A quick look at how compassion and choice for boys and men is more limited and why.
Have you ever wondered how erroneous and misleading ideas are spread and maintained in our culture? Look no farther than a social work graduate textbook that errs by telling only a part of the truth. For more on the misandry in social work go here meninsocialwork.org
There is a popular text used in social work graduate schools titled American Social Welfare Policy: A Pluralistic Approach. It is meant to be an introduction to social policy in the US and give students a beginning idea of the state of our social welfare system. The parts I have read seem to be a tool of indoctrination that offers students a very one-sided view of issues. It pushes a liberal feminist agenda that is presumed to be gospel. Perhaps what it leaves out is more important than what it includes. Let’s look a little closer at that.
Yes, the book hammers away at the popular meme that poverty is the biggest problem facing our culture today with the idea that racism is a major factor in creating poverty. What does it leave out? The book ignores the issue of fatherlessness even though this issue has been revealed as foundational and at the root of poverty. If you don’t know, the research has shown significant father involvement seems to be a greater factor in many problem areas than poverty or better schools. In other words poor children with significant father involvement do better on numerous factors than wealthier children without dads. Getting fathers back into the home should be our #1 priority but sadly that is not even on the radar in this book. They simply don’t mention it.
The book quotes a nearly 20-year-old research study by Sara McClanahan about single motherhood but completely ignores the 2013 blockbuster paper by the same author that summarized the research on fatherlessness in the 2000’s. The paper astoundingly shows that fatherlessness is the #1 factor in so many of the social problems we face. This book was published in 2014 so this 2013 journal article was available at the time of publication as were the 60+ research studies the paper summarized. The title of the McClanahan article is “The Causal Effects of Father Absence” and reviews the numerous studies that lead one to see the causative nature of fatherlessness. That’s right, CAUSATIVE.
This is unheard of in social science research that typically relies on strong correlations. This is different. This research says fatherlessness causes the problems. This is huge, especially for social workers whose profession played a strong role in removing fathers from their homes. Starting in the 1960’s welfare payments were dependent on men not being present in the home. Yes, social workers were a party in enforcing that hateful policy. Fast forward to the 21st century when social workers are all too often taking the feminist stance and working in and condoning a biased family court system that favors mothers as caretakers after divorce which decreases the likelihood of father involvement. This is just another way to remove fathers from the home through no fault of their own. Shared parenting is the simple solution if we could only get beyond lawyers, feminists, and social workers who stand in opposition. This book, by ignoring the important role of fatherlessness is neglecting an important side of the story that these graduate students need to hear and discuss. That side of the story is simply omitted.
Perhaps the worst of the one sidedness is in the book’s chapter on discrimination with the portrayal of women as having been oppressed. The book places women in the same boat as blacks and gays. Now wait a minute. Blacks and gays have both faced a great deal of difficulties and hardships due to their skin color or sexual orientation. The book is putting women in the same boat? Um, nowhere near the same. Women have faced discrimination not due to being hated, but more often due to their rigid sex role which saw them as pure and worthy of protection. Traditionally women have been placed on a pedestal, not oppressed.
Try this on for size: “It’s as American as blacks and apple pie!” That doesn’t seem to work so well does it? Okay, how about “It’s as American as gays and apple pie!” Oooops, again, not so hot. Those two really don’t fit. How bout this “It’s as American as mom and apple pie!” Oh yeah! That is just right. Now tell me, why would a country oppress the ones who are the positive symbols of the country and are held up as beloved cultural icons?
American soldiers in Europe during WWII when asked what they missed were most likely to say mom and apple pie. That is apparently where this saying originated. It’s obvious that moms were beloved and held in very high esteem. When people use the phrase “As American as mom and apple pie” they mean to claim that both mom and apple pie are unassailable and universally beloved and agreed upon. No one would disparage moms and very few would disparage apple pie.
So the question boils down to why would a country oppress the very people it held up as their beloved heroes? Of course, the answer is they wouldn’t.
And it was because women were held in such high esteem that radical feminists were able to make the bogus claims to be “oppressed” and get away with it. No one would question mom. She was trusted and believed. This charade, which I think qualifies as the biggest lie of the 20th century, was not pushed by most women, it was pushed by a radical group of women who shoved on us the exaggerations of women’s oppression. Of course the worst of this fabrication was the blaming of men as being the ones who intentionally kept women down.
