Tackling the facts about the World Cup and domestic abuse


With the World Cup approaching, as predictable as a catastrophic metatarsal fracture or an unfathomable miss by Lampard, the police have issued warnings of a sudden spate of domestic violence incidents coinciding with every England game.

Equally predictably, voices from the manosphere shout “HOAX” and suggest that such claims are a fabricated, bogus defamation of men and their (ok, our) harmless hobbies. The rebuttals tend to recite the well-known case of the Superbowl domestic violence myth or, slightly more pertinently, an article by Christina Hoff-Sommers published at the time of the last World Cup.

As someone who loves drinking, loves football, and especially loves drinking my way through the World Cup, I would love to be able to reassure everyone that all these stories about drunken British football fans beating their wives (or, on occasion, their husbands) are an urban legend. Sadly they are, with a few caveats, very largely true.

Since Hoff-Sommers wrote her piece last time round, this research was published by Kirby et al which does demonstrate a large and significant effect. Yes, it is drawn from a localised sample, which can raise issues, but otherwise it seems sound and does address many of the problems which have cast doubt over previous claims in this area – for example controlling for seasonal variations in domestic violence rates.

A few years ago, a Scottish football supporters’ webzine investigated claims by Strathclyde police about a spike in violence on Old Firm match days (that’s the Glasgow Rangers-Celtic local derby, overseas guests). They requested the figures and, with great fanfare, proclaimed the police to be either mistaken or dishonest. There was no noticeable difference in DV incidents on Old Firm match days.

I submitted my own FOI request and got the raw data. At first glance, they appeared to be correct. There was no match day effect. However something peculiar happened – while there was not a significant rise in DV reports on match days, there was a very large rise the day after match days.

After a few phonecalls with a helpful Strathclyde Police data analyst up in Glasgow, we established that there was one data set drawn from the informal daily incident log, which ran with police shifts, ending at 5am. However the data released on request was the official recorded incident data, which ran midnight to midnight. A large proportion of the “match day” domestic violence incidents were happening between midnight and 5am, and were not showing up in the daily statistics. It was a salutary reminder that not only do we have to keep a close eye on those who release and act upon official statistics, we have to keep a similarly close eye on those who seek to debunk official statistics, even through such channels as the Freedom of Information Act.

As I mentioned however, there are caveats. We should bear in mind that there are more police on duty on match days. They may, therefore, be more likely to catch couples who are brawling / assaulting each other in public. These cases will show up in the statistics. It is also possible that the publicity and warnings surrounding domestic violence on match days is, to an extent, effective. It might encourage victims to call for help when otherwise they would not have done.

Most significantly, however, we should bear in mind that it is not only football matches that cause such spikes in domestic violence. The figures also rise a lot on bank holidays and (of course) occasions such as Christmas and New Year. Last month Manchester saw its worst weekend for domestic abuse this year, worse even than New Year. Why? Apparently for no other reason than the sun came out and people got thirsty. An exercise I have always wanted to undertake (remind me sometime) would be to access domestic violence data for occasions such as royal weddings or the Queen’s Jubilee, when a national holiday and street parties are actively encouraged. I strongly suspect we would see the same effect, although for some reason the media seems reluctant to highlight those risks.

There is one final point that must be made about this research. A couple of recent papers in medical journals by Zara Quigg and colleagues (here and here)  have examined emergency department injury data on World Cup match days. Once again, the effect is there – a significant rise in admissions should be expected. What is less often mentioned is that the great majority of injuries are to men, with young adult males (18 -34) alone representing more than half of all admissions. The gender difference in hospital admissions which exists every weekend does not narrow on big match days – it increases.

Lest there be any misunderstanding, I do not doubt that this is overwhelmingly men’s violence against men. From a male point of view, this is our problem. However there is a widespread assumption that such casualties are self-inflicted – lads going out, looking for a fight and coming off worse. That can happen, but research into street violence shows that a lot of incidents are unilateral or the result of several assailants attacking one victim. No level of violence is a tolerable level of violence.

