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The One-Sided Narrative of Domestic Violence

Möbius_strip

The Mobius Strip only has one side and is not too dissimilar to the narrative on domestic violence.

The public is convinced that domestic violence is all about aggressive men beating up on defenseless women. While this is in some ways correct, it is only a fraction of the story.  The reality is that domestic violence is quite complex and women can be the perpetrators and men can also be the victims.  That side of the story though has been deeply buried and ignored.

How did the public come to be so misinformed?  It’s a long and involved tale.  Activists, clinicians, the media, academics and researchers have all played a part in this.  Each group has for many years only told a part of the story, the part about women as victims and men as perpetrators.  To get a good sense of this remarkable and lopsided tale you could read a report to Maryland lawmakers written by the Maryland Commission for Men’s Health that tells the story plainly about male victims of domestic violence. It does not pull punches and goes into more detail than this short article.  

It’s not hard to imagine how an activist, a clinician or the media might have a strongly biased stance that focused only on women as victims. They are all likely to have a vested interest. The activist wants more funding for their specific work, the clinician is tied to their patients and their plight, and the media will print whatever sells more papers. Female victims sell papers, male victims don’t. But how about academics and researchers? How could they play a role in this deception? One might assume that they would have an interest in getting the entire story in the open but that is far from the case.  There is no simple answer to this question but there is a fine piece of writing by Murray Straus,  a renowned family violence researcher that explains his take on this problem. (the Straus report is briefly referenced in the Maryland Men’s Health Commission report cited above) The Straus article describes seven methods used by feminist domestic violence researchers  to conceal and distort evidence on symmetry in partner violence. In other words Straus tells us how these researchers avoided talking about men as victims and women as perpetrators. The article is a remarkable story of a researcher explaining how his craft has been manipulated to tell only part of the story and therefore create a false perception among the general public, the perception that women are the sole victims of domestic violence. It is a must read for anyone who is baffled by this scenario.

Here are the Seven Methods outlined by Straus:

Method 1 Suppress Evidence
Method 2 Avoid Obtaining Data Inconsistent With the Patriarchal Dominance Theory
Method 3. Cite Only Studies That Show Male Perpetration
Method 4. Conclude That Results Support Feminist Beliefs When They Do Not
Method 5. Create “Evidence” by Citation
Method 6. Obstruct Publication of Articles and Obstruct Funding Research That Might Contradict the Idea that Male Dominance Is the Cause of PV
Method 7. Harass, Threaten, and Penalize Researchers Who Produce Evidence That Contradicts Feminist Beliefs

In this article we will be having a look at Method three which shows how researchers can choose to only cite evidence that shows male perpetration and simply omit any mention to alternatives. Straus explains that their own data may in fact have evidence of male victims but they simply choose to not include it in their studies.They simply ignore it and only promote one side of the story: female victims and male perpetrators. 

It is hard to believe that someone invested in the scientific method would stoop to such standards but Straus is 100% correct.  This has been done for years both in research and in the keeping of statistics.

In order to understand how this can happen let’s take a recent example that can show us how this works and also give us some insight into the mentality of those who might utilize such tactics.  

In September of 2014 in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine an article was published titled “Characteristics of Men Who Perpetuate Intimate Partner Violence.”  The article, as so many others before it, focused solely on men as perpetrators and women as victims. It estimated that 1 in 5 men admitted to being violent toward their spouse.  The media caught wind of this and a flood of articles were published with the headline “1 in 5 men admit to violence toward spouse.”

Here are a couple examples of the types of headlines that were seen:

psychcentral

webmd

Seeing these articles motivated me to contact the researcher, Dr Vijay Singh, and ask a few questions.  We exchanged numerous emails. In his defense, I must say that he was very generous with his time and civil in our discussions. He seems like a very nice chap but he did say some things that will help us in understanding the mentality of researchers who ignore male victims.  

The Gatekeeper

One of the first things I asked the researcher was if he had posed the same question to females about their violence towards men.  One of his eventual responses to this is below.  

“As I’d like physicians to think about asking men about IPV, a place to start is from the traditional heterosexual model of women as victims, and men as perpetrators. Eventually, physicians may get to a point of asking women about perpetration, and men about victimization. The medical community is not there yet, and may not be there for many years.”

So he is basically saying, doctors are not ready to hear about male victims or female perpetrators.  He would like them to be ready to hear about this but well, they just aren’t there yet.  This is somehow used as an excuse to not focus on male victims and female perpetrators?  It’s as if he is saying, “Maybe we will get to the men someday, maybe years from now.”  Imagine a doctor saying, “We have lots of diabetes deaths and let’s start with the white patients since that is where most physicians are comfortable, maybe someday we will get to the blacks. But let’s not talk about them since doctors may not be ready to hear about them.”  Would that go over very well?  Absolutely not,  It would be seen as hateful and racist but somehow if you do the same thing to men no one really cares.  It is also very clear that he is not willing to  point out to M.D.’s that males are indeed victims or females perpetrators.  That isn’t even on the radar.  Not to mention that the “heterosexual model” he mentioned has nothing to do with female victims and is a complete non sequitur.  (in this researcher’s defense he claims to have published research that points out females as perpetrators)

But Women are More Often the Victims!

This is a very common claim that researchers make in justifying ignoring male victims or in only serving women.  Listen to what this researcher says:

“Though women may report higher rates of perpetration, they receive more injuries from IPV, and women constitute 70% of those killed by an intimate partner. Because of the greater burden of injuries and deaths from IPV, we chose to focus on men as aggressors in our study.”

