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Men’s Rights Redditors angry that reality is reality. (Murder statistics edition.)

Over on the Men’s Rights subreddit, mgriff2k4 is angry that the picture to the right here showed up on his computer screen. Sorry, make that fucking angry. “Did this really just fucking pop up on my news feed?” he asks in the title of his post, adding in a comment: “sorry about the word “fucking” but im really pissed off about this.”

Why is he angry? Presumably, he assumes the statistic is untrue, and that it unfairly paints men as evil murderers.

Luckily, in this Age of the Internet it is trivially easy to find out whether statistics like this are true. It involves something called “Google.” mgriff2k4 did not bother to avail himself of this easy-to-use research tool.

But I did. In less than 5 minutes, I confirmed that this factoid is indeed true, at least according to the most recent figures on gender and homicide found on the Department of Justice’s web site, drawn from FBI data covering the years from 1976-2005. According to the FBI, 30% of women who are murdered are murdered by “intimates.” Roughly 20% are killed by husbands or ex-husbands; 10% by boyfriends or girlfriends. (In the overwhelming majority of cases the murderers are boyfriends, not girlfriends; men are ten times more likely to commit murder than women.)

While four times as many men are murdered than women, only 5% of murdered men are killed by “intimates.” Men kill women more than twice as often as women kill men. Women suffer far more serious injuries from domestic violence than men do; so it is not altogether unexpected that they are also far more likely to be murdered by intimates.

If you want to see what this means on a human level, I suggest you take a look at the excellent if depressing web site Domestic Violence Crime Watch, which links to stories in which men are the perpetrators, and in which men are the victims. There are far more of those in the former category than in the latter.

I should note that (as of this writing) one commenter in the thread also found his way to the DOJ site, and noted that men were more likely to be killed by strangers or acquaintances. But he didn’t bother to tell mkgriff2k4 that the sign in the picture was in fact accurate.

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blitzgal
9 years ago

David, aren’t you on vacation?! You better be relaxing a bit, bud!! 🙂

MorkaisChosen
MorkaisChosen
9 years ago

Just running the numbers there, that means for every 2 men killed by ‘intimates,’ 3 women suffer the same fate. Significant difference there.

(My reasoning: 4X as many men killed as women, so 5 per 100 man deaths is 5×4=20 per 100 woman deaths.)

Cliff Pervocracy
9 years ago

(My reasoning: 4X as many men killed as women, so 5 per 100 man deaths is 5×4=20 per 100 woman deaths.)

Wouldn’t that mean that for every 1 man kiled by an intimate, 5 women are killed?

Anyway, I wish MRAs could distinguish between “gendered violence is a problem” and “men are all bad people and should feel bad.”

Cliff Pervocracy
9 years ago

The MRA logic in that thread (as with so many others) seems to pretty much boil down to:

“There’s one good gender and one bad gender. Feminists say men are the bad one! But they’re wrong because it’s the other way around!”

Joanna
9 years ago

Maybe he’s just angry at the statistic cos it’s a bad thing in general?

blitzgal
9 years ago

One stat that has been crystal clear since the 1970’s is that the more services provided for at risk populations, the fewer domestic murders occur. The incidence of both men and women killing their intimates has fallen since domestic violence has been identified as an issue and programs have been enacted to help people get out of the situation. The incidence of women killing their intimates in particular has dropped precipitously. The facts on this issue are clear — if people have the ability to identify the problem and escape their circumstance, the less likely they are to kill their spouse.

Ruby Hypatia
Ruby Hypatia
9 years ago

Years ago I used to watch America’s Most Wanted and was amazed at the number of women killed by their romantic partners. Heck, just watch the regular news. So why are men more likely to murder their partners? Can it be blamed on testosterone by itself, or is there more to it?

Joanna
9 years ago

” Can it be blamed on testosterone by itself, or is there more to it?”

It’s cos women are whiny bitches and/or sluts. Have MRAs taught you nothing?

Kyrie
Kyrie
9 years ago

Ruby, the answer is : there is more to it. I’ll let more qualified people answer in details if they want, but this obvious fact need to be stated: people are more than their biology.

Cliff Pervocracy
9 years ago

So why are men more likely to murder their partners? Can it be blamed on testosterone by itself, or is there more to it?

Well, shit, since human beings are hormone-operated automatons, I’m sure that testosterone is literally The Murder Hormone.

Either that or we live in a society that tells men they must defend their masculinity at all costs, and then declares:

These things are masculine:
-Being physically strong and brave
-Having a submissive female partner
-Winning arguments and getting your way

And these things are emasculating:
-Expressing, talking about, or even thinking about your emotions
-Having a partner leave you and/or defy your wishes
-Graciously accepting that you’ve lost a dispute

It’s an obvious recipe for disaster no matter what hormones you’ve got going.