I support and endorse campaigns which highlight the increased risks of partner abuse around football matches. The myths on this score are propagated not by police and charities, but by denialists. Having said that, I’d like to see a little more acknowledgement that the risks are not only faced by women.

On that note, I wish you an enjoyable, successful and above all, safe World Cup. It’s Samba Time!

Comments

  1. Sigil says

    Drinking too much is related to an up in many crimes, even if there is an uptick its still dishonest and demonization to link it to a sport that everyone knows is male.

    You could just as easily link it to christmas or your queens birthday.

    The superbowl hoax in the US was exploited to usher in civil right rights roll backs and discriminatory legislationm btw.

  2. AsqJames says

    @Sigil,

    Um…I think that’s pretty much what Ally said isn’t it?

    Except for this bit of course: “a sport that everyone knows is male.”
    Well done for challenging those stereotypes ;)

  3. H. E. Pennypacker says

    Great piece Ally, I was aware of the debate and hadn’t seen these more recent studies. I find it odd that MRAs would want to deny this trend. Surely it fits with the notion that not all violence against women is about men as a group enforcing control over women as a group but is often about other things (emotions, being drunk etc.) It seems to me like a case of, “well, if feminists say it then surely it must be wrong”.

    However, I do have to take issue with this part towards the end:

    “I do not doubt that this is overwhelmingly men’s violence against men. From a male point of view, this is our problem.”

    I’ve never really bought this sort of logic. It’s a societal problem. When men beat up other men only male individuals are involved but to then conclude that this means it is a purely male problem requires imagining the individuals involved as being completely insulated from the broader culture. The culture that has contributing to them engaging in violent behaviour and seeing other men as the most legitimate targets of their violence is a culture in which we are all involved – both men and women. That doesn’t mean responsibility is shared equally but we also can’t apportion blame strictly along gendered lines.

  4. Paul Inman says

    What you appear to be pointing out is a link between alcohol and violence in the UK, which I don’t think there is any doubt about, the football itself is probably only a small factor in the increase in violence.

  5. Sigil says

    @ H.E Pennypacker

    “I find it odd that MRAs would want to deny this trend.”

    Mra’s won’t want to deny anything that’s in legitimate data.

    Objecting to the super bowl hoax isn’t the same thing as objecting to legitimate data and trends, I’m an mra and I made basically the same argument as Ally – I’d put it in stronger terms.

    Feminists are dishonestly linking an uptick in violence that occurs whenever there is excessive drinking to male sport, and this is standard and deliberate hate propaganda for the movement.

    Ally said/ H.E Pennypacker quoted – “I do not doubt that this is overwhelmingly men’s violence against men. From a male point of view, this is our problem.”

    This is overly simplistic – women commit most family violence, male children are abused more and more seriously, male children that witness family violence are more likely to act out violently.

    There won’t be any solution in the feminist model of pretending human problems belong to one gender and segregating people along those lines.

  6. carnation says

    @ Sid
    @ Ally

    “Feminists are dishonestly linking an uptick in violence that occurs whenever there is excessive drinking to male sport, and this is standard and deliberate hate propaganda for the movement.”

    In the interests of academic merit, has there been a controlled study that looks at instances of heavy drinking and no sport and the effect on DV/male victims of violence compared to the Old Firm?

  7. H. E. Pennypacker says

    @Sigil

    Follwing “legitimate” very much depends on what data you consider “legitimate”. It’s not as simple as saying “we can clearly and objectively decide which statistics (and interpretations of these statistics) are legitimate and base our decisions purely on this”.

    Personally, it does seem that MRAs are overall approach statistics more critically than feminists* but there are obviously plenty on both sides (as well as in any other area of debate) who choose the data that fits their ideas and then endlessly repeat it.

    I’m also not sure that you can paint warnings over potential increases in violence as simple hate-mongering. I’m certainly not saying feminism and feminists are perfect by any means but it seems likely that the majority of people warning about increases in violence around large sports events are doing so out of genuine concern for the well-being of others rather than because they hate sport because it’s primarily associated with men.

    *I’m not sure that this is because they are necessarily more honest but because they are generally critquing widely disseminated feminist claim.

