There is an interesting battle of information going on in the domestic violence scene. The service providers and legislators offer statistics that show the ever increasing incidence of domestic violence. It faithfully shows that men are the perpetrators and women are the victims. Importantly most of their numbers come from hospital and police records or their own statistics. This gives them a decidedly biased flavor. The flavor is that women are nearly the only victims and men the only perpetrators. Keep in mind that the services they offer are for women only. Imagine that we built a hospital for only Caucasian diabetics our statistics would reflect that whites were the overwhelming majority of people we served. We could easily make a case for the need for more services for whites who had diabetes and disregard the need for other races. In the same way, the domestic violence industry’s reliance on their own statistics is skewed and misleading and fails to count the male victims due to its bias.
But what if someone else studied the problem from a different perspective? A perspective that relied on scholarly research in peer reviewed scientific Journals? That is just what has happened. There is an alternate voice that paints a very different picture. Bonafide peer reviewed research. When you look at the scientific research on domestic violence done by legitimate scientists in studies that are supervised by other non-partisan scientists you get a very different story. What you find is that women actually initiate domestic violence more often than men. You also find that men are a significant portion of the injured victims of domestic violence. The Archer meta-analysis published in Psychological Bulletin (2000) looked at all the previous research and found that when they were all tallied that men comprised 38% of the injured victims! Starkly different figures than you get with the stats offered by the domestic violence industry.
For a quick look at a listing of numerous scientific studies you can go to Martin Fieberts page. Skim through the entries and get a sense of the number of studies that have come to the same conclusion: that domestic violence is a two way street with both men and women being victims and perpetrators. In fact Murray Strauss PhD., one of the grandfathers of domestic violence research, states that domestic violence is 25% men beating women, 25% women beating men, and 50% brawl between the two.
The obvious question is why do we have no services for men?
Science has offered us a fairly new understanding about the origins of our sex differences. It is all about competition and survival. Evolutionary biologists show us that in most animal populations one sex does more of the gestating, child birth and child care and the other sex competes for their services. Take Gorillas for example. The females do most of the child care and all of the birthing and gestation. In this case we see that the male gorillas compete with each other for reproductive access to the females. Once they secure access they become the protector of their group. This is nothing new. However, they now are showing that both sexes develop very specific qualities depending on whether they are the competitors or those sought after. The group that competes will be physically larger, more aggressive, more violent, slower to develop and have a shorter lifespan. This can be clearly seen in gorillas where the male is much larger, more aggressive and violent as it competes and then protects, has a longer development to maturity and has a shorter lifespan.
The most important part of this is that they are now realizing that we as humans have a very similar path. Since the females do most of the child care and all of the gestating and childbirth it is our males who are the competitors. Males compete with each other for reproductive access. They compete by trying to raise their status. The higher the male’s status the more likely the female will choose him as her partner. Status can be money, fame, control of resources, power, height, attractiveness, influence or any of a number of factors. Men compete to be first and top of their group and now we have a better understanding of why men have such a passion for competition. It’s easy to see that human males, like the gorilla’s, are larger than the females, slower to develop than the females, more aggressive and violent and have a shorter lifespan. Make sense?
Now there is an interesting twist to this tale. Males predominate in the animal world as those competing but it is not always the males. Biologists tell us that in some animal populations such as the seahorse, the Sandpiper, and the Red Necked Phalarope it is not the male who is competing it is the female! Look at Seahorses. The male seahorse carries the young in a pouch in his belly. He does more of the gestating and child oriented activities and guess what? Yep. The females compete for the males! The female seahorses are larger than the males, they are more aggressive and violent, they develop more slowly than the males and they have a shorter lifespan. Our differences are largely about whether we are in the competing group or the sought group not in whether either sex is good or bad.
This flies in the face of our last 40 years of demonizing males for their aggressiveness, competition, and violence. Would we condemn the male big horn sheep for butting heads? No. It is built into who they are. This is not to say that men should be excused for being violent, far from it. This is why we have laws. What we are simply saying is that we need to understand that men’s aggressiveness is often a part of the male package at birth. Blessing the men for this and helping them learn how to steward that aggressiveness and violence in productive ways for the general good seems far better than condemning men simply because they are male.