Being ‘Over It’-And the Lack of Charity

February 19, 2013

Last week I wrote what I thought was a fairly straightforward piece titled "Over It." It was an introduction to a poem, and then a poem. It was short, in three parts, and about an anti-rape poem by Eve Ensler, and her One Billion Rising campaign to encourage women to dance as a way to end rape.

In the first part I explicitly stated that I agreed with Ensler's goals ("I support her goals of reducing rape and other forms of violence against women"), but that I had reservations about Ensler's use of statistics, and whether or not encouraging people to dance would actually do any good. In the second part I wrote a poem, using the same title, the same structure, and some of the same lines-echoing, expanding on, and supporting many of Ensler's sentiments. The poem was clearly supporting and agreeing with Ensler on many topics, and I added other topics which I felt had been largely left out in the discussion (such as the issue of male rape, and the epidemic of sexual assault in Native American communities).

I disagreed with Ensler in some places, for example her characterization of "a good rape," which I found offensive, and her focus on the media and culture as a source of rape (instead of rapists). In the third section I added two notes dealing with rape statistics, including from two-time Pulitzer nominee Steven Pinker's new book, which (for those who bothered to look up the reference) explicitly addresses the problem of rape underreporting that some people brought up. If people think Pinker's data about the 80% drop in rapes over the past 30 years is wrong, they should contact him directly.

I did not say or suggest that people should not participate in the One Billion Rising events, or that they were stupid for doing so; in fact I wrote "If people want to do the dance, that's great." I just said that I, personally, see no value in it and will not be participating. (I have a general skepticism about the effectiveness of countless "awareness raising" campaigns-is anyone really unaware of rape, or bullying, or child abuse, or drunk driving, or the dangers of obesity, or any other common social problem?)

So why the anger and venom? Why would anyone get enraged and morally indignant because I think women dancing is a waste of time and not actually helping decrease the incidence of physical and sexual assault?

The piece was completely feminist, pro-women, anti-rape, and pro-activism. Even the parts that questioned Ensler's statistics explained why those misleading statistics actually harm women. The argument was not for an end to anti-rape activism, instead it was quite the opposite: it was for effective anti-rape activism, informed by valid statistics.

The phrase "I'm over rape" does not say or suggest that either I or Eve Ensler (who originated the phrase) is tired of hearing about rape, or that anyone should be quiet about it or not speak out. I used (and repeated) Ensler's phrase exactly as she meant it: I am "over rape" in exactly the same way that Ensler is "over rape": It is time for it to end, and as I wrote, "I am over rape. I join mothers, sisters, fathers, brothers, and lovers in condemning rape and all manner of violence against women. All rape is bad. It is never deserved, nor asked for, nor good; it is always bad and wrong. Always."

The words and intent were repeated, crystal clear, and written without a trace of irony or sarcasm but instead a heartfelt passion that "Women deserve better; they deserve real answers and real help-not faux activism, ineffective e-petitions, or dancing flash mobs."

Is it possible to somehow interpret this as supporting rape in some way? I didn't think so, yet over the past week I have been criticized and vilified, painted as a misogynist, "rape apologist" and even "anti-feminist" by a few people who either didn't read my piece, or didn't understand it.


Addressing Criticisms


I have mostly avoided looking at the comments because very few of them actually address the content of what I wrote. PZ Myers, somewhat predictably, jumped at the chance to dress me down for my perceived sexism in a blog titled, "You Don't Get to Be ‘Over' Rape" -an obvious dig at the poems by Ensler and myself.

Myers admits that I'm technically correct that Ensler's statistics are not exactly right, but claims I'm being "hyperskeptical," and states that "One billion women have been victims of ‘homicide, intimate partner abuse, psychological abuse, dating violence, same-sex violence, elder abuse, sexual assault, date rape, acquaintance rape, marital rape, stranger rape and economic abuse,' confirmed by statistics that Radford cites. One billion women. Radford's hyperskepticism is so fierce that he objects to Ensler using 3 general words - raped, beaten, violated - instead of 26 more specific words, but is willing to overlook the horrific truth that she is correct and one billion women will suffer for their sex in their lifetime."

Except that I didn't; Myers misread it. I actually didn't write the "one billion" figure that Myers misquotes me as saying; that was Ensler's number. What I actually wrote (check it yourself) was that "one-third of women [have been victims of] homicide, intimate partner abuse, psychological abuse, dating violence, same-sex violence, elder abuse, sexual assault, date rape, acquaintance rape, marital rape, stranger rape and economic abuse." (One in three women is not the same as one billion if you do the math, though perhaps that's just my hyperskepticism.)