The claims of women being kept out of the workplace, banking, education etc., had some reality to it. Women have faced discrimination in our culture. It’s just not for the reasons the radicals portray. Men had striven for decades to allow women to be at home with the kids and not be sullied by what they considered to be the coarse nature of money, the workplace, or politics. They wanted women to avoid the coarse nature of those things and fulfill their biological imperative of having and loving their own children. The men were willing to sacrifice their own efforts in order to insure that happening. This was not meant as a way to keep women down, or restrict their opportunities. At this time most women liked the idea of having, raising, and loving their children and were grateful that the men took on the burden of providing the income and keeping them safe. I for one would love to have had someone take on the burden of creating income in order for me to stay at home full time with my children. My wife and I both worked part time in the 1980’s and some of the 1990’s to insure that one of us was at home with the kids at all times. We both sacrificed our careers in order to make this happen. I found that time to be the most joy filled and fulfilling time of my life. What a joy to have that uninterrupted time with those I love? It’s not hard to assume that women have traditionally felt the same sorts of joy. How much bitterness and ungratefulness would it take to transform this gift and label it oppression? Then blame men, the very people that had sacrificed to make that happen?
This “oppression” nonsense was thrust on a gullible population that would do anything they could to help women/moms. Imagine for just a second that fathers were to make similar claims. Just imagine men saying “We are oppressed!” Pretty funny eh? Dads were not, and are not in such an unassailable and lofty position as women. Would they be believed? No, they would be laughed at. But our country, like all western countries, jumps to gynocentric attention when women claim they are being tied to the tracks. People respond to help women. Just have a look at what congress has done for women over the last 50 years.
This book sports a 40-page chapter on discrimination. The largest section in the chapter describes discrimination faced by women. It’s almost 11 pages in length. In comparison gays got 4 pages and blacks got 5 pages. Since this book will likely be read by mostly white women I suppose they are playing to their readership.
The section on discrimination faced by women starts off with a sub-section on violence against women. It quotes a number from a research study that 1.5 million American women were victims of domestic violence. Here’s a great example of the book’s one-sidedness. What’s the important other side that they don’t tell you? It’s that the exact same study, the one the book quoted that claimed there were 1.5 million American women were victims of domestic violence, also found that 835,000 men were victims of domestic violence over the same period of time. But they didn’t say a thing about the men who were victims! By only printing the female number and not mentioning the men it leaves the reader thinking that this problem must be confined to women. We have known for decades that this is false, that men are a significant number of the victims of domestic violence but the media, academia, and the water cooler all fail to recognize this fact.
This is typical of this book and specifically this chapter. They are only telling one side of a very complicated story and by doing so leading the reader to false conclusions. This omitting important information and leaving a one sided approach is not new to feminism. The early domestic violence activists did just that. One woman, Ellen Pence, the founder of the Duluth Domestic Abuse Intervention Project, and author of an important early book on domestic violence said the following about her efforts in helping with domestic violence:
In many ways, we turned a blind eye to many women’s use of violence, their drug use and alcoholism, and their often harsh and violent treatment of their own children.
Why would Pence and her cohorts deny women’s violence and men’s victimhood? Why would they turn away from a woman’s violence towards her children? Good question but one likely answer is that getting funding for helpless women being beaten by burly men was much easier than trying to get funding for a crazed female beating her children or knifing her husband as he slept. If you mention men as victims it ruins the argument that men are the problem. When there is an innocent woman tied to the tracks legislators jump to attention. A man similarly tied? Not so much. People don’t care and the money is not there.
So we see the same pattern of simply ignoring the violence of women and the victimhood of men. Pence was one of thousands of people using this same technique. This left us with a cultural sense that domestic violence was only strong and abusive men beating innocent and defenseless women. This erroneous idea took form in 1994 when the US passed the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) that focused on women who were victims and men who were perpetrators. If you have the idea in your mind that women are the only victims you now know that you have been hoodwinked and this graduate textbook simply keeps pushing the lies.
Another section discusses abortion and women’s reproductive rights. It talks about a woman’s right to choose and frets over whether she may lose those rights. What it does not discuss is the fact that women do indeed have choice but men have none. If the woman wants an abortion she can decide unilaterally to do so. If she wants the abortion and he does not, he is out of luck. He has no rights, no choice and just has to deal with it. Her body her choice, his child, her choice. Again, the book tells only one side of the story. The woman’s side.
There is a large section about the wage gap. This is stunningly ridiculous. The wage gap has been refuted by science for years. They know that the gap is a function of her choice of jobs and preferring employment that is not hazardous, dangerous or highly strenuous and that she is looking for flexible hours. This tends to lead her to jobs that pay less. Her choice. This is worse than telling one side. Pushing the erroneous idea of a wage gap is making up a narrative that is simply wrong and having been disproven by science repeatedly. I suppose the narrative they are trying to create is more important than the truth. The book fails in telling both sides of the story. This error is a little more excusable since present day politicians continue to mouth this disproven idea in order to be re-elected and appear to be friendly to women.
