First, Ken on Open Parachute points out – rightly – that women can also be perpetrators of family violence. However, as I point out in my comment to his post, the numbers he uses are distorted (by rounding up a percentage that is based on a tiny sample). He links to “men’s rights” Websites without pointing out that both Straus and Gelles have been fighting their misuse of statistics ever since their 1985 study was published. (Here are two rebuttals of those arguments: Feminism 101 and a very thorough analysis).
Then, the article by Heather MacDonald on the Campus Rape Myth was presented for discussion (unfortunately, the person who submitted it for discussion was not present, so I cannot gauge his intent). I actually fell for that one. I just couldn’t believe that the statistic of 25% is correct (“one in four” just seemed way too high). While I think that calling ourselves victims can be eventually detrimental to our healing, after the Straus/Gelles data misuse, I decided to look into the 1-in-4 statistic a bit more. It is true. Jill on Feministe wrote an excellent rebuttal of that article.
At this point, I will only note these incidences because all of this is confusing and this might’ve been simply (uneducated) oversights (for one thing, I fell for MacDonald’s argument at first, too). But they do make me a bit uncomfortable. Why is it that skeptics dig into statistics for everything else but run with conclusions about supposed female violence without checking the facts? Why do we have trouble noticing the false jumps of conclusions made in an article that presents itself as debunking myths but is itself perpetuating the myth that rapes on campus are greatly exaggerated? I am not suggesting that we can’t talk about these things, that we cannot question the statistics. We can and we should. But we also need to question the questioners to see if there’s – maybe – more behind the story.