Furthermore Myers apparently didn't read the list very carefully, or he might have noticed that many of these "specific words" (as the phrase he uses) aren't really comparable to being "raped, beaten, or violated." We can start with homicide, which is clearly not the same as (and in fact is much worse than) being "raped, beaten, or violated." Psychological abuse, which can include anything from controlling behavior to verbal insults to bullying and suicide threats, is not necessarily the same as being "raped, beaten, or violated." Same-sex violence could certainly be included as potentially akin to being "raped, beaten, or violated," though Ensler focuses on male-perpetrated, opposite-sex rape. Elder abuse, also, may include anything from theft of personal property to insults, physical abuse, and abandonment (and is not gender-specific); these, also, are not necessarily the same thing as being "raped, beaten, or violated." Then there's economic abuse, which can include anything from preventing a person from taking a certain job to running up unauthorized bills on another's credit card to unlawful eviction to bank fraud; these, too, are not quite the same as being "raped, beaten, or violated." (Nor, for that matter, are all these examples of "women suffer[ing] for their sex.")

But Myers knows that.

He knows that not all the dozen or so specific categories included under the umbrella term "violence against women" (as defined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the DOJ) are the same as being "raped, beaten, or violated." It is Myers, not me, who wants to split hairs; I explicitly stated that "all these are serious, legitimate problems" even if they are not equivalent to rape. No matter how you slice it, Ensler's statistic is flawed, and does not say what she says it does. If the number is really one in four, or one in five that doesn't imply that rape is not a real problem, as I stated in the original piece. But addressing social problems requires good data--and this point has nothing to do with feminism or rape; I discuss this problem of exaggerated statistics being used in "stranger danger" and child abductions at length in my Media Mythmakers book. Instead of acknowledging that flawed numbers shouldn't be used to support important causes, Myers chose to suggest that questioning the statistic is somehow an effort to minimize rape. It only takes a few seconds of thought or a few minutes of web searches to see that I'm correct about the varied, non-beating, non-rape (yet often no less serious) types of abuses under "violence against women."

Oh, it also takes one other thing that Myers and his ilk lack: it's called charity.

Charity

It means giving someone the benefit of the doubt, trying to see things from another point of view instead of searching for ways to misunderstand, misinterpret, and mischaracterize another's position.

Steve Novella recently commented on this in the context of recent, similar attacks on Harriet Hall regarding gender and sexism: "I think we all should remember the principle of charity, something which is often missing in these internal fights. When considering another's argument it helps to give it the most charitable interpretation, to argue against the best possible argument on the "other side." This is the antidote to the straw man fallacy. If you are not charitable then it is likely that you will waste time arguing against a position that was never articulated. Find common ground and be charitable... My problem with so many of the exchanges that are fueling internal strife is that they are maximally uncharitable to the target of their criticism. This is very counterproductive."

Indeed, I brought up that very issue last year-ironically in the context of Novella's Skeptics Guide to the Universe co-host Rebecca Watson's vitriolic and largely misguided criticism of a piece I wrote:

It's often the case that outrage and insults substitute for truth and accuracy; it's easier to call someone stupid than it is to engage them respectfully. It's easier to have knee-jerk, facepalming reactions than it is to thoughtfully see if there's some misunderstanding on someone's part-or, god forbid, even some common ground. For my part, I take my cues from Ray Hyman, one of my heroes and one of the founders of both CSCIOP and the modern skeptical movement.
If you haven't read Ray's piece "Proper Criticism," you should; it's what guides editorial policy in Skeptical Inquirer. It's a short piece explaining how best to deal with people and claims you disagree with. I'll quote a few short sections: "Many well-intentioned critics have jumped into the fray without carefully thinking through the various implications of their statements. They have sometimes displayed more emotion than logic, made sweeping charges beyond what they can reasonably support, failed to adequately document their assertions, and, in general, failed to do the homework necessary to make their challenges credible. The principle of charity implies that, whenever there is doubt or ambiguity about a claim, we should try to resolve the ambiguity in favor of the claimant until we acquire strong reasons for not doing so. In this respect, we should...convey the opponent's position in a fair, objective, and non-emotional manner. We should avoid using loaded and prejudicial words in our criticisms."

