Waters on Women’s Aid.

By | December 3, 2007

Rob asked a question but my reply was so long I decided to write a post. This is a bit jumbled…apologies..

I did read Waters column. He comments on a book by a chap who worked at the Rape Crisis Centre for years and said that he was shocked at the attitude of the women he worked with who appeared to confine their work to investigating and condemning sexual crimes against both women and men, provided the assault was carried out by a man. If it was a woman, they weren’t so interested. By coincidence I think it was Matt Cooper who a few weeks ago interviewed a woman who argued that male paedophiles were jailed where female paedophiles were offered counselling.
Waters also commented on the piles of ads, outdoor and radio, about domestic violence and “Women’s Aid”.

So what do I think? Well, a few things. I am guilty of believing that most domestic violence and sexual crimes are carried about by men, and I don’t think that’s wrong. Female paedophilia IS extremely rare, but I wouldn’t support the principle that female criminals should be treated differently. In fact the woman Cooper interviewed said that the victims of the female paedophiles are often made to feel like they co-operated with the sexual activity which is most unfair. As for a grown woman raping a grown man…putting aside non-reporting, I think any fair minded person would agree this has got to be pretty rare and one would have thought, technically unfeasible…
On the issue of domestic violence, I know Waters was giving numbers some years ago that claimed that men and women were equally violent at home, but I could just never quite buy into that. Intuitively, and I know that’s no evidence, I just find that hard to believe. I’d really have to look into the figures more before I’d be convinced of that. If the figures did back it up, then obviously, I’d change my mind.

HOWEVER having said that, I was uncomfortable for the last few weeks seeing those ads of women with “end the silence” on them. There ARE men whose wives are violent. They should’ve done an ad with a man on it. But then its the Women’s Aid campaign and let’s face it, a lot of women have had need to flee to shelters because they had the crap beaten out of them. And many women had to go back to those same husbands because they had nowhere else to go. So organisations like Women’s Aid arose out of an actual historical need and not a manifestation of feminist’s imagination. They should probably change the name and start including men.

HOWEVER, the big mistake Waters makes is that while there is an argument to be made that ads about domestic violence should feature male victims, he loses potential supporters by language like this:

“This time of year it can be risky for a man to pick up a newspaper, there being a good chance that therein he will find himself defamed.

The run-up to Christmas is when women’s aid groups make their big push for funding. Thus, the candle-light vigil in memory of “women killed by men” or “women killed as a result of domestic violence” is a set-piece of what laughably passes for journalism. The number of such female victims – usually about a quarter of murders in the selected period – is underlined by way of accusing men in general of complicity in often unspeakable crimes. The other three-quarters of the statistical dead, being males, are airbrushed out. The not-so subliminal messages include: only women are murdered; only men murder women; “domestic violence” is coterminous with “violence against women”; such violence is intrinsic to “patriarchal society”: all men are guilty.

See, the other 3/4 of male murder victims are also murdered by men. Well, the Scissors Sisters and other notable exceptions……..And no one is saying anything about all men being guilty, just that mostly, men are the ones doing the murdering. Women do it, but much more rarely. And the men aren’t airbrushed out, we hear about them in great detail..like the assassinations of the male drug barons, the beating to death of Paul Quinn by 12 other men and the fact that a woman and five children who died in a housefire in Omagh were not buried with the father for rather obvious reasons.

If I was a man who wanted to organise a campaign raising awareness of domestic violence against men by women, I wouldn’t start out by complaining about women’s aid organisations. I’d just start producing the facts to make people aware that there is a problem.

74 thoughts on “Waters on Women’s Aid.

  1. Patrick McGinnity

    Sarah,

    In your initial post on this subject, you said:

    “On the issue of domestic violence, I know Waters was giving numbers some years ago that claimed that men and women were equally violent at home, but I could just never quite buy into that. Intuitively, and I know that’s no evidence, I just find that hard to believe. I’d really have to look into the figures more before I’d be convinced of that. If the figures did back it up, then obviously, I’d change my mind”.

    In my previous posts I’ve quoted a number of figures and reports which back up what John Waters has been saying. You say that “If the figures did back it up, then obviously, I’d change my mind”. So, have you changed your mind or what do you think of the research findings I have quoted?

