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Domestic violence and the bourgeoisie

In the last few weeks two rather disparate male journalists, Martin McKenzie-Murray in The Saturday Paper and Mark Latham, late of the Australian Financial Review, have observed that the current orthodox position on domestic violence against women and children holds that domestic violence can affect any woman, in any demographic, and is not socioeconomically determined.

Both men contest that position, arguing instead that women living in poverty are disproportionately vulnerable to domestic attacks, and that current opinion is based on the erroneous belief that patriarchal notions of male domination, entitlement and privilege (otherwise known as rape culture) are the cause of violence against women.

Personally, I don’t subscribe to the concept of so-called rape culture as the sole cause of violence against women, but neither do I agree that violence against women is predominantly determined by socioeconomic conditions.

What I find interesting is that two white middle class males have within weeks of each other put forward the argument that middle class women are significantly less subject to domestic violence perpetrated by intimate partners than are less affluent women. It’s interesting because feminists have spent the last few decades struggling to expose middle class violence, and it has been a far more difficult exposure than one might at first imagine.

Both Latham and McKenzie-Murray point to statistics to support their view, however, neither explores the possibility that domestic violence is quite likely underreported by middle class women. Without even trying, I can think of a wealth of examples of women and children living middle class lives, all of whom have endured or are enduring violence perpetrated by intimate partners and who have not, and will not, report the crime to police.

The middle class life has long been associated with denial and repression, and a pathological dedication to privacy, all of which are designed to build a wall of silence intended to keep things in the family. The common prescription is to refrain from airing dirty family linen in public. To transgress these bourgeois norms is to commit a social crime that is not readily forgiven or forgotten by peers. If you doubt me, reflect how only very recently have we begun to hold institutions and public figures to account for decades of sexual transgressions against children, and how so many offenders got away with it because it was wicked of them to say bad things about that good kind man. Why, even our Prime Minister appears in court to provide character references for paedophile priests!

It’s perfectly possible to account for domestic violence as both a socioeconomic issue, and a product of male privilege and entitlement. There is also, as McKenzie-Murray points out, the criminological aspect of domestic violence, which acknowledges the individual pathologies of perpetrators. Surely, if we are to have any chance at all of halting this epidemic we have to address all possible contributing factors?

I am uncertain why this argument that ostensibly pits the middle class woman against the less affluent in terms of their comparative rates of suffering, has suddenly emerged. I don’t think it’s a good sign. For far too long domestic violence was framed as an us and them problem: consigned to the poor, to Indigenous communities, far removed from the middle class whom, it was unquestioningly assumed, did not behave like that.

What we ought to be doing is making it easier for middle class women to come out of the closet about our experiences of family violence, not advocating a caste system of suffering based on socioeconomic factors. Domestic violence and violence against women is not an us and them situation, however comforting that delusion might be to some. It’s alarming to note the beginnings of a swing back to that delusion, after so many years of feminist efforts to escape it.

In the interests of fairness I disclose that I grew up in a professional family whose male head, a doctor, perpetrated unspeakable violence on its members.

This article was first published on No Place For Sheep.

 

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61 comments

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  1. Blinkyewok

    Good article. It is an uphill battle to change male attitudes to women, especially when religious organisations still give men authority over women and children. Many men won’t want that to change.

  2. Maureen Walton (@maureen_walton)

    Great Article thanks. I personally feel that Domestic Violence happens whether you are Rich, Middle Class, Poor. I also feel that it is often not always a Learned process. A Women once told me that the First hit Hurt, after that she got use to it. That was so sad to Hear.

    Mental Abuse can sometimes be even worse, as you have nothing to show that anyone can see and you get so use to being put down etc that you easily do start to believe that it is all in your mind, like you are often told by the perpetrator…

  3. king1394

    Much of the ‘extra’ domestic violence that shows up in poorer / lower class areas is specifically related to the stresses of poverty – one partner has a different view on how the very limited amount of money is to be spent, and frustrations explode. Add a high cost drug problem, and again there is potential for anger related to someone not getting their fair share of the alcohol or whatever. Any complaint of violence from this section of the community is accepted as being true, it’s what is expected of this segment of society.
    But in ‘better’ class, more prosperous domestic situations there is a greater element of the power play between the people caught up in the violent situation. More subtle uses of force may include the isolation of an individual within a gilded cage, a situation of status that people will suffer to preserve. As Maureen says, there is also emotional abuse, which is impossible to deal with, except by leaving the situation entirely. Did you ever see a perfect couple suddenly divorce? = Probably there was emotional abuse.
    In the middle and upper classes/higher socio-economic households, there is a greater financial cost to the whole family if violent behaviour is revealed – the loss of a breadwinner’s job and/or reputation may ensue if accusations of violence are made. And at the same time it seems likely that Police will be less willing to intervene without strong evidence..

  4. Rosemary (@RosemaryJ36)

    I was in a de facto relationship for nearly 5 years with a man who claimed to be mourning a spouse who had died of cancer.
    Over time he essentially cut me off from my family and my friends. Physical violence was rare – fortunately because he was a very large but not very fit person!
    When, after legal advice and with assistance from my family and the police I got him out of my house, I answered the phone to a woman asking for him. When I queried who she was, she said “His wife!”
    When I said “But he told me you were dead” her response was “He wishes!”
    He had, apparently promised her that he would lodge divorce proceedings and had not done so.
    We subsequently had some email and mail correspondence which was very enlightening.
    I am an intelligent (?) self-sufficient middle class woman who allowed hormones to cloud her judgment.
    I was not the first woman he had conned and I was not the last but, fortunantely he is now dead!

  5. miriamenglish

    One way to remove a lot of the conjecture from the question would be to examine the records for murder of women correlated against socioeconomic status. Violence can be concealed, but murder can’t. Almost all murders of women are committed by husbands and boyfriends, with lesser numbers by siblings and fathers. Stranger-danger is actually very small. I doubt there would be much difference in the proportion of violent incidents that result in murder for different socioeconomic groups, so I expect an analysis of murder would give some indication of the truth or not of this idea of poverty boosting domestic violence.

    Of course, this doesn’t help provide clues to how much mental abuse occurs. I expect that is a much more widespread problem than violence.

    I agree with Jennifer that it is a worry that the conversation has subtly shifted from stopping domestic violence to pointing out who they are. It isn’t obvious that this is itself a problem, but it is. If we are able to put the problem out of mind by saying that it is a result of poverty then I suspect it will just get put aside as impossible to solve and take the moral pressure off those who use violence, because they’re no longer really responsible. On the other hand, we can actually do something about it if we can point to other determining factors:
    – the culture of force in male relationships
    – the way women are sometimes shown as property in media
    – songs and stories that promote jealousy as a form of caring
    – drug-use (including alcohol) loosening a person’s grip on their temper (tantrums also result from drug withdrawal too)
    – the idealisation of force as the easy solution to any conflict
    – inability to access psychological help for those who have difficulty controlling their temper
    – and more

    If we say “Oh, it’s a problem with poverty” then virtually nothing will be done because, sadly, no political parties (other than the Greens) want to eliminate poverty in Australia, so it will be seen as just something that happens.

  6. diannaart

    If I was working class and/or nonwhite and male I would be extremely fed-up with the biased attitude displayed by far too many middle-class and wealthy men.

    Here’s a novel idea; women and men collaborating against violence; domestic violence is a human rights issue.

    For the record, I am a survivor, with no external scars, of my middle class marriage to white Aryan male. (I guess Aryans are white by default, I just really want to make a point).

  7. mark delmege

    I tend to agree with Latham. I don’t think he said middle class women are not abused just that poor women are abused more…. reasons are another matter.

  8. Jaq

    Abuse can take all forms not just physical violence. In the case of my family, living in the UK, my father verbally abused my mother everyday. But to others he was the life and soul of the party. He couldn’t hold down a job. She worked and paid for everything.

    I often pleaded with her to leave , but she never did. She was a Catholic and had made a vow to God.

    When she died I said to one of her 4 brothers how angry it made me that no one ever stood up for her. He is a Catholic priest, and his answer? ‘Oh you should be like your mother, and be lady like and quiet about it- like she always was”

    I don’t contact any of them, and never will, including my father.
    18 months later, he’s buying a new car and travelling on her money.
    No one knows what really happens behind close doors, in even the nicest houses.

  9. mark delmege

    Yes quite so Jaq and I’ve seen domestic violence up close and it’s not pretty. I had put it down to booze and war service but I know it’s not that simple. And on a not totally unrelated matter (though I am not necessarily linking the two here) the way some mothers use their children against the fathers is a social scourge that needs to be recognised too.

  10. Wally

    It is much harder for woman in low income families to change their circumstances such as leaving an abusive partner so they are more likely to be victims of domestic violence on multiple occasions. A woman with financial means or their own income have more options available to them without having to resort to seeking help from family, friends or government agencies. There is definitely a link between gambling, drug addiction or alcohol abuse and family violence. It is difficult to finance a habit and support a family so people with problems tend to be the cause of their families financial issues, some are reasonably well off prior to the problem taking over.

    My father had a drinking problem and without my mothers wage she would have struggled to feed us. After repeatedly trying to get my father to change mum eventually left him taking my brother and I with her to live in a flat. My father wasn’t violent but my mother wore the brunt of dads moods and regular verbal abuse when things went wrong. By leaving dad my mum sent a strong message to her 2 sons about what was acceptable and how a male should treat woman, how many men who abuse their wives think it is OK because that is how dad treated mum?

    Most males are raised by a woman (99.9% anyhow), in most cases a mother. So why does this problem still exist? If family violence is to be stamped out parents need to teach their sons what is acceptable behaviour in relationships with females and enforce it. Woman must be educated on how to teach their kids and made aware that leading by example is essential to stop bad habits being passed down the line.

  11. Kaye Lee

    To deal with the problem of domestic violence and bullying we need cultural change.

    Look at our Parliament. The behaviour of our politicians would not be tolerated in any other workplace or even in a school. Shouting over the top of each other, belittling, lying, sneering and pointing, name calling, blame. What sort of example is this in dispute resolution and co-operative management. The Abbott style is aggressive bullying and blaming. They call this “robust” – well I’m sorry, I do not find that behaviour “strong and healthy” at all. It is disgraceful and that it comes from the supposed leaders of this country makes it even more abhorrent. Look at the vitriole on social media from both sides prompted by this style of governing. It’s just not ok.

    Schools and workplaces are trying hard to change – bullying and harassment aren’t tolerated. Why should it be in our parliament?

  12. corvus boreus

    It is only partially on topic, and offers no detailed solutions in itself, but I will post this due to the validity of some of the sentiments expressed (and because I like it).

