Weekly round-up and open thread, 13 September 2010

// 13 September 2010



It’s that time of the week again when we link to recent stories of feminist interest that we missed. Some of the items might get picked up by one of us in more detail later on but we won’t be able to do this with all of them so this open thread is the place to come if you want to discuss one of the items below or have more links to share.


Fiona’s blog: Facebook destroys the real girl (Rachel Simmons)

Over to you…

Picture by Jorge Balarezo, shared on a Creative Commons licence.

Comments From You

sianushka // Posted 13 September 2010 at 5:08 pm

we’ve set up a blog to plan our opposition to hooters in bristol


we’ve been subjected to abuse in the local media, by commenters, i have had hate comments on my blog and all for pointing out that treating women like objects isn’t great for women.

we need your support.

mumsnet have got hold of the story and are running with it, particularly because of the fact that M&S are leasing the building to hooters.

get involved!

marie // Posted 13 September 2010 at 6:50 pm

I am so glad someone actually pointed out the amount of male victims of domestic violence . I thought it would be two to five per cent but 40 per cent is a huge number and it is not something people can turn a blind eye on. i have a son and a daughter and i would like to be part of a movement which benefits both of my kids. i used to call myself a feminist because like most people i believe that women and men should be treated as equals under the same circumstances. i no longer identify as a feminist because as much as it is about equality it also paints women as victims and men always being the abusers. Recently i read a story about man who had just got out of an abusive relationship, i think the worst thing was that no one believed him, no one believed that his small timid looking wife was dangerous and abusive. One occasion after his wife hit him he called the police and they ended up arresting him because she was crying. i can think of dozens of charities mad especially for women but i can only think of one which helps men. I know that many feminist would not see this as their main priority but isn’t the movement about equality for all and not just for women.

tom hulley // Posted 13 September 2010 at 8:18 pm

I think M&S degrades women because of this decision and I invite people to stop shopping there.

Holly Combe // Posted 13 September 2010 at 9:32 pm

@Marie. I think Sarah Cheverton from Women’s News and Views has a good post about the renewed coverage of this issue. I agree that 1) Parity seem very keen to use valuable energy on “pitting male sufferers and survivors against their female counterparts” and 2) dismissing a gendered analysis ignores that male violence against women is often systematic and therefore not somehow “gender neutral”.

I also think it’s worth mentioning that feminism has an important part to play in addressing the problem of male victims of domestic violence not being taken seriously. This is surely an example of how traditional ideas about women as apparently “harmless” are harmful to us all. IMO, violence against men is all too often dismissed and sometimes even laughed at precisely because of sexist stereotyping of women as “weak” and the expectation for men to be automatically stronger and thereby able to dominate us.

hannah // Posted 13 September 2010 at 10:41 pm

I’ve only read the domestic violence article, I think I need to recover before venturing further. I thought retreating to the sane world of the f-word would help, only to find Marie here apparently convinced by the hatred towards women that was being spewed by the feminist-haters. But Holly has already expressed what I feel about the whole situation.

The other thing I’ve been wondering about is how on earth you active feminists manage to keep up the fight for reason and arguments based on fact against the seemingly unstoppable tide of hatred towards people who make reasonable points about gender? I was very impressed by mschin’s comments on the guardian thread! I can’t help feeling I’ll never win against people like that, and as such I never argue. I let so many things slide in real life because I know I’ll get over emotional (the last time I entered an argument with a very reasonable man, I ended up in tears simply trying to explain why feminists were both reasonable people and necessary, despite him listening with an open mind) and although I know the broad facts, I can never remember things at the appropriate time.

Perhaps the F-word could have a set of short, quick-access, well-referenced articles people like me could show to or repeat to non-feminists when necessary?

(sorry if this is rambling and badly written, I’ve been reading for years but a newbie to participation!)

Jennifer Drew // Posted 14 September 2010 at 12:00 am

Regarding the claims made by Parity that 40% males are regularly subjected to female violence, the facts are that each and every week two women are murdered by their male partners. Whereas the numbers of males murdered by their female/ex female partners are nearer to two each and every year.

Neither must we ignore how research conducted by Murray Strauss was hailed as a ‘breakthrough’ because Strauss also claimed female violence against men was endemic and also symmetical to male violence against women. This research was later debunked because Strauss defined women’s defensive tactics as ‘mutual combat.’

