I read this article by Mary Kassian on her blog, Girls Gone Wise some time ago. I truly don’t know much about Mary, and I honestly am not trying to pick on her. There are things she believes(complementarianism) and writes about that I disagree with, but there are also points I support. In this article, entiled “Five Problems I Have With Slut Walk Marches“, she has some valid points, one being that slutwalks teach girls that being crass is a positive thing. However, this post will focus on one particular sentence in that article that has been gnawing at me for some time, which goes like this:
Mary writes: “Female to male domestic violence is statistically just as prevalent as male to female.”
Um…no, it isn’t.
First, just let me get over the fact that the ONLY resource she sited for stating this outrageously false claim is wikipedia.
One would think that such a heavy statement would be backed up by loads of resources, but that’s impossible, because the reliable resources on the matter prove the opposite. AND, the wikipedia article itself proves her statement to be false. Lundy Bancroft addresses the myth that women abuse men as much as men abuse women in his book, “Why Does He Do That?”. Bancroft has years of experience in working with abusers(discovering why they abuse and trying to help them change), and his book is an excellent resource into the minds of abusive men. He sheds light on such things as:
~male abusers will claim that their female partners abused them, but it almost always turns out to be self-defense, and the abuser will radically diminish what he did to her in the first place(such as verbally abusing, intimidating, pushing, manipulating, punching, and generally terrifying her).
~Society would be aware of it if men were equally victims of domestic violence by seeing women harass, stalk, and murder their partners after he tries to leave her. Where are the men hiding in domestic violence shelters, calling hotlines, getting legal protection, and trying to get away from their abusive female partners? Even if men find it difficult, even shameful, to come forward about their abuse, surely we would be seeing the consequences of their abuse in society.
~Abusive mentality is actually a set of “core values” the abuser has learned and holds dear, which can be summed up as the belief that he is entitled to have a perfect woman as a partner, and that he should be in control of her life. When she turns out to be imperfect and not willing to be under his control, he uses a myriad of tactics to regain control. (The tactics can be emotional manipulation, verbal bullying, and physical violence.) These core values are developed by influences in media about how women can be treated(like objects put on earth to serve men domestically and sexually), the legal right of men to abuse and control their wives until very recently, early training about rigid gender roles, having an abusive father, and exposure to pornography(this isn’t an exhaustive list; there are other factors Bancroft sites in his book).
I do get the point Mary is trying to make: all the problems in the world are not only the fault of men. I wholeheartedly agree with this statement. Women and men are equal in ALL ways, including degree of sinfulness. Males and females are equally responsible for their sinful attitudes and behaviors. Also, boys and men are victims of domestic violence and sexual violence as well, and they shouldn’t be forgotten. They need just as much help as females. However, in the issue of domestic violence, men are usually the abusers. That is simply a fact, but it should not be used as a case in point to hate men. This information should be used to study the reasons a person becomes an abuser(to prevent it and to aid in recovery, if possible), and to help the victims of abuse get away from their abusers and to heal.
EmSoliDeoGloria makes the point beautifully in the comments section of the Mary’s article(bold mine):
“Men and women are equally sinful. No argument there. Women aren’t angels to men’s devils. But did you really assert that female on male domestic violence is just as prevalent as the reverse? I haven’t seen anything credible on that. Even the Wikipedia article you link to calls that a “theory.” The studies that assert that often look at police reports with countercharges filed (not a good study method). They do not look at the severity of the damage done (she left a bruise on his arm, he broke her nose; he threw her down the stairs and broke her ribs, but by the time the police got there she was holding him at bay with a knife). Sure, female on male domestic violence is under-reported (perhaps from shame), but male on female domestic violence is also under-reported (perhaps from fear as well as shame). As the Kimmel analysis reveals (in the same Wikipedia article you linked) “violence is instrumental in maintaining control and that more than 90% of “systematic, persistent, and injurious” violence is perpetrated by men.”
Men often have historically oppressed women more than women have oppressed men. And actually, patriarchy has been quite oppressive to women – treating them as property (sometimes even cherished and valuable property, like a prized racehorse) rather than as image bearers, co-laborers, and fellow servants of their divine creator. It seems ridiculous to attempt to ignore this. Men aren’t responsible for the world’s ills. Women aren’t responsible for the world’s ills. Men AND women are responsible for their own sins.”
Mary’s statement is misleading, irresponsible, and untrue. Domestic violence is an enormous problem in our society, which includes Christians. Misleading information like this can distract people away from the problem so it doesn’t get the attention necessary for it to be solved, and for the victims(the majority being women) to get the help they need.
Here are some resources on domestic violence:
Why Does He Do That? by Lundy Bancroft
When Loves Goes Wrong by Ann Jones and Susan Schechtor
Comments appeared to be closed on this article, so I emailed Mary Kassian and shared my thoughts with her. I informed her that her statement was false, and suggested ways she could research the topic more to get more accurate information. This was the response(which is not from Mary herself, but from someone on her team or staff):
glad to receive feedback from the people who hear her speak or read her material. I can assure you that she considers it carefully and prayerfully. Please let me know if you need assistance in the future. I will be delighted to serve you. May the Lord bless you and keep you!
For the Kingdom,”