There is another large section on female genital mutilation. Legislation was passed years ago outlawing all forms of female genital mutilation even those that are based on religious or cultural norms. They are all forbidden and outlawed. Some of the conversations are on women around the world who might face such genital mutilation. The side of the story they fail to tell is that male genital mutilation is the fourth most popular surgical procedure in the United States. Little infant boys are strapped down, against their will and a significant part of their penis is amputated usually just days after they are born often without anesthesia. I have heard nurses say that the little boys scream and keep screaming, sometimes for days. Many
uninformed people think this is just a little snip. Not so. The amount of skin amputated equals about the area of a post card once the man’s body matures. Even more people think this procedure is medically helpful. Wrong. The medical profession has sung this song before telling us incorrectly that male circumcision will help prevent, syphilis, epilepsy, spinal paralysis, bedwetting, eye problems, deafness, dumbness, tuberculosis, penile cancer, cervical cancer, and now HIV. The US is one of the few countries left that encourages this barbaric practice. This is a horribly painful procedure that is done to more than a million boys each year in the US and no one seems to know or to care. This book is only worried about one side. The women. It turns its back on the pain of these little boys.
I hope you are starting to see that both men and women are facing hardship and discrimination due to their sex roles. In fact, in some ways the female hardship seems mild compared to the males. Remember those young men, the soldiers who said they missed mom and apple pie? Nearly a half million of those young men died in WWII and they died due to their sex role that said they were the ones to go and fight. Why? Because they had a penis.
This book is a glaring example of how false narratives are spread and maintained. Do women have troubles? Of course. But I hope you can see now that men also have significant difficulties and these are ignored by professionals that claim to have compassion for all. It is obvious that they don’t and that they are only interested in one side of the story. The definition of bigotry is to only be interested in one group or your own group. I will let you be the judge how that may play out in social work today.
If you are a social work student or social worker, please complain today to your schools and let them know you won’t tolerate only hearing one side of the story. If you don’t, you will simply get the same narrative over and over again.
For more on the misandry in social work go here meninsocialwork.org
The NASW Social Work Code of Ethics is a very helpful but demanding document. It asks us to live a cognizant life both at work and at home. If we take this document seriously, and we certainly must, it demands that we are prepared to confront things not in concert with the Code.
Unfortunately there is a massive failure by the entire social work industry to adhere to that code going on right now.
If you will, think about a southern, rural town in the early 1950’s. Imagine you are there to give a workshop to the townspeople on racism. Can you guess their reaction to your words about racial equality? Their daily habits and way of life is based on something far from what you are describing to them. What do you think they would say and do? My guess is they might politely listen but after leaving conclude that you were some sort of nut — a “n***** lover” or even more likely an interloper who hates them and their way of life.
In some ways I feel like that person right now. There is a form of discrimination that is clearly present, potently hurtful and yet most of those around me are hostile to hearing about it. They just don’t and won’t see it. If you call attention to it, if you point to the elephant in the room, they become hostile.
Who is the group that faces discrimination that no one sees? It is men and boys. And the treatment of them in the arena of social work has taken a very, very disturbing detour from the NASW Code of Ethics for quite some time now.
Where it concerns the interrelationship between men and women our early survival mandated cooperative gender roles. Men would provide, protect and risk in order to ensure the safety of women and children. Women provided the essential immediate care of children.
This arrangement is what we have come to know as gynocentric in that the roles taken on by men and women hinged on the fact that women and children had to be protected at all costs. While both roles are or were vital in the overall picture, life and limb sacrifices, the role of protector and provider fell on the shoulders of the male. In short, the male is replaceable. The women are not, because men can’t have children.
This arrangement worked spectacularly for a long time. However, human advancement, through the cooperative efforts of men and women, resulted in a world where gender roles are generally not essential for human survival. We have far fewer concerns over our immediate safety than we did on the African Savanna and technology has made many professions accessible to both men and women. Accordingly, women’s roles have evolved and expanded, affording them the opportunity to make more conscious choices, and to experience more freedom than strict gender roles could have ever afforded.
Men, however, have lagged behind in this area and that is where we start to encounter some of the problems that they face today. To more fully understand this, we must take a look at cultural development through the gynocentric lens.
Even before the industrial revolution, while the male role was functional and successful without question, it was one of significant, unrecognized and unseen sacrifice. Of course that made sense. Were humans to practice the same protection and compassion for men as they did for women, it would have destroyed us. In an environment of hardship we could not afford to busy ourselves with men’s suffering and pain. That unrecognized burden was what kept us alive.
Men’s roles threw them into positions where people just didn’t know if they would ever return home at any point. Whether in the Paleolithic realm of hunting and tribal conflict, or more modern warfare, the certainty of any man’s survival was never assured. When there is constant uncertainty about a person’s fate we tend to detach for our own psychological benefit. We see them as more disposable and basically live in a state of preparedness for their possible demise.
Let’s take an example. Those who are designated to die in war are treated like heroes if they accomplish the miraculous and survive. That “heroism” is offered to young men as a standard of manhood in order to have them fulfill the expectation of sacrifice when needed. When something or someone is seen as disposable we generally ignore their pain and hardship. Indeed, most antiwar sentiment in America is based on the fact that we are killing, not because we are dying. That is expected of the disposable sex.