This is a very common excuse for those who are inclined to tell only half the story.  Let’s examine this just a minute.  Most research tends to show that males are a large percentage of the seriously injured in domestic violence.  The J Archer meta analysis estimated that 38% of the injuries from domestic violence were to males so I think it is safe to take this kind of claim with a grain of salt and understand it is just an excuse, not a good reason to avoid bringing up male victims and female perpetrators.  But look at the stats he quotes.  Women are 70% of those killed by an intimate partner. Yes.  Last I checked that would mean that 30% of those killed were males.  Therefore he is willing to turn his back on nearly a third of those killed each year.  To me this is bizarre and indefensible.  Blacks are 25% of those who die from heart disease. Should we have a “Heart Disease Against Whites, Hispanics and Asians Act?”  It’s an act that funnels money and services to the majority of the victims, right?  By this researcher’s logic that would be just fine.  Or maybe the Cancer Against Heterosexuals Act?  Would that work?

It turns out this researcher was aware of the fact that females reported higher rates of perpetration (we will get to this in just a minute) but he was happy to simply focus on 1 in 5 men being violent in relationship.  The only explanation that comes to my mind is that he is motivated by a gynocentrist attitude that thinks of serving females first and males as an afterthought.  

The Catch 22

This researcher claims that he was reluctant to alert physicians that men were also victims of domestic violence since, as he says, there are no interventions available.  Here’s the quote:

“…There is no effective intervention for male victims of IPV, or female perpetrators of IPV. Without an intervention, physicians don’t want to ask men or women about those behaviors. Your point that many domestic violence service agencies not wanting to work with men also complicates this issue.”

So here is the Catch 22.  Only those who have interventions available get referred and discussed.  Men get omitted since they have no interventions.  But how will men ever get interventions and service if they are not discussed? Seems like a fool proof plan to permanently exclude men and justify focusing only on women.  I do wonder what he would say if I suggested that there was a serious disease or problem where researchers didn’t have adequate services or interventions. Would he want to just keep that quiet since there were not interventions available?  I would bet not.  What we see is a callous disregard for males who have troubles.  He is insulated from any criticism  due to the profound lack of anyone in our culture standing up for the needs of boys and men.

It’s worth noting that it could be said that the interventions for female victims and male perpetrators are far from being proven effective but that doesn’t keep us focusing on women only and spending a billion dollars a year on the problem.

But wait a minute. It gets worse.

The STUDY

A public database was used for this research.  I asked the researcher for the raw numbers for females admitting violence and he refused saying I needed to find a statistician to help me obtain that data.  That smelled a little stinky to me and it made me wonder if he had something to hide.  I went about figuring a way to get the data myself and was pleasantly surprised to find that it was open for anyone to see and was online to boot!   

I taught myself the basics to get to this raw data and first looked into the ways the data was collected. They used two questions which were drawn from a nationally representative database. (NCS-R) One of the two questions asked about the respondent’s usage of minor violence towards their spouse and the other asked about severe violence.  The responses were broken down into four possibilities which detailed how often the behaviors occurred:

a. never
b. rarely
c. sometimes
d. often

These categories gave one a sense of the frequency of the behaviors being studied.  But here is the kicker.   The researchers didn’t use these four responses even though they were available on the database.  Here’s a quote from the research paper that describes what they didi:

In brief, the dependent variable IPV perpetration was assessed by asking: “Over the course of your relationship, how often have you ever done any of these things (pushed, grabbed, or shoved; threw something; slapped or hit; kicked, bit, or hit with a fist; beat up; choked; burned or scalded; threatened with a knife or gun) to your current spouse/partner?” Responses included often, sometimes, rarely, or never. We dichotomized responses into any/none.

In other words, by “dichotomized” they mean they turned all the different four responses into either “yes” I committed violence or “no” I did not commit violence.  They took any answer that was not “never ” as constituting an incident of domestic violence. With no way of interpreting the frequency of these behaviors we are left just guessing unnecessarily.  This limits the usefulness of the data. The chart below gives you a quick look at all the answers that were not “Never.” It shows all of the positive responses (the admissions of violence) to the two questions from the database where respondents answered “Rarely”, “Sometimes” and “Often.” Notice that 87% of these responses were “Rarely.” Knowing that the vast majority have answered rarely puts a very different spin on the data.  But since the study has removed this information it leaves the reader unaware of any frequency information and it is anyone’s guess what people will assume. If you only read their study with their dichotomized data and don’t know about this detail of the data you might assume that all of those responses were incidents of serious violence. Have a look at this chart and see how the vast majority of answers were “Rarely” (457) and there were very few “Sometimes” (63) and fewer still “Often.” (7)   

all-responses

Why would researchers do this sort of thing? I am not sure what their reasons were but it is clear that by counting the incidences as they did it will tend to inflate the appearance of domestic violence.  This gave them the ability to make the claim that 1 in five men “admitted” to being violent towards their spouse.  Just imagine if they had not dumbed down the data.  They would have had to say “One in five men admitted to rarely being violent towards his spouse and one in 1000 answered “Often.’  It just loses its sexiness doesn’t it?  

Then the question arises why would any researcher want to diminish the information in his data?  It might have been very instructive if they could differentiate the different levels of frequency of violence.  They could then say things like “Those men who claimed to “often” use violence towards their spouse were more likely to x than the men who said “rarely.”  This could be very helpful information to clinicians, law enforcement, and many others but we simply don’t see that level of detail since the data has been “dichotomized.” My guess is that the motive here is to inflate the appearance of domestic violence and by doing this they get more likelihood of funding for their next study.   But this is just my guess.

