There is an urban legend that domestic violence is a men’s issue rather than a social issue. Men seldom report abuse to anyone let alone a legal authority. Why is evidenced based research not the basis of social policy departments rather than the erroneous status quo system of reported incidents to police? That type of social policy belief system is nothing more than ignorance guided governance. It is a classic confirmation error, because one only looks at instances that confirm the widely held belief without looking at any evidence that refutes it. It is a very ancient and primitive fallacy that operates today. Do we seriously believe that the only crime is reported crime? Police statistics are not research. They are not peer reviewed. They are not the complete ‘work of art’. According to an exhaustive CDC report 2.7% of women experienced severe physical violence and 2.0% of men experienced severe physical violence by an intimate partner. It also reported that men experienced slightly more psychological violence from their intimate partners than women did. There is also a conglomerate study that covers a sample size of over 370,000 people that shows domestic violence to be almost equally initiated between men and women.
We should stop hiding behind a convenient cultural myth. We can’t be afraid to confront the dogma that threatens the archaic origins of the modern male ego, namely that males should be strong and silent when they are on the receiving end of psychological and physical abuse. The positive aspects of masculinity here should be focused on having enough self respect to stop accepting abuse from your partner because you can take it or because you’re a man. Those slogans only work to internalize a toxic belief that it is OK for a guy to be able to withstand physical and psychological abuse as part of what it means to be a man. Those social determinants of masculinity are noxious. Those emotions tend to harden into anger which may sublimate into depression or just fester inside, subdued with alcohol or other forms of self-medication, another classic male response to internalized emotions. How often do these internalized emotions eventually explode in self violence (ie suicide) or external violence without an acknowledgement or social understanding for the initial source of the emotions? We need to change the attitude that only men are responsible for abuse. It is solipsism; it takes a Jungian level of blindness to hide half of the human psyche in a shadow and project blame, guilt and failure, all responsibility onto the male.
In an age where disruptive innovation can have such positive change we are still tangled in a shockingly antiquated form of social development that scars men with the stigma of blame and responsibility, based only on reported incidents. Men have been trained to internalize and suppress emotions, hurt and pain – to be quiet. We hear how strong a guy was because he could or had to “play through the pain.” Well, those guys are million-dollar athletes that get paid to do it; they have five star, world class doctors at their sides. Guys at home watching the game don’t get paid to internalize their pain. But yet urban myths tend to glorify the strong silent type, he’s not a ‘problem’; he’ll do it and take no reward, “small print don’t carry much weight round here.” Those types of attitudes are reflected in the massive rates of male suicide. Suicide is often the result of internalizing emotions over a number of years because society has repeatedly reinforced a fallacy that being male means being tough, taking abuse, internalizing it like it’s a responsibility, as if it is a part of being masculine.
In order to eliminate/reduce violence in society all violence must be examined and not the solipsism that results from police data. The police are a part of society and they reflect social ideals and prejudices, which means female violence against males is often not taken seriously or even reported.
We’re forming multi-million dollar social policy programs without taking best practices into consideration, totally ignoring scientific studies and using confirmation error to bolster a myth. The media is of course an agent in the perpetuation of the fallacy, partly because it is so popular and an unexamined assumption, and partly because the issue at heart is so taboo – women can and are almost equally responsible for perpetrating domestic violence. Those antiquated social biases that encourage populations to believe otherwise become media darlings, selectively chosen moral panics in need of so much money that they become self-fulfilling distortions based on the millions of dollars funnelled into the abuse industry…
Violence is violence, and a positive aspect of masculinity is to confront it through the power of evidenced-based research and not be afraid to argue in favour of evidenced based policy and to persuade decision makers to free themselves from the failed remedial errors used by social development agencies to fund blame.