So the question to be asked is how did Parity arrive at the figure of 40%. Did it include instances of female verbal assault wherein male feelings were perceived to have been ‘assaulted?’

Should we automatically dismiss all the invaluable work undertaken by Women’s Aid and End Violence Against Women as irrelevant because both these organisations have conducted intensive research on the various methods violent male partners use to control and dominate their female/ex female partners. Neither must we forget other feminist research over the decades which has consistently provided in-depth research concerning the multiple ways men control female ex/female partners.

Whilst feminists working within the field of male violence against women have never claimed that women have never committed violence against men we need to remember that overwhelmingly when males are subjected to violence it is other males who are the ones committing these crimes – not women or girls.

Do not forget knife crime which is conveniently framed as a ‘gender neutral one’ is in fact predominantly committed by boys and adult males upon other boys and adult males. But this fact is never mentioned.

Perhaps Jeff Hearn, a well known male academic who has worked with violent men is wrong when he consistently states that overwhelmingly it is males who are the ones comitting violence against known women. Hearn has researched how men commonly minimalise the violence they commit against their female ex/female partners and how these same men deliberately claim ‘but she started it because she hit me.’ Whilst violence in all its forms is abhorrent – we need to remember a male fist hitting a female body causes much greater damage than a female hand hitting a male face.

So until such time as the numbers of males being subjected to female violence is identical to men inflicting violence upon women, the priorities must be with reducing male violence in all its forms against women. This does not mean ignoring the small number of women who do commit violence against known men but Parity is not claiming this. They are claiming female on male violence is almost identical in numbers to male on female violence. It is a myth but one which many will accept as truth.

Just as claims are constantly made that equal numbers of men are subjected to sexual violence as women are subjected to male sexual violence, so too men’s rights groups demand the focus once again be on men’s rights and men’s needs with women’s rights once again marginalised or ignored.

John B // Posted 14 September 2010 at 9:03 am


From what I can see , most feminists are actively working for equality for all . In general , a more feminist world would be a better world for men too .

Anyway , one of the reasons why male victims of domestic violence aren’t taken seriously is due to society’s stereotypical views of men and women (as Holly says , I think ). This is something which feminists try to counter .

Juliet // Posted 14 September 2010 at 11:53 am

Hannah, that man was not reasonable and he wasn’t listening with an open mind!

I have the same problem as you. I just avoid arguments with non-feminists because I get emotional. I’ve only got so much energy and don’t want to waste it.

Sheila // Posted 14 September 2010 at 12:23 pm

I don’t want to turn this into Cats v Dogs, but domestic violence against women is not taken seriously either. And Marie, there are loads of charities out there supporting male victims of DV, just google and you’ll find them. Arguing about what part of society suffers from more DV does no more to stop it happening or support the victims than arguing about what causes cancer can get people better.

Elmo // Posted 14 September 2010 at 12:24 pm

Juliet and Hannah, I’m the same! Mostly because it’s my friends who dont understand, and it makes me so upset to know that they all think i’m a silly overeactionist (er, if thats a word). They’re all clever, lovely people and feminists at heart, but of course the idea of calling themselves that makes them flinch, so they don’t listen to me. I’ve stopped bringing it up, but I cant stand that they think *i’m* the one who is closed minded and ill-informed.

It’s always so nice to know the The F word and other sites like it exist, or I dont know how we’d cope!

Elmo // Posted 14 September 2010 at 12:33 pm

As I say a lot, there isn’t a quota amount of suffering to go round- the DV against one gender doesn’t cancel out the domestic violence against another.

Men and women are both suffering, but when male abuse is reported it always throws up a “ha! You feminists were lying, it’s *men* who are suffering, see? Never mind you guys, heres the *truth*- men are the victims. We now have a legitimate resason to ignore DV against women”

*Both* sexes are the victims. Two women die every week, regardless of how many men are also victims.

There isnt a quota on suffering and there shouldnt be a quota on the amount of help we give to either gender.

Josie // Posted 14 September 2010 at 1:19 pm

Elmo, Juliet and Hannah, I feel exactly the same. I find it so demoralising and frustrating when I try to convince others how important feminism is, mostly because it seems SO BLOODY OBVIOUS! However I also feel extremely guilty when I avoid getting into these conversations. I feel like I have a duty to ‘spread the word’ about feminism. As you say though Juliet, we only have limited amounts of energy and maybe they are best used on sites like this, and through other forms of activism, rather than on what feels like a hiding to nothing

sianushka // Posted 14 September 2010 at 1:23 pm

well said everyone. one gender of victim does not cancel out the other. one victim is not more or less important.