In the 1980’s and 1990’s, when I worked as a psychotherapist with many traumatized men and women, it was clear that society’s focus was to help women suffering from emotional trauma. Matters became a lot more fuzzy where it concerned men’s pain. I found out very quickly that a man’s emotional pain was taboo. No one wants to hear it, people want to run away.
Honestly and compassionately addressing men’s pain usually triggers an instinctive fear that in doing so those men will no longer be available to provide and protect. They become, at least in our unconscious minds, a liability that we cannot afford.
It took me some time to understand that this fear created an empathy gap that is still rampant in the field. Even in what is supposed to be an enlightened field of work, we are operating on some level as though compassion for men will bring us to ruin. This detachment, indifference to and even hostility toward men’s pain and hardship will be made quite visible to you in the remainder of this article.
You will also see how and why social work currently operates as a professional culture in violation of the NASW Code.
We will demonstrate these issues one by one by first quoting from the code and then documenting how it is systematically violated. Let’s start with discrimination by laws.
Here’s what the code says:
- 4. SOCIAL WORKERS’ ETHICAL RESPONSIBILITIES AS PROFESSIONALS 4.02 Discrimination Social workers should not practice, condone, facilitate, or collaborate with any form of discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, marital status, political belief, religion, immigration status, or mental or physical disability.
That is very unambiguous language. It paints a clear, ethical path that social workers must follow when performing professional duties. Failing to follow those edicts is not just an ethical violation, it is an act of moral turpitude and an abuse of individuals entrusted to their care.
Let’s take a look at an example.
We know now that men are a significant portion of the victims of domestic violence. The latest CDC research confirms this and in fact states that in the past 12 months men were 53% of the victims of domestic violence. (see image below) Most estimates about the percentage of male victims of domestic violence seem to be between 25-50%. However when you search on domestic violence on the NASW web site the focus is on female victims. Here’s an example and another here. Not only NASW focuses more on women, the services on a national level for domestic violence are astoundingly built to serve only women. This is overt discrimination.
We know from the research of Denise Hines1 that when males do seek help as victims of domestic violence at these female only services for victims they are not only turned away, they are often told they are the abusers. Many battered men have reached out for help for themselves and their children only to be offered anger management classes because that is all these facilities will offer men.
This is profoundly destructive. It is, if we are to be honest, a second perpetration of abuse, this time at the hands of professionals who are ethically bound to do just the opposite of what they are doing.
Nearly everything related to the amelioration of domestic violence has been built for women. Social workers have said very little about this but the courts have started to acknowledge the discrimination that men face as victims of domestic violence.
In the Woods et. al. vs California2 case in 2008, a Superior Court in Sacramento, ruled that male domestic violence victims had been unconstitutionally denied services. The court held that state laws violated men’s equal protection rights by excluding male victims from state-funded domestic violence services. The court found: “domestic violence is a serious problem for both women and men” and that “men experience significant levels of domestic violence as victims.”
Then, in October 2009, a West Virginia judge3 struck down state rules for regulating domestic violence shelters because they operate “on the premise that only men can be batterers and only women can be victims” and “exclude adult and adolescent males from their statutory right to safety and security free from domestic violence based only on their gender.”
It’s clear that this problem is now widespread in the United States. Yet where is any objection to any of this being raised by social workers who are deeply embedded in the provision of services to the victims of domestic violence?
Consider this. In California and West Virginia they were sued and found culpable for violating anti-discrimination laws. In both states they were found guilty of violating laws that almost exactly replicated their code of ethics.
So if social workers were involved where are the professional sanctions against them? What NASW sanctions were placed on any social workers responsible? What investigations were done? What recommendation offered? Why, despite the fact that there is open and systemic discrimination against men practiced by social workers, is the NASW not taking action?
Does NASW draw the line at adhering to their own ethics where it concerns women and less so with men? It seems a possibility.
In fairness it must be said that social workers are also people. And people, generally speaking, are detached from men’s pain.
Our humanness, however, does not excuse us for doing damage instead of rendering aid. We are educated people who must be expected to operate in accordance with our own professional codes. Just as we are expected to rise above every other area of potential bias we may have toward other groups, we are also beholden to practice the same with men and boys.
If you are a social worker working in the area of domestic violence are you aware of this discrimination? Are you speaking out against it? Remember, being aware and doing nothing is what the code calls “condoning and facilitating.” As social workers we need to stand up for those who are facing discrimination and in this case it is men and boys. If you do see this and say nothing you are a part of the problem. You are living in a small, rural town in the 1950s.
Will you follow the code and stand up for these men who face discrimination?
Social Workers in hospitals pediatric or OB/GYN units should be aware that there is severe discrimination going on right under their noses, a discrimination that is built right into our laws. Baby girls are protected from having their genitals mutilated by law. No exceptions for cultural or religious differences. No exceptions for anything, as it should be. Penalties for breaking this law are severe. At the same time genital mutilation of baby boys is one of the most popular surgical procedures in America. This is not a minor prick of the skin.