Joanna
9 years ago

While blaming testosterone itself is just silly, at the end of the day everything we do is controlled by chemicals and electrical impulses in the brain.

Cliff Pervocracy
9 years ago

While blaming testosterone itself is just silly, at the end of the day everything we do is controlled by chemicals and electrical impulses in the brain.

Technically, yes, but those chemicals and electrical impulses don’t act in a vacuum. They’re influenced by culture and media and peers.

Joanna
9 years ago

“Technically, yes, but those chemicals and electrical impulses don’t act in a vacuum. They’re influenced by culture and media and peers.”

Also true. But then there would be no such thing as thinking for oneself. I’m curious as to how malleable the brain actually is.

Cliff Pervocracy
9 years ago

But then there would be no such thing as thinking for oneself.

There is no discovered mechanism for thinking truly original thoughts. According to the level of current understanding, brains are bound by causality–everything you think and do is a product of the chemicals in your brain plus the sensory inputs to your brain.

(Note that does not mean “only the chemicals in your brain,” which is where Ruby-style pop-psych tends to fall down. Obviously inputs matter or cultural differences wouldn’t even exist.)

Personally I feel like I make voluntary decisions, but I can’t say whether that’s merely an illusion, or due to some not-yet-understood physical phenomenon, or a truly metaphysical phenomenon.

Christine Noble
9 years ago

Wow, just, wow. I really hadn’t clicked through to read these tools before today. David, I don’t know how you do it day in and day out.

MorkaisChosen
MorkaisChosen
9 years ago

Cliff: Where are you getting 1 per 5 from?

5 out of every hundred men killed are killed by an intimate; 30 out of every 100 women killed, same.

400 men are killed for every hundred women, so 20 men killed by an intimate per hundred women killed compared to 30 women per hundred.

Any obvious mistakes there?

(I’m doing a maths degree, so any such mistakes will be a) embarassing and b) important for me to be shown…)

Cliff Pervocracy
9 years ago

MorkaisChosen – Whoops, I think I misunderstood your parenthetical. I worked it out again, and yes, you’re right. :p

(I’m a film major, so… you know.)

Joanna
9 years ago

“Personally I feel like I make voluntary decisions, but I can’t say whether that’s merely an illusion, or due to some not-yet-understood physical phenomenon, or a truly metaphysical phenomenon.”

I read somewhere that neurologists were doing a test to see what happened in the brain while making a decision. They discovered that the brain makes a decision before the person is consciously aware of it.

Joanna
9 years ago

Sorry, I get a lil gushy over brain science >.>

Cliff Pervocracy
9 years ago

I read somewhere that neurologists were doing a test to see what happened in the brain while making a decision. They discovered that the brain makes a decision before the person is consciously aware of it.

Now define “consciously aware.” :p

I can believe the brain makes a decision before the person announces it, and perhaps even before they say they recall making the decision, but “consciously aware” is one of those things I don’t think we really have a handle on scientifically.

Discorda
Discorda
9 years ago

From what I here…We have limited free will because of our self awareness and the fact that our enviroment changes our brain…for instance brain cells die and are replaced…Honestly, I hope we have a little bit free will or that is just depressing:(

Cliff Pervocracy
9 years ago

I think free will is really an unanswered, possibly unanswerable question.

Whether brains are affected by culture, however, is an extremely answered question.

WordSpinner
WordSpinner
9 years ago

Even if having on average more testosterone of women makes men more violent than women (which I’m not going to dismiss, but I don’t think is proved either way*) we know that culture and social structures influence crimes, and that effect is really strong (look at America’s crime rate vs. many other developed countries). So even if men are doomed to be more violent than women on average**, they certainly aren’t doomed to be as violent as they are now.

* Like Cliff Pervocracy said, we (and the rest of the world) as a patriarchy have a lot of socialization going on that makes violence from men way too acceptable, and I think that is going to screw up the studies on the matter. Personally, I feel like our biology gives us a standard set of responses and abilities, and social circumstances decide which we end up using.

**Whether it is biological or social, I doubt this will change anytime soon.

Discorda
Discorda
9 years ago

Oh very much so! The Social Psychology course I took had studes that showed that peoples actions and attitudes are very much shaped by situations and culture,

Ruby–that’s stupid, Testostrone has nothing to do with violence.

viola
9 years ago

That particular study, if I recall correctly, had participants pressing a button, with the timing of the button press being the “decision”, and found that the impulse was sent to the muscles before the bits of the brain they were defining as making the conscious decision lit up.
It’s a very limited definition of “decision” and I’d love to see the experiment repeated with, say, a choice of buttons, because we already know that our bodies can handle motions we’ve already decided to make without much conscious input. I don’t decide to take each individual step and when and where to aim my foot. I decide to walk, and once I’m going my legs look after themselves. But it seems a bit of a reach to argue that, since I’m not aware of tripping before I automatically act to retrieve my balance, I didn’t decide to walk.