DV is not taken seriously against any gender.

Also, and this is an aside, i think it is interesting how heteronormative reporting of DV is. some women victims are victims of women, and men are victims of male partners too.

sianushka // Posted 14 September 2010 at 1:25 pm

sorry – pressed submit by mistake before finishing.

men are still overwhelmingly the perpetrators of violence and i think there is a difference between recognising that men and women are victims of both men and women, and silencing the issue that 2 women a week are murdered by male partners/ex partners.

angercanbepower // Posted 14 September 2010 at 1:34 pm


There isnt a quota on suffering and there shouldnt be a quota on the amount of help we give to either gender.

But there is: money. Does it make sense for the current gender-based violence teams to continue to be funded as they are? Or should local authorities restructure the contracts in a more personalised way where the sex of the abused is just one of many factors considered to link people into the appropriate services?

While the latter theoretically sounds attractive, I’m pretty suspicious when all the research is from Parity and the Mankind Initiative. But my point is that the relative suffering of men and women does matter when considering the most effective service delivery.

A J // Posted 14 September 2010 at 1:35 pm

I think, on the whole, most reasonable feminists are pretty positive on the whole DV against men issue. Which is as it should be – all victims of DV should be supported, and it’s not (or certainly shouldn’t be) a zero-sum game regarding support for one gender or another. Reducing the culture of violence benefits everyone.

On the other hand, I do sometimes have a bit of sympathy with some of the male DV groups getting annoyed at certain feminist groups. There is still a desire amongst *some* feminists (not all, not even most) to dismiss male victims as irrelevant, or to attempt to turn any debate about male victims into a rant about male perpetrators (which is an offensive conflation of two issues, quite apart from being irrelevant).

This sort of attitude was much in evidence, unfortunately, when the Scottish Parliament held its first ever debate purely on how to support male victims of domestic violence recently. Unfortunately, a large number of the self-proclaimed ‘feminist’ MSP’s, particularly on the Labour benches, managed to use just about every speech to dismiss male victims, suggest they were usually mostly to blame for any violence, and give speeches on female victims instead. Which was astonishingly inappropriate and unhelpful to everyone and, to be honest, I really just found shockingly offensive to victims of both genders.

In Scotland in the last 10 years £100 million has been spent by the Government on supporting the female victims of domestic abuse. The equivalent figure for male victims is £28,000. So I think male victim support groups have a strong argument that much more support should be given, regardless of the precise gender ratio of victims. And I think feminist groups should favour increased support on its own terms, rather than couching it with arguments about the “gendered nature of domestic violence” or whatever. There’s a time and a place for those arguments, but it should never be at the expense of clearly and unequivocally supporting the victims of violence. Too often, equivocation has been the order of the day, rather than full support, which is just wrong.

sianushka // Posted 14 September 2010 at 2:19 pm

AJ, that is really shocking, no one is to blame for DV, whatever gender the victim is.

hannah // Posted 14 September 2010 at 6:33 pm

I’m not sure if glad is the right word for what I feel about finding all these people who feel the same as me, but here we are :)

Juliet, I’m sorry to argue, it’s just I live with this guy and in practice he is a very close to feminisms perfect man, except the off-hand and totally wrong comment he made about feminism as a movement. He was genuinely interested in what constituted feminism for me and acknowledged that he probably hadn’t noticed certain things (ie street harassment, because he would never do it, other men don’t do it to women he’s with and he has heard some women say it’s a complement). So this was actually just an example of my extreme inability to argue the feminist case.

This leads me on to the various comments about whether and when to argue the feminist point, as a group of people who have professed limited patience or energy! I agree with Josie, but am I really helping by sticking to websites like this where we are all in broad agreement, or should I be patiently and politely converting the world?

My instinct is to say I should be enlightening my non-feminist friends. But I just proved how bad I am at this, so perhaps the timid feminist needs spaces like the f-word, where we more or less preach to the converted, to get some practice before moving on the the big scary real world to try for real change? One thing’s for sure, it will be a while before I’ll manage to sustain an argument on cif – I find it hard to believe it’s attached to the usually-reasonable Guardian!

marie // Posted 14 September 2010 at 7:15 pm

Sorry if I upset some people with my last comment but that was not my intention. Hannah I do not hate women . I do not hate feminism, I just do not think it is for me and I have many, many reasons why. What i do not get is that most comments here are saying how they recognize the importance of helping DV victims that are male, but go on and say that domestic violence against men is not the same as against women. One is systematic and global, the other is not. And that male victims of female domestic violence is not comparable within a spectrum of violence against women. I think that the research does not take away anything from female victims but points out that there is way more to domestic violence. I hate violence in general and I hate anyone that commits the act so I have full sympathy for all DV victims. My female friend was in a DV relationship for several yrs, she is a butch lesbian and was in a relationship with a very feminine petite girl. i was shocked when she told me about how violent her partner was, she had bruises and cuts all over her body, what shocked me the most was how innocent and kind her partner seemed. If she had gone to the police I am sure that they would not have taken her seriously so I cannot imagine if it was a man going through the same thing. I do agree that feminism addresses the problem of DV victims that are male not being taken seriously but I do not think is fare in pointing out that women suffer a whole lot more.

Holly Combe // Posted 14 September 2010 at 9:08 pm

@ Hannah. Maybe you’re being a little hard on yourself? I mean it’s obviously a good thing if we try to use our influence whenever we can but I do think there’s something to be said for the assertion that we can’t be expected to make it our job to educate people all the time… There will, of course, be times when it all comes together beautifully but, at others, it will be clear to you that openly challenging the status quo or calling someone out will be more trouble than it’s worth, in terms of disappointment. I suppose it all comes back to doing what you can to help create change but also making sure you look after your own wellbeing?

@ Marie. I don’t get the impression you’ve upset anyone or that you hate women.

I agree that the research itself does not take away anything from female victims and that it indicates there is more than just one kind of domestic violence. I think the example you describe just goes to show how unhelpful our assumptions can be when we assess a DV situation (i.e. all of us -women and men alike- and regardless of whether we’re feminists). However, I don’t think saying domestic violence against men is “not the same” as domestic violence against women (or vice versa) is necessarily problematic when one considers the various oppressions a person can face and the risk of violence attached to each of those oppressions. This, of course, doesn’t mean every single act of violence committed against a man will be somehow completely different from every single one experienced by a woman but, just as an act of racist violence against a person of colour will surely be caught up in it’s own dynamics, so too is an act of violence from a man who sees it as his “male right” to be in charge of his wife (with these two experiences possibly intersecting when a survivor is experiencing multiple oppressions). Every situation is different in its own way but many share features linked to systematic inequalities and I don’t think these should be ignored.

Absolutely, it isn’t fair to say women suffer “a whole lot more” if the implication is that the violence is somehow morally worse or that men are predisposed to coping better with it than women. But, again, I don’t think it is wrong to acknowledge that evidence suggests there are statistically more women on the receiving end of DV than men. It’s an uncomfortable truth and not to be relished but even a 60/40 figure lends some weight to that statement.

hannah // Posted 15 September 2010 at 12:01 am

Sorry Marie, I think I just read your comment at a bad time (as in, just after the comments from people who really hated feminists and/or women) and phrased what I said badly. Actually you seem quite feminist to me, I’m sure there’s room for you to identify with feminism without agreeing with all other feminists all the time! And I definitely agree that any type of violence or abuse are wrong, whoever the victim or perpetrator. It’s just so complicated an area that really any statement can be misconstrued if it’s no followed up by an essay full of amendments and explanations. But in the end, it seems that gender stereotypes harm everybody involved. Man-on-woman DV is possibly considered not right, but not exactly abnormal, which is of course a bad thing. Conversely, with woman-on-man DV, the victim may be laughed at for his weakness or disbelieved and the woman, although initially treated as a probable victim despite being the attacker, from what I know of things like this she is likely to receive a far harsher sentence than a male equivalent for having ‘gone against her nature’. I’ve not really scratched the surface of the issue (for instance the lesbian couple you mention – your friend perhaps suffered from being thought of as ‘male’ in a way by a society which needs to have a ‘male’and a ‘female’ in every relationship to know which is going to be aggressive by ‘nature’ and which will be the victim), but I think it shows how there is a difference, that difference does not make one or the other worse, but the one common ground I can see is that in every case perceptions of male and femaleness have made a terrible situation worse for the victim.

Don’t worry Holly, I’m only thinking of getting more active on a scale of going from never to sometimes. I’m at university so I’m far too busy enjoying my feminist-won rights to study, party and not give a shit what people think if I’m not harming them!

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