Circumcision on average removes 6,000-10,000 nerve endings of erogenous tissue, nearly as many nerve endings as the entire female clitoris which many estimate to have around 8,000 nerve endings. The adult male equivalent in terms of amount of skin removed is the size of an index card, about 3 x 5 inches.
And there is now an abundance of medical research concluding for the most part that circumcision is actually just a euphemism for genital mutilation. There are deaths associated with this medically unnecessary procedure and now a variety of confirmed and suspected negative side effects.
From the group, Doctors Opposed to Circumcision:
“Memory starts before birth and newborn infants have fully functioning pain pathways. One would expect, therefore, to find psychological effects associated with the painful genital cutting operation [circumcision].” Doctors Opposed to Circumcision
Any loving parent, and for that matter any responsible mental health worker who is working with new parents, should consider the following demonstrated facts and known side effects of neonatal cutting, as follows:
- Kills more than 100 baby boys per year (USA);
- Interferes with breast feeding and parent-child bonding;
- Has been tied to anxiety, alexithymia and sexual dysfunction in later life.
- Contributes to adult PTSD in circumcised males;
- inflicts extreme levels of pain, terror and helplessness;
- Decreases sexual pleasure
- Health benefits are exaggerated
- Causes lifetime disfigurement in many botched cases;
What we find, when considering all the evidence about circumcision is that the only difference between male and female genital mutilation is that one is socially acceptable and one is not. It seems obvious when you consider the longstanding, programmed indifference to the pain of males, which is which and why.
Here are some sources demonstrating the severely negative impact of circumcision on infants, their parents and how those consequences follow the victims through life.
There is an abundance of other research. True enough, there are studies that conclude that circumcision does not produce significant problems for men but as we find in criticisms of those studies, circumcised researchers and circumcised doctors who perform circumcisions both have emotional and financial investment in the procedure.
What is most damning in my mind though is that social workers in the OB-GYN and neonatal fields may not deliver information to parents that might make them reconsider whether circumcision was healthy for their child.
This failure to educate and inform their clients, or indeed to inform themselves of the research is a clear violation of NASW ethical codes.
Part of what drives this is that male genital mutilation is a profitable venture. Aside from the money made doing the procedure the foreskins can be sold for around $400 each depending on how they are used.
Some are used for research while some are turned into very expensive women’s facial cream advertised on Oprah. We are now aware that these circumcisions, the majority of which are conducted without anesthesia, are causing psychological problems and physical problems for the boys and men who are unfortunate enough to have been subjected to them.
Alexithymia (a deficit in emotional acumen and experience) and PTSD have both been connected to male infant circumcision and it is doubtless that many more negatives will be found. In fact much of what we know about girls who have faced genital mutilation is also being found true for the millions of little boys and the men they become.
Social workers are rightly very concerned about female genital mutilation but are failing roundly to address this concern on behalf of boys. If you are a social worker are you following the code and speaking out against the mutilation of children for profit, or are you turning a blind eye to the matter altogether as long as the victims are boys?
And have you considered that if you are working with a family going through childbirth and postnatal care, and you have remained silent about this issue that you can reasonably considered accessory to the abuse?
These are tough questions but as social workers we are not ethically afforded the luxury of failing to answer.
Now let’s move to an area where men and boys face discrimination not from laws but from societal ignorance and lack of compassion.
Here’s what the code says:
6.04 Social and Political Action (a) Social workers should engage in social and political action that seeks to ensure that all people have equal access to the resources, employment, services, and opportunities they require to meet their basic human needs and to develop fully.
Places men face discrimination based on ignorance and/or lack of compassion.
Did you know that eight out of ten completed suicides are males4? Have you heard that stat tossed around? Have you ever heard a social worker rise up to say that we are ignoring the glaring problem of male suicide? Probably not. The gynocentrism in modern social work does not permit for men, as a group, to have any of their issues given due prominence. This is true even when men are killing themselves at four to five times the rate of women.
NASW studied suicide some years ago. The study focused on girls and suicide. I asked at the time why they didn’t study boys since boys were 80% of the victims and Elizabeth Clarke, the NASW Executive Director at the time said the funding requested the study focus on girls. Sadly, this is not uncommon. The focus of the media, researchers and clinicians is on girls and women even though they are a fraction of the victims. As a social worker, do you see this discrimination? Shouldn’t a commensurate amount of research be done based on those who are most victimized? Shouldn’t any conference on suicide have most presentations related to male suicide and what to do about it? Shouldn’t we create services designed for those who are most at risk? We need to stand up for the victims and potential victims of suicide that are being ignored and marginalized. Will you stand up for boys and men? Do you think that ignoring that question puts you in direct violation of your professional responsibilities?