I'm a big boy. I'm used to hate mail and nasty, anonymous comments and criticisms, both founded and unfounded. It's part of the job, both as a writer and as a skeptic. But the sad part is that I strongly suspect that I am often on the same side of an issue and share the same goals as many of my most vitriolic critics. But they don't notice because they're shouting at me.


I will close with a few wise comments from Harriet Hall:

• Please read what I say, not what you choose to imagine I meant to say.
• Please don't try to argue about statements I never made.
• Please try to understand that "I like to do it my way" does not equate to "I'm accusing you of being wrong for doing it your way."
• I don't think I deserve your contempt and hostility.

Comments:

#51 HJ Hornbeck (Guest) on Thursday February 21, 2013 at 12:34am

Radford: The piece was completely feminist, pro-women, anti-rape, and pro-activism.

  If that’s true, why did you invoke the stock caricatures of feminism?

Radford: I am over the male bashing often inherent in feminist writings and slogans; “All men are rapists” is neither true nor fair nor helpful.

Radford: I am over the simplistic idea that women are raped by heteronormative, hegemonic patriarchies instead of by criminals.

Radford: I am over the myth of “the passivity of good men,” suggesting that many or most men are complicit in rape culture when in fact most men are not rapists, and condemn those who are.

  Look, you’re a good researcher. Why don’t you do some research into what feminists actually argue and think? Otherwise you’ll wind up defending yourself with lame arguments like:

Radford: One in three women is not the same as one billion if you do the math, though perhaps that’s just my hyperskepticism.

Yes, it is. 1/2 * 1/3 * 7 billion is 1.17 billion, which is pretty close to a billion. If you want to exclude those under 14 (why you’d want to do that is beyond me, as they too are abused), then you wind up with 880,000,000… which is still close to one billion.

Radford: many of these “specific words” (as the phrase he uses) aren’t really comparable to being “raped, beaten, or violated.” We can start with homicide, which is clearly not the same as (and in fact is much worse than) being “raped, beaten, or violated.”

  ... and therefore we shouldn’t care about homicides, and exclude them from the billion? Are you honestly arguing that we shouldn’t be concerned with psychological abuse, same-sex violence, elder abuse, and economic abuse, because it isn’t similar enough to “raped, beaten, or violated?”

  That’s textbook hyper-skepticism.

  You ask for charity, Radford. Well, you’ve now made two posts about the backlash to your criticism of the “One Billion Rising” campaign. Rather than listen to their criticism like “a big boy” and learn from it, you’ve doubled-down and are now desperately relying on hyper-skepticism to salvage some sort of victory.

  That is not deserving of charity.

#52 Michael Kingsford Gray (Guest) on Thursday February 21, 2013 at 2:37am

#49 Amphigorey

You realize that infants get abused, too?

Yes, rather oddly, I do!
But utterly irrelevant to the blanket categorisation of infants as “women”. An error that you have just amplified.
For reasons that observers can only guess at.

The poster made an error.
They included “infants” in the category of “women”.
Is it not that hard to admit that?

#53 Ted Dahlberg (Guest) on Thursday February 21, 2013 at 4:55am

Mr Radford, I’d just like to thank you for your work and for being a “proper” sceptic and through that giving me hope that the current drama will eventually blow over.
Your recent articles have been perfectly clear, and while I’m sure there are points in them one might legitimately criticize I am equally certain that anyone who has not already made up their mind otherwise will see the commenters deriding you as a debunker of “little green men” or denouncing you as some kind of misogynist for what they are. At the very least they have chosen to attack the least charitable interpretation of your article. And that, frankly, is the most charitable interpretation I can make of their comments.
Keep up the good work.

#54 Gra_factor on Thursday February 21, 2013 at 6:06am

“It’s appears that much of the vitriol over Ben’s post, and the one by Dr Hall, grows out of the fact that some people seem to have idea that any questioning must be read as negation of the entire feminist argument.

The subject is more complex than that. Feminism is a laudable idea, that does not preclude it sometimes being used as a less than optimal way.”

As some people would say, THIS.

This is why I’m not on the FTB bandwagon any more. It doesn’t matter how carefully you couch your words, if a person is determined they will find something to get angry about. Witness Harriet Hall’s quip about black transexual conferences. Needless to say this is not about forming your beliefs based on evidence, it’s about looking for things to support your existing beliefs.