  8. 123454321 says

    “What you appear to be pointing out is a link between alcohol and violence in the UK, which I don’t think there is any doubt about, the football itself is probably only a small factor in the increase in violence.”

    You took the words right out of my mouth! But football and violence is an argument that feminists probably prefer.

  9. JT says

    I dont find it all that objectionable to think that there may be a slight increase of male on female violence around certain major sporting events. I personally think the perpetrators of said violence are probably heavy drinkers and more than likely gamblers. Two recipes for anger and violence interwined around the same event. I doubt the increase is because there are more men committing the violence, I would imagine its that the likely ones are more agitated and therefore more likely to act on that agitation. Do they ever factor in repeat offenders when compiling the statistics on DV?

  10. carnation says

    @ all

    I’m afraid, guys, that when talking about the subject matter, we cannot escape the spectre of the awful combination of patriarchal misandry/toxic masculinity and alcohol.

    Football can bring the worst out in people, mostly men, as can alcohol.

    Football appeals to the most dysfunctional aspects of masculinity.

  11. JT says

    Football appeals to the most dysfunctional aspects of masculinity.(carnation)

    Now, which “football” are you referring to?

  12. carnation says

    @ JT

    I am referring to the sport, as a whole. So many people, mostly men, invest so much time, energy, emotion and money into something that is meaningless, aggressive, pointless and tribalistic.

    To me, it’s an ongoing acting out of the outpouring of “grief” when Diana died – faux emotion, brought about by an abstract device, designed to appeal to the masses.

  13. Sigil says

    H. E. Pennypacker@ 7

    Legitimate statistics are just the ones gathered and presented without an agenda.

    “I’m also not sure that you can paint warnings over potential increases in violence as simple hate-mongering”

    Traditionally and historically when social sciences and statistics are used and abused by a political group to paint on demographic is a bad and fearful light its recognised as hate propaganda.

    I think feminism has more leeway with this because of gender stereotypes (oh its only women they can’t really do much harm) and because the target group is men.

    Were it some white group abusing statistics to demonize a minority what’s going on would be crystal clear.

  14. says

    Carnation wrote:

    Football appeals to the most dysfunctional aspects of masculinity.

    What specifically are these dysfunctional aspects, and in what way does football appeal to them?

  15. JT says

    So many people, mostly men, invest so much time, energy, emotion and money into something that is meaningless, aggressive, pointless and tribalistic.(carnation)

    Wow, so ignorant in its totality that I wont even bother trying to correct it. :(

  16. 123454321 says

    “I am referring to the sport, as a whole. So many people, mostly men, invest so much time, energy, emotion and money into something that is meaningless, aggressive, pointless and tribalistic.”

    It surely can’t be possible that I agree with you twice in one day!

  17. JT says

    @123…..

    Isnt it nice to know that you and carnation think Ally is wasting his time, energy, emotion and money watching something that is meanignless, aggressive, pointless and tribalistic?

  18. 123454321 says

    Actually, I can see the appeal of football; it’s just not my cup of tea. I agree half way with carnation that there is an aggressive side to the game (I hate that side and can see where Carnation gets the word ” tribalistic” from) but it’s certainly not meaningless or pointless. In fact it’s representative of the desire in humans to compete and it’s a harmless, fun pastime for most, so I get it.

  19. says

    17, JT

    No human is perfectly rational. Watching weighted random number generators as a matter of national pride seems pretty stupid to me.

  20. Adiabat says

    I’m not a massive fan of football, and think that it’s given way too much prominence in society, but I also think dissing people’s hobbies and interests just because you personally don’t like it or understand its appeal is a shitty thing to do.

    Most hobbies, from football to gardening to trainspotting are basically meaningless, but people enjoy them for their own reasons. That’s the whole point of a hobby.

  21. Sigil says

    Spectacles in stadiums have been a means of distracting the masses for quite some time …

  22. says

    I’m not a massive fan of football, and think that it’s given way too much prominence in society, but I also think dissing people’s hobbies and interests just because you personally don’t like it or understand its appeal is a shