Saturday, April 22, 2006

Violence Against Women- a rebuttal

Back in early April, I posted something about violence against women “Revealing Truths”. I talked primarily about a girl in my area who had recently been attacked by a stranger while walking home. She was dragged into the bushes and sexually assaulted. See, my mom and dad always taught me to be aware of my surroundings. They told me to have my keys ready, lock the doors when I get in the car etc. But even doing all things correctly can’t protect you.

I am reminded of former student, Dru Sjodin who was abducted in broad daylight in my hometown—in a parking lot of a shopping mall ! Dru knew many of the important things to be aware of—she had worked on raising our University’s awareness on women’s issue by participating in the clothesline project. Yet even she became a victim of abduction, assault and murder. It’s so sad.

In the post I also addressed the widespread problems of stalking, domestic violence and problems that plague the worldwide community of women-- genital mutilation, dowry death, bride burning, and sex trafficking.

However, I have had one poster who has been asking me rather relentlessly to address the fact that men, more than women, are victims of violent crime in the United States. I have been searching tirelessly for sites that are accountable, “dot-gov's” if you will, and have asked this man to be patient. He has been a little too giddy at “proving me wrong” so I think I better clarify my position.

First of all, in my post, I never said that men were exempt from violent crime.

Stats from 2003 show that 16,503 people were murdered in the United States, 78% were men, 22% were women. However, in my extended research I found that “Males were most often slain by males (88 percent in single victim/single offender situations). This same data shows, however, that 9 out of 10 female victims were murdered by males.”

More 2003 stats: 21% of murder victims were killed by their spouse or intimate partner. 79% of those victims were women.

Now, it doesn’t mean that the rate of male homicide is not serious or a sad reflection of our violent society. But the information I found pointed to gang violence, drug violence, or robbery not to abuse because of gender or intimate partner relations—this is the violence women suffer.

This does not mean I hate men. I have heard on many different occasions that men who rape often accumulate several victims. So the men who are doing this victimization are not necessarily a representation of the male population. Of course, not all men beat their wives. I would never claim that.

Pointing out crime against women and its seriousness does not mean I ignore that men are also victims. Men also seek treatment for sexual assault, molestation, and domestic violence. (In 2001, 9 percent of victims of rape/sexual assault were male!) These men need just as much advocay as women.

The commenter who originally challenged me said, "men are the real second class citizens." I would disagree. Women are victimized by the very people who are supposed to care for them-- boyfriends, husbands, AND they also must fear the men next to them in parking lots. Men do not live in this fear, whereas women are constantly aware of their vulnerability. If a woman attends a college party and drinks too much, blacks out and then is assaulted... She is accused of being “irresponsible” or “asking for it.” Yet, men who are robbed and assaulted aren’t accused of “asking for it” when walking alone with money.

The commenter also ignored how much racial and religious minorities, not to mention gays and lesbians are disproportionately targets of crime.

Of reported hate crimes, 50 percent were motivated by race, 18 percent by religion, 17 percent by sexual orientation, 14 percent by ethnicity, and 0.4 percent by disability. In 2003, almost half of all murder victims (48%) were African-American.

Funny, you didn’t point that out. But you did attempt to discredit my concern for violence against women.For more info:

Again I will point to the problems facing women world wide. See my post about the danger women in El Salvador face

And also pay attention to what is happening in women’s health worldwide! Women in Sierra Leone and Afghanistan suffer death in childbirth at a rate of one woman in six! (See my post on motherhood)

Or what’s going on in Iran according to this site:

Iran's police force is gearing up to crack down on women who show too much of their bodies in public, reported the Herald Sun, an Australian newspaper, on April 20.

"In our campaign, we will confront women showing their bare legs in short pants," said Tehran's police chief, Morteza Talai. "We are also going to combat women wearing skimpy head-scarves, short and form-fitting coats, and the ones walking pets in parks and streets," he added. Women who do not wear the veil can face prison sentences of up to two months. Since the election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, conservatives in Tehran's city council have pressured the police to get tough. Every woman in Iran, regardless of nationality or religion, must obey the dress code and cover her shape and hair outside the home. Fifty patrol cars will cruise Tehran enforcing the rules this summer.”

