October 19, 2016 by Robert Franklin, Esq, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization
"You could see the little girls, fat with complacency and conceit while the little boys sat there crumpled, apologising for their existence, thinking this was going to be the pattern of their lives."
Lessing said the teacher tried to "catch my eye, thinking I would approve of this rubbish".
She added: "This kind of thing is happening in schools all over the place and no one says a thing.
"It has become a kind of religion that you can't criticise because then you become a traitor to the great cause, which I am not.
"It is time we began to ask who are these women who continually rubbish men. The most stupid, ill-educated and nasty woman can rubbish the nicest, kindest and most intelligent man and no one protests.
"Men seem to be so cowed that they can't fight back, and it is time they did."
- Doris Lessing as quoted here (The Guardian, 8/14/01)
Who are these women who continually rubbish men? Of late, they’re not women at all, but the government of Australia, men and women alike. As the ever-excellent Bettina Arndt reveals in her October 17 piece in The Australian, the Australian government has inaugurated a new schools-based program called “Respectful Relationships Educations in Schools (RREIS). What is RREIS? Well, among other things, its purpose is to teach children that boys and men are violent and that girls and women aren’t. Its alleged purpose is to nip that behavior in the bud, thereby preventing future acts of domestic violence.
Being the logical and fact-based person that she is, Arndt isn’t having it. Good for her.
“All the evidence shows that education is the key to ending the vicious cycle of family violence,” claimed the Victorian Minister for Education James Merlino while launching a new $22.8 million Respectful Relationships curriculum aimed at combating family violence.
The curriculum focuses solely on men as the perpetrators of domestic violence, teaching students that only by challenging male privilege will violence diminish.
No, Minister. That is simply not true.
It seems impossible that, at this late date, radical feminists should still maintain such authority over government programs that Australia would spend $22.8 million to peddle such an obviously flawed program to innocent children. Extremist feminism has never been right about domestic violence and, instead of accommodating its notions to the science on DV, it’s simply dug in and kept repeating the same tired falsities as ever.
Just two years ago, Bates, Archer and Graham-Kevan published a thoroughgoing takedown of the feminist narrative of domestic violence, about which I wrote here. And yet two years later, the government of Australia is throwing away good money on an ineffective program based on that very radical feminist narrative. About this, I’ll ask the same question I often pose about shared parenting – when will governments start basing policy on known facts instead of ideology?
Into the bargain, the idea that we can simply hold classes in DV and teach away a behavior that’s learned in the home and passed down intergenerationally is not only absurd, it finds no support in the science on DV. As Arndt points out,
Over forty years of international research shows school education programmes are not the answer to the problem of family violence, let alone teaching little school boys about white male privilege. What the evidence actually shows is that family violence is not a gender issue. To tackle family violence we need to tell the truth about the violence most children are experiencing in Australian homes which is two-way violence involving both mothers and fathers, violence linked to drug and alcohol abuse, mental illness and poverty.
Peter Miller, professor of Violence Prevention and Addiction Studies at Deakin University has recently reviewed well-designed longitudinal studies which show that key variables in perpetuating violent families include children growing up in homes where they are abused or neglected, or poorly supervised and experience high levels of family conflict.
Ending the vicious cycle of children who mimic parental violence requires targeting these at risk families and teaching violent couples new conflict management skills, as overseas research is showing.
Just so, as one of the world’s leading experts on DV, Professor Donald Dutton of the University of British Columbia has pointed out many times. Domestic violence is learned behavior. It’s usually learned from one’s parents and replicated in adulthood as a faultyway of addressing problems in the family. It is aberrant behavior and, like so much aberrant behavior, can be changed by therapeutic interventions that teach how to manage anger, aggression and interpersonal conflict without resort to violence.
In short, Australia is throwing its money away on a program that has no possibility of success. That of course is true if one defines ‘success’ as reducing the incidence of domestic violence. On the other hand, if ‘success’ is defined as teaching boys that they’re defective and girls that they do no wrong, then perhaps there’s hope for RREIS.
That brings us to the necessary conclusion that the RREIS program not only won’t make matters better, it’ll make matters worse. The ultimate irony is that, if it has any effect at all, it’ll make the problem of DV worse for the very women it pretends to care about.
The facts are these: men and women perpetrate domestic violence in about equal numbers; women are about twice as likely to incur a significant injury in a domestic violence incident as are men; and, 70% of reciprocal DV (i.e. each hits the other) is initiated by the woman. Those facts strongly suggest one conclusion – that if we can convince women to refrain from initiating violence against their male partners, we stand a good chance of drastically reducing both the incidence of DV generally and of injuries to women therefrom.
And so the RREIS program is aimed at precisely the wrong target. As Bates, et al demonstrated, males are already socialized to direct their aggression away from females (“Never hit a girl!”) and toward males. But girls have little-to-no similar socialization. Indeed, radical feminism and mainstream popular culture actively encourage female-on-male violence.
But again, school curricula aren’t the place to attempt to correct the problem of DV. Identifying violent couples and intervening with treatment that’s been shown to be effective in most cases is the way to do that.
Forty-five years after Erin Pizzey revealed the problem of women’s violence against men and had her life threatened by violent radical feminists, we’re still stuck in the same rut. By now we must admit that, with programs like RREIS and the Duluth Model as evidence, governments have no intention of reducing the incidence of DV. Current public policy demonstrates beyond doubt that governments are, for whatever reason, perfectly content with the state of DV just as it is.
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