    In this regard, I also wish to submit the following additional information to support what I have been saying:

    Professor Linda Kelly (Professor of Law, Indiana University School of Law, Indianapolis) published a major document entitled “Disabusing The Definition Of Domestic Abuse: How Women Batter Men And The Role Of The Feminist State” in the Florida State University Law Review Vol.30: 791 (P 791 : 839). The full text of this report can be found at: http://www.papa-help.ch/downloads/kelly.pdf . In the introduction to this document she states (when she refers to “violence” in this quotation, she means “domestic violence”): “Over the last twenty five years, leading sociologists have repeatedly found that men and women commit violence at similar rates. The 1977 assertion that “the phenomenon of husband battering” is as prevalent as wife abuse is confirmed by nationally representative studies, such as the Family Violence Surveys, as well as by numerous other sources. However, despite the wealth and diversity of the sociological research and the consistency of the findings, female violence is not recognised within the extensive legal literature on domestic violence. Instead, the literature consistently suggests that only men commit domestic violence. Either explicitly, or more often implicitly, through the failure to address the subject in any objective manner, female violence is denied, defended and minimized.”

    I’d be interested to hear what you think Sarah of the research findings and reports I have listed in my various posts on this thread and if they have made you change your mind about what John Waters has been saying.

  2. Sarah Post author

    I’m afraid I genuinely haven’t had time to read the various reports. Hopefully this weekend. I know Cathal has been appealing to me to do a column on it, but that’s out of my hands editorially as its being addressed by another columnist on Sunday. But I will get to it at some point.

  3. Jim Jones

    I was just wondering so I took a look at the Women’s Aid website and found the following:

    What is Women’s Aid? Women’s Aid is a voluntary organisation which provides support and information to women and their children who are being physically, emotionally and sexually abused in their own homes.

    Fair enough

    Mission Statement Women’s Aid is a feminist, political and campaigning organisation committed to the elimination of violence and abuse of women through effecting political, cultural and social change.

    Can’t argue with that

    Women’s Aid provides direct support services to women experiencing male violence and abuse. This work underpins and informs all other goals and actions of the organisation.

    Oh, oh. What about the poor gay women? Why are they excluded from the remit of Women’s Aid? If you are a lesbian and suffer domestic abuse at the hands of your partner, don’t come to Women’s Aid, as it just “provides direct support services to women experiencing MALE violence and abuse”.

    I posted this over two days ago but it must have got lost in space. Since then, Patrick McGinnity has added enough to keep everyone going for a while. Sarah, you said earlier that “Intuitively, and I know that’s no evidence, I just find that (John Waters was giving numbers some years ago that claimed that men and women were equally violent at home) hard to believe. I’d really have to look into the figures more before I’d be convinced of that. If the figures did back it up, then obviously, I’d change my mind.”
    I think P Mc G has now given you enough to think about.

  4. Sarah Post author

    “I posted this over two days ago but it must have got lost in space.”

    Jim, I already explained to you on email that the comments from you, Patrick and others keep going into spam because they are too long and include so many links. If you’d keep the comments shorter, more people would read them (including me) and WordPress wouldn’t chew them up.

  5. Jim Jones

    I thought this might add to the debate. On his blog, Padraig O’Morain pointed out that “in a new report from the Women’s Health Council that in Europe more women die or are seriously injured every year through domestic violence than through cancer or road accidents”.
    I doubted this and so I have asked the Womens Health Council to verify this with the following e-mail:

    I recently came across the report “Violence Against Women & Health”. I was amazed by the statement on page 12 that “In Europe, the Council of Europe estimated that more women die or are seriously injured every year through domestic violence than through cancer or road accidents (Reid, 2003)”.
    I find this hard to believe due to the fact that, in Ireland, we have approximately 400 deaths a year on our roads. I am aware that this approximate figure sadly contains around 50 children annually. I am also aware of the fact that young male drivers figure predominately in road traffic accidents, generally late at night in single vehicle incidents. A rough estimate would indicate that of the 400 annual fatalities, 250 are adult male, 50 are children and 100 are adult female, equating to 2 adult females a week.
    This is in startling contrast to the 51 females murdered in Ireland (Womens Aid) over a 4 year period, of which, according to your own report, “It has been established that for over 50% of all women murdered internationally, the perpetrator was a male intimate partner (WHO, 2005)”. This would imply that, of the 51 females murdered in Ireland over a 4 year period, approximately 26 or 27 were murdered by a male intimate partner.
    All of this would indicate that, annually in Ireland, approximately 6 or 7 women meet there death at the hands of their male partner whereas the statement “In Europe, the Council of Europe estimated that more women die or are seriously injured every year through domestic violence than through cancer or road accidents” would imply that approximately 100 women die at the hands of their male partner each year. Either our figures for fatalities among road traffic victims is 10 times worse than Europe or 10 times better among the female victims of domestic violence.
    I notice that the Council of Europe estimated this figure.
    Could you now please verify this matter for me? END

    Not only are the claims incredible, but the fact that this ridiculous statement is presented by the likes of Padraig without question goes to show the level to which the fog that John Waters refers to has descended, that fog being the murk surrounding the facts and figures in relation to the implication that domestic violence is a singularly female issue and much more widespread than it actually is.

  6. Lorcan

    I’m intrigued by the comment (made by Sarah and supported by others) that “Men still have the power, the money and the jobs”.

    This is a rather glib sexist comment, oft-repeated but rarely examined by those who make it, and it is wrong in so many ways that I sometimes despair of how to effectively respond to it.

    When I lived in Northern Ireland I was a member of Parity, a charitable organisation which campaigns for equal rights for men. You probably won’t have heard of us because we receive no state funding, no publicity in newspaper articles, and indeed are forced to fight the state every step of the way to achieve our goals. We are run on a shoestring by a handful of determined people (men and women) and in most cases are forced to go to Europe to undo open and deliberate discrimination against men.

    For instance, Widow’s Pension was available only to women and when any man applied for it he was told in writing that he (and his children) were not entitled to it because he was a man. We had to find a widower whose circumstances allowed us to claim legal aid in order to have any chance of taking a case for discrimination, but still had to go all the way to Europe to have the law declared illegal.

    Similarly, the state pension in Northern Ireland was available to women at 60 but men at 65, so we had to find a man between these ages eligible for legal aid and, most importantly, in good health so that he was likely to survive the lengthy process. We did in fact have to abandon our first case when our candidate’s health deteriorated and had to start all over again. We won the case in Europe but the government then decided to phase in equality over a period of 20 years, meaning that many men would die without seeing this illegal sex discrimination end, but despite taking this aspect to court we failed to have it overturned. This discrimination continues today.

    A particularly galling example of how widespread and institutionalised inequality for men is came in another campaign where we forced the government to give travel passes to men and women at the same age. The BBC covered this story in Northern Ireland but presented the story as an example of women who were unfairly losing a benefit to which they had previously been entitled, interviewed only women and discussed how the change might be reversed. I made a complaint to the BBC on three grounds (that they failed to point out it was illegal sex discrimination, that they failed to show the impact on men and that they had never reported cases of discrimination against women in this way in the past). My complaint was rejected on the grounds that “only women were affected by this story”. I took the complaint to the Broadcasting Complaints Commission but it was rejected on the grounds that it was unlikely to be of interest to a large number of people.

    After a half-page colour article in The Irish Times some years ago dismissing men’s issues I offered a version of the above as an answering article or even just a letter, but the editor (a woman) declined to respond.

    I could go on with many more examples, but I don’t want to make this post unreadably long. Suffice to say that I have no power, no publicity, no money and a very junior job, and what few achievements I have made came from dogged persistence against heavy odds. I deeply resent the thoughtless suggestion that it is otherwise.

  7. Sarah Post author

    No Lorcan you don’t but its not about you. Just look at members of the government, C level positions in companies, government department heads, local authority heads, academic heads, judicial positions. Even in primary schools where most of the teachers are women, the principal is still most likely to be a man. The heads of TV stations and newspapers (with the IT excepted) are men. So the point is, men have the power. The most potent example is the fact that our Taoiseach is a separated man who has done nothing for other separated men. Talk to him and stop bitching about women. Deeply resent him and not me for point out the rather obvious facts.

  8. Rob Hickey

    Well done Lorcan – you obviously have a genuine grievance and you are going about it the right way. Keep up the good work.

    Someday people may realise that stamping out inequality does not mean stamping down on the opposite sex. Sweeping statements like “men have all the jobs” smack of childishness and ignorance. I have said it before on this blog, there is no secret Freemason club that all men have signed up to. Don’t tell me that there is because that is just paranoia.

    An interesting article in the Times (interesting because it was ridiculous), either yesterday or Monday in the Head2Head section. Something along the lines of: Do women suffer more than men from domestic violence?

    Why ask this question? What was the point of this article? ALL domestic violence is wrong and “proving” that one sex suffers more than the other is not going to help anyone. You can vote for who you think suffers most and there is no need to look at statistics!

    No doubt women will be proved to suffer more as most people think “intuitively” that women suffer more, thus, making it even more difficult for male victims to seek help.

    I’m not denying that women suffer, but come on, can you not see how damaging this is to men?

