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If Your Man Knew What to Say, Here’s What He Might Say If He Knew You Feared His Potential For Violence...

Excerpted from Warren Farrell's Women Can't Hear What Men Don't Say.

(Permission to reprint granted by Warren Farrell.)
See www.warrenfarrell.com and www.warrenfarrell.info.


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Has Violence Against Men Been Censored – Is This Why We Don’t Know About It?

Yes, studies reporting violence against men have been censored. How this censorship occurs is the subject of chapter eight on the lace curtain, but when it comes to domestic violence, the censorship is both direct, which is quite a story; and indirect, which is the real story.

Directly first. Suzanne Steinmetz shared with me how shortly after she published an article titled “The Battered Husband Syndrome” in 1978,40 she received a bomb threat at a speech she was giving at the University of Delaware.41 She received threatening phone calls at home from women who said, “If you don’t stop talking about battered men, something’s going to happen to your children and it won’t be safe for you to go out.” It’s ironic that women saying that women couldn’t be violent were threatening violence.

Although the group of women never harmed Steinmetz physically, they did try to damage her career. Steinmetz recalled that it wasn’t until years later that she learned these women had secretly contacted female faculty at the university where she was employed and urged the women to work against her for promotion and tenure.

Richard Gelles, the co-pioneer with Suzanne Steinmetz and Murray Straus of these early studies, reports that Straus was rarely invited to speak at conferences on domestic violence after the three of them published their initial studies. When he was, he was unable to complete his presentation because of yells and shouts from the audience that stopped only when he was driven from the stage.42 Whereas he used to be nominated frequently for elected office in scientific societies (such as the American Sociological Association), he has not been nominated for any office since then.43

Now, the more indirect censorship. Richard Gelles wanted to present both feminist and non-feminist perspectives on domestic violence in a book he was editing. The feminist scholar accepted until she was informed there would be other points of view. Then she told Richard Gelles that she would not only refuse to submit anything, but she would “see to it that no feminist would contribute a chapter.”44

In Canada, a University of Alberta study found 12% of husbands to be victims of violence by their wives and 11% of wives to be victims, but only the violence against women was published.45 Even when Earl Silverman, six years later, was able to get the data from an assistant who had helped prepare the original study, and then wrote it up himself, he was unable to get it published.

Similarly, another major Canadian study of dating couples found 46% of women vs. 18% of the men to be physically violent. You guessed it. The 18% male violence was published immediately.46 Not only was the 46% female violence left unpublished, but the authors did not acknowledge in the Canadian Journal of Sociology that their study had ever included violence against men.

When a Canadian professor found out, he requested to see the data and was refused.47 It was only when he exposed the refusal in his next book combined with another three more years of pressure, that the 46% female violence was released and published.48 By that time (1997), Canadian policy giving government support for abused women but not abused men had been entrenched. As were the bureaucracies; as were the private funding sources like United Way...

By 1999 United Way of Greater Toronto increased their yearly allocation for services to abused women and children by $1-million, to $3.3-million per year. To abused men and children: $0. I asked the research director whether the research to determine need had included abused men and children. The answer? No.49

It was the United States, though, that set the precedent for this censorship. In 1979, Louis Harris and Associates conducted a survey of domestic violence commissioned by the Kentucky Commission on Women. However, when the results of the study were published,50 only the abuse of the women was included; abuse by the women was censored.51 (The women themselves acknowledged attacking men who had not attacked them 38% of the time).52 The existence of those data became known and published only when some professors were later able to obtain the original computer tape.53

Why would these findings be ignored by academicians whose life passion is seeking the truth? One colleague, R. L. McNeely, who pioneered the analysis of research in domestic violence,54 told me, “I’ll tell you why – as soon as I published results along these lines I received a letter threatening to stop my funding.”

A portion of government funding to a professor usually goes to the university. Funding is often what allows a university to keep a professor hired. If the professor is supporting a family it creates an ethical dilemma: When does being responsible become irresponsible? And, of course, the instinct to protect-the-female makes him or her fear that acknowledging male pain means discounting female pain.

40 Suzanne Steinmetz, “The Battered Husband Syndrome,” Victimology, Vol. 2, 1977/78, pp. 499-509.

41 Interview with Suzanne Steinmetz, September 11, 1997.

42 Richard J. Gelles, “Research and Advocacy: Can One Wear Two Hats?,” Family Process, Vol. 33, March, 1994, p. 94. Confirmed in phone interview with Murray Straus, March 31, 1999.

43 Murray Straus, Phone interview, March 31, 1999.

44 Gelles, “Research and Advocacy,” op. cit. Gelles’ co-editor was Donileen Loseke.

45 Leslie W. Kennedy and Donald G. Dutton, “The Incidence of Wife Assault in Alberta,” Canadian Journal Of Behavioral Science, Vol. 21, 1989, pp. 40-54. The research was conducted in 1987 by the University of Alberta’s Population Research Laboratory. In an interview with Earl Silverman on September 2, 1997, he explained he received the censored research six years later from Bob Adebayo, who had assisted Kennedy and Dutton in the preparation of their original data. Even after Silverman received the data, he could not get it published. See Earl Silverman, “A Proposal To Prevent Spouse Abuse Through Crisis Intervention For Male Partners,” unpublished manuscript, May, 1996, p. 10.

46 Walter DeKeseredy and Katharine Kelly, “The Incidence and Prevalence of Woman Abuse in Canadian University and College Dating Relationships,” Canadian Journal of Sociology, Vol. 18, 1993, pp. 137-159.

47 John Fekete, Moral Panic: Biopolitics Rising (Montreal: Robert Davies Publishing, 1994), pp. 79-80.

48 Walter S. DeKeseredy, Daniel G. Saunders, Martin D. Schwartz, and Shahlid Alvi, “The Meanings and Motives for Women’s Use of Violence in Canadian College Dating Relationships: Results from a National Survey,” Sociological Spectrum, Vol. 17, 1997, pp. 199-222.

49 Diane Hill, Director of Policy and Research for the United Way of Greater Toronto, email of February 22, 1999.

50 Mark Schulman, “A Survey Of Spousal Violence Against Women In Kentucky” (Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office, July 1979), Study No. 792701, conducted for Kentucky Commission on Women and sponsored by the US Department of Justice, Law Enforcement Assistance Administration.

51 Murray A. Straus, “Physical Assaults by Wives: A Major Social Problem,” Current Controversies on Family Violence, Richard Gelles and Donileen Loseke, eds. (Newbury Park, CA: Sage, 1993), pp. 72-73.

52 Ibid.

53 Carlton A. Hornung, B. Claire McCullough, and Taichi Sugimoto, “Status Relationships in Marriage: Risk Factors in Spouse Abuse,” Journal of Marriage and the Family, Vol. 43, August, 1981, pp. 675-692.

54 McNeely, “The Truth About Domestic Violence,” op. cit.


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