Men tend to live shorter and sicker lives than women. The fact is that white women have the greatest longevity followed by black females, followed by white males, followed by black males. Both black and white men live shorter lives than both black and white females. Some are thinking that black males are at the bottom since they face the burden of both racism and of being male.
“‘Being male is now the single largest demographic factor for early death,” says Randolph Nesse of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. “If you could make male mortality rates the same as female rates, you would do more good than curing cancer.”
Nesse’s colleague Daniel Kruger estimates that “over 375,000 lives would be saved in a single year in the US if men’s risk of dying was as low as women’s.” (New Scientist Magazine, July 2002)
Men die earlier and more often than women from nearly every major cause of death except for one, Alzheimer’s. And the reason for that is that they do not live long enough to compete for that honor.
Even with the longevity and poor health experienced by men what we find is that the services available to them are considerably less than what is provided for women. The United States has seven national offices for women’s health but none for men. They have web pages for womenshealth.gov and girlshealth.gov but none for menshealth.gov or boyshealth.gov. Why do we discriminate and treat men and women so differently? As a Social Worker are you speaking out and standing up for the men and boys who are obviously being marginalized? If not, are you violating our code of ethics?
The roles in education have been reversed. What was once considered discrimination against women and girls in their 22% deficit in college degrees has now reversed. It is the boys and men who are getting far fewer degrees than the women and girls. The difference? Now we don’t call it discrimination against boys — we call it empowerment of girls. The disadvantage and discrimination of the boys and men is simply ignored and reframed as a positive. As a social worker are you willing to stand up against this discrimination against boys and men?
I hope you are starting to see the profound bias facing men and boys in today’s world, and in the way that that the social work field is not just ignoring, but facilitating that problem.
The hardship and discrimination they face is ignored and worse, they are villainized and blamed for the problems they experience. Where did Social Workers learn this? In grad school. Our social work education is clearly anti-male and is in dire need of an overhaul to close the empathy gap, and to restore the social work profession to its own ethical standards. If we are educating and training social workers to violate their own code of ethics then it stands to reason that we are left with a pervasive problem throughout the field. We are left with the disturbing reality that the field is the problem.
Part Two will focus on Social Work Education and its anti-male bias.
- Douglas, Emily M.; Hines, Denise A.; McCarthy, Sean C.Violence and Victims, Volume 27, Number 6, 2012, pp.871-894(24)
Research since the 1970s has documented that men, in addition to women, sustain intimate partner violence (IPV), although much of that research has been overlooked. A growing body of research is examining the experiences of men who sustain female-to-male IPV, but there is still much to be learned. This exploratory study assesses the experiences of 302 men who have sustained IPV from their female partners and sought help from 1 of 6 resources: domestic violence agencies, hotlines, Internet, mental health professionals, medical providers, or the police. We examine what demographic characteristics and life experiences are associated with where men seek help and how they rate those experiences. We make recommendations for agencies, service providers, and first responders about how to tailor services for this specific population and their families.
excerpt – “This is just basic unfairness. It’s raw gender bias,” said Harvey D. Peyton, attorney for Men & Women Against Discrimination.
The West Virginia legal challenge is among a growing number of battles being waged across the country by groups that allege state laws requiring gender-neutral programs are skewed by discriminatory rules and regulations that embrace gender biases.
This is the introduction to a five-part series of articles about the bias against men and boys in psychological research. There is a short youtube that goes over the very tip of the iceberg of the contents of these articles. I will paste that in at the end of this post.
Most of us are familiar with the male bashing we see on television. Men are portrayed as buffoons and helpless ne’er do wells who consistently need others (women and sometimes children) to problem solve and do the right thing. Most people are tired of this ridiculous bias yet it continues unabated. What most don’t realize is that a very similar male bashing exists in mental health research. The past 40 years has brought us a powerful respect and admiration of women and girls. This is a good thing. The problem is that we seem unable to hold both men and women in the highest esteem. As we hold our women up we seem to tear our men down. It’s as if we can only see women as “good” and men as considerably less than good. This binary vision of the sexes gets played out in the male bashing we see on television but it also gets played out in numerous other venues including mental health research.
This collection of articles will offer you an inside glimpse into the workings of several studies and show how the anti-male bias plays out in the research. We have all grown to trust “research” and when we hear that a study shows that “X is correct“ we tend to automatically believe that “X” is correct. Research has taken on an almost divine ethos that carries the seal of approval of correctness. If science says it, it must be so. The problem of course is that science, especially social science, is less than concrete and is much more slippery than measuring a distance or the tensile strength of a bar of steel. Mental health research is much more vulnerable to values and ideologies of the researchers. If a scientist believes a certain thing it usually has little impact on his measurements of the tensile strength of the bar of steel. No matter what he believes the measurement will likely be the same. But what about issues in social sciences where researchers come to the table with a large amount of preconceived ideas, allegiances to ideologies that espouse strong opinions about those being studied or have traumatic life histories that bias them against certain groups? Can those sorts of things influence the “findings” of a social science study? You bet they can. Gone is the impartial judge weighing the evidence and sifting through the data to find the truth. In today’s world of social science research the opposite is happening: researchers are starting at their pre- conceived biases and then designing research to prove that bias. As bizarre as that sounds it is demonstrably true in some social science research. You will see some of that within this paper.
