuss – I’ve had men urinate on themselves during assessments for these programmes, they’ve been so scared about talking about what they have done, and why. I didn’t tell them what big pansies they were, just carried out the assessment and helped them clean up, and welcomed them into group when they started. Trust that people who work with gender and violence have a good understanding of masculinity – we have to.

  3. PedantMoz November 24, 2011 at 4:21 pm

    Bob’s “I won’t oppose domestic violence until it’s all about the men” theme is just wrong. But I suspect he would like a gender-neutral campaign even less. The more the focus shifts to intramale violence I suspect the less happy he would be. Especially if it wasn’t just adult male against male child, but explicitly addressed spousal violence in gay marriages.

    • Hugh November 25, 2011 at 4:42 am

      Bob is a bit of a homophobe, so I think he would actually be pretty pleased to see dysfunctional homosexual relationships being given attention.

  4. climbingtrees November 24, 2011 at 8:16 pm

    I rather tediously post this everywhere Bob McC and his anti-woman agenda comes up in hopes that one day the Charities Commission will do to Family First what it did to the National Council of Women (i.e. accuse it of not being “charitable” because it does too much advocacy work!!): Did you know that FF, a registered CHARITY (i.e. is subsidised by us, as taxpayers), received $317,783 in donations this past year? (just visit the Charities Commission’s Web site and look up FF’s accounts. Amazing!!) Where is all that money coming from? We know where it’s going…and doesn’t it just stick in your craw that we, the women of NZ, are subsidising it. Yech.

  5. Muerk November 24, 2011 at 10:20 pm

    I was surprised about Bob McCroskie’s take on family violence. While men and women suffer and I do think we should not brush men’s suffering under the carpet, I think any campaign to highlight that family violence is not okay is worth getting behind.

    On the positive side though maybe McCroskie’s position might take away some of the stigma for men who are victims of family violence. Maybe it will make it easier for some men to ask for help, I’m really not sure.

    We definitely need to do something to help make families a loving, safe environment to be in.

  6. tallulahspankhead November 24, 2011 at 11:00 pm

    It has been pointed out to me a line I had in the original version of this post slipped through my own editing and was very cis-sexist. I have amended the post, and I apologise to anyone I hurt or offended.

  7. Stephanie November 26, 2011 at 12:59 am

    @ Muerk I like your perspective. I think part of what we can do to make families loving and safe is having loving and safe communities around them…. hmmm. Slightly wistful on election night… It can happen!

  8. Pingback: Forty-third Down Under Feminists Carnival « A Bee of a Certain Age

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