When people think about domestic violence they are often thinking of someone being severely beaten. They are not thinking of someone who gave a gentle push or grabbed an arm in a moment of irritation and both parties then calming down shortly thereafter.  But the way these questions were asked all of the “rarely” responses could be just that: a momentary irritation.  One of the questions asked a list of behaviors including if you had ever pushed or grabbed  your spouse.  If you pushed your spouse 20 years ago and never pushed her again you would answer yes to this question and would be counted as someone who admitted to violence in relationship. The way the questions were worded leaves us wondering about the severity of violence associated with the “Rarely” responses. It is possible that with the wording of the questions that the “Rarely” category might be a slight push every twenty years. So just to experiment, let’s exclude these “rarely ” responses and only count the “sometimes” and “often” responses as being evidence of more serious domestic violence the situation changes dramatically.  Now instead of being 1 in 5 it is more like 1 in 50.  Even that I think is not accurate.  If you exclude the sometimes responses and only count for the question about severe violence the figure drops to 1 fifth of one percent .17% (about 1 in 500) Very very low but these researchers tried to paint a picture using all of the positive responses as being a “yes” thus creating the appearance of a more widespread problem. 

But with these caveats let’s accept this as it is and move on.

We have seen how this researcher harbors ideas that are likely to diminish the chances of male victims being highlighted.  We have seen how the data was “dichotomized” and how this may have altered the meaning of the numbers to the general public.  Now let’s turn to the stunning fact that the database he used for this study to show how 1 in 5 men admitted to being violent with their spouse actually showed that women admitted to more violence in relationship than did the men, sometimes by as much as double.  Let’s look at each of the two questions. 

Here’s the first:

MR42. F (RB, PG 56)
People handle disagreements in many different ways. Over the course of your relationship, how often have you ever done any of these things on List A to your [(current)] [(spouse/partner)] – often, sometimes, rarely or never?

         List A
          ·  Pushed, grabbed or shoved
· Threw something
· Slapped, hit, or spanked

Let’s have a look at a chart that shows both men’s and women’s response to that question.

admits-min-viol-full2

Note that the majority of responses were “Never” with “Rarely” coming in a distant second.  Then note that the “Sometimes” and “Often” responses are a very small number in comparison.  You will see that of the responses that admitted to any violence (rarely, sometimes, and often) the female totals were always higher than the males.  In the sometimes and often responses they were almost double. This is remarkable but it got buried by the researchers only focusing on male violence.  Also note that the males admitting to minor violence are about 15.5% of the total while the females admitting minor violence are about 21%.  That is quite a gap.

So we can easily see that the researcher simply ignored the female data.  It was there but he chose to turn his head. 

Next up is the question about severe violence. Here is the question as it was asked:


MR44. F (RB, PG 56)
Now looking at List B, over the course of your relationship, how often have you ever done any of the things on List B to your [(spouse/partner)] – often, sometimes, rarely, or never?

LIST B
Kicked, bit or hit with a fist
Beat up
Choked
Burned or scalded
Threatened with a knife or gun

See the chart below and notice that the same patterns play out in this chart with the major difference being that the numbers are sharply diminished.  Again notice that the female numbers are always higher than the males and in the “sometimes” and “often” responses are double or more.

admit-seve-viol-full2

This seems like a very important difference that is contrary to the stereotype that has become the norm.  The least that needs to be done is for the researchers to attempt to explain this difference.  I am willing to bet that their explanation would  focus on the man’s unwillingness to tell the truth.  This explanation might have some credibility since men are far more likely to face harsh judgement and shaming for admitting hitting a woman while women do not face nearly the same sorts of judgements for hitting men.  But the data does not support this idea.  There were other questions on this same database about domestic violence and one of those asked the respondent for the frequency of how often the spouse hit them.  If we assume that men were lying about their violence we would expect that the women’s responses to how often their spouse was violent towards them would show that their masculine partners were more violent and the women’s numbers about the men being violent would be greater than the men’s numbers.  But that is not what the responses show.  The responses show that women reported that men hit them less than the men report the women hitting them.  This seems to support the idea that women are more violent in relationships (at least in this sample) just as the raw data from these questions suggests.

It is also worth noting that just as the researchers “dichotomized” the Rarely, Sometimes and Often responses into yes or no, they have also combined the question about severe violence and minor violence into one unit that is expressed as a yes or no.  If someone answered affirmatively to either of these questions it was counted as an incident of violence. But keep in mind that there were nearly seven times as many affirmative responses to the question about minor violence when compared to the severe violence.  These important differences disappear when the data is simply totaled and you ignore both the frequency and the severity. Again, the same theme plays out that “dichotomizing” the data and now the questions puts strong and unnecessary limits on its usefulness.  The only reasons I can imagine they would want to do this would be to inflate the appearance of domestic violence. Just as the activists, media and so many others try to paint an exaggerated picture we now see the researchers apparently taking a similar path.

It seems to me that List B is more representative of what most of us consider domestic violence.  Kicking, beating up, choking, threatening with knife or gun etc.  These are indicators of serious violence.  If we only look at the percentages of this question we see that the number of females admitting severe violence totaled 3.1% (approx. 1 in 32) while the males admitting severe violence totaled 2.2% (approx. 1 in 45).  That says that nearly 60% of those admitting to severe violence are women.  What?  Has anyone heard any research that points to those numbers?  No.  And that is the point of this article.  We have heard only half the story and as evidenced by this research the numbers were there, the researchers simply opted to ignore them thus leaving most of us in the dark about the realities of domestic violence.

Conclusion

We have seen how the ideas and attitudes of the researcher played out in only reporting one side of this story.  We have seen how the “dichotomizing” of the data and the questions basically dumbed down the data and made if less useful by making it a simple yes or no. We have seen how very shocking and informative data that conclusively shows that women admitted to being more violent in relationship was ignored and unreported.  This all facilitates the promotion of the default narrative of women as victims and men as perpetrators by only telling the story about male perpetrators and female victims.   We have seen how this works and the powerful national media’s willingness to promote this half story on a national level.

Look at the headline below. Now you know this headline should actually read “1 in 4 American Women admit to domestic violence.”


feministing2

Can you imagine seeing an article like the one pictured below in  a mainstream media publication?  I would bet not.  But like it or not, that is actually the truth.

newspaper (1)

It’s time we started holding researchers, the media and all of those connected to domestic violence accountable.  This charade has gone on far too long.