  13. miriamenglish

    Important point, Wally. I often wondered how domestic violence continues to propagate down the generations when women do most of the work raising each generation. Surely the next generation of men would be sufficiently sickened by it that it would inoculate them against it. However, if that was so domestic violence and abuse would likely be almost non-existent by now. I think there is an element of us becoming our parents. There is a strong instinctive push to do so. Evolutionarily it makes sense. Any couple that raises children to adulthood have a strategy that “works” as far as evolution is concerned, so we would best be wired up to copy that strategy. This makes it even more imperative that women get away from abusive husbands, because it lets them break the chain.

    I should note, of course, that not all abusive relationships are a result of the man being out of control. My own brother managed to divorce from an incredibly abusive and controlling woman. He is now with another very strong woman, but one who is a wonderful person. Lesbian relationships can fall into a pattern of abuse too. A musician friend who drank a lot used to beat up her girlfriend, to the point of having a restraining order taken out against her. For years I was in a relationship where I was heavily abused by my girlfriend who had problems controlling her temper. She is a wonderful, generous person when not consumed by the fires of rage and she hates that it happens to her, deeply embarrassed and apologising profusely afterward. She takes medication to help control the mental storms, for that’s what they are. It took me years to leave her. We’re still friends and will always be, but I’m much safer at a distance.

    Kaye, you are completely right that Parliament is saturated with the most sickening forms of abuse. It desperately needs reform to clean that attitude away. I would add that we need more cultured heroes on TV and movies and books that solve problems without violence. There is an utter dearth of them at the moment, especially in content that issues from the warrior culture of USA where punching people, knocking them out, and shooting them with lovingly fondled guns has somehow become the norm. (The prevalence of knocking people out by hitting them on the head especially horrifies me because that loss of consciousness signifies brain damage.)

    Recently I wrote a short story about how violence is destined to burn itself out eventually in any society. I believe this really is happening, regardless of our cultural and legal action or inaction on this. Unfortunately it might take thousands of generations to do so fully. My story (it’s only about 6 pages long) is Pet. I’m thinking of turning it into a comicbook. It might make a nice counterbalance to all the other comicbook characters who go around killing and smashing each other.

  14. Wally

    Kaye Lee

    I agree with your comment, for a long time I have pondered on how politicians lies adversely influence our society.

    If you believe the way Tony Abbotts family life is portrayed to the public he is a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde character. A very selfless, sweet, nice and submissive family man who turns into a raging, overbearing, egotistical bully at work.

  15. miriamenglish

    Yeah. I, for one, find it very difficult to believe that this rampaging, venomous individual is the gentle family man he’s depicted to be.

    I long for the day we all have bugs to eavesdrop on politicians’ homes the way they’ve legalised snooping on all of us. Imagine the nasty, intimidating version of Tony Abbott that might come to light then. Seeing that published on social media would be very sweet revenge indeed.

  16. Jaq

    I think it would be helpful if we did not confine DV to any particular gender- it’s a personality thing, and a consequence sometimes of environmental factors. Also, it seems in our society to seek help is to appear weak. The disgusting circus that is QT is one particular instance in which bullying is seen as the normal with comments being made ( mostly by the men) if the women get upset, is appalling/ We see it on the footy field. and sadly now in cricket. Bradman must turn in his grave sometimes
    What you said is often true Wally, that people in abusive relationships seem to forget the legacy they pass onto their kids. And therein lies the conundrum, because as children we tend to accept our family as they way things are, as normality. Bad behaviours are excused, ‘oh that’s just them’ and even often reflected in what we watch as entertainment. As for males one only has to see the gravitational pull someone like Julian Blanc had on men- advocating a ‘don’t take no for an answer ” mentality., to see that in some circles being abusive to women is almost manly.
    Therefore it is up to us- particularly us mothers to make sure our sons have the right attitude to women. At least it would be a start, and for fathers to do the same .with our daughters. And perhaps the fact that kindness, something which appears to be so unfashionable these days is actually one of our greatest assets as human beings.

  17. eli nes

    Every tv sit-com or most shows/films rated G that come from america have the theme:
    ‘be challenged, get indignant, angry, lash out at someone. smash something, blame someone, exile yourself from friends and advice.
    then realise the truth
    feel contrite
    say sorry,
    hug and happy ending.
    Who saw Greg Bird walking down the race after injury at his first kick?? (any wonder his opponents or partners are at risk???)
    Who saw hodge’s face as he smashed wingard?
    That reaction and that behaviour is rife in tv/film exemplified as normal behaviour!
    Well it shouldn’t be normal and it shouldn’t be thought of as ‘manly’.
    These high profile proponents of gratuitous violence need exposing and public shaming.

  18. DJ

    No Jaq, nobody is confining it; it is what it is. Violence in the home is overwhelmingly perpetrated by men against women and children. It is not helpful to pretend otherwise.

    Jennifer, thank you for a great article. Excellent observation regarding men attempting to control the narrative and throw in a sneaky false dichotomy to muddy the waters. It’s a form of concern trolling.

  19. DJ

    Divide and conquer has ever been a strategy of male supremacists.

  20. corvus boreus

    In terms of most accepted Australian statistics upon domestic violence by gender. females being assaulted by male partners is around twice as likely as the vice-versa (about 66/34%).
    Female victims of violence are most likely to be assaulted at home by a male partner.
    Male victims of violence are most likely to be assaulted in public by another male, either a ‘friend’ or a stranger.
    Perpetration of violence, domestic and public, does seem, by the numbers, to be something males do more often than females.
    Of course, individual circumstances may vary.