#55 Theo Ffensivatheist (Guest) on Thursday February 21, 2013 at 6:32am

You don’t stand a chance. When these peoples arguments are shown to be flawed or even criticised you must expect to be be attacked, vilified & “dogpiled”. It’s what they’ve become used to doing & it’s a tactic that’s been near perfected in the comment sections of FtB. Sadly this is the situation as it is & unless something is done soon many will give up & move on. I’m tired of PZ Myers & his “followers” & i’m tired of this crap.

#56 Michaeld (Guest) on Thursday February 21, 2013 at 7:17am

@Michael Kingsford Gray

The real question of how to define women is how was women defined in the 1/3 statistic. If you use a different definition then you are comparing apples to oranges and the math won’t work. So here’s some research for you.


The one in three statistic comes from
“In-depth study on all forms of violence against women
Report of the Secretary-General” 2006

You can find this report with a quick google search. The methodology section of the report on page 12 paragraph 20 includes this definition of women.

“The term “women” is used to cover females
of all ages, including girls under the age of 18.”

So females of all ages including those <18 yoa. If you want to quibble further there are slightly more males on earth about 986f:1000m it doesn’t affect the calculation significantly.

If you want to complain about the 1 in 3 statistic go find some problems with it. But if we accept it even tentatively the math works out to 1billion women. Any thing else would be like those unskewed polls down in the states.

#57 A Hermit on Thursday February 21, 2013 at 7:29am

(One in three women is not the same as one billion if you do the math, though perhaps that’s just my hyperskepticism.)

Actually, if you do the math, as others have already pointed out here, one in three women is slightly more than one billion…so yeah… that does look a bit like hyper-skepticism.

And contrary to Tuvok’s comment above hyperskepticism is a real thing; it’s the favourite tactic of denialists and conspiracy theorists, the classic example being JFK conspiracy theories, or the tobacco companies long insistence that there was no link between cancer and smoking (all of the epidemiological evidence was dismissed as “correlation, not causation” and in the absence of 100% irrefutable demonstration of the exact causal mechanism they argued there was no need for any concern.)

We see the same thing from climate change deniers, creationists (“that’s not a TRANSITIONAL fossil!!1!”)and Holocaust deniers.

Nitpicking Ensler’s language may not rise to that level of silliness, but it did seem a bit trivial.

#58 A Hermit on Thursday February 21, 2013 at 8:04am

#52 Michael Kingsford Gray

<blockquote>The poster made an error.
They included “infants” in the category of “women”.
Is it not that hard to admit that?</a>

I wonder Mr. Gray, would you include Malala Yousafzai and her peers as “women” or would you exclude them for not meeting your age requirement?

What about the nine year old in the recent abortion case in Brazil?

Can we safely ignore that case because the victim was too young to count as a “woman” Mr. Gray? What do you think?

And if the “actual” number is slightly less than a billion should we be any less outraged about the systematic violence that women do face out there in the real world?

You know what I’m over? I’m over people who think the issue of violence against women is all some academic exercise and that looking like the smartest mathematician in the comments section of some blog, are what’s really important here.

I’m not sure those people deserve any charity.

#59 doubtthat (Guest) on Thursday February 21, 2013 at 8:10am

Here’s a poem I left over at the Anti-Defamation League’s website.  It’s clearly a pro-jewish website, so everything written there must, by definition, be pro-jewish, and it’s also a poem, so pursuant to the Radford Doctrine, it cannot be evaluated:

Jack and Jill Went up the Hill
To fetch a pail of water
Jack fell down and broke his crown
And the Holocaust is fake

See, how could anyone possibly object?

#60 A Hermit on Thursday February 21, 2013 at 11:03am

Michael Kingsford Gray doesn’t think these rapes should count:

Man raped, abused 13 infants, children and videotaped attacks

A Massachusetts man raped and sexually abused more than a dozen young children in their homes and videotaped the assaults, a prosecutor said Thursday.

Mr Gray also apparently believes we should ignore this:

Infant raped on pavement in Kolkata, 3 detained

and this:

<a href=“http://voices.yahoo.com/infant-rape-epidemic-america-5370565.html”>

It is estimated that 15% of sexual assault and rape victims are under the age of 12,...Other earlier sources estimate the percentages much higher. In 2000, the Bureau of Justice Statistics stated that 34% of sexual assault victims were under age 12 and 1 out of 7 were under the age of 6…

I could post more…sadly…

But why bother? these crimes don;t count, according to Mr Gray, because the victims are “infants” and therefore not “women…”

 

The purported victims were as young as 8 days old

#61 noelplum99 on Thursday February 21, 2013 at 11:09am

@A Hermit,
Whereas your argument is that they should count….. but only the female infants? Is that the point you are making? You are raging that the young girls Mr Gray assaulted may not be counted but not so bothered about the young boys? Or have I misunderstood and you want male rapes to count in this stat too?