MorkaisChosen
MorkaisChosen
9 years ago

My personal answer to the free will question: sure, I have as much free will as I always thought I did!

Think- is there any decision which, given exactly the same input (which includes memories and so on), you’d have made differently? I don’t think there is. I make decisions, which are a result of my personality and preferences, which may at the cellular level be a result of squirting hormones and so on but that doesn’t matter at the level I think on.

Mayara Arend
9 years ago

I’d say that, with the MRA’s logic, the stats are fake because they were, definitely, studies conducted and mandated by women, who rule the world. Right? Right.

(if anyone didn’t see it, that’s irony)

ShadetheDruid
ShadetheDruid
9 years ago

All this talk of brains has turned mine inside-out. O.O I’m really glad I never developed an interest in brain science, I mean it sounds fascinating but half the time it’s like.. wha?

Hank
Hank
9 years ago

His anger is a response to the (MRA?) paradox that all men are exactly alike in abilities when it’s a question of positive behaviour and unique individuals when it’s a question of negative behaviour. Anger is a typical response to a threat to a narcissist’s believe in his/her perfection. It’s a shame for him so it is.

Sharculese
9 years ago

if the sign highlighted the number of women killed by strangers, on the other hand, he’d be up in arms about how feminists treat men as the enemy

it’s heads i win, tails you lose

Kiwi girl
Kiwi girl
9 years ago

Re the point on free will. I see there are two options:
– no free will at all, in which case every decision you have ever made, and ever will, is simply post hoc rationalisation of a path that your body has already decided for you. I call BS: that’s a pretty damn complicated way of getting through life, also means that you would have to very rapidly be able to come up with post hoc explanations of actions regardless of how nuanced/complicated the situation is.
– constrained free will, in which case your decisions are based on the current situation, combined with abilities, past experiences, etc. For example, you may choose not go to medical school because your grades aren’t high enough, you don’t like the sight of blood, you’re not really a people person, etc.

I don’t know that any people still really believe in absolute free will.

I’m very intrigued with consciousness/self as entity existing over time. I think that the understanding of free will will improve as we understand these concepts better. My belief is that the neuroscience results (which really seem to fail Occam’s razor) are misinterpreted because we don’t have a good understanding of consciousness, which we need to interpret the results.

Back to the post, and linking to free will: to be honest, I hate the idea that some people are arguing against free will as I see this as a potential future non-scientific legal defence of abusers and murderers/manslaughterers.

Argenti Aertheri
Argenti Aertheri
9 years ago

Re: neuroscience — I cannot recommend this book strongly enough — Phantoms in the Brain: Probing the Mysteries of the Human Mind by V. S. Ramachandran. Ramachandran’s a (fairly famous) neuroscientist but it’s written without too much detailing of brain structures, so it should make sense to anyone who can handle college level reading (which would seem to be all of you).

MorkaisChosen — your math checks out, but your wording has me slightly concerned the MRM will misread it as “per hundred people” or some shit. When what you said is — for every hundred women killed 20 men are killed by intimates, versus 30 women. Point being that even once you account for the higher homicide rate among men, women are still more likely to be killed by intimates (I’m repeating you, and myself, to make this bloody clear).

Guy Noir
Guy Noir
9 years ago

“. . .the vast majority of violence against women is done by men. That’s just a flat out fact, and it’s not a debatable point. . . .”
–Jackson Katz

–see 14:30

Argenti Aertheri
Argenti Aertheri
9 years ago

“which really seem to fail Occam’s razor” — there often isn’t an easy vs complex set of possible answers when asking what parts of the brain do and how they interact, and when there is, well, you write a book about it (see above).

MorkaisChosen
MorkaisChosen
9 years ago

Fuckit, let’s quote the Matrix.

“You’ve already made the decision. Now you just have to understand it.”

MorkaisChosen
MorkaisChosen
9 years ago

Argenti: I think we’re in agreement. The proportions remain, so we can say for every 20 men killed by intimates 30 women are killed by intimates.

Kiwi girl: very much agreed on the “Not my fault, no free will!” defence. Slightly flippant response is “Fair enough. You can’t blame me for acting to get you locked away in prison so you don’t do it again, I have no free will.”

Argenti Aertheri
Argenti Aertheri
9 years ago

MorkaisChosen — “I think we’re in agreement.” — yeah I wasn’t questioning your math, just whether the MRM would understand it, sorry if that wasn’t clear.