  21. corvus boreus

    Ps, The majority of assaults (domestic and public) occur with the perpetrator, victim, or both, intoxicated (usually by ethanol).

  22. Judith W

    As Wally says, in more affluent circles women have more choices, as do women with more education. Domestic violence is perhaps les physical and more psychological. But I doubt the numbers are significantly different – maybe just the outcomes.

  23. mark delmege

    Here is a thought… as I said I have known domestic violence and I have been around violent men but I have also seen abusive women. Men are always told that they need to change their behaviour – and of course they do (need to change) but most abusive women have been medicalised – in that hormonal imbalance or similar has been seen as the main factor. Dodgy thyroid (it is very common) or whatever and a daily pill and all is normal once again. Maybe we need to reassess why men go off the deep end…could it be that they too are subject to hormonal problems caused by any number of factors – undiagnosed? It would sure explain a lot. And before you hit me with the usual feminist dogma – I’ve seen it all and even believed it myself at other times but I don’t think it is a complete answer.

  24. Damo451

    Corvus ,that guy in your video is an idiot.
    He thinks his ” little princess ” can do no wrong and will inflict violence on her boyfriend just for breaking her heart.
    What he should also be thinking is that boys have fathers too ,and some are every bit as capable ,some more ,to inflict on him what he proposes to inflict on their sons should he even breathe on them.
    He is part of the problem ,not part of the solution.
    By the way ,by posting that video ,are you sure you understand the concept of domestic violence ,or just the concept that suits you

  25. corvus boreus

    Damo451,
    Do you think that I posted that video (a performance of a short poem) as an offering of detailed insights and holostic solutions for such a broad and complex topic?
    As I previously stated, I posted that video because I agree with some of the sentiments and enjoyed the way they were expressed (I love the last 2 lines). Having seen a fair slice of other works by Mr Parent, I would disagree with your snap-call that he is an ‘idiot’.

    For my own understanding of ‘domestic violence’, the ‘violence’ would be physical assaults (or credible threats thereof), and the more severe forms of psychological abuse, classed as ‘domestic’ when inflicted within the parameters of a family unit.
    As to the causes, obviously the circumstances around each incidence vary, but, in my opinion, the root cause is the perpetrator choosing to be an arsehole to others.

    P.s. I did later post information strictly relevant to the topic of the article, which has much more insight to offer than Jesse’s poem.

  26. miriamenglish

    I was telling a friend of an episode of one of my favorite radio shows, Radiolab, and I realised you folks here might find it interesting. The episode is called “A Flock of Two” and is available for free download at:
    http://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/audio4.wnyc.org/radiolab_podcast/radiolab_podcast11eggers.mp3

    It is about a guy who is subject to sudden, unpredictable rages who loves animals and managed to get an African Grey Parrot, one of the smartest birds in the world, and how it surprisingly helped him defuse his rages.

    Incidentally, African Greys live about as long as humans and are truly amazing birds. They can understand abstract relationships, such as difference and similarity, and more and less when applied to number, size, color, shape, and so on. They can count at a glance better than humans, and they can tell us about all these things because they are extremely talented talkers. Dr Irene Pepperberg is perhaps the world’s greatest authority on African Greys as she has been studying them for many years, most closely with her associate Alex (an African Grey, now sadly deceased) and others. I was lucky enough to attend a public lecture by her in Melbourne when she visited Australia. Her book “Alex and Me” is remarkable. I haven’t read her earlier “The Alex Studies” yet. There are many interviews with her on the net that are well worth reading and/or listening to.

  27. DJ

    Damo451

    I am a professional social worker, in child protection. I also lecture on the subject of family violence at a tertiary level. Put your little links away. They are patronising to someone who can stake a much higher knowledge claim than you.

  28. miriamenglish

    On the topic of maleness and violence, it has long been known that testosterone is connected with anger and aggression. An excess of it can lead to rages and a lack of it is associated with a less aggressive outlook. It is, of course, not as simple as that though. Many things can lead to aggression, and someone with a good and well balanced mind may be able to have high levels of testosterone, yet be gentle and kind, channeling their aggression and recklessness into other, more suitable things. One of the greatest military strategists of all time, Narses, in the 6th Century was a eunuch, so lacked testosterone. Not many people realise it, but ovaries also produce testosterone, though I don’t know if it plays much of a role in aggressiveness in women.

    Most people are aware of drugs as a cause of aggression and violence, but don’t realise that there can be a subtle secondary effect. For example, marihuana, which unlike alcohol, has a reputation for mellowing people and making them less aggressive, can actually make them more impatient and more aggressive if they haven’t had any for a little while — that is, if they are withdrawing from regular use. Many other drugs have this effect too. It is especially noticeable with nicotine withdrawal. Alcohol is notable because both use and withdrawal can produce aggression and violence.

  29. Wally

    @corvus boreus “the root cause is the perpetrator choosing to be an arsehole to others” people under the influence of alcohol and drugs or suffering withdrawal symptoms as pointed out by miriamenglish rarely CHOOSE TO BE ARSEHOLES being an arsehole is one of the effects of substance abuse.

    A friend I no longer associate with would reach a point when drinking where he would become abusive and violent toward everyone without any provocation. The next day he wouldn’t even realise what had happened and if he was made aware he would be very apologetic but it didn’t stop him drinking. This family is an example where domestic violence was considered normal, despite the wife coming from a family where her father was an abusive violent alcoholic she would not leave her drunken husband.

    Ice is becoming a prominent cause of domestic violence and the social impact is rising rapidly.