We start off with a short summary of a very important paper by Murray Straus titled “Processes explaining the Concealment and Distortion of Evidence on Gender Symmetry in Partner Violence.” Straus leads us through seven ways that feminist researchers hid or distorted the data of their studies in order to insure their results would reflect the pre-conceived ideology of females being the victims of domestic violence and men being the perpetrators. Straus’s explanations make very clear how an ideological bias can impact the results of social science research. He describes in detail exactly how they accomplished this. One technique he describes is simply ignoring your own data that contradicts your ideology. Another is to simply not ask questions that might risk obtaining answers that would contradict your thesis. After reading this piece you will have a better understanding of the ways this subterfuge has been accomplished.
The next section describes a 2009 study from Great Britain on teen violence. You will see how the researchers follow Straus’s descriptions by ignoring their own data. The original survey showed that boys were about 40% of the victims of violence but by the time the research was done and the recommendations made the ad campaign that followed was designed to help only girls and to teach the boys how to better treat the girls.
The following section features a study on “reproductive coercion.” It will show how the omission of the details about the sample of those surveyed had huge repercussions down stream. In a nutshell the study was done on impoverished African American and Hispanic females. This fact was not reported in the research article, nor reported in the press release, and never showed up in any of the national media articles that followed. It is well known that interpersonal violence is about three times as likely in an impoverished population. By omitting that little bit of data, that the sample was largely impoverished women of color, the ramifications of their study changed drastically from one that applied only to a poor population of women of color to a study that applied to the population at large. This shift resulted in millions of people reading about the study in the national media and being led to believe a message that simply wasn’t justified by the study itself.
The last section looks at the Conformity to Masculine Norms Inventory (CMNI). This inventory claims to measure men’s degree of conforming to what it calls “masculine norms.” There are multiple problems with this inventory but the most obvious is its choice of very negative descriptions for what masculine norms are in this culture. The norms include such descriptors as “Violence” ”Disdain for homosexuality” ”power over women” and ”playboy.” Simply by choosing these words to describe men in this country is misandry. This is male bashing. There’s more.
It’s important to see the ways these studies try to influence the public and promote their own ideological biases. Each of these studies was done by researchers who appeared to have strong ideas about men and women and their research conveniently harmonized with their pre-conceived notions. With “science” holding so much power and ability to sway opinions it is critical that we watch carefully how the social sciences use their studies to proliferate their own ideological viewpoints.
The spreading of misinformation has a very negative effect on the population at large but there is no place in more danger of this than in the halls of congress. Our legislators are easily influenced by studies such as those described herein and the likelihood of laws being written based on one sided viewpoints becomes alarmingly high. To make matters even worse our legislators are largely unaware of their own unconscious chivalry and combine that with hysterical research that claims damsels in distress need funding and what you see is billions of taxpayers dollars being spent in a very questionable manner. Combine these studies with the media, and then the blogs and you get a system that is fed by erroneous data that accepts it as fact and acts on it. One needs to only notice the fact that great majority of people in the US are convinced that women are the sole victims of domestic violence to understand the power of the media and particularly the media in combination with “studies” that are used more for propaganda than for gaining an understanding of the truth.
There are millions of compassionate and loving people in the United States who have been given erroneous information about domestic violence. Over the years the media and academia have offered a steady stream of information that indicates that women are the only victims of domestic violence and men the only perpetrators. We have all been deceived. What most don’t know is that a part of that deception has been intentional and has come from the scientific community. As hard as it is to believe it is indisputable. Most of us had no idea of this deception until recently. More and more is now coming out about the symmetry of victimization in domestic violence between men and women.
One of the breakthroughs that have helped us identify this deception was the journal response of Murray Straus Ph.D. Straus has been an acclaimed researcher of family and interpersonal violence for many years. In his article he unveils the ways that this misinformation has been intentionally spread via “research.” He shows the seven ways that the truth has been distorted. It is a fascinating yet sobering article that shows how, without actually lying, the researchers were able to distort things and make it appear that it was something that is was not. We all know that once a research study is published the media will latch on and print the results as gospel truth so the media became the megaphone to spread the misinformation once it was inked in the scientific journal. I would highly recommend your reading the full report by Straus which can be found here:
Let’s go through the seven ways one by one.