Tbh, whilst I agree that females of all ages are fine for the stat you surely could have picked a less potentially divisive and insulting example than this one?

#62 Renee Hendricks on Thursday February 21, 2013 at 11:28am

#60 A Hermit Apparently we should also ignore rape and violent crimes against men/boys. This all should be about human beings and not about gender. Period.

#63 noelplum99 on Thursday February 21, 2013 at 11:40am

Yes, there is certainly a point here Renee.

I accept, I think most people do, that some issues predominantly affect women and are perhaps best highlighted by specifying the plight of women. However, generally with regard to children and the elderly the issues affect both sexes and we don’t differentiate in terms of the campaign.I thi k child abuse is just such an issue and there is something slightly wrong-headed with specifying our efforts just on female or male children that are abused when the abuse crosses sexual boundaries as it does. Had we been talking about infanticide then I could understand the case a bit better.
This is what I don’t also understand about including ‘elder abuse’ in these statistics because, unless we are saying these are forms of abuse that are peculiar to old women only (or highly disproportionately about old women) it seems to go against the spirit of the campaign.
Perhaos another analogy, which I only mention because it seems to map across so well, is the way we may specify breast or ovarian cancer efforts at women but it would seem an absurdity to launch a campaign tackling womens cancers and then include other cancers that men get at least as often as if these were female-specific issues also.

#64 Stephanie Zvan on Thursday February 21, 2013 at 12:07pm

Ben @15: Stephanie, where does Ensler say that her statistic includes women who are killed? It doesn’t. No one is saying murder “shouldn’t be counted,” just that murder is not the same crime as being raped, beaten, or violated. If Ensler had stated that she was including murder in her statistic, there wouldn’t be that issue. But she did not.

I already answered this at comment #11: “Homicide is as big a violation as you can be subject to. Saying that it shouldn’t be counted because it’s worse is not a charitable reading.” Do you want to have a discussion based on charitable reading or do you not?

We can see that you’re desperate to make Ensler’s statistic seem correct,

Well, no, actually you can’t. I’m not desperate. I’m annoyed at someone claiming to be a skeptic modeling this kind of behavior, from the initial lack of charity, to the strawmanning in the poem, to the failure to note that you edited something in your second post on this topic (as though issuing a correction were a moral failure instead of proper skeptical behavior), to your failure to link in that post to the criticism you were writing about, to the behavior displayed here of pointing to your critics who display emotion as though that emotion invalidates the arguments that were presented along with the emotion, to the elision of the fact that you were largely challenged for your straw-man arguments. If I had a goal in this of making you look bad so that Ensler would look better, I would be anything but desperate.

but it isn’t, and no amount of semantics is going to make it accurate. Even PZ Myers admits this.

No, PZ labeled this as “simplifying for a public interview while keeping the core numbers accurate”. That is the opposite of admitting she is incorrect.

It’s not a big deal, and it doesn’t invalidate her cause or goal; it just means her numbers are misleading. Which is all I said.

No, what you said is that Ensler’s statement “harms victimized women instead of empowering them by not reflecting the true diversity of forms of abuse” without presenting any evidence for such a claim. And then you paired that with a poem telling us you’re over straw feminists and claiming to know that “real change” doesn’t come from events like One Billion Rising, again without presenting any evidence for your claim.

#65 A Hermit on Thursday February 21, 2013 at 12:51pm

#61 noelplum99 Whereas your argument is that they should count….. but only the female infants?

If we’re talking about the disproportionate level of violence against women, which is the subject here, yes. You’ll notice the victims of infant rape are disproportionately female. It’s not a mistake to look at that particular problem, and objecting the attempts to derail that discussion are not equivalent to ignoring other problems.

#62 Renee Hendricks

#60 A Hermit Apparently we should also ignore rape and violent crimes against men/boys.

No, we shouldn’t ignore any of it; but the subject here is the disproportionate level of violence against women. So if we’re talking about violence against female human beings then we should count all of them and not ignore the infants, as Mr. Gray says.

This all should be about human beings and not about gender.