These crimes against women need to be addressed, and a feminist blog about ending violence is the perfect place for it. I never claimed that only women were victims. I stand for raising awareness about the serious problems that plague women. In trying so desperately to "prove me wrong" you completely missed the point.


Anonymous said...

I didn't miss the point at all, you asked me to prove my assertion that men are more often the victim of violent crimes than women. I did just that and nothing more, using your own citation.

My point was that you go on and on about violence to women like it doesn't happen to men as well and more often. After you read the data I am sure that you are happy that the rate of violence against both men and women has dropped by half since 1994. Surely a victory but it has gone unmentioned in your blog.

Breaking down the statistics further and showing that men commit most of the violent crimes against men or that minorities are more often the victim had nothing to do with my point, you were not whining about racial discrimination in the commision of violent crimes. In fact I still do not get your point, other than violence against women is bad. We can agree on that, but if one just reads your blog on this topic you would come away from it with the feeling that women are the exclusive victims of violent crime.

I truly did not understand the point you were trying to make when you pointed out that when violence is committed against women that it happens most often by someone they know or their spouse. That is great information for someone to know when picking a spouse. Now for men
people that they _don't_ know are more likely to be the the assailant.
Knowing that I am 50% more likely to be a victim than a women but that I will probably not know the man that hurts me, well I don't feel any better.

Tell me this, now that you know the statistics for both sides, are you safer as a women or as a man?

Tobes said...

You talk about a victory that goes unmentioned—like the drop of violent crime. What I have found, is that there is no victory yet to celebrate when it comes to violence against women. In my home state, these are the most recent stats I have available:

From JAN-DEC 2004
There were 4,109 new victims (new = unduplicated for calendar year) who received services from crisis intervention centers in North Dakota. This number reflects a 2% INCREASE from 2003.

4,483 incidents of domestic violence were reported to crisis intervention centers in North Dakota. This reflects a 1% INCREASE from 2003.

Domestic violence programs provided victim assistance with 804 emergency protection orders, a 3% INCREASE from 2003.

825 primary victims and 370 secondary victims were served by 18 sexual assault crisis centers throughout North Dakota. This is a 7% INCREASE from the number of victims served by crisis centers in 2003.

So as you can see, the violence I am talking about is NOT going away. But getting worse, at least in the part of the world I live in. And as we can see from other facts I have posted—what is going on in Iran etc. It’s not getting better worldwide.

You are talking about a completely different type of violence! When I asked you to prove your assertion I was under the impression that you were trying to tell me that-- men were at greater risks in the situations I was discussing-- spousal abuse, rape, dating violence etc. I have said that men are victims of domestic and sexual violence but never mentioned homicides in cases of strangers – situations like robbery, drug violence or gang violence.

Stopping stranger violence against men is an entirely different battle -- One that I am not addressing. In your world, I suppose any woman bringing up these topics must be a radical feminist nut. I'm not saying-- nor have I ever said -- that violence against men doesn’t happen or isn’t important

You say I merely point out information for women to know when picking a husband, as if when we go out with men they have a big rubber stamp of "wife beater" on their forehead. Often domestic violence begins by isolating someone from friends and family, or subtly calling all the time to check on their whereabouts. It isn't like the second date includes a heavy beating and a disclaimer: “by the way, I plan on doing this all the time.”

Women don't know they are marrying abusers and once they are in these relationships it is very hard to leave. A woman is in the MOST DANGER when she tries to leave an abusive spouse or boyfriend-- that is when homicides occur. Sometimes women are trapped because they have economic situations that complicate divorce ("If you leave me, you'll have nothing. Not even the kids"). Other times these women are illegal immigrants, and going for help means risking deportation (or at least this is what the husband may tell her). Do you ever imagine what it might be like for a deaf woman, or a woman who only speaks English as a second language or what a small town woman goes through when the town sheriff is her husband's brother??? I’ve heard all these situations from the real women who lived through them. It’s complicated.

