10 Jun 2010, Comments (8)

It’s all the Feminists’ fault, episode #25647789

Author: Helen

What an excellent coincidence that this post should spring up in the Femmostroppo Reader just as I had this one nearly ready to go: OH HAI Naomi Mc, have I got an example for you! In the same week that, in Melbourne alone, two men set a woman and a girl on fire (the second man also raped the girl) there was a report in the ABC News opining that again, society is going down the tubes because of feminism. With a big, scary, hot pink feminist symbol! Brrr.

A senior lecturer in psychology at Charles Darwin University, Dr Peter Forster, says there is no truth to the argument that testosterone levels make men more aggressive.
He says social factors such as the rise of feminism in the last few decades could be behind the rise in violence amongst women.

I’m happy to give him points for biology not being destiny – a refreshing change from most antifeminists I’ve read – but what actual evidence does he have that the “rise of feminism” has kicked off a rise in violence among women? Has he demonstrated that there is a rise in female violence?
Has he told us what the increase(s) are and from what bases they’ve increased? No. Has he teased out increases in actual violence from increases in arrests and charges? Nope. Has he looked at whether violence overall is rising or static, and if so, is male violence rising as well (See also previous point)? No.

Has he mentioned that if you look at historical sources of milieux such as Victorian London and accounts of colonial Australia, the idea of women as gentle and delicate creatures who never threw a punch was somewhat class-based? No.

I went off in search of more information, because I thought that if the ABC had seen fit to publish an article about Dr Forster pronouncing on women and violence, it must be that Dr Forster and/or his department had come up with some ground breaking research, perhaps resulting in a report or peer-reviewed paper which we could read.

Apparently not. In fact, my usually effective google-fu hasn’t unearthed any publications or reports put out by Dr Forster on women, violence, or women-and-violence at all. So what’s he got?

…(P)eople were now looking at other contributing factors, particularly at social and cultural factors such as the effects of several decades of feminism which have largely removed the expectation that women would behave differently to men, and, more recently, the binge-drinking culture among young people, for the rapid rise in female violence.

“Studies have shown that at the age of 14, girls were just as likely as boys to be involved in fights, threats and stealing,” he said.

“This is supported by studies at the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, where they have found similar rates of binge drinking by men and women, and women are also catching up in the use of illicit drugs, and these behaviours are linked with aggression.

“People” are looking at contributing factors. “Studies” have shown. I’ve seen undergraduate essays, let alone blogs, with more demonstrated evidence – and active verbs – than that. Well, there is a citation of sorts, the AIHW, which does exist, although would it kill him to point to the studies themselves? And there doesn’t appear to be anything to do with women and violence, but women and “behaviours (which) are linked with aggression.” Right! Men binge drink and set women on fire and king-hit other men on King street, while women binge drink and “get themselves” raped. See, equal!

The only actual piece of work done within the walls of Charles Darwin University that he seems to be able to point to is a study of road rage by his colleague Mary Morris.

“The research by Dr Morris has clearly shown that, in such aspects of road rage as aggressive gestures, sounding their horn at another driver and verbal abuse, there is no significant difference between male and female drivers. There used to be differences, but not any more,” Dr Forster said.

Road rage covers a continuum up to and including stabbing, shooting, thumping and running over people, so I don’t see that an increase in female horn-sounding and verbal abuse is very useful evidence of an epidemic of violent femmes. I haven’t been able to find Dr Morris’s study either, but I’ll take his word that it exists, so that’s one more on the topic than I’ve been able to find for Forster. It’s ironic that given that the subject is the evil power of feminism, he took her work and ran with it as “Expert Warns”.

Dr Forster hasn’t even begun to demonstrate any link between feminism and violence.

I have no idea why this should have been put out as a media release by CDU and why it should have been news, but unfortunately it’s one more brick in the wall of the bullshit “Feminism gone wrong” story that the media is hellbent on giving us, no matter how dodgy the source might be.

Comments (8) »

  • Tim says:

    This might be of interest too, if you haven’t heard it. I only heard about 30 secs of the show, so not sure what argument she makes. But as I say, might be of interest.


  • Mindy says:

    Linda Radfem wrote about this a couple of days ago and Peter turned up and said the article misquoted him and that he had nothing to do with the headline. I suspect he may google himself on occassion and may actually turn up here. I haven’t read the ABC article.

  • lauredhel says:

    I pulled some data on young women and violence a while back for this post:

    “Girls Gone Wild or Wild Women? or: We Never Had Nasty Sluts When I Were A Lad”. It’s several years old now – I’m vaguely keeping an eye out for updated stats, but “just as violent” seems highly unlikely to me.

  • Bernice says:

    OK – so Forster reckons he was misquoted, which leaves the journo in the lurch. One Louisa Rebgetz. http://www.abc.net.au/profiles/content/s1934767.htm?site=news

    Though unsure as to what degree Forster would claim he has been misquoted (all, a bit, just that little smudge on the left there…) anything that brings his research into disrepute ought to be taken up with Redgetz superiors at ABC Darwin. Has Forster done so? So nice to see a psychologist commenting on endocrinology as well….

  • Helen says:

    Curiouser: Linda Radfem writes a post on this topic and Dr Forster comments saying he did NOT blame feminism for escalating violence (which, remember, we haven’t established as actually escalating, as opposed to reporting of violence or arrests or charges or something.)

    Which means he was misreported by the ABC. I wonder what the ABC reporter would have to say?

    Highly coincidental you should give us the Nasty Sluts link, Lauredhel – I had that bookmarked for a post (when I stop procrastinating and churn it out). But it’s pertinent to this one, too. The title is such win.

  • Ann O'Dyne says:

    It all goes to credibility really, but the damage is done. I Google-searched that ‘journo in the lurch’ and found that she was nominated for a Book Of The Year award, despite using ‘less’ where ‘fewer’ is correct –
    ‘INDIGENOUS INMATES HAVE LESS MENTAL ISSUES: STUDY By Louisa Rebgetz Darwin 0800 Indigenous prisoners have lower levels of mental health … http://www.isx.org.au/forums/read.php?18,7842,7842,quote=1

  • Kath Lockett says:

    I’m surprised you haven’t listed this one under ‘arsehattery’ (one of the best descriptors ever).

    How ironic that Charles Darwin, the man who convinced the world that species must evolve and adapt to survive and thrive, is the name of a university where a psychologist blames feminism for the increase in violence against women.

    Has violence increased, or just the reporting of it, or of the willingness of women to report it and seek proper help?

    Or is Dr Forster saying that it’s all due to blokes having to do a bit more vacuuming and childcare drop offs these days that’s making them aggro? What a tosser!

  • Helen says:

    Kath, it was getting so that every post was filed under arsehattery. Let’s face it, there’s a lot of it about.

    ABC News hasn’t replied to my email politely asking whether there was some mistake in reporting someone as pointing to feminism for the ruin of Western Civ or whether it was a slip of the keyboard. (A bit difficult to accidentaly upload a gigantic hot-pink feminist symbol, but it’s possible they meant to display an adorable puppy and just grabbed the wrong .jpg.)
    And yes Ms O’Dyne, Tsk for the less instead of fewer. Truly, instead of tearing down civilisation we are two of the few people desperately holding it up.

Leave a comment

XHTML– Allowed tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>