Of course we should have that conversation too, but as part of the conversation we have to acknowledge certain realities; one of which is that women are victims of violence, particularly rape, at a much, much higher rate then men are. Acknowledging that fact is not a denial of violence against men, it’s an effort to deal with a particularly bad part of the larger problem.

None of this means that violence against men and boys is OK or should be ignored and frankly it’s dishonest of you to suggest that anyone has said so.

But then you’d rather derail the conversation than deal with inconvenient facts…

My objection after all was to Gray’s insistence that there was some sort of age limit here; I’d like to know where he thinks we should draw the line; was the shooting of a 14 year old girl in Pakistan, for the crime of speaking out for the right of girls like her to get an education, a valid example of violence against women, or would Gray have us discount that one because the victim is a minor child and not a “woman” by some definition? There are clearly gender issues in that case, after all; the motivation for the crime was the cultural/religious belief that women aren’t deserving of an education.

Why would anyone object to having a focused conversation about that particular problem?

#66 A Hermit on Thursday February 21, 2013 at 1:18pm

And of course the larger point here is the stupidity of quibbling over the “one billion” figure, which is clearly intended as an estimate and not a precise count, instead of focusing on the culture of violence and the relegation of so many of the world’s women to the status second class citizens at best.

I have had this same kind of argument with Holocaust deniers, by the way, who will point out that the “six million” number actually overstates the number of Jews killed by the Nazis (from which they then argue that the whole thing is a lie) which is technically true, but for any reasonable person the best estimates of between 5.6 and 5.8 million are close enough to six million to make the use of the latter as shorthand non-problematic.

This is what we mean when we talk about “hyper-skepticism”; it’s a tactic used to derail conversations by making nit-picking about minutiae the focus and ignoring the original issue.

#67 Renee Hendricks on Thursday February 21, 2013 at 1:22pm

#63 noelplum99 This is exactly why I said something on Twitter the other day about how the specified abuse bits were not the same as rape. Not in any way, shape, or form.  Elder abuse, while horrible, is not in the same realm as rape. Financial abuse is not in any way the same as rape. Homicide is not the same as rape. And to have people equate these things to rape actually denigrates the effects and reality of rape. This sort of equating needs to stop.

#68 Renee Hendricks on Thursday February 21, 2013 at 1:25pm

#65 A Hermit - it really hasn’t occurred to you that a very large percentage male rape isn’t reported? And the reason for this is the horrible perception that men should for some reason find unwanted sex a good thing?

I’m back to my original thought process (as a rape victim myself) that this is a *human being* issue and not purely a female issue.

#69 A Hermit on Thursday February 21, 2013 at 2:11pm

it really hasn’t occurred to you that a very large percentage male rape isn’t reported?

A very large percentage of all rape isn’t reported, I don’t doubt that’s any different for male rape.

And again, I’m not dismissing that particular problem by talking about another problem, which is the disproportionate level of violence directed at women. Which is the subject here.

Is there any reason we shouldn’t talk about that particular problem? Are you suggesting we can’t address one problem unless we simultaneously address all other problems in the same conversation?

#70 Alex (Guest) on Thursday February 21, 2013 at 2:20pm

#65 A Hermit

“one of which is that women are victims of violence, particularly rape, at a much, much higher rate then men are.”

Then it shouldn’t be difficult for you to produce some statistics to that effect. Come on, show us that women are victims of violence at a much higher rate than man.

#71 Renee Hendricks on Thursday February 21, 2013 at 2:22pm

#69 A Hermit - I think that the conversation for many years has only lent itself to what is going on with women. Rape is a violent act of power. And by limiting it to just women is diminishing its horrifying effect. I do agree a large percentage of rape isn’t reported. However, what is put out there is *only* what women do or do not report. I think we should be talking about it as a whole not as a gender specified issue.

#72 Alex (Guest) on Thursday February 21, 2013 at 2:36pm

A Hermit, here’s a statistic from Australia:

“Since the age of 15, there were an estimated 3,065,800 (39.9%) women who experienced violence compared with 3,744,900 (50.1%) men” (Australian Bureau of Statistics, Personal Safety Survey Australia 2005 (Reissue)”

Do you have other numbers? Maybe the situation is different in the US?

#73 Michaeld (Guest) on Thursday February 21, 2013 at 3:00pm

The issue being discussed largely is women around the world. Though even the Australian stats show women reported 3 times the sexual assaults in the last . Women also experienced more violence then men in the last 12 months in every age group except 18-24. There’s also 3 times the previous partner abuse for women then for men. I don’t know any one saying that men don’t face violence or that its not an issue but the different distributions imply they have different causes may need 2 different approaches to solving.

