In gender bias, women are first among equals
Editor, The Times:
Contrary to Lisa Scott's "Gender bias no cure for domestic violence" (Times guest commentary, Oct. 24), there is gender bias in the impact of domestic violence: Women are disproportionately the victims of domestic violence, and men are disproportionately the aggressors.
A July 2000 research report published by the U.S. Department of Justice, "Extent, Nature and Consequences of Intimate Partner Violence," surveyed an equal number of men and women and found that nearly 25 percent of women and 7.6 percent of men are physically assaulted by a current or former spouse during their lifetimes.
[Ed. note: The report goes on to say, in the next sentence, "According to these estimates, approximately 1.5
million women and 834,732 men are raped and/or physically assaulted by an
intimate partner annually in the United States." See http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/nij/pubs-sum/181867.htm and http://www.ncjrs.gov/txtfiles1/nij/181867.txt]
Acknowledging that men also suffer from domestic violence and that women sometimes perpetrate it does not erase the fact that women and girls are at heightened risk and that men are most often the perpetrators.
The anxiety we are all experiencing in these tense times provides a glimpse of what domestic violence victims live with daily. "You don't have to travel out of many homes to discover a war zone," one survivor observed Oct. 25 at a national domestic-violence conference. This national crisis rages on, and can be solved only by women and men working together. There is no gender bias in our hope that better laws and public education will protect all Americans from domestic violence.
[Ed. note: The N.O.W. Legal Defense Fund has been a strong supporter of the Violence Against Women Act, providing funding only for programs to help woman victims of domestic violence, and strongly opposed an amendment that would mandate that these services be provided to victims regardless of gender.]
Kathryn Rodgers, president, NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund, New York, New York
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. My year has been made. I read with great interest and delight the commentary by Lisa Scott. She has brought to the forefront what many men and women who choose not to go through life with blinders on have known for decades. The reality of gender bias against men known as bigotry in regards to domestic violence.
Until we are ready in this anti-male community to address this, including the women who purposely strive to punch the emotional buttons of men to bring them to a point of rage, then we do not really want to deal with domestic violence. We would only be furthering a system that allows women with a hidden agenda of bigotry and hatred toward men to have a platform to further their selfish, divisive and destructive agendas and rhetoric.
As to Lisa Scott: Thank you, Lisa. You are undoubtedly a person of quality, integrity and a deep sense of justice. I can see the kindness from your picture as you smile from your eyes. Very authentic, attractive, feminine traits by the way, that many women in this community could stand to learn. Sure beats passive aggressiveness.
Steve Baldwin, Edmonds
Ignored too long
It's really good to see the media bringing a little balance to the portrait of domestic violence. The issue of violence by women has been ignored far too long, in spite of a rising tide of evidence that it is an important factor in domestic and family violence. We must avoid gender profiling and presumptions of guilt based on gender in this important and sensitive area.
Steve Graham, co-chair, Island Domestic Violence Outreach Services, Vashon Island
Death in the family
As true as the author's statement is, I can only imagine how the supposed domestic-violence gurus in our greater Puget Sound area scooted to the edge of their seats shaking their heads in constant denial to the truth about domestic violence not being a gender issue.
To bring the truth a little closer to home, between 1995 and 1999 there were 25 domestic-violence related homicides in the city of Seattle where one intimate partner killed another; 14 women were killed by their male intimate partner and 11 men were killed by their female intimate partner (Washington State Association of Sheriff and Police Chiefs Annual Report).
This month being Domestic Violence Awareness Month would be the perfect month in our area to truly recognize that "Every Victim Counts."
Greg Schmidt, Renton
$4 billion, 2 percent
Lisa Scott's commentary presenting the facts, though not politically correct, is a welcome breath of fresh air in a service-turned-industry. Think of the money ($4 billion) we are spending on less than 2 percent of the population (that is, if we pretended VAWA funds were used to help men as well as women)... and I am not convinced that this 2 percent considers recidivism.
Doug Martin, Olympia
This boy's life
As a woman, I believe it is past time for society to begin recognizing that "victim" doesn't always mean "female" and "violence" isn't always equivalent to "male." It is also time we stop perpetuating myths and untruths simply because we have held them to be true for so long, particularly when they have been debunked by valid research.
Women are strong and intelligent, and sometimes they are victims of domestic violence, but men are also strong and intelligent and also become victims of domestic violence, as Lisa Scott pointed out. We must begin to value every victim and must commit to helping every person who experiences domestic violence male or female.
As a soon-to-be mother, I worry that if I have a son, his position in society will not be valued as strongly as if I have a daughter. That if he is ever the unfortunate victim of domestic violence, he will be too ashamed to speak out and, worse, that there will be no one there to help him because society bought the lie that domestic violence is only perpetrated on women.
With nearly half the victims of domestic violence being men, there is simply no way to justify a system in which only women are offered protection and services while mostly men are passed off as abusers.
To answer Scott's question, of course an important public-policy debate should not be about which sex is the most important victim. If we are to overcome our current system, we must begin to recognize that every victim is important enough to receive the help they need and that every abuser should receive their due punishment without consideration for gender in either case.
Mindy Taylor, Marysville
After reading Lisa Scott's guest commentary, "Gender bias no cure for domestic violence," twice, I must say I am not quite sure what her objective was in writing it.
She had the opportunity in this article to enlighten the public to the realities of domestic violence; that it happens across all levels of income and education, that it does not recognize religion, race, or ethnicity, and that there are simply not enough resources available to accommodate its victims (regardless of gender).
Instead, she used this precious opportunity to further the division between the genders, to portray domestic violence advocates as men-bashers, and worst of all, to continue to minimize the very real problem of domestic violence in this country. Shame on her for wasting such valuable space especially during Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
Tracee Parker, Kirkland
The full article is at the Seattle Times Web site.