1. Suppress evidence.
The first type of deceit that Straus describes is suppressing evidence. The researchers would ask questions about both men and women but only report on the answers from women. The half-story would leave readers with the impression that it was only women who were victims even though the researcher had the surveys of male victims on hand they simply didn’t report it. The data on male victims was simply buried while the data on female victims was reported. Straus discusses the Status on Women report from Kentucky in the late 1970’s that was the first to use this strategy. They collected data on both male and female victims but only the female victims were discussed in the publications. Scientific method is dependent upon creating a hypothesis and testing it. If you get data from your test that is contrary to your original hypothesis this is just as important as getting data that affirms the hypothesis and can be used to adjust your original hypothesis. To ignore ones own data that contradicts the hypothesis is the epitome of disregard to the foundations of scientific inquiry. It leaves the realms of research and enters the realms of propaganda and shaping the outcome to mislead.
2. Avoid Obtaining Data Inconsistent With the Patriarchal Dominance Theory.
The second method described by Straus was that of simply not asking the questions when you didn’t want to hear the answers. The surveys would ask the women about their victimhood and ask men about their perpetration but failed to inquire about women’s violence or men’s victimhood. If you ask questions that address only half the problem you are certain to conclude with only half the answers. Straus highlights a talk he gave in Canada where he evaluated 12 studies on domestic violence. Ten out of the twelve only asked questions about female victims and male perpetrators. If you don’t ask the questions you will never get the answers. Publishing half the truth is intentionally misleading.
3. Cite Only Studies That Show Male Perpetration
Straus reveals a number of situations where studies or official documents would cite only other studies that showed female victims and male perpetrators. He uses the Department of Justice press release as just one example where they only cite the “lifetime prevalence” data because it showed primarily male perpetration. They omitted referencing the “past-year” data even though it was more accurate since it showed females perpetrated 40% of the partner assaults. Straus shows journal articles and names organizations such as the United Nations, World Health Organization, the US Department of Justice and others who used this tactic to make it appear that women were the primary victims of domestic violence and men the primary perpetrators.
4. Conclude That Results Support Feminist Beliefs When They Do Not
Straus showed an example of a study by Kernsmith (2005) where the author claimed that women’s violence was more likely to be in self defense but data to support the claim didn’t exist. Apparently he had made the claim even without any supporting evidence. Straus shows that the self defense category was primarily about anger and
coercion and not about self-defense at all but this didn’t stop the researcher from claiming the erroneous results which of course could be quoted by later studies as proof that such data does indeed exist.
5. Create “Evidence” By Citation
The “woozle” effect is described by Straus as when “frequent citation of previous publications that lack evidence mislead us into thinking there is evidence.” He lists the Kernsmaith study and a report from the World Health Organization as examples. Both made claims (without evidence to back it up) that women’s violence was largely in self-defense. The claims were quoted repeatedly and people eventually started to believe that the claims were correct.
6. Obstruct Publication of Articles and Obstruct Funding Research that Might Contradict the Idea that Male Dominance is the Cause of Personal Violence
Straus mentions two incidents that illustrate this claim. One was a call for papers on the topic of partner violence in December of 2005 from the National Institute of Justice where it was stated that “proposals to investigate male victimization would not be eligible.” Another was an objection raised by a reviewer of one of his proposals due to its having said that “violence in relationships was a human problem.” He also stated that the “more frequent pattern is self-censorship by authors fearing that it will happen or that publication of such a study will undermine their reputation, and, in the case of graduate students, the ability to obtain a job.”
7. Harrass, Threaten, and Penalize Researchers who Produce Evidence That Contradicts Feminist Beliefs
Straus provides details of a number of incidents where researchers who found evidence of gender symmetry in domestic violence were harassed or threatened. He described a number of instances such as bomb scares at personal events, being denied tenure and promotions, or “shouts and stomping” meant to drown out an oral presentation. He relates being called a “wife-beater” as a means to denigrate both himself and his previous research findings.
Straus concludes that a “climate of fear has inhibited research and publication on gender symmetry in personal violence.” His words help us to understand the reasons that our public is so convinced that women are the sole victims of domestic violence and men the only perpetrators. It has been years and years of researchers telling only half the story and when we get only half the story and consider it the whole truth we are likely to defend our limited version of the truth and ostracize those who may offer differing explanations. The matter is further complicated due to the media having acted as a megaphone for the half story that has emerged so the “common knowledge” that has emerged from the media for many years has been half the story and due to its not telling both sides of the story, it is basically misinformation.What this tells us is that we need to stay on our toes when it comes to social science research. Straus’s paper has helped us immensely in seeing how research can be set up to appear to tell the truth but fail miserably in doing so. While the researchers are not technically lying, the end product is similar since it produces only a partial image of the reality of domestic violence and leaves people without the details to fill in the reality of the situation. It is likely a good idea to have a look at the way each study gets its data, the exact nature of the people being used as subjects, and the conclusion drawn and if they are congruous with the data that was gathered. Next we will look at a study that uses Straus’s first example, ignoring ones own data.