Dear Abby Strikes Again!

 

Check out this slightly altered Dear Abby column and see what you think.

 

abbyDear Abby: I think I have an abuse problem. I’ve been with my girlfriend for a year, and already I feel she is fed up with me. I don’t want to lose her.

When I was younger, my father used to abuse me. It was years ago, but I feel like I might have gotten that trait from him. In addition, I have a tendency to smack my girlfriend on the arm when she’s verbally abusing me. I just want it to stop.

I love this woman and I feel terrible after I do it. I keep telling her I’m sorry and that I have the worst tendency to act on impulse. Please tell me how to stop because I CAN’T lose her.

Sorry in Kansas City, Mo.

Dear Sorry: If you want your relationship to improve, you must realize it will take effort, not only on your part, but also your girlfriend’s. Neither of you handles anger or frustration appropriately. She shouldn’t verbally abuse you if something bothers her. And you need to find other ways than hitting her to make her stop.

Couples counseling could help you communicate more effectively with each other. Many licensed mental health professionals offer it. Please don’t wait.

 

See anything fishy here?  See the actual column here
.

 

Domestic Violence Double Standards: Men Get Shackles, Women Get Chuckles

Ray-Rice-married.final

Ray Rice got a raw deal.  

We are living in a world of huge double standards when it comes to domestic violence and our men are on the bad end of the deal.  When a man commits domestic violence  he is punished very harshly.  But when a woman commits domestic violence she gets cheers, chuckles or is all too often ignored.

Just look at what happened to Ray Rice.

The video of the incident showed Rice’s girlfriend (and soon to be wife) hitting him twice, once before getting on the elevator and once on the elevator.  Then it shows her moving aggressively towards him in what appears to be an attempt to strike him a third time. (please note this not a defenseless woman cowering in the corner) Rice responds by hitting her in the face and she hits her head on a handrail which then knocks her out.  The eventual response to this incident?  Ban Ray Rice from his lucrative association with the NFL, and be fired from his team, the Baltimore Ravens.  These two things obviously shame him, put a big DV on his forehead, cut off his income, his prestige, and his association with his friends and teammates.  A very harsh and far too stringent response in my opinion.  But wait.  What would happen if we reversed the roles here?

Let’s see.

Imagine this: Ray Rice hits his girlfriend before getting on the elevator and then again on the elevator.  Then moves aggressively towards her in what appears to be a third attempt to hit her.  As he moves in to hit her she hits him in the face and he hits his head on a handrail knocking him out. What is the response to this?  My guess is she would get accolades and be seen as a hero, a woman who successfully protected herself from an abuser.  She would likely be on talk shows and be held up as a role model for all women.  Rice would likely be arrested for domestic violence while she is seen as a hero.

Do you see the problem here?   For the same behavior she is a hero and he is shamed and banished.

So Ray Rice was not guilty of beating up on a completely defenseless woman.  No.  As we previously described this was not some cowering woman in the corner covering her face with her arms and hoping not to be hit, this was an aggressive woman who had already struck him twice and was moving in for the  third blow.  This is very different from a defenseless women.  Yes, Ray needs to take responsibility for hitting her but doesn’t she need to take responsibility for hitting him? Isn’t she clearly guilty of domestic violence?  I read quite a few articles on this incident and I simply don’t remember ever seeing her violence addressed. No one ever mentioned it.  Just another example of the huge double standard we face.  It is so powerful that the media simply ignores the violence of women.  The youtube with this article shows numerous women who were violent in relationship and what was the response?  Laughter and very little.

I think the NFL really blew it on this one.  

The punishment he received was far from helpful.  What sort of help might he get from being banished from his profession?  What sort of help might it give his wife?  None. The sad fact is that the NFL acted like a cowardly white knight who was more than willing to throw Mr Rice under the team bus in order to appear that they didn’t hate women and had uber concern about the issue of domestic violence.  It just seems like one big disgusting play for image by the NFL.  A play that ignores the humanity of both Rice and his wife.

What happens to the man on the street who hits a woman?  Is he tossed out of his job as punishment?  No.  Is he banned from working in his profession?  Highly unlikely.  Is he offered some form of counseling or educational opportunity that might help him deal with his mess?  Yes, usually, and in severe cases people go to jail but apparently the Ray Rice situation found that he was best served by this former alternative but the NFL stepped in and amped up the ante to an extremely humiliating degree.  

Does the fact that she didn’t hit as hard matter?  Not really.  If a 5’ 7” 150 lb man came to me in therapy and said that he had hit a pro football player twice in an elevator and was moving towards him again to land a third blow and he got knocked out what would I tell him?  Would I tell him that he should have the pro football player arrested and that he was a victim?  Or should I tell him that his behavior was a part of this equation.  Duh.  Why doesn’t Mrs Rice get the same treatment?  Because we are living in a gynocentric world that holds men accountable and fails to do the same for women.

If we are going to let women off and not hold them accountable for domestic violence than we need to do the same with men.  If we are truly equal it is the only fair thing to do.

The Invisible Blue Taboo — The Burden of Boys and Men

bluetaboo

This is what you get when you swallow the blue pill.

Most men live under an invisible blue taboo.  This powerful and cloaked prohibition discourages men in many ways, one of which is from letting anyone know if they might be feeling blue.  But it goes much deeper.  It’s not just about emotions, the blue taboo includes being needy or dependent in any way.  Men find themselves automatically avoiding any communication that might portray them as dependent or needy.  I have been watching this taboo for years and have marveled at men’s creativity in sidestepping this dilemma. Men have simply expressed their emotional pain and neediness in other ways.  Some use actions, some use inaction.  Most men have found  ways around this prohibition and feel just fine about it.  We should be good right?  Wrong.

