Exposing the anti-male myth
By Bettina Arndt
Herald Sun25 May 2007 12:00am
When Erin Pizzey was a small girl she pleaded for help from a teacher, blood running down her legs from a whipping her mother had given her.
Her plea was dismissed. No one would believe such violence was possible in this rich, glamorous diplomat's family.
That was 60 years ago.
In 1971, Pizzey launched one of Britain's first women's refuges but became disenchanted when the refuge movement was hijacked by women promoting anti-male agendas.
Since then, she has been fighting a mighty battle to expose the truth about family violence: namely that girls and boys, who are exposed to violence in early childhood, can grow up to repeat what they have learnt.
She has written about her own experiences; her 193cm father was a bully but it was her beautiful, 144cm mother who terrorised and battered her family.
She's written books and articles exposing the anti-male myths being propagated about domestic violence, documenting research that shows domestic violence is often reciprocal, with men and women locked into destructive behaviour.
As she explained in her radio interview with Dads on the Air this week it made her unpopular with British feminists who had turned domestic violence into a million dollar industry. She received death threats and was heckled while speaking publicly in the UK and US.
Yet, she continues to speak out about the failure to recognise that women can be equally complicit in such violence.It's not in our interests she says, for women to be continually taught they are victims.
Pizzey takes a swipe at Australia's Violence Against Women campaigns, which show a never-ending parade of violent men. There is never a hint that men are sometimes victims."It's a terrible lie," says Pizzey, who has written extensively about women who behave as "emotional terrorists".
The whims and actions of such women determine the emotional climate of the household.Pizzey makes the telling point that marital dissolution can "call to the fore the terrorist's destructiveness", mentioning the women who make false allegations of violence or sexual abuse, or simply cut dad out of the lives of children.
This month, an important step towards a more balanced debate was made with the publication of Allegations of Family Violence and Child Abuse in Family Law Children's Proceedings.The report was produced by the Australian Institute of Family Studies. It examined 399 cases and found most involved allegations of violence, often from both sides.
In these circumstances, where unsubstantiated allegations fly in both directions, it's just too hard for judges to see the wood for the trees, suggest the AIFS researchers.They found it was rare for judgments to deny contact on the basis of such allegations.
The report is critical of Australian research on violence in Family Court matters.The report shows much of this research relies on small, carefully selected samples to draw misleading conclusions about male violence.
This blinkered research "rarely concedes the possibility that at least some of the violence may be situational, one-off, reciprocated, or even at times initiated by women," says the AIFS report.
How refreshing to see AIFS research acknowledge that there's a very real difference between the situational violence common in marital separation, with both parties doing things they later regret, and the more systemic controlling violence where the males are almost always the perpetrator.
In the latter case, court intervention is often necessary to protect children and mothers from these dangerous men. The challenge is a court system that can properly identify them.But what's needed with situational violence is for men and women to be helped to calm down and look carefully at the impact of their behaviour, particularly on their children.
Child-centred mediation in the Family Relationships Centres is helping people learn to stop the violence, unlike court processes, which often serve to escalate it.