  30. corvus boreus

    Wally,
    I guess it comes down to a difference of opinion on interpretations of the concept of choice.
    In my view, someone who is aware that they routinely become irrationally violent when they drink, but continues to drink anyway, is still making a choice to be an arsehole.
    I am willing to consider, and sometimes accept, extenuating circumstances, but I also believe in people taking personal responsibility for their decisions and actions.

  31. Damo451

    DJ
    Don’t you mean biased ,twisted knowledge. You haven’t been able to dispute or even read anything that questions your original post and the lie within.
    Anyone who spends just 12 months in Childrens court will see it’s obvious that the domestic violence to either partner or the children is far more even between the sexes ,and your blatant lie that ” men are the overwhelming perpetrators ” doesn’t change any of that.
    I too have plenty of boots on the ground experience ( 11 years ) and can tell you something you feminists don’t like to hear ,” The facts are the facts ”
    Domestic violence facts and figures show women who murder their children are far more common than thought as well, and these will always beat your heavily biased little world opinions every time.
    You are typical of feminist liars who are part of the problem ,not the solution to domestic violence.

  32. Wally

    corvus boreus,

    I agree my response was looking at the point when the violence occurred ignoring the choice to stop drinking to avoid repeat violations.

    When my family owned a hotel there was an occasional customer who would become very violent when he drank (was a family trait) so when you could see his mood changing you would serve him lemon squash without the shot of gin and he knew no different. Obviously he couldn’t count very well when drunk he never noticed he was only paying for a soft drink. The next day he was always nice as pie with absolutely no memory of being aggressive regardless of what occurred.

  33. miriamenglish

    Whoa! Damo451, you’ve stepped way beyond an interest in unbiased facts and well into crazy-land if you think there is any kind of equality between the sexes in terms of violence. A quick indication of what kind of tilt there is towards the prevalence toward male violence comes from looking at the homicide rate. Most murders of women are committed by their male partners. In comparison, women almost never kill their men. I say this as someone who knows that some women can be violent. I outlined as much in my post earlier, but I am also under no illusions that most domestic violence is perpetrated by men. Personally, I don’t consider men the enemy. I have lot of respect for my male friends and for my brothers and my father.

    That you would try to twist the violence statistics to color women (especially “feminists”) as the enemy says a lot of unflattering things about you. I would think carefully before barging down that road, and if you’re drinking something then it might be wise to avoid imbibing it if it’s fuelling your angry response.

  34. miriamenglish

    DJ, to be fair, you were a little too easily dismissive of the links Damo451 gave. There was some interesting reading material there. The first link felt a bit biased, but the other three had some quite interesting information.

  35. corvus boreus

    miriamenglish,
    Ave atque vale, Alex the African Grey Parrot (Psitticus erithacus),
    A bird who could not only say put small red ball in big blue cup (and say it as well), but is the first non-human animal to be documented asking an existentialist question.

  36. miriamenglish

    Corvus, I would tip my hat to you, if I wore one. It is surprisingly rare for people to see Alex that way. Most people make excuses for Alex, preferring his obvious intelligence to be some kind of unthinking, unfeeling trained response.

    I’ve been a heavy reader of science fiction (and science) since primary school and it has always seemed to me extremely unlikely that we will recognise alien intelligence out there among the stars if we ever encounter it, considering the way we have such amazing difficulty recognising it here on Earth. I wrote a very short piece Alien Intelligence on how puzzled I am by how people work so hard to avoid seeing other intelligences around us.

    We even do this to other people, for example the way white supremacists see blacks as being like monkeys or stupid children — we can see some of this attitude in Tony Abbott and WA Premiere Colin Bartlett. There is a similar feeling among some males that women are incapable of adult responsibility (it has only been in my lifetime that women were allowed to buy things like land without getting signed permission from a man). If we can so denigrate humans, let alone the other intelligences sharing our planet, I don’t see much hope of us recognising intelligence when we blunder over it on other worlds.

    Incidentally, it is interesting that Alex, when asking what color he is (his existential question), and being told that he was gray, might have found it hard to understand because human vision only sees 3 primary colors whereas birds (and most other animals) see 4 primary colors. The fourth color is ultraviolet, which is invisible to all* mammals. This could well mean that a human might see two things as gray when they could appear as quite different colors to a bird.


    • I have to qualify my use of the word “all”. Recently there has been evidence that some very rare people have ultraviolet receptors in their eyes and do see 4 primary colors. Mammals lost their color vision because our ancestors that survived the asteroid were nocturnal and their vision suited that lifestyle — color “cone” receptors are not as sensitive to low light levels as grayscale “rod” receptors. (This is why you see night as shades of gray.) Primates have regained some color vision, but most mammals still have little or no color vision.
  37. miriamenglish

    Oops. Correction. The racist Premiere of Western Australia is Colin Barnett, not Bartlett.

  38. corvus boreus

    miriamenglish,
    I gather an extra cone type in the fovea centralis (tetrachromacy) confers the ability to perceive past the ‘normal’ ultra-violet limitations and see extra purples in the greys. From what I have read (pop-science only) this trait seems rather rare (exact extent not yet properly researched) and restricted to the female of our species.