The taboo also impacts women (and other men) by discouraging them from listening to the man’s emotional pain, his neediness or his dependency.  In my years of working with couples in therapy I have very rarely seen a woman who routinely listened to the emotional pain of her male partner.  Think purple polar bear.  Very rare.  Women do often claim that they want a man who is in touch with his feelings but if you scratch and sniff you find that this means that he should be in touch with HER feelings.  It is a rare women who can regularly sit with the man she loves and non-judgmentally hear him out on a feeling level.  Yes, women will claim that men give them no chance to do this, that they are cold and unfeeling, but  give her a chance in therapy to listen to his pain and what I have seen repeatedly is that she has a very hard time with this and often recoils.

Men have also found ways around not being heard in relationships.  Again, they turn towards their strength of action and their powerful ability to utilize solitude.  But that is not the end of this story.

The very same resistance to hearing men’s pain and men’s needs in relationship we can also see in our cultural structures. Just as a man’s emotional pain and neediness is taboo in relationship that same disinterest in men’s needs can be clearly seen in our culture.  It’s the same blue taboo just on a different octave. Take the family court.  How many times have you heard men clearly state that it was as if they were invisible.  When his ex complained to the judge she would get swift and helpful responses.  But when he voices what he needs he gets silence or worse yet, gets slammed for it.  This is the blue taboo playing out in the family courts.  Women’ needs are seen as a call to action and men’s needs are seen as his selfishness. In this arena, the blue taboo is deadly and there is no workaround for men.  They are sunk and no one sees it.  Only the men who are pummeled see it clearly. If these broken men try to explain this injustice the blue taboo works again to discourage anyone from really hearing their needs and injuries. So they had best not complain about it since that is, of course, taboo.  And we wonder why men commit suicide ten times as much as women following divorce?

blue-duct-tapeWe see the same blue taboo dynamic played out in our legislatures.  When women complain that  they are in need you see the legislators jump and jump high.  They are on a fast track to  a solution.  When men voice their needs what do you see?  You see shaming and turning away. Men’s needs are simply not heard. We have a multitude of laws to help women including the VAWA, rape shield laws, affirmative action, and many many more.  This is the blue taboo at work.  Men’s meeds are routinely ignored.  There is no workaround.  But men had better not complain…

We see the same thing in the media.  It fills its plate with women’s needs, women’s complaints, women’s feelings and on and on.  Do you see many articles about the needs of men?  Nope, there is that purple polar bear again. Feminism filled the welcoming media elite for 50 years.  It has literally become the default voice.  But what happens when men start voicing their needs?  Just look at the media reaction to the latest AVFM conference.  Men and women gathered to discuss the needs of men and boys and you know the rest.  Hit piece after hit piece. This is the blue taboo,  The needs of men are taboo.

One would think that our places of higher learning might not be so brainwashed by this taboo but anyone with eyes can see that our universities are about women and girls.  Women’s studies, women’s centers, women health, blah blah blah.  Ask for something for men and boys and you get a cold shoulder.  It went so far in Toronto that campus groups were banned if they were about the needs of men. This is the blue taboo.

So men are in a huge bind.  When men voice their needs they are routinely ignored both on a micro and macro level.  When they complain about this injustice they meet the same taboo.  They are ignored or shamed.  There is no way out. Be a man.  STFU.

At one time in human history this may have been a productive path.  For survival purposes we split up the roles with men doing the more dangerous work of providing and protecting and women the childbearing and child oriented tasks.  This arrangement obviously set up a scenario where women would ask for what they wanted/needed in order to maintain the family life.  There might be arguments over the details of this but the bottom line was the women would “ask for” and the men would then be responsible to get the provisions or the safety that women requested. His job of providing and protecting was directly related to her requests.  She got very practiced at asking for what she wants and voicing her needs.  Men got very practiced at providing for those needs and wants.  Note that this is a one way valve.  Women voice needs, men respond.  There was no corresponding flip side where women responded to men’s needs.

This may or may not be the origins of the blue taboo.  No matter where it came from we need to start dismantling it asap.  We have spent 50 years dismantling women’s sex roles but have yet to even have a look at men’s. This is yet another spin off of the blue taboo.  We work hard to change women’s restrictive roles but ignore those of men.  Blue taboo anyone? Focus on women and ignore the needs of men? Yup.  But how long can we afford to “empower” one half of the population while we continue to ignore the needs of the other half? Probably not much longer.  Let’s not let that happen.  Take that red pill.

Men’s Issues Soundbite Poll Results

pollThank you all for voting in the poll for the soundbites.  Here are the top 25 soundbites starting with #1 and working down.

  1. Equal rights without equal responsibilities is not EQUALITY - 4% ( 74 votes )
  2. Education is failing our boys - 4% ( 68 votes )
  3. Masculinity is not a disease in need of treatment. - 4% ( 66 votes )
  4. Discrimination in the name of supporting women is still just discrimination.” - 3% ( 51 votes )
  5. if wanting compassion and choice for men and boys is hateful towards women, maybe you need to re-examine your definition of hate - 3% ( 49 votes )
  6. Men dominate the bottom 30% of society. - 3% ( 49 votes )
  7. Male suffering is invisible - 2% ( 46 votes )
  8. The disposable male - 2% ( 46 votes )
  9. KIDS NEED DAD! - 2% ( 42 votes )
  10. A man is more likely to kill himself than you - 2% ( 40 votes )
  11. Men Deserve Choice Too - 2% ( 39 votes )
  12. Men Are Good! - 2% ( 39 votes )
  13. Men Suffer Silently - 2% ( 38 votes )
  14. “Men’s rights are equal rights” - 2% ( 38 votes )
  15. The men who face these issues are your fathers, husbands, brothers and sons”? - 2% ( 38 votes )
  16. “Families need fathers”. - 2% ( 37 votes )
  17. Her body, her choice, …HIS bill! - 2% ( 37 votes )
  18. Men die for others. - 2% ( 36 votes )
  19. Yes, 2 women are killed every week by their partner or former partner, but in the same period, 2 other women are killed, and 9.5 men are killed, so why not mention them?” - 2% ( 36 votes )
  20. Men built the modern world - 2% ( 35 votes )
  21. real women know men are good. - 2% ( 34 votes )
  22. Want to know how a women will act?  Tell her no. - 2% ( 34 votes )
  23. The empathy gap - 2% ( 33 votes )
  24. Compassion and Choice for Men and Boys - 2% ( 32 votes )
  25. Chivalry is dead because women killed it. - 2% ( 32 votes )

