Friday, March 04, 2005

But women do it, too

In one of the links provided by Sarahlynn (see previous post), I came across an incredibly powerful and persuasive essay on the subject of the "best interests for children" in custody cases that involve domestic violence. The entire article is incredible, but I wanted to point out one part in particular -- one of the best responses to the "but women do it too" diversions I've ever read.

From What is Fair for Children of Abusive Men? by Jack C. Straton, Ph.D.
In the process, I am going to talk today about the effects of male power and control over children, not about parental power and control. I know that it is popular these days to de-gender family conflict, to talk about "spouse abuse" and "family violence" rather than "wife beating" and "rape." I know that we want a society in which men nurture children to the same extent that women do.

I know that fathers and mothers should both be capable parents. But if you ask "What about the kids?" I want to give you a serious answer. I cannot seriously entertain the myth that our society really is gender neutral, so to consider "What about the kids?" while pretending such neutrality is to engage in denial and cognitive dissonance. I cannot hope to arrive at an answer that will positively affect reality if my underlying assumptions are based on fantasy.

So I am going to talk today about the effects of male power and control over children, not about parental power and control. As I cite examples, some of you may hear your internal voice saying, "But women do that, too." As this happens I would ask you to be aware that such voices are often the voice of guilt that try to distract us from what we really know about men's violence so that we need not take responsibility for this violence.

It is true, for example, that some women do batter men. But the number of severe cases of this type is so low when compared with the virtual war of men's violence against women, that they cannot be seen above the statistical noise. This voice that says "But women do that, too" has as its purpose, not compassion for battered men or lesbians, but a distraction from the noble goal of ending battering of women.

So as you hear this voice today, become consciously aware of it. Let it into your conscious mind for a moment, and then let it drift on. It is just a tape recording that you can always come back to in an hour or two if there is a need. If you find that you just can't contain this voice, that others must hear this tape recording, please do not hesitate to raise a hand or even to shout it out. We will pause to give it some space.


Lorenzo said...

Wow. A powerful and persuasive essay. Though it is infuriating that the link between wife-battering and child abuse by abusive men should have to be argued for and empirically demonstrated at all. It should be self-evident on the basis that wife-battering is almost never individualized to a specific female partner but rather is pattern of behavior repeated with all female partners clearly implying generalized rather than specific violence.

casey said...

This is off-topic, but I just wanted to let you know some links on your blogroll aren't working. (Mouse Words, for example, links to

love your blog, keep up the good work! :P

Sarahlynn said...

I was so pleased to find that link, and pleasantly surprised to find that this stuff was written by a man. It's a really good read. I wish more men would read it.

Raznor said...

That is a great argument. The only lingering doubt I ever have is that the individual cases where women are abusive should not be minimalized. However, I don't know how anyone can honestly look at abusive behavior and not realize that abusers are overwhelmingly male.

Raznor said...

Oh, by "lingering doubt" I meant in general, when talking about abusive men, that is the thought nagging on the back of my mind. However, this argument answers that doubt pretty fully.

Anonymous said...

I recently read the same article and all I can say is Yes Yes Yes! Finally, somebody got it. What makes people think that abusive men will not abuse their children. Kids who have seen abuse figure out quickly who is in charge and who not to "tick off". My children have to see my ex abusive husband and very rarely tell him how they really feel for fear of retaliation, intimidation and the like. Now my ex has just shoved my 12 yo daughter. I have reported it so we will see what happens. I sure I will be demonized as making false accusations. I will continue to believe and pray for my daughter.