When a woman is a victim of violence, it is a most often at the hands of men she knows. Bringing up this fact means education and awareness and HOPEFULLY change! If we can educate our male friends, sons, fathers--everyone... then our society can shift and a culture in which men abuse women so frequently will become less plausible. As it stands now, women have to live in fear of abuse at he hands of loved ones.

It doesn't matter which gender is safer. That is AGAIN missing the point. I am writing about changing society to where violence against women is not acceptable. Once we do that, the world will be a whole lot safer for BOTH sexes.

Adrienne said...

Reality check, buddy. This is a feminist blog written by a woman. It exists clearly to discuss and raise awareness for crimes against WOMEN. She's said that a few times.

There is nothing politically incorrect about having certain issues closer to your heart than others. You should exercise your first amendment right and write a blog about what life is like for a narrow-minded, sexist, discompassionate male. It'd be a real hit with the ladies.

Meanwhile, if you can't understand what Tobes is saying, you need to read it again, because it's pretty clear. Violence against men happens, but is not, in most cases, the result of manipulation, spousal and domestic abuse, rape, etc. It doesn't make it any better-- not at all-- but the issue that she has chosen to write about on her blog is violence against women.

It is too bad that you are now afraid of everyone around you because the statistics say that men are attacked mostly by strangers. Now imagine having to be paranoid about the men you love the most, since statistically women are brutalized by men that know them. I'd take your fear any day of the week.

Anonymous said...

Ah I see, you did mention several times the murder of women and the statistics that you cite include all forms of violence against women but what you really meant was for us to take a subset of your cited number not the numbers that you actually wrote. I see. Wow. Silly me.

Now that you have narrowed it down to basically domestic abuse, and we can agree that whatever numbers you write are not the numbers you actually mean, I guess we can agree. There is violence against women out there! Men are the victims of domestic abuse less often than women! We agree!

And Adrienne, oh my, "narrow-minded, sexist, discompassionate male" you had better watch it. Tobes does not allow personal attacks on her blog!

As far as me being afraid of my fellow man, I am not. I am though careful about my surroundings and the people I meet. I had buddies drugged, beaten, and robbed while overseas. It was always the goofball that thought everybody was his friend.

The real solution to the problems you write about come from within. When women accept abuse, when they bail out their abuser, when they turn a blind eye to child abuse going on to her own children, there really is not much to be done. Talk to a cop about this, they are more fustrated than you are. They see it daily but some women make it as difficult as possible for the cops. We have all seen the cop shows on tv where they pull the wife beater off the woman and then the woman starts beating on the cops to let him go. I don't understand it but that is the way it is.

Obviously you ladies would not accept this abuse but some women do. It seems to be the needy ones. The ones that get off on a super attentive husband that keeps track of her every movement and buy her flowers all the time. Showing up at her job unexpectedly and often. He buys her a cellphone so "he can get in touch whenever he needs to" These type of women eat this up until it gets ugly. If she leaves at the first sign of abuse he just moves on, but if she stays with him forgiving him just this one time, then she mights as well be swimming in quicksand.

Only women can solve the problem, and it is not you guys yelling at men, it is women smarting up and not putting up with it in the first place.

xX r3trO Xx said...

I really like this quote,"You should exercise your first amendment right and write a blog about what life is like for a narrow-minded, sexist, discompassionate male. It'd be a real hit with the ladies." These kinds of personal attacks show what true character is made of.

Don't bother posting in response, unless of course you feel the need to prove something. I won't be back to this site until the commentors here can compose themselves in a civil manner.

Tobes said...

Anonymous. I have said I will not post attacks against people who use their name. You remain under the guise anonymous. You get no protection. Why do I need to protect you? No one knows who you are.

PS: Way to go blaming the women for getting abused... that makes you very credible.