Choose the Best Soundbites

 

Below is a list of nearly 70 soundbites that were suggested on a recent menaregood youtube.  I wanted to open this list up to a vote and get everyone’s opinion about which ones might be the most useful for our purposes.  You can vote for up to 25 soundbites.

What makes a good soundbite?  It tells a story in very few words.  The fewer the better.  It is catchy and easy to remember and will leave an impression on those who hear it.  A very good soundbite will help people see their own double standards.

I will paste in the original youtube at the end of the poll for those who may not have seen it.

 

 

Choose the Best Soundbites
Choose up to 25 of the soundbites listed below that you think are the best.

 

Salon’s Misandry on Display re: the 1st International Men’s Issues Conference

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There was  a recent article on Salon.com about the 1st International Men’s Issues Conference.  The article was not so dissimilar to some other major publications who had an obvious strong bias against men and boys. It needs to be said that there were some very good articles that were much more accurate. An example is the USAToday piece.
This Salon article offered a paragraph about my part in the conference and I found it highly inaccurate. I thought I would take some time here to voice my side of things.  I have been interviewed by the mainstream media many times over the years including The New York Times, Washington Post, CBS Evening News, CNN, and even the NFL Channel and ESPN.  Each of these interviews was fair and accurate in their portrayal of the message I was trying to get across.  The Salon article however fails in that regard and the writer seems to have a bone to pick with men and boys.  Here’s the paragraph in question:

 

If one of the primary messages of the conferences was “feminists are bad,” the other was “men’s rights activists are good.” In the talk “Men’s Unique Way of Healing,” social worker Tom Golden covered every inch of the stage with his energetic pacing and pantomiming, opening the talk by holding his hands in the air and chanting, “Men are GOOD!” “How many of you have been told that you don’t know how to talk about your feelings?” Golden asked the crowd. His explanation: Men shouldn’t be expected to open up emotionally. They sit in a fishing boat all day without saying a word and then exit the boat as best friends. Michael Jordan emoted by crying for his late father after winning the championship. Men are “good” just the way they are, and need not bother with all of that “crying” and “talking about your feelings” stuff.

Okay.  So let’s take the very first part.  

 

opening the talk by holding his hands in the air and chanting, “Men are GOOD!””

 

​Now have a look at the very beginning of the youtube (about 2:40) and see if I hold my hands in the air and chant men are good:

 

So I hope you noticed my hands were behind my back and I said “men are good” exactly two times.  Not much of a chant. But why would he want to portray me like that?  My guess is that what I was saying went against the grain of his own belief system and he was trying to paint me as a fanatic of some sort.  Perhaps he was thinking… “men are good?  No, can’t be right.  Men are the problem!”  And when we don’t agree with someone and want to diminish their ethos what can we do?  Say they are chanting!  You know, who chants?  Mostly religious folks who are far from the mainstream and often seen as fanatics. The default population views “chanting” with great suspicion.  So let’s just paint Golden as a chanter!  LOL  Cheap.  Whatever happened to Woodward and Bernstein? This writer actually reminds me of what I might expect from a middle school student who had it in for the person they were writing about.

 

But it gets worse.  The article​ quotes me as saying “How many of you have been told that you don’t know how to talk about your feelings? Golden asked the crowd.” (the actual quote was “how many men in this audience have heard that? That you are not dealing with your feelings” – considerably different but close) But then goes on to say

 

“His explanation: Men shouldn’t be expected to open up emotionally.

 

Okay now this one gets me.  I have spent over 30 years sitting with men in deep emotional pain and have never said and will likely never say that men shouldn’t be expected to open up emotionally.  He has missed the entire thrust of the talk.  What I tried to say was that men have a very different way to open up and most people can’t even see it.

 

​The article says:

 

Men are “good” just the way they are, and need not bother with all of that “crying” and “talking about your feelings” stuff.“​

 

Yet another horrible interpretation.  What I have found and I hope what I said in the talk was that men have a different way to get at their emotions.  I never said anything about them not needing to bother with the crying etc.  The fact is that their actions and inactions will often move them to a place of tears.  They are just much less likely, for a wide variety of reasons, to do this in public.
​The question that arises in my mind is why would this reporter write such a biased and inaccurate piece when all of the rest of the interviews I have done over the years have been markedly different in accuracy?  I think it is a small jump to see that​ this was the first time that I had presented for AVFM in a public men’s issues setting.  My normal setting is with mental health professionals or with hospices.  In those settings people seem very receptive to the message but once you get associated with men’s issues you get slammed.  I think what we are dealing with is a culture and a writer who is so gynocentric and so threatened by hearing the idea that men have needs that he fails repeatedly to be able to see and discuss those needs.  He shuts down and attacks.  This is what people do when they are feeling threatened.  Be sure to read the rest of the article and you will see that his slant was not reserved just for me.  The entire conference seems to have gotten under his skin.
I wrote a comment for the online Salon article to try to clarify what I actually said but I think it is falling on deaf ears.  Read some of the comments and you will see Archie Bunker and worse. Archie was at least lovable.  If you can detach it can actually be fairly entertaining to read through them. This is a brainwashed group that is vehement that their brainwashing is the only way to see things and anyone voicing a different viewpoint is seen as an idiot who can’t get dates.  I mean really?  I will paste in the comment I made here.
Enough said.

