By Julie Garrison
Special to DadsDivorce.com
The Women’s Liberation Movement made great progress in gender equality, but at the detriment of fathers rights.
A realm of law and society that the Women’s Movement severely stifled and damaged was the area of domestic violence. On the surface, this claim would seem to be incorrect.
In order to understand domestic violence in today’s world, we must first take a trip back in time.
Women during the turn of the century were virtually property. The phrase “rule of thumb” came from the diameter of a stick that a man was allowed to beat his wife with. In other words, he couldn’t hit her with a two-by-four, just a stick no bigger around than his thumb.
In reaction to the subjugation of society’s women, the foremost tenet of the Women’s Movement was that society is controlled by a far-reaching, all-pervasive patriarchal structure. Any possibility of female violence was dismissed.
By adopting the bias that women could never be batterers, the legal framework and all social programs dealing with domestic violence were constructed upon the presumption that only men committed domestic abuse. Then came the battered women centers and laws for battered women.
According to Linda Kelly, Professor of Law at Indiana University School of Law, family law surveys conducted in 1975, 1985 and 1992 found that men and women batter at an equal rate. In fact, an interesting trend began to emerge that no one was ready for.
Professor Kelly explains:
“In comparing the 1975 and 1985 results, researchers observed that while the male use of severe physical violence had declined 21%, the female use of such violence remained virtually constant.
“In the 1992 results, researchers again found that while severe assaults by wives remained fairly steady, the rate of severe abuse perpetrated by husbands decreased between 1985 and 1992 by almost 37%.
“In overall comparison to the constant rate of husband abuse, the combination of such significant decreases in wife beating represented a 50% drop between 1975 and 1992.”
How could this be true, and how could the Women’s Movement have been so far off the mark?
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Strong Arm Tactics:
First, the media overreacted by publishing figures in the press on women battering men that were grossly inflated. A little hyperbole went a long way.
Sociologists conducting research on husband battering were physically threatened, as were some of their families, because the research results refuted those of the feminists. Tenure was used as a dangling carrot to silence researchers on their findings.
The more public support a researcher garnered, the greater the threats he or she received. These researchers were branded as being “antifeminist,” their methodology was attacked and their work was completely sidelined.
It’s OK to Hit a Man:
In addition to criticizing the studies on domestic violence, the critics of husband battering went on to defend women for “reciprocal” acts of violence. They concluded that women’s violence was always justified, as it was “certainly” self-defense.
The inception of Battered Women’s Syndrome, “supported” by the Learned Helplessness Theory, in the field of psychology was all the justification needed to run with the idea that men batter women, and women defend themselves.
And it even gets crazier.
Tomorrow’s divorce article looks at why female aggression is defended and the myth of domestic violence being only a woman’s issue.
Julie Garrison has been writing articles and short stories for the past 10 years and has appeared in several magazines and e-zines.