May 12, 2009
Imagine a world where ideology takes the place of truth and laws are rooted in dubious factoids from nowhere. That pretty much sums up the fact-challenged, hysteria-mongering domestic violence industry that is propped up by $1 billion of federal money each year.
Industry ideologues are loathe to admit the fact, but they truly believe the cause of partner abuse is patriarchal oppression. Not convinced? Just take it on the authority of feminist Gloria Steinem who once made this randy claim, "The patriarchy requires violence or the subliminal threat of violence in order to maintain itself."
In her now-famous PBS interview, Steinem expounded on her conspiracy-laced worldview: "It starts with the slippery slope of the supposition [of] gender that sexual relations between men and women are dominant-passive... And then it goes all the way up the scale to beatings, torture, [and] murder." www.pbs.org/kued/nosafeplace/interv/steinem.html
That's right, share a few tender moments with your romantic heart-throb and next thing you'll end up a statistic in the newspaper obituaries.
Journalist Philip Cook has recently come out with a book titled Abused Men: The Hidden Side of Domestic Violence. Cook probes the patriarchy-equals-violence theory and concludes it has more holes than a rotted-out rain barrel.
Take lesbian battering, which experts say is more common than heterosexual abuse. Remember Lindsey Lohan coming to blows with her girlfriend in a London nightclub last November? Recall Jessica Kalish of Florida who was stabbed with a screwdriver 200 times by her former female lover? And Raina L. Johnson who last year was sentenced to 28 years behind bars for the shooting of her ex-girlfriend in Washington, DC?
It's pretty loopy to explain away female-on-female brutality by casting aspersions on the loathsome patriarchy, so it's easier to pretend such incidents never happen, I guess.
In that same PBS interview, Steinem also made the claim that domestic violence is "the major cause of physical and psychological injury to women." Everyone knows Steinem is an authority in such matters, so everyone assumed she was telling the truth.
Except for Phil Cook, who decided to trace the origin of the canard.
Back in 1985, advocates Evan Stark and Anne Flitcraft poured through a stack of hospital emergency room records. Without rhyme or reason, they tallied every case of injury as caused by domestic violence, unless the chart specifically said a stranger had caused the harm. When later pressed to explain his unconventional methodology, the best Stark could say was, "maybe domestic violence is the leading cause of injury and maybe it isn't."
That's right, and maybe the moon is made of cheese so the Man in the Moon can have something to eat. Or maybe it isn't.
But that logic didn't stop former senator Joseph Biden from becoming a True Believer. "The single greatest danger to a woman's health is violence from men. Something is sick in our society," he once admonished. That line of thinking is reflected in the federal Violence Against Women Act that Biden succeeded in passing in 1994.
The DV-as-the-leading-cause-of-injury legend soon became a dependable applause line as President Bill Clinton and senators Olympia Snowe and Ron Wyden joined in the sing-along.
And sure enough, look at the Security and Financial Security Act that Rep. Roybal-Allard of California introduced just a few months ago. Peruse the bill's findings, and once again you see the lie standing straight and tall: "Violence against women has been reported to be the leading cause of physical injury to women."
Once such myths are embedded in the national psyche, they become ferociously difficult to remove. Take a Department of Health and Human Services website that once featured the "Domestic Violence is the leading cause of injury to women" claim.
"It took two years, letters from a congressman, and an inquiry from a Senator's office, plus numerous letters, which mostly went unanswered, for an undersecretary at HHS to finally respond that maybe 'the' leading cause was erroneous, but it was 'a' leading cause. The truth, of course, is that is was neither," recounts an exasperated Philip Cook. "Eventually the HHS removed the statement from its Website site but refused to issue a retraction, even after eight years of perpetrating an outrageously false 'health' statement."
Curious to know what are the leading causes of injury to women? Here they are: unintentional falls, car accidents, and overexertion. Domestic violence did not even make the list: http://mchb.hrsa.gov/whusa08/hstat/hi/pages/226i.html
So relax ladies, everything you've heard about the "epidemic" of domestic violence is mostly hype calculated to stampede you into divorcing your husband and voting for yet another taxpayer-funded, ideologically-charged abuse reduction program.
© Carey Roberts
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