Here’s the comment:

Thanks for including me in your article.  While I do appreciate being included I feel that you didn’t seem to portray the talk in an accurate manner.  I thought I would post here and offer the basics that you seem to have missed.  I would encourage everyone to have a look at the free video on youtube and judge for yourself the accuracy of this article.  http://youtu.be/h7yaH-DVbYQ?t=2m34s Here are the main points:


 You can’t say all men heal one way and all women heal another. It is much more complicated but it is fairly safe to talk about most men and that is what the talk considered as will this post.  

1. Most men will process their emotions in a way that is very different from the cultural default.  They will tend to use action, inaction, and honoring to do so.​

​2. Men do this for many reasons but the main reasons that were discussed in the talk were that a man’s emotional pain is taboo in our culture. The second reason of four was that men are expected to provide and protect and this expectation includes a powerful expectation that men avoid any form of dependency.  When men are seen as dependent they are often judged as not being “real men.” Men are not dumb enough to fall for that trap.

3. There are physical reasons for these differences starting with the large levels of testosterone that boys (and about 18% of girls) receive at about 2 months in utero.  We discussed the probable impact of this on the processing of emotions.  The work of Shelly Taylor (The Tending Instinct) showed us that when stressed, men and women have different paths to cope.  Men tend to fight or flight.  That is, they tend to connect their stress with action or inaction ​while women do something very different.  Taylor found that women will “tend and befriend.”  That is, women will move towards INTERACTION when stressed.  This contrasts with the men’s tendency to move towards action and/or inaction. This important bifurcation starts to help us understand our differences in processing emotions.

4. The talk then gave two examples of the way men heal.  We discussed Eric Clapton and the way he worked with his loss following the sudden death of his young son.  We also discussed Michael Jordan and his ways of coping following the murder of his father.

I have been working with men in emotional pain for over 30 years and having someone write that I said “Men shouldn’t be expected to open up emotionally” is pretty shocking and inaccurate.  I said nothing of the sort.  What I did say was that men have a very different way to process their emotions and we need to factor that in when we help them connect.  The material I presented was a summary of what usually takes 3-4 hours to get across. Many details were left out due to time. If you have any interest I have written two books on the topic, Swallowed by a Snake: The Gift of the Masculine Side of Healing, and the more recent kindle book “The Way Men Heal.”

Time Magazine Gets it Wrong – The 1st International Men’s Issues Conference

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“Crass ideological opponents”
“Paranoia and vitriol”
“Violent Internet histories”
“A palpable distaste for women”
These men laugh at rape jokes.
Describing a Saturday Night Live sketch as if it attacked our beliefswhen it addressed none of our beliefs at all
Mentioning mass murderer Elliot Rodger

These are things Jessica Roy used in describing the International Conference on Men’s Issues and its readers and editors in her Time magazine article.

She went as far as describing a point during the conference when she got the vapors and had to leave the building! Interesting that she doesn’t tell us what content gave her this vaporous experience, nor does she tell us when and if she returned.

Here’s the way her article starts:

I went to the conference in suburban Detroit expecting a group of feminist-hating Internet trolls; I found much more.

It is clear that Roy had very strong preconceived ideas about this conference prior to even setting foot in the venue. In other words, she was prejudiced. In her mind, she seems to have thought that these were her enemies, these were violent and vitriolic opponents who said things so vile that she had to leave the building. It’s little wonder that her article is desperately biased as she clings to her outdated, half-the-story ideological-feminist indoctrination.

Roy peppered the article with examples of how men are indeed in need of services at times but implied that the “paranoid” and “vitriolic” leadership was not doing a good job of getting them the help they need. Presumably, from her perspective, the conference also failed in that regard.

At some points during the article Roy related content from the conference and then immediately offered a refutation. In most good reporting, I have seen the reporter report what transpired and then, when it is an important point, seek out other expert opinions as a counterpoint to help the reader see both sides. In Roy’s case, most of the time she simply saw herself as the expert and worked to refute the claims of the conference speakers. This shows us clearly that this was personal to her; she wanted to refute what was being said. There was “her side” and then the side she was writing about. Her stance as a journalist was biased and far from neutral.

A very strong indicator of her defensiveness and brittle worldview:

Still, being surrounded by men who belly-laughed at rape jokes and pinned evil elements of human nature wholesale on women was emotionally taxing at best and self-destructive at worst. Once, during a particularly upsetting segment of the program, I had to excuse myself from the auditorium to seek refuge on the bug-filled bank of Lake St. Clair. I kept wondering why I had volunteered to fly 600 miles to attend the conference alone, to surround myself not just with crass ideological opponents, but with people with violent Internet histories who believed my very existence oppressed them. But to emerge on the other side of this with both my sanity and a worthwhile story, I would have to actually adopt a grain of their advice. I would have to stop feeling like a victim, and in turn cast aside all of the humiliating and unfair and devastating experiences I had collected as a woman.

Of course “belly-laughs at rape jokes” were hardly the norm for anyone there, and all evil elements of human nature were not pinned wholesale on women; women were just held to be as culpable as men by most of the presenters. And men must not experience humiliating and unfair and devastating experiences as men just because they couldn’t immediately rattle them off for her when prompted.

As an example of the distorted lens Roy sees things through, when Dr. Tara Palmatier showed a slide in a presentation on clinical narcissism, rather than trying to understand or to expand on what Dr. Palmatier was saying about it, Roy decided instead to try to disprove the assertions of Dr. Palmatier without discussion, by claiming it was about how attire causes rape. This is the work not of a journalist but of an ideologue trying to promote their own view of the world. Give them an alternative viewpoint and they go bonkers.