I don’t think it’s unreasonable to have a group focused on violence against women and have other groups work on violence against men. We can break down a problem into smaller problems and work to solve those and still care about the other problems.

#74 A Hermit on Thursday February 21, 2013 at 3:29pm

#72 Alex

First of all please remember we’re talking about gender based violence; ie violence directed at an individual because of their gender…

Defining Violence against Women and Girls

So we’re talking about things like domestic violence, rape and genital mutilation which affect women in far greater numbers than men:

rape statistics “An estimated 91% of victims of rape are female, 9% are male and 99% of offenders are male. (Bureau of Justice Statistics 1999)”

Female Victims of Violence

In 2008 the rate of intimate partner victimizations for females was 4.3 victimizations per 1,000 females age 12 or older. The equivalent rate of intimate partner violence against males was 0.8 victimizations per 1,000 males age 12 or older.

Just out of curiosity, I wonder of your statistics tell us how many perpetrators of that violence are male vs. female?

#75 A Hermit on Thursday February 21, 2013 at 3:32pm

#71 Renee Hendricks

Rape is a violent act of power. And by limiting it to just women is diminishing its horrifying effect.

And it’s a violent act of power perpetrated primarily against women, by a ratio of about 9:1. So it’s not unreasonable to address that aspect of the issue specifically, is it?

#76 A Hermit on Thursday February 21, 2013 at 4:00pm

And Alex, I don;t know about Australia, but here are some stats from Canada, where I live:

    Gender Differences in Police-reported Violent Crime in Canada, 2008

Police-reported data show that in 2008, the rate of violent victimization for female and male victims was comparable, at 1,155 and 1,150 per 100,000 population, respectively…in 2008, female rates of violent victimization were higher than rates for males in 10 of the 13 provinces and territories

Female victims of physical assault were more often victimized by someone with whom they had a current or former intimate relationship. According to police-reported data, almost one-third (29%) of women physically assaulted in 2008 had been victimized by a current or former spouse; this compares to 7% of male victims. Additionally, another 22% of female victims were physically assaulted by someone they were currently dating or had formerly dated; this compares to 5% of male victims.

Male victims, in contrast, were most often physically assaulted by a stranger (32%) or by someone else outside of the family (29%) such as a friend, acquaintance or business partner.

Overall, there was a female victim in 81% of physical assaults committed by a spouse, while males accounted for about the same proportion of physical assaults committed by a stranger (Table 5, Table 6).

Similar patterns of gender differences were found in the United States. For example, of the 11.6 million cases of violent victimization against males and females 12 years of age or older, 6.6 million were committed against men. In the majority of these cases a stranger had committed the violence (3.9 million), whereas a person known to the victim was more likely to have been implicated in the victimization of women (3 million) (Craven, 1994).


The kind of violence women experience is different from the violence men experience; that’s why it’s necessary to talk about them separately.

#77 Oliver (Guest) on Thursday February 21, 2013 at 7:29pm

Whilst I am no statistician it seems to me -from what I know of the stats- (all of which seem to be open to interpretation) is that women are indeed far more at risk of rape, men are at a much higher risk of being the victims of violence in general but that both sexes are at risk of violence and rape and the identity politics approach and Marxist dichotomy of dividing humanity into groups of oppressors and oppressed is ultimately counterproductive.

As for the debate which is raging below the line; I find it hard to be charitable as it seems that the hardcore feminists are quite brazenly skewing the stats.

Child abuse and abuse of the elderly quite obviously cut across gender lines and have no place in the stats when the issue at hand is rape against women.

Child abuse is called “child” abuse not “girl” abuse because it is not gender specific and ditto for abuse of the elderly.

Abuse is called abuse not rape because it is not rape.

There can be no honest argument against the glaring truth of this.

Similarly to include economic abuse which also has nothing to do with rape and is equally not gender specific is massively dishonest.

The interesting thing is -from what I have read below the line and seen quoted from PZ’s blog post- is that the hardcore feminists admit that they are using the stats of non gender specific, non violent and non sexual crimes to highlight the issue of men raping women.

They are not making a denial as much as they are making the case for the dishonest usage of statistics as a tool to fight “oppression”.

