September 25, 2014 by Robert Franklin, Esq.
I reported here on Glen Poole’s article in, of all places The Guardian, calling out Kelly Brook for her proud and at times tittering admission of her violent assault on two of her former boyfriends, Jason Statham and Danny Cipriani. Now the Telegraph is getting into the act with this article by Natasha Devon (Telegraph, 9/3/14). Devon hits a lot of the points Poole made – that we have a real double standard when it comes to domestic violence.
Kelly Brook has a new autobiography out. Whilst you contain your excitement, I’ll share with you what the publicity surrounding it caused me to ponder: why is domestic violence towards men still accepted (and even encouraged), and what does this mean for the new proposed laws surrounding "emotional abuse"?...
“I smacked him for giving a stripper his number in a club,” she boasted in the Sun on Sunday. Oh, how we chortled……Or at least were invited to. It was the same reaction we were invited to have when CCTV footage emerged of Solange Knowles attacking her brother-in-law Jay-Z in a lift – Twitter was awash with mirth. Condemnation was scant.
According to the charity Mankind Initiative, which issued a statement outlining disappointment at the lack of public backlash against Ms Brook, one in six men will experience domestic violence during their lifetime. It’s already incredibly difficult for men to admit they have been abused by their partners, without the media and celebrities further reinforcing the idea that women beating up men is no big deal and actually rather funny.
It’s good to see responsible members of the British press pointing out the obvious – that we claim to believe domestic violence to be an intolerable scourge, but rarely lift a finger when the one bruised and bleeding is a man. And of course much social science demonstrates that women who hit first are highly likely to be hit back and injured as a result. The necessary conclusion is that we should be teaching women not to hit men and therefore avoid injury themselves. If we cared not a whit about men, but only about women at risk of victimization, we’d drum that into them. But we don’t.
And, as I noted in my last post on the matter, it raises the question “why?” I reluctantly respond that it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that this is the way we like it. If we were truly concerned about male victims of DV, we’d surely provide services to them. But we offer them only the most minimal services and only in a few locations. And if we were truly concerned about female victimization, we’d (a) stop pretending that the radical feminist theory of DV corresponds to reality in more than about 5% of cases and (b) we’d teach women not to initiate violence. But we don’t.
And of course we’d acknowledge the vast sea of social science data on domestic violence that frankly directs us toward effective responses – responses that can lower the incidence of DV over time, keep men, women and children safe and save the polity large sums of money now spent on the police, courts, mental health intervention, jails and the like. But of course we don’t.
Indeed, the chasm that yawns between what we know about DV and our public policies and pronouncements on the subject is perhaps the most astonishing thing about the topic. Again, the only thing I can see that explains that chasm is that we must be satisfied with things the way they are. And the way things are is much as Devon says – men are getting gun shy of relationships with women. And why not? For many, it’s been the short route to prison and a criminal record. What’s to like about that?
So who benefits from the status quo with which we’re apparently content? In this country, the Democratic Party certainly thinks it does. I’m not certain the Dems are correct on that, but they clearly believe they are. What else explains President Obama’s repeated claims leading up to Election Day this November that 20% of college women will be sexually assaulted while getting their higher education? After all, the claim is utterly fatuous, based as it is on the shoddiest research and contradicted by much data and plain old common sense. As I mentioned last time, the absurd “one-in-five” claim would, if true, mean that almost half a million college women are victims of sexual assault each year, a figure that’s about twice the total for all women and girls throughout the entire country.
But as usual, facts be damned. Obama, fearing a fleecing at the polls this year, is pulling out all the stops to court the “women’s vote.” Of course many women see through the ploy and, in any case, think for themselves. They understand that their sons, brothers, cousins, nephews, etc. could be next on the president’s hit list of those deemed to deserve to lose the ability to get a college degree. That of course is the exact result of a finding by a college or university that he behaved inappropriately with a female student. The president, like so many people who promote ever more draconian (and absurd) “definitions” of sexual assault, apparently looks at the extreme imbalance between female (57%) and male (43%) college enrollees and sees too many men. He also looks at Due Process of Law and sees something that’s inconvenient to the accomplishment of more important goals, i.e. electing more Democrats to office this fall.
Who else benefits? Just the usual suspects. The police, courts, mental health professionals, lawyers, the domestic violence and prison industries are pleased as punch with the seemingly endless flow of government money to them and their causes. So what if their efforts have little effect? So what if men go to prison and children lose their fathers? It’s all in a good cause, right?
Hmm. What good cause would that be? Natasha Devon has an idea. It seems the British government is considering establishing new guidelines for the criminalization of something called “emotional abuse.”
This latest example leaves me highly sceptical about the proposed guidelines surrounding "emotional abuse"and whether the press, law enforcers and society generally will take them at all seriously when they apply to men.
The new law (referred to as something which can be used to bring “bullying husbands” to justice) will permit victims to take action when they are subjected to “any incident of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse, whether psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional”.
The official definition of emotional abuse states that it can include “anything from verbal abuse and constant criticism to more subtle tactics such as intimidation, manipulation and refusal to ever be pleased”.
Does it get much broader or more vague than that? Honestly, under the new rules, it’ll be a crime to fail to be pleased with your partner. You can’t make this stuff up, and sadly, you don’t have to. These are serious policy proposals that seek to criminalize an astonishing array of formerly private human behavior with another person.
Needless to say, that hoary old legal notion – that laws need to give those governed by them at least a hint of the thing prohibited – is out the window. The first time you may know your partner isn’t pleased is when the police are clapping on the irons.
My scrupulous use of gender-neutral terminology is of course a ruse. As Devon is well aware, no one should pretend that the new law will be applied to women as well as men. Before it’s even in effect, it’s connected with “bullying husbands” only. Overbearing wives? Never heard of them.
The new law’s certain effect will be yet another in the already-bulging tool box of women and wives who want to remove men from their and their children’s lives. As it is, actual physical violence can in some cases be proven or disproven by resort to medical records and the presence or absence of injury. But emotional abuse? Never has the distance between allegation and conviction been shorter; never will justice be more arbitrary.
So the final beneficiary of DV double standards is the government that has long used inaccurate and overblown theories of domestic violence to expand its powers. And the main victim of that dramatic expansion – apart from men, that is – will be the family. At every turn, confronted by the truth about the value of fathers to children, governments promote policies whose result is the further marginalization of fathers in their kids’ lives. As I’ve said many times before, that’s bad for children, bad for fathers, bad for mothers, bad for society generally and the public purse. And yet it continues.
Will the final history of Western democracies read “They committed suicide?”
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