The question does arise: Why would Time magazine send a reporter who was so biased and closed-minded to cover this conference? Maybe like sending an “earth is the center of the universe” proponent to cover a Copernicus news conference. What would you expect from that? Then again, maybe Time doesn’t hire unbiased reporters anymore?

Time magazine is not the only culprit here. The Washington Post also sent a reporter who had strong biases and training that focused more on women’s issues and had left out men and boys. The article she wrote is not unlike Roy’s. It’s biased. Both were obviously steeped in the wrong-headed, half-truth feminist dogma that has been the default of the media for many years. If only either could have listened carefully to the presentations they might have seen the damage their thinking and writing has been doing. Compare either of these articles with this USA Today story on the conference. Note the contrast and that it lacks the bitter hatefulness seen in the other two.

My wife, who attended the conference and is sympathetic to the views expressed at the conference but who could not be described as an “activist,” read the Time magazine article and said, “It’s hard to believe that she related in the article the way she did. It is just bizarre … her perceptions of the situation, it’s way off base.”

I must wholeheartedly agree, having been there myself.

Now it’s your turn. All of the presentations at the conference are now online and linked below and free for viewing. Have a look and decide for yourself whether you agree with my wife or with Jessica Roy. I am betting strongly on my wife.

 

DAY ONE

Senator Ann Cools
Erin Pizzey
Tara Palmatier, PhD
Mike Buchanan
Fred Jones
Barbara Kay
Tom Golden
Paul Elam  

DAY TWO

Warren Farrell, PhD
Karen Straughan
Carnell Smith
Robert Franklin
Terrence Popp
Stefan Molyneux 
PANEL

The International Men’s Issues Conference 2014:  An Astounding Event

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If you missed the International Men’s Issues Conference in June of 2014 you missed an astounding event.  Lucky for you it is now online and viewable. (links at the end of this post ) The consistent theme that was heard repeatedly during the event was that the old narrative is woefully inadequate and is being replaced with a new one that improves the focus of compassion and choice to everyone, not just a select few. Exposing this old narrative came from almost each speaker and was described in a wide variety of ways.

I do hope that those who attacked this conference and unsuccessfully tried to shut it down by sending death threats to innocent people will take the time to listen to these presentations.  I think if they take the time to do this that they will find that the speakers all offer a similar message of wanting the best for all people, not just a select few.  They are truly humanitarians.  How could anyone want to shut down a humanitarian event?

I am reminded of a book I read many years ago.  It was a book on human evil by Scott Peck.  The title was People of the Lie: The Hope for Healing Human Evil.  In it, Peck explained that evil was most often practiced by those who would attack others rather than deal with their own failings.  This sort of attack would then leave what Peck described as the hallmark of evil, it would leave a huge amount of chaos in its wake. Of course I won’t need to remind anyone that men’s issues consistently focus on events and problems where men and boys are facing huge amounts of chaos whether it is the family court traumas, the domestic violence industry, or some other misandrist avenue.

I couldn’t help but notice that the First International Men’s Issues Conference had a number of speakers addressing the idea of evil.  Sen Ann Cools, the first black female Senator in North America started off the conference by openly asking how anyone could actually believe the feminist narrative that has been thrust upon us all for the last 40 years.  Senator Cools told stories of her experience in the Canadian Senate that exposed the half truths and the gynocentric majority that turned their backs on the needs of men and boys. Erin Pizzey then gave a remarkable presentation about the plight of men and boys. She labelled what has been done to men and boys, particularly in the domestic violence arena as done by  “The Evil Empire.” Then Tara Palmatier, PhD eloquently and humorously pointed out the lopsided nature of acceptance of the narcissism of girls and women and the shame, blame, and lack of acceptance for boys and men on so many levels.  The conference started off with three women who very eloquently and powerfully labeled the state we are in and the impact this has on boys and men.  

crowd-end-sm-14The presentation where I learned the most was from Karen Straughan.  I would highly recommend you check it out.  I had been duped by the idea that feminism in the beginning was actually for equality.  Karen rid me of that notion.  She went into detail about the Seneca Falls Convention and showed clearly how the feminist narrative, even in the 19th century, was clearly blaming men for the ills of the world.

There were so many other presentations that were simply excellent.  I can honestly say there was not one presentation I heard that didn’t get an A. Barbara Kay did a great job in exposing the misandry in the media. Mike Buchanan brought to life the political reality and shared his experience in starting a political party in England to focus on boys and men.  Fred Jones inspired us in laying out what it takes to win a fight that may be stacked against you in the start. Golden did okay talking about men and their unique ways to process emotions and Paul talked about the importance of honoring our blue collar men and the fact that the world functions due to their often unappreciated efforts.

Warren Farrell started off day two with a ten point summation of the most important issues we need to address in order to find success.  As usual Warren is thinking ahead of the curve! Carnell Smith told the story of cupcake and had us all laughing and inspired to keep any eye peeled for the soul crushing impact of paternity fraud. Robert Franklin exposes the partnership of feminists and family court lawyers and their goals of keeping fathers out of families.  Terry Popp focused on the huge problem of suicide in the military and showed the excellent video Purple Heart’s Final Beat.  Then Stefan Molyneux spoke and began by looking at evil and how it starts and stops, moved to circumcision and then beyond. He really kept us all interested and laughing.

What a great group of presentations.  This conference was truly an astounding event. 

At this point day two is online on youtube.  The present video is a number of hours long and difficult to navigate and find the beginnings and ends of each section.  For your convenience the links below will take you to each presentation.

Introduction for Warren Farrell
Warren Farrell

Introduction for Karen Straughan
Karen Straughan

Introduction for Carnell Smith
Carnell Smith 

Introduction for Robert Franklin
Robert Franklin

Introduction for Terry Popp
Terry Popp 

Introduction for Stefan Molyneux
Stefan Molyneux

Presentation to the VFW

Panel