    I also used to covet the eyes of the Peacock Mantis Shrimp (Odontodactylus scyllarus), who not only have compound eyes but possess 12 different colour receptors, but apparently this does not necessarily confer superior colour perception.
    http://phenomena.nationalgeographic.com/2014/01/23/the-mantis-shrimp-sees-like-a-satellite/

  39. Damo451

    Not a drinker Miriam , .well rarely anyway ,and only a few at a time ,sorry you too like to avoid the facts regarding female violence towards men and children. Personally i would say statistics ,that show 30 – 40 % of perpetrators are women ,are of concern.
    I have witnessed women hit and scream in the faces of men on several occasions ,daring them to hit them back ,and then wonder why they have been hit in return. Then they have the gall to claim that they were victims of domestic violence.
    My sons school also had a few little lovelies ,one of whom punched him in the face ,who were fond of saying you can’t hit me back because i’m a girl. Well i’m very much of the view , if you don’t want to be hit ,then don’t hit .
    I’m sorry but if you slap or punch expect the same back ,the rule is not ” don’t hit women ” ,it’s “don’t hit anybody ” ,keep your hands to yourself.
    Until women are considered as substantial perpetrators of DV and there is a serious look at the cause as well as the effect ie some personal responsibility is taken for how it occurred ,then good luck trying to stop domestic violence.
    And that is the real crime ,especially for the women and men who are completely innocent and yet are subject to ongoing physical and or psychological abuse.

  40. Wally

    Damo451

    A man never hits a woman full stop no excuses accepted. Yes it is acceptable for a male to defend himself by restraining a female who is attacking him but that is the limit. Any male who hits a female is a piss weak excuse, given a males strength compared to a woman it is not difficult to restrain them.

    Worst case scenario just walk away. Even dogs respect females, bitches usually rule the roost and rarely will a male dog fight back.

    Regarding the kids at school, allowing your son to hit girls sends the wrong message. What do you do when he hits his mother due to the lack of respect for females you have condoned? You cannot rectify bad behaviour using bad behaviour, that is how bikie wars begin.

  41. corvus boreus

    Personally, I would not mind if the stats on perpetration of violence by gender leveled out at 50/50 ((which would indicate a shift towards equality in gender attitudes), so long as the actual incidence and severity of domestic (and public) violence was decreasing (which would mean that fewer people were being violent shits).
    Meantime, for those in relationships whose partners, male or female, show disrespect to their basic rights by threatening or committing violence upon them, I would echo the advice of Wally; “just walk away”.

  42. miriamenglish

    Damo451, anecdotal evidence is not useful. That’s why it’s not acceptable in scientific circles.

    As I mentioned above, which you couldn’t be bothered reading, so I’ll repeat here, I have experienced violence and abuse at the hands of the woman I was in a long-term relationship with. Also an alcoholic musician friend was so violent to her girlfriend that she got slapped with a restraining order. And my very meek brother was able to divorce his extremely abusive wife. So I’m perfectly aware that some women are violent to their partners. However, aside from almost certainly biased reports of some men’s groups, there is little evidence that violence from women is as high as you think it is. The extraordinary difference in homicide numbers makes it more likely the generally accepted levels are closer to the truth, but we will probably never accurately know the real levels.

    In fact, all violence has been decreasing since we began keeping records. We are, thankfully, becoming a more and more peaceful species. Cold comfort, I know, to actual recipients violence, but it does hold out some hope — the next relationship will be better, and the next generation will have a better life.

    I would echo what Wally and Corvus said. Neither violence from men nor women is acceptable. Your belief that it is okay to escalate violence is so absolutely wrong it should not need to be pointed out. You are probably not directly to blame for that, but are merely reflecting the (USA-dominated) violent media where it seems to be expected that the hero (or heroine) solves all problems with sickening levels of violence. Instead, what we should be propagating in society is that we all need to learn how to control our anger and not hurt others.

  43. Damo451

    Sorry Wally ,but your stupid dinosaur ideas are part of the problem ,if a woman slaps me she will be slapped back ,if she punches or kicks me she will be punched or kicked back.
    I will not use that as an excuse to start pummeling into you but 1 slap deserves 1 back ,2 slaps deserve 2 back etc .
    The same goes for any male that chooses the same path with me.
    If you want to sit down and have a calm rational discussion about a problem then also expect the same. But don’t use your hormones or irrational emotions to justify violence towards me. Simple really.
    And i am far from being a piss weak excuse.
    Only fools believe in the special privilege you subscribe to for women. I am a humanist ,and feminism and it’s ideas of privilege have no place in a truly equal society.
    As far as my son goes ,i would have been supportive of my son should he have chosen to punch the girl back in the face.
    She did it because she was under the stupid impression that a girl/women should be allowed to hit a boy/man and not be hit back ,and said as much. Well not in my world .keep your hands to yourself and so will i. Behave in a reasonable manner towards me and also expect the same.
    ” Even dogs respect females, bitches usually rule the roost and rarely will a male dog fight back. ”
    Well i am not a dog ,and with me ,no one rules the roost ,we are all equal contributors .
    You may enjoy a life being treated like a dog ,but don’t expect every one else to go along with it.

  44. Kaye Lee

    Damo,

    People like you are part of the problem. You would be far better served teaching your son about anger management and conflict resolution and the self-esteem that allows you to walk away. Teaching him to respond to violence with violence is a dreadful thing to do. You seem a very angry person. You need to work on that.

    And I agree that women can be abusive both verbally and physically. I don’t think hitting them is any way to address the problem.

