The causes and cures of lethal male domestic violence

Ms Van Badham below recognizes that lethal male domestic violence has increased in recent years but has only vague generalizations and a call for more talking about it to offer as a solution.

She ignores the fact that the broadly feminist value-set that she promotes has never been more widespread and accepted than it is now . To put it crudely, more feminism has been accompanied by more domestic violence. That is the correlation that is being ignored. Correlation is not always causation but correlation is always a feature of causation, as David Hume long ago pointed out.

So it should be a working hypothesis that the increased dominance of feminist values is at least partly to blame for the increase in DV.

And why that night be so is not hard to see. Waleed Aly rightly sees that the major influence on DV is a feeling among men that they are being shamed: "the desire to hurt women actually comes from attackers feeling shamed and humiliated"
Aly is talking about men being shamed and humiliated by their women partners but being shamed by their culture is an obvious extension of that. Being shamed and humiliated in general is likely to be resented.

And there is a huge theme in public discussions to the effect that men and masculinity is "toxic". How are men expected to feel about such a drumbeat of abuse aimed at them? That part of the response might be rage is pretty obvious and that an outlet for that rage might be one of the supposedly superior beings in their presence is hardly surprising

So the supposed remedy for DV -- more feminist values -- might in fact be part of its cause. That possibilty will not be confronted any time soon -- sadly for endangered women. But a broad recognition that extreme feminism is "toxic" would help

In the wake of more, more, more reports of lethal male violence against women in Australia – and the protests demanding actions that have followed them – Michael Salter’s analysis of the problem is refreshingly clear. “Education and public awareness are important but they are not, in themselves, a cure,” the academic wrote last week. “We need a strategic, coordinated, practical approach that integrates many different responses and listens closely to frontline workers and community members.”

Australia’s public conversation about male violence has never been so loud. We’ve arrived at a moment when the community is screaming for action. Even Sky News reports that Australians “want immediate change to combat the domestic violence crisis”.

It’s a long way from 1953’s reader suggestions published in the Adelaide papers: “I’ve found if I take a strap to my wife occasionally, she’s all the better for it. She admits I’ve been a good husband to her.” Back then, papers framed “Can wife beating ever be justified?” as an open question.

That these attitudes remain in the memory of living generations, is, of course, one of the reasons that perpetrators still exist. Research 10 years ago explained that male sex offenders are “more likely to commit sexual violence in communities where sexual violence goes unpunished” and the influence of sexist traditions informs a male rapist’s worldview. Yet decades of public grief, horror and condemnation – as well as feminist activism delivering legal and institutional reform – have upended this traditional majority sanction of male violence and transformed public values. The 30% rise in the rate of Australian women murdered by intimate partners in the last year after three decades of a downwards trend comes, therefore, as a shock.

A bleak national realisation is dawning: while politics does flow downstream from culture, politics still has to solve the problem that culture identifies. Government works most efficiently when reform can be broad-based and structural – and Salter’s point is that the problem is messy and difficult, with unstable patterns, individual cases and no universal solutions. Ending violence against women requires not just sentiment but government, and other institutions, as well every kind of community – from cultural groups to sporting teams to the family – addressing different, variable and changing circumstances and responsibilities.

This week the Albanese government summoned the national cabinet to announce a $925m investment in counter-violence strategies. These include support payments for women fleeing violent relationships, increased funding for services to help those women and resources for action against deepfake pornography and other kinds of online abuse. The prime minister is not making the impossible promise that the policy suite is an immediate end to violence, but “a further step forward”.

The package is couched in terms of pilots and trials and monitoring because what will and won’t work is up against a community of perpetrators relentless in their cruel creativity. The challenges are complex when everything from urban planning to superannuation to care relationship settings can pose risks to women’s safety. I have survived a violent relationship, harassment, stalking and a hospitalisation from sexual assault … yet even I was stunned at the revelation of men using smart fridges to threaten women. Effective responses meet conflicts and contradictions. Note, for example, demands from anti-violence campaigners to revoke reforms to bail laws in Victoria … that were introduced to redress harms imposed by them on Indigenous communities, young people and people with disabilities.

The frustration of handing the policy response over to politicians is, perhaps, that it feels like an admission of powerlessness. But while government pilots start and public resources shift, there remain open fronts for cultural action that we may finally be ready to face.

Incest and other family violence survivors will remind you that the family home remains the most dangerous place for women and children, while 51% of children from abusive homes are abused as adults. In a world that still insists to women and girls that romantic partnership and family should dominate their aspirations and trajectories, the narrative we can, should, must lead is for genuinely empowering alternatives; economic interdependence, sisterhood, friendship, community – especially in the context of a resurgent western far right so active in promoting tradwives and reproductive unfreedom.

Not as culture war for culture war’s sake – but for survival.


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