This debate need not be happening, Ben’s point is indisputable. If we are campaigning against male on female rape then we should only be using the stats for male on female rape. To do anything else would be dishonest.

Those of you who are arguing the toss are just arguing for the merits of dishonesty which cannot be a good position to take in any realm; least of all the sceptical community.

I doubt the same people would be so happy if an MRA started using the stats for male on male street violence to highlight the issue of female on male domestic violence victims.

#78 A Hermit on Thursday February 21, 2013 at 7:40pm

”. If we are campaigning against male on female rape then we should only be using the stats for male on female rape. To do anything else would be dishonest.”

What this campaign is about is gender based violence; which includes rape and domestic violence both of which affect women more than men by enormous orders of magnitude.

A similar campaign focused on male on male street violence would have my support too and I wouldn’t try to derail it by trying to change the subject to women’s issues…

#79 Oliver (Guest) on Thursday February 21, 2013 at 7:59pm

Ok so you have widened the net significantly but kept it confined to female victims of violent men.

Therefore any usage of statistics which could involve violence against women by other women, non gender specific abuse (child abuse, abuse of the elderly & economic abuse) and non violent crimes (economic abuse) is still problematic and our objection is still as valid.

No matter which way you slice it you are defending the merits of dishonesty.

#80 A Hermit on Thursday February 21, 2013 at 8:47pm

<blockquote\>No matter which way you slice it you are defending the merits of dishonesty. </blockquote>

No, I am being precise about what I am talking about. You on the other hand are trying to derail the conversation about a serious problem by nitpicking and quibbling over statistical minutiae…

But derailing any conversation that isn’t all about you is what you do, isn’t it Oliver?

#81 Oliver (Guest) on Thursday February 21, 2013 at 8:55pm

Um I haven’t said anything about myself so how could you accuse me of making this about me? And I have only discussed the specific topic at hand so how could you accuse me of derailing the conversation?

Anyone who reads my two contributions and your responses will see I have stayed on topic and you have suddenly swerved off into ad hominen attack.

You don’t even know who I am and I am not the topic so please stay on topic. Ad hominen attacks only make you look like you are losing the debate.

#82 A Hermit on Friday February 22, 2013 at 8:31am

We’ve met before Oliver, don’t pretend otherwise.

The topic is violence against women; why do you feel the need to change the subject?

<i>blockquote>any usage of statistics which could involve violence against women by other women, non gender specific abuse (child abuse, abuse of the elderly & economic abuse) and non violent crimes (economic abuse) is still problematic</blockquote>

Obviously violence by women against women affects women O_o the kind of sexual abuse of children I was highlighting affects girls in far greater numbers, as do elder and economic abuse. I gave you links, look at them.

The only dishonesty here is on the part of people who would rather quibble over whether the number should be represented as a billion when it’s “only” 900,000 than admit that the kinds of violence women face worldwide are a unique problem in need of unique solutions…

#83 Oliver (Guest) on Friday February 22, 2013 at 9:24am

A couple of weeks back we spoke on another thread and you wrongly accused me of being some bloke called Oliver Crangle (who had supposedly said some awfully bigoted things on another forum)then you tried to dismiss my contributions to the debate as the ramblings of a bigot.

You cannot just slip away from my unambiguously on topic contributions just by accusing me of being someone who I am not. There’s more than one Oliver in the world you know.

You are quite obviously struggling to defend your indefensible position so instead you are resorting to ad hominen attacks.

You do not know me and other than the time you accused me of being someone I am most certainly not we have never met.

As for your other groundless accusation, I have not derailed this conversation; ironically for someone who decries “derailing” it is you who has derailed the thread by making me have to explain I am not this Oliver Crangle chap.

Anyway, back on topic.

It matters not which gender suffers more or less abuse, if you are using non gender specific stats to highlight a gender specific issue then you are being dishonest.

This is dishonesty and it’s plain for all to see who are not hell bent on reinforcing their partisan political ends.

#84 A Hermit on Friday February 22, 2013 at 10:44am

It matters not which gender suffers more or less abuse, if you are using
non gender specific stats to highlight a gender specific issue then you
are being dishonest.

And I have used gender specific stats, (if you had bothered to actually look at them before you started whining at me you would know this) so what the fuck is your problem?

It’s not all about you Oliver…

#85 Paul the Morning Heretic on Friday February 22, 2013 at 10:47am

Hi folks. As, once again, the comment thread has veered into person attacks, I’m shutting down comments for this post.

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