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OPINION: Blaming Men Doesn’t Stop Domestic Violence

The 'one in three' statistic used by 'One Billion Rising' is an outlandish claim that does a disservice to legitimate victims of domestic violence, and smears the character of men and boys as inherently violent and abusive.

By Joe Manthey

Lately our communities have been bombarded with a United Nations (U.N.) claim that “One In Three Women On The Planet Will Be Raped Or Beaten In Her Lifetime.” The U.N. fails to cite any sources for this claim and the latest UN report, Prevention of violence against women and girls. The report of the Secretary-GeneralE/CN.6/2013/4 on violence against women provided by a UN media officer when asked for such does not make the “one in three” claim.  

By extrapolation of this “lifetime” figure, Eve Ensler, founder of the Vagina Monologues, assumes that, worldwide, one billion women have been raped or beaten. Consequently, this year’s V-Day theme is "One Billion Rising."

Ensler used war-stricken Congo as an example in an attempt to persuade the public of her one billion estimate, reasoning that because one in three women in the Congo are victims of male violence then all women worldwide must suffer at the same rate.

In all fairness to the V-Day activists, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/nisvs/ also suggested that rates of sexual violence in the United States are comparable to those in the Congo.

It found that in 2010 approximately 1.3 million women were raped and an additional 12.6 million women and men were victims of sexual violence. It reported, “More than 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have experienced rape, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime.”

What the CDC did to arrive at these inflated statistics was redefine sexual violence which allowed the surveyors to determine what counted as an assault.

For example, women were asked, “When you were drunk, high, drugged, or passed out and unable to consent, how many people ever had vaginal sex with you?” 61.5 percent responded affirmatively and were thus classified as rape victims due to “alcohol- or drug-facilitated penetration.”

If a woman was unconscious or severely incapacitated, that’s rape. But being under the influence does not necessarily constitute such.

Participants were also asked if they ever had sex because someone pressured them by “telling you lies, making promises about the future they knew were untrue?” All affirmative answers were counted as “sexual violence.”

And if a suitor wore her or him down by “repeatedly asking” or “showing they were unhappy” they were similarly classified.

Hence, what the fine print reveals is that “advocacy research” prevailed as the CDC 1 in 3 numbers are inconsistent with the 2010 Bureau of Justice Statistics’ National Crime Victimization Survey, which estimated 188,380 rapes and sexual assaults on females and males. Granted, not all assaults are admitted in surveys, but that’s a fraction of the CDC’s survey estimates.

Technically, the one billion number is correct, but only if you equate being 'beaten' as having ever experienced any form of physical 'violence,’ such as being pushed or slapped. http://www.k4health.org/sites/default/files/L%2011.pdf

However, using the same technical definition, twice as many men than women have experienced the same forms of violence and abuse in their lifetimes. http://www.who.int/healthinfo/global_burden_disease/DALY6%202004.xls

Perhaps the V-Day activists believe these inflated numbers will draw needed attention to the genuine problem of sexual violence against women. Unfortunately, stretching the definition of violence against women does a disservice to legitimate victims.

To state that 1 billion women - one in three worldwide – will be beaten or raped in their lifetime (presumably by a man) is statistically quite incorrect. Why then make such an outlandish claim, if not to smear the character of men and boys as inherently violent and abusive?

Joe Manthey is a Petaluma resident and a male advocate. Visit his website at www.joemanthey.com.

For an alternative to the U.N. global analysis of domestic violence visit http://www.oneinthree.com.au/. For a bibliography that examines scholarly investigations which demonstrate that women are as physically aggressive, or more aggressive, than men in their relationships with their spouses or male partners visit http://www.csulb.edu/~mfiebert/assault.htm.


Mark Burns February 22, 2013 at 12:04 AM
Did you email the author and ask him? His website is at the bottom of the article. Or did you want to intimate something else? The way you wrote your comment, ' . . . we should not believe that women are being attacked at high enough or excessive rates' is quite an odd thing to say. It's pretty obvious to me why this article is here. Too subtle, Frank?
Greg Allan February 25, 2013 at 01:57 AM
The original "Vagina Monologues'" scene "The Little Coochie Snorter That Could" depicts the use of alcohol to seduce and sexually abuse a thirteen year old girl. It is called a "good rape" presumably because it was perpetrated by a woman. Everything emanating from Ensler should be viewed with this in mind.
Mark February 26, 2013 at 10:40 AM
"Is the author claiming that spousal abuse and rape are not important issues?" The asking of this question makes clear your intention is not an honest discussion, but instead an attempt to demonize and silence the authors views. The author makes very clear that he feels violence does need to be addressed, and that falsifying the numbers, inflating them, hurts real victims. But this doesn't sit well with you for some reason. Instead you need to attempt and condemn the author with false assertions of his intent. Why is that? Why is it you can't acknowledge that inflating the numbers and including trivial occurrences as something vastly more sinister are bad for real victims? And that demonizing men with these numbers is damaging to everyone? You know, I could very easily do to you what you did to the author by asking if you hate men? If you are trying to imply men and boys are some sinister monster out to commit violence against women for fun and sport? But that would be a dishonest and underhanded way of attacking your point of view, now wouldn't it?
Mark February 26, 2013 at 10:42 AM
that scene has been changed since it's original showing... now it depicts a 16 year old, still plied with alcohol, still raped, still a "good rape", but now it's not with so young a minor.
Adam Blanch February 26, 2013 at 12:23 PM
His point is that people like you who choose to use smear and exaggeration do more harm to the cause of reducing violence than good. It is campaigns like I billion with their misuse of statistics that damage credibility, and they also fail to offer any solutions because they don't have any. Unfortunately, they are stealing the resources form programs that do work to spend on public outcry that does no good. Do you know the story of the boy who cried wolf?

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