And I just can't get over how you keep interpretting me as "shrill," "yelling" or "screaming" -- I am merely keeping a blog. But because I'm a woman who writes her opinion, I must be screaming at the top of my lungs and making a scene? I am passionate. Sorry if that scares you.

Your feelings toward women are transparent. And I no longer feel the need to keep engaging in this same conversation with you.

No matter what you blame the woman who is abused and any women who speaks out for change is simply "shrill."

Adrienne said...

Okay okay. In the spirit of allowing other posters to feel safe here, I apologize for my personal attack on 'anonymous'. Not because I think I was wrong to say it, but because it wasn't Tobes's fault that I did, and she was just giving me equal airtime. Plus, I felt that some of anonymous' assertions about Tobes and myself were becoming personal, and I bit back to make a point.

I agree that part of the problem is women needing to wise up and get past their negative self image. And I believe, firmly, that this blog is an important tool in that fight.

But that isn't the only problem. I have a friend who was raped BECAUSE she was confident and her male attacker got sick of watching her 'flaunt herself' and not give in (she was saving herself for marriage, apparently that meant that she should not show any bare skin and stay in the library). Part of the problem has something to do with the male ego, and that is somethign that I, as a woman, do not understand. Does anyone care to speculate?

zZz said...

Well if it is important to have a guise other than anonymous then I present my new guise "zzz". Much more informative don't you think.

I had to respond to the "transparent" remark. I would hope that my feelings about all races, creeds, colors, national origin and gender are transparent. I generally hold everyone responsible for their own actions. It is certainly wrong for a woman to get raped no matter what the situation, but I think women who exercise good judgement get raped less. This goes as well for men who get beaten and robbed.

As far as Adrienne's comment about rape having something to do with the male ego, I think it is more an extremely self centered person who cannot empathize with his victim. He wants what he wants when he wants it and he will take it by force because he can. I think poor upbringing and a lack of a decent male role model in his childhood are root causes, but this, as you asked for, is merely speculation. I think some people are just bad. Not much to do about them but remove them from society.

Tobes, you accuse me of blaming women for the violence committed against them. I would say that the first instance of violence is not their fault at all, but tell me when you see a person that has been abused repeatedly and repeatedly forgives the abuser and won't leave him and won't press charges against him, what do you think? Is there any personal responsibility on her part? Please say yes as the consequences of a no are profound. It would equate an adult female with children and the mentally retarded, people who cannot think or act for themselves and need constant care and supervision. A single adult female would need a guardian under that theory.

Midge said...

My mother has stayed in an abusive marriage for 28 years. And it is true that there have been times growing up when I have blamed her (for staying) on the same level as I blame my father for perpetuating the violence.

I toy sometimes with the idea of someone stepping in and MAKING my mother stay away from my dad, like one would do for a minor or someone who could not otherwise make choices for themselves. It is obvious that, as a result of the manipulation she has suffered, she doesn't see how she could possibly survive without my Dad. Maybe there's even a part of her that likes the abuse because it gives her something to complain about, something that makes her see herself as a 'survivor'.

But I still don't think that her being abused was her fault. She is in a marriage and has four children-- because of her upbringing, her ethics and morals, and her general frame of thinking, she can't imagine walking away from all of that merely to protect her safety. Is that really her fault? Or is it society's, for not educating women enough to be strong and independent, and know that we are worth more than that?

I'm not sure. It's just not as black and white as we'd like it to be.

Tobes said...

Of course, it's hard to look at women who continually go back to their abuser and not wonder-- WHY ARE YOU DOING THAT?

However, I spent my last summer working for a non-profit that dealt with domestic violence and rape. What I learned changed my opinion. I spent a day at a women’s shelter, asking these hard questions.

I sat down with a woman and asked her, point blank, “why do you put up with it.”