  45. Damo451

    Miriam ,interesting that you view facts and statistics from mens groups as biased ,and speaks volumes about your own bias.
    You try and come across as fair and reasonable but if you scratch below the surface you can see you are anything but.
    ” Your belief that it is okay to escalate violence is so absolutely wrong it should not need to be pointed out. You are probably not directly to blame for that, but are merely reflecting the (USA-dominated) violent media where it seems to be expected that the hero (or heroine) solves all problems with sickening levels of violence. ”
    Ah no ,i am reflecting a view of fairness and true equality.
    An interesting article for you to read ,you may take note of one of the earlier comments by Jim Byset regarding statistics of male suicide etc.
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/men/thinking-man/10752232/Our-attitude-to-violence-against-men-is-out-of-date.html

  46. miriamenglish

    Corvus, yes an extra cone which is sensitive to UV does it for some very rare individuals. I’ve only read of women having this trait, but I expect some males will eventually come to light (pun not intended) who have the ability. It is very hard to know whether someone sees something different from yourself, especially if the ability to see the extra color is very rare.

    One extra primary color seems like not much of a big deal until you start to look at combinations of colors. With just 3 primary colors (red, green, blue) we can make out about 27 fairly clear colors if we consider off, half-intensity, and full on to be easily distinguished differences — 3 levels to the power of 3 colors. (Things are not quite so simple because our rods are sensitive mostly in yellow, making us feel like orange is another strong secondary color, but it messes with brightness of yellow.) Just adding one more primary color greatly changes the number of combinations to 81 because it is now 3 levels to the power of 4. For birds it is even better than that because overlap between color receptors is decreased by little color filters in front of each cone, tuning it to be more selective and making their perception of color to be clearer and more distinct. The effect of this is hard for us to imagine because we don’t have anything quite like it, but we can get a little appreciation of it in our feeling of how distinct red is to us because our other color receptors overlap it very little.

    Thanks for the link to the mantis shrimp eyes. I have read of it elsewhere before, but felt there was something missing in the research. This article confirms that. Very, very interesting. I’d love to be able to see in a few bands of ultraviolet as well see polarisation (bees can, though not circularly polarised, as far as I know). It would be great to see infrared too, which our cameras can (shine your TV remote at your digital camera or smartphone — great for checking your remote’s batteries), but I don’t think the mantis shrimp can.

  47. miriamenglish

    Oops. I was wrong. Following further links I find the mantis shrimp can see infrared. How very cool is that! 😀

  48. Dee

    “Among many other studies, [5][6][7] a study done by Isabelle Horon, DrPH, of the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene that looked at pregnancy-associated deaths from 1993 to 1998 found that homicide was the leading cause of death in women who were pregnant. Homicides accounted for 20% of deaths, compared to 6% of deaths among non-pregnant women of reproductive age. Heart disease was found to be the second leading cause of death for pregnant women accounting for 19% of deaths during pregnancy[8]” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murder_of_pregnant_women Number 1 cause of death in women is Murder March 20, 2001 (Washington) — Given all the risks associated with pregnancy, it’s easy to imagine that expectant mothers are vulnerable to illnesses and even to death. But shocking new information shows that these women actually are more likely to be murdered than to die from any complications of pregnancy — or from any other cause for that matter.

    “We found that homicide was the leading cause of death among women who were pregnant … and accounted for 20% of deaths among that group, compared with 6% of deaths among nonpregnant women of reproductive age,” says author Isabelle Horon, DrPH, from the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, who conducted a study that looked at pregnancy-associated deaths from 1993 to 1998.

    Coming in second, heart disease was found to account for 19% of deaths during pregnancy.

    “We found that the number of pregnancy-associated deaths was much greater and the causes of pregnancy-associated deaths much broader than we had expected,” Horon tells WebMD.

    Even factoring in other potential causes for the finding, Horon says the risk of dying from homicide is twice as great in pregnant women as it is nonpregnant women.

    The study, which appears in the current Journal of the American Medical Association, suggests that more needs to be done to understand and prevent these tragic deaths, which may occur at the hands of husbands or domestic partners.

  49. Damo451

    No Kaye Lee ,i believe in fairness and justice.
    Perhaps you may also recommend that quite a few women may also need to deal with their anger through anger management.
    You say i seem like a very angry person ,and how did you come to that conclusion Kaye Lee ,because i am against special violent privileges for women ?
    The old furphy to tell anyone who disputes female privilege ,that they are an angry person ,is just a throw off to put the blame back on the male.
    I am not sitting here angry at all ,i am quite calm and relaxed .
    What i am finding interesting is not once ,has anyone commented that it would be a great idea that women are taught to manage their emotions and anger ,as well as being taught not to hit men.
    No ,we get the usual responsibility shifting back towards men ,good luck trying to change domestic violence with that attitude.
    And on that note i must go ,but i hope you all are aware that you will still be discussing this problem 20 years from now because people like yourselves are more interested making men responsible and not both sexes.

  50. jimhaz

    Jennifer Wilson appears to have written an article precisely to stir up Latham.

    Self-absorbed middle class want-it-all people – now I understand why Latham has been targeting this group. Of course domestic violence is much much more severe in the poorer groups of society – if you have a horrible life you are likely to externalise it. Often such folks are poor as they lack the EQ required to be middle class.

    [Personally, I would not mind if the stats on perpetration of violence by gender leveled out at 50/50 ((which would indicate a shift towards equality in gender attitudes)]

    Then you’d be an idiot, as you completely disregard the chemical differences in our bodies. That would be no equality.

  51. Wally

    Damo451

    No one here (except for you) has condoned violence or hitting full stop regardless of the offenders sex.