And I don’t think the “well I can’t not lock you away then, no free will” answer is flippant, I think it a logical conclusion if we utterly lack free will. (You want to see hilarity? Put a neuroscientist and a philosopher in the same room and ask “what is the nature of consciousness?”)

Kiwi girl
Kiwi girl
9 years ago

@Argenti, thanks for the link, I’ve added it to my wishlist (which never seems to get below 2 pages 🙁 ).

This article in Scientific American suggests that we still understand very little about consciousness, we seem to be getting better at understanding what it is not, but still quite a ways from understanding what it is: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=consciousness-does-not-reside-here

Until we have a better understanding of the capability, my scientific view is that we should refrain from making any bold statements about the implications of studies into free will – I think this type of statement is making generalisations beyond the data. What worries me the most is that there is a history of the legal system accepting “scientific methods” without proper scrutiny (e.g. fingerprints – the number of match points used differs over time, polygraph, offender profiling) and there already seems to be interest in bringing neuroscience into the courtroom (e.g. brain scans to “show” whether the person is lying) ahead of a body of work that establishes the sensitivity and specificity of the technique.

Mixed up with this has been the poor presentation of how to interpret statistical evidence (expected number of SIDS cases in one family, expected DNA match rates presented independent of base rate information) to juries.

Finally, no free will = exceptional claim. Exceptional evidence is required.

MorkaisChosen
MorkaisChosen
9 years ago

Argenti: Didn’t think you didn’t think we agree, just being extra-emphatic. 😀

ostara321
ostara321
9 years ago

Years ago I used to watch America’s Most Wanted and was amazed at the number of women killed by their romantic partners. Heck, just watch the regular news. So why are men more likely to murder their partners? Can it be blamed on testosterone by itself, or is there more to it?

Ugh, Ruby, seriously, no. Just no.

Gad, forget the annoying gender policing/stereotyping she does, the biggest problem I have with a lot of Ruby’s statements is that they kind of play a little too nicely into that MRA idea of the awful man-hating feminist for me to think she’s just stupid and harmless. Saying women are more likely than men to be murdered by their intimate partners because, dude hormones is just plain ignorant and lazy and not any kind of help to the issue of gendered violence.

ragefromthebasement
9 years ago

We should be focusing on the 5% of killings done by women that kill, and just leave out 30% of killings done by men, because that is gender equality! -MRA logic

lowquacks
lowquacks
9 years ago

All this talk of brains has turned mine inside-out. O.O I’m really glad I never developed an interest in brain science, I mean it sounds fascinating but half the time it’s like.. wha?

Keep up. It’s not exactly rocket surgery.

Anathema
Anathema
9 years ago

I think that one of the reasons that discussing the implications the findings of neuroscience (or anything else for that matter) have for free will can be so difficult is that different people use the term “free will” differently. If someone is going to claim that some particular aspect of neuroscience has shown that humans either have or don’t have free will, I’d asked them how they were defining the term in the first place.

MissPrism
MissPrism
9 years ago

Seconding the Phantoms in the Brain recommendation – no exaggeration, it’s one of the best books I’ve ever read.

Jarrod
Jarrod
9 years ago

@Anathema Indeed. For example, I don’t know any philosopher or neuroscientist who defines free will the way kiwi girl does. For a non-strawman version of the “no-free will belief” I would suggest people check out Galen Strawson (philosopher) or Joshua Greene (psychologist with philosophy degree)

Graham
9 years ago

If you scroll down the thread he explains why he’s angry: “30 percent of all women? That’s bull”

So I think he thinks the sign says nearly a third of all women are murdered by male partners.

pecunium
pecunium
9 years ago

Ruby: Years ago I used to watch America’s Most Wanted and was amazed at the number of women killed by their romantic partners. Heck, just watch the regular news.

And when those men are convicted you are laughing at the chance of them being raped. Go you. Such a mencsh you are.

And that testosterone shit… is nonsense. Women have it, men have it. If you could show constant rates of violence across time/culture, you would have grounds for an hypothesis.

You can’t. I’m not sure, at this point, you know how to look for that sort of evidence. So good luck at trying to back it up.

How do you explain your lust for torture? Is it the estrogen? No. It’s that you aren’t really a good person.

Kiwi girl
Kiwi girl
9 years ago

@Jarrod, at least one neuroscientist did define “free will” this way, Benjamin Libet: http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn17835-free-will-is-not-an-illusion-after-all.html

lowquacks
lowquacks
9 years ago

@Kiwi girl

Well, someone was bound to eventually.

Jarrod
Jarrod
9 years ago

Oh, and the claim that no free will = no jail is absurd. Nobody argues for this. Again, check out Galen Strawson or Joshua Greene. I would also suggest David Boonin’s The Problem of Punishment, which is less about free will, but does deal with the implications of the no free will view.

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