    Why alienate men from women, or women from men

  9. Jim Jones

    Sarah,
    You say “So the point is, men have the power”. Another rather glib sexist comment. SOME men have power but you dismiss us ALL because of this.
    You replied to Lorcan by referring to Bertie and saying “Talk to him and stop bitching about women. Deeply resent him and not me for pointing out the rather obvious facts”.Why don’t you take on board some of his well made points as a JOURNALIST and not take them as a personal affront to you because you are a WOMAN!

    Rob Hickey is right in his comments on the Irish Times article “Do women suffer more than men from domestic violence?”. Would we have a similar head-to-head about who suffers most from cancer, TB or heart disease?
    EVERYBODY suffers, but their gender doesn’t make the suffering any lesser or worse.

  10. Lorcan

    Sarah, I have to say I’m disappointed by your response to my posting.

    Firstly, I didn’t “bitch about women” as you put it. If you re-read my post you’ll see I objected not to you or any woman but to a statement which had been endorsed by more than one person (not all of whom were women). I continue to resent that statement and it is not for you to tell me where to direct my resentment.

    Secondly, I accept your points about the power held my some men, but I think we need to go on to see the bigger picture. There are some men who have a lot of power. There are some women who have a lot of power. There are a lot of men who have little power. There are a lot of women who have little power. This way of putting it (you might even say “obvious facts”) may be less catchy but it is undeniably more accurate, and when your catchy slogan doesn’t match reality, it’s not reality that needs to change.

    Thirdly, I feel the example of Bertie is a red herring. He and his party were elected by the male and female voters of this country on the basis of a published manifesto. The fact that men’s rights were not an election issue is not a reflection on the party leader but further evidence of the lack of power that most men have.

    Finally, John Waters has been criticised here as a “bitter and angry man” for speaking out on topics he regards as important. I tried to give a reasoned and reasonable account of my personal experiences (the subjects of which I’m sure you’ll agree don’t get much coverage in the media). I could have gone on to describe my interactions with the various advertising bodies, the Equality Commission, the Board of Governors of the BBC but then maybe I might have appeared bitter and angry too.

    It is about me, and the millions of other powerless men.

  11. Lorcan

    Rob, I too found the wording of the question in the Irish Times Head2Head column unusual. If the poll shows that the majority think women suffer more from domestic violence does that prove that more women are victims, or does it mean we’ve proved there’s a bias against men? As you say, the facts are what matter and it was disappointing to see the two writers having virtually no common ground.

    If fewer Poles suffer from dental problems should we set up dental surgeries exclusively for non-Poles or should we just supply services to everyone who needs them?

    Incidentally, have you noticed the current radio ads for Sony featuring domestic violence by a woman against a man for comic effect? It’s quite striking (no pun intended) when it airs adjacent to the Women’s Aid radio ad.

  12. Jim Jones

    I questioned some statistics earlier and e-mailed The Women’s Health CouncilI as follows
    “I recently came across the report “Violence Against Women & Health”. I was amazed by the statement on page 12 that “In Europe , the Council of Europe estimated that more women die or are seriously injured every year through domestic violence than through cancer or road accidents (Reid, 2003)”. as this would imply that approximately 100 women die at the hands of their male partner each year. Either Irish fatalities among road traffic victims is 10 times worse than Europe or 10 times better among the female victims of domestic violence

    The reply was as follows

    Dear Jim,

    sorry for the delay in getting back to you, your original email had gone into our email junkbox.

    In terms of your query, you can find the Council of Europe statistic quoted in

    Reid, S. 2003 Preventing Violence Against Women: a European perspective. Strasbourg: Council of Europe Publishing.

    On page 13 she refers to Recommendation 1450 (2000) of the Parliamentary Assembly which provides these statistics. Please note that they are European statistics so it is hard to extrapolate directly for national cases and we do not have an equivalent statistic for Ireland.

    I hope this clarifies your query.

    Regards,

    Alessandra

    Alessandra Fantini
    Policy Officer
    The Women’s Health Council
    Comhairle Shlainte na mBan
    Abbey Court, Irish Life Centre
    Abbey Street Lower, Dublin 1
    Ireland
    t +353 1 878 3777
    f +353 1 878 3710
    w http://www.whc.ie

    If “it is hard to extrapolate directly for national cases” then should the Womens Health Council use these statistics when reporting on an Irish situation?

  13. Patrick McGinnity

    Sarah,

    On 12th December I posted the following:

    “Sarah, you also made the following comment:
    “On the issue of domestic violence, I know Waters was giving numbers some years ago that claimed that men and women were equally violent at home, but I could just never quite buy into that. Intuitively, and I know that’s no evidence, I just find that hard to believe. I’d really have to look into the figures more before I’d be convinced of that. If the figures did back it up, then obviously, I’d change my mind”.”