Do you know what she told me? She was raped at age 5 by an Uncle. She watched her own mother suffer abuse at the hands of her father. Her priest told her that marriage was forever and that if she suffering to think of Christ on the cross, not to think of leaving with her children. The priest said, “Don’t deprive the children of a father because you don’t know how to work things out.” She reasoned with herself that it was because of the alcohol or unemployment and that she had promised to love him through sickness and health. And anyway, this was the same model of marriage she had always seen. It wasn’t until he broke both her legs and broke her daughter’s arm that she left.

A woman is actually safer staying in those relationships since a greater percentage of deaths due to domestic violence happen if a woman tries to flee the situation.

“zzz” You say, “When you see a person that has been abused repeatedly and repeatedly forgives the abuser and won't leave him and won't press charges against him, what do you think? Is there any personal responsibility on her part? Please say yes as the consequences of a no are profound. It would equate an adult female with children and the mentally retarded, people who cannot think or act for themselves and need constant care and supervision. A single adult female would need a guardian under that theory”

All I can say is – NOTHING about what you say makes any sort of sense. What about the man huh? Where is his guardian so he quits hitting his wife or girlfriend? Of course I believe in personal responsibility but the deck is stacked against these women. Where are they to go? How can they visualize breaking free if they have three kids and no money, no job experience? Why should they leave if he threatens death to her and her children? And knowing that police protection orders rarely work.

A woman will leave when she is ready, not before and she’ll need lots of help and protection to do it. Thank you, Midge for sharing your story. I too, have seen firsthand, how women are trapped in these situations and you can’t really blame them any more than you blame a alcoholic for being addicted to booze. They need our help. They need society to stop pointing fingers and saying, “Hey get off your ass and leave.” And they need people to point fingers and say, “Why are you beating the mother of your children, your wife, your girlfriend?”

The responsibility lies with the abuser, not the abused. Stop blaming women and start helping them get to safety.

zZz said...

Well Tobes I see you think that a woman can not be counted on to make the correct decisions about her life. Well that is probably true for a minority of the population both male and female. But what is the solution that you advocate? Do you support taking the woman out of the home against her will? I don't think that would stand a constitutional test unless the woman was ruled mentally incompetent. Would more and better womens shelters solve the problem? I know that my little community (150k pop.) has several shelters and we still have the problem.

It would be very difficult for lawmakers to support any solution that removes civil rights from women to accomplish the reduction in domestic violence.

You have said your focus is on violence against women in this blog, so what specific solution is it that you are advocating? Looking back I see that you say you are trying to raise awareness about the fact that domestic abuse occurs and it is most often the men that they know and trust. I really don't think that helps the serially abused since they are certainly aware that they are getting beat up. For women who have never been victimized, it can't hurt to hear it one more time, but hopefully any young woman in america realizes that domestic abuse can happen.

Midge said...

zZz said: "It is certainly wrong for a woman to get raped no matter what the situation, but I think women who exercise good judgement get raped less."

I have been toying with this idea for the last few days, trying to see if I agree with it or not. At face value I disagreed immediatley, but wanted to see why.

To say that women who exercise good judgment get raped less is a statement that cannot be proven. Rape is about power, not sex.

I think-- and I'm seriously not trying to inflame anything or make a personal attack-- that saying that woman who exercise good judgement get raped less is a dangerous, hate-filled statement. You may not have meant it this way, but I think that it is absolutely a pre-cursor for feeling that it is a woman's fault, or we should feel less sympathy for her, when she goes out in a mini-skirt and tube top and gets raped.

The fact is, we should be able to go out stark naked and not get raped. I don't care if she was a total cock-tease, stripper, prostitute, whatever-- just because she is those things does not mean that she wants to have sex all the time, or that she owes men anything, or that sex is not important to her. Sex should always be on our own terms.

Tobes said...

I couldn't agree more, Midge. If rape is a result of women who act irresponsibily then how do you explain rape in fundamentalist Muslim countries when women are covered head to toe in a burqa?

There's no excuse for rape it is NEVER the woman's or man's fault. But the fault of the attacker.

Please don't feel the need to walk on eggshells. I myself have called on Anonymous/zZz as a woman-hater. He has not disproved this as he is always placing blame squarely on victim's shoulders.