    You attempt to blame woman for your own lack of self constraint and show a total disregard for social values based on some fanciful illusion that hitting back brings about social justice. I may well be a stupid dinosaur but if I was witness to you hitting a female I guarantee you wouldn’t get back up to hit me back. I am a pacifist at heart but I could not stand by and watch a cowardly male assault a female or a child.

    And yes cowardly because it takes more guts to stand your ground and try to pacify a female who is attacking you or to walk away than it does to hit back. Given your total lack of moral fabric I am certain my comment will be like water running off a ducks back but we all live in hope that the ignorant in our society will eventually learn how to play nice but with a PM like Tony Abbott we will be waiting for a long time.

  52. Damo451

    And i can guarantee you i would get back up Wally ,silly old white knights like yourself don’t worry me ,i spent many years involved in boxing and martial arts.
    Notice how unlike yourself though,i don’t run off at the mouth making threats to people i have no idea about.
    You see this is a forum for discussion and unlike yourself ,i came here to discuss not threaten.
    Fortunately these days there are more real men out there than fememen like yourself so progress is being made in spite of your type.
    Anyway ,from here on in enjoy responding to yourself ,i have more important things to do
    Cheers

  53. corvus boreus

    Jimhaz,
    You accuse me of ‘idiocy’ based upon your own assumptions of what I consider and disregard on the basis of a de-contextualised exert from my short statement?
    That is very intemperate and ill-considered language.

    Chemical differences? I understand side-effects of testosterone fuel. I get why the worst chimp atrocities are committed by adolescent males. I even have personal anecdotes to offer (I have far less personal knowledge on estrogen). I could even offer some semi-interesting stuff on observed alterations in their levels due to environment and lifetype*. Personally, I favour a philosophy of tempering and modifying behavioral dictates stemming from basal reactive chemistry(suppress the ego and listen to the surrounds). We are not common chimpanzees.

    Further on the flow on from the chemical into the physiological differences between the genders (sexual dimorphism), men are generally heavier in bone and muscle than women.
    I have worked with lasses who did high level rocks and rapids, and more than dabbled in the arts of mars, who could not only, in a fair fight, knock me stupid, but make the idea of me offering to open a jar doubly so. They were notable exceptions.
    Generally speaking, there is physical truth in the oft despised term of ‘weaker’ sex.
    This is why I, as a male human, choose to use much greater discretion of use and level in deployment of physical force directed against female humans.
    I would urge others who share my traits of species and sex to do likewise.
    The other crucial difference is that only the bodies of human females are capable of bearing offspring.

    I guess that is why I proffered my opinion on not being significantly outraged at the idea of m/f 50/50 in [REDUCED] violence statistics.
    Girl rage hurts less and kills fewer (significant exceptions noted).

    Ps, Another factor I consider significant is the role of theological doctrines upon societal attitudes. The human shaped ‘god’ with a penis predominates, often authoratively. Apparently, men are very god-like on account of possessing a pizzle.
    This often reflects in societal attitudes and behaviors.
    I would like to see that change, although I am sometimes called an “idiot” for saying so.

  54. corvus boreus

    Damo 451,
    Sounds like you are teaching your son to teach women not to hit him by teaching him that he should hit them back (only harder).
    I believe that you are sure that you are part of the solution, not part of the problem.

    Ps, ‘militant misandry’ is to ‘feminism’ as ‘totalitarian fascism’ is to ‘conservative politics’
    PPS,There is no such word as ‘fememen’, you gwicksnobble.

  55. Wally

    corvus boreus

    For some reason I get the impression that everything beyond your first sentence is beyond the comprehension of Damo451.

    He obviously has issues dealing with females, it tends to bring the bitch out in him.

  56. corvus boreus

    Wally,
    Damo451’s son may not be comprehending, or getting, the “back” in that sentence.

  57. Wally

    corvus boreus

    I do agree and the really sad part is that no matter how much trouble the son gets into his dad will defend him and tell him he did the right thing. What hope do teachers have with parenting like this? No wonder you can’t walk the streets in cities and larger towns safely at night.

  58. corvus boreus

    Wally,
    I admit the possibility, but choose not to offer any further speculation based upon impression.

  59. miriamenglish

    Damo451, just in case you’re still scanning this thread…

    Replying to something can be fair (unless it includes insults, lies, or shouting).
    Hitting back is always escalation.
    This is simply how human tempers work.

    Every war and every feud grows because both opponents think they are right and the other side is wrong. Theirs is always “morally justifiable” in their mind and the excuse always sounds like the little kids’ whine, “He hit me first.” Each side always thinks their hit can end it. In practice it rarely does, unless one side is destroyed.

    Every war and every feud grows because neither side was smart enough to work out how to prevent the escalation by placating or walking away or getting a mediator.

    You dismissed what I said because you misinterpreted my qualifier. I didn’t say that I consider information from mens’ groups is biased. I was saying that as the only statements contradicting all the other information is a self-confessed interest-group. As such they are almost certainly biased. I would say the same of any self-interested advocacy group whose data was out of step with everybody else. That just makes good sense. It may turn out that that their figures are not biased, but until then I am skeptical.

    Sorry, but offering anything printed in the Telegraph actually works against a person’s argument. That horrible rag appears to do no fact-checking and regularly offers up fantasy and propaganda.

  60. corvus boreus

    miriamenglish,
    On bird smarts.
    I think this one is a New Caledonian Crow (Corvus moneduloides)

    The NZ Kea (Nestor notabilis) does alright as well.

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