    Since then I have posted five comments in which I have quoted a great deal of Irish and international research which entirely verifies what John Waters has been saying. I have also included quotations from Erin Pizzey, the founder of the domestic violence movement in The UK, which are very much in agreement with what John Waters has been saying.

    You have publicly criticised John Waters, but have also given us your word that you will change your opinions on his views if you find enough evidence to support what he is saying. I have given you copious amounts of this type of evidence and can give you a lot more if you feel you need more before making your decision. I gave you all this evidence in good faith that you would honour your promise by considering the evidence and then replying. You haven’t replied yet, but I realise you may have been busy with Christmas etc.,

    Can you give me some sort of idea as to when I should expect a reply?

  14. Sarah Post author

    I have been unbelievably busy, what with puking and attending meetings of the feminist conspiracy. But I will get back to this when time permits. The world will have to wait! I think they’ll get by….

  15. Jim Jones

    Sarah seems to have started a conversation she hasn’t the stomach to finish. I think she meant “Even If the figures did back it up, then obviously, I can’t change my mind”.

  16. Sarah Post author

    ho ho.

    I’m the one not rushing to judgment but wanting to devote some time to studying the evidence which right now I don’t have time to do.
    I’ve got a husband and two sons who demand my time at this time of year more than ever so the men in my virtual life will just have to wait. Course, the attitude here shouldn’t surprise me..men always think they should come first….

  17. Lorcan

    I see some of us have been posting to the Head2Head discussion on the Irish Times website (http://www.ireland.com/head2head/) There’s a good diversity of comments there and a lot of very thoughtful and thought-provoking messages along with some harrowing experiences. I don’t expect that particular piece will change anything but is it gratifying to see so many people willing to come forward and discuss the issues. Only a few more decades…

  18. Lorcan

    Tut tut Sarah. Bitching about men? I wouldn’t have believed it of you…

  19. Rob Hickey

    Yes Lorcan – very interesting comments on the Head2Head forum. A lot seem to agree with the argument that all domestic violence is wrong so why “prove” that one gender suffers more than the other? What can this achieve? Or, why would you do this anyway?

    It can only make it harder for men for whom societal norms dictate that its a sign of weakness to admit to being abused. Having a survey where people can vote (!!) if they believe women suffer more (w/o consulting any stats) is frighteningly sexist.

    It is a wholly discriminatory article and benefits no one but those who want to make it even harder for men to admit to suffering.

    We’re decades away from getting rid of this problem, but “men always want to come first” so you don’t have to listen… Poor women… (sounds ridiculous doesn’t it??)

    Happy Christmas by the way, ho ho ho and all that, hope it snows.

  20. Jim Jones

    The statement “men always think they should come first….” is the most sexist generalisation I have read on this blog.
    Is Sarah talking about her father, husband, brother and son or the other half of the entire human race?
    We must be careful or Sarah will close the discussion like she did with the fathers rights thread at http://www.sarahcarey.ie/2007/06/11/fathers-rights/

  21. Lorcan

    To be fair guys, I’m sure that at this time of year Sarah is very busy and we should really give her the benefit of the doubt. And her latest comment is really no more sexist than we hear every day.

    But this isn’t about Sarah. We may be a long way from gaining equality but the issues we feel strongly about are getting more and more coverage and this is a virtuous circle – the more often the issue is highlighted, the more likely men are to come forward and break the taboo, which will shift the stats slightly further towards the truth, which will give more positive exposure, and so on. It may sometimes appear that nothing is changing – when you’re fighting centuries of bias you’re pushing a particularly well-seated boulder, but once that boulder finally starts to roll there’ll be no stopping it.

    There were occasions over the past ten years when I despaired and at times such as those it would have been easy to become bitter, but I believe that ultimately that would have been self defeating. Becoming bitter and angry changes the way we are perceived by others and reduces the likelihood of being taken seriously – it’s a vicious circle that does none of us any good.

    So be of good cheer. We have truth on our side and our friends are growing in number. I’m confident that the time will come when we will be able to look back on the current era as a temporary abberation and I believe that both men and women will benefit from the change. In the meantime we have to keep up the pressure. It won’t be easy and it won’t be quick but change IS coming.

  22. Sarah Post author

    too right she’ll close it down since every sanctimonious comment turns her off despite the fact that she’s repeatedly stated she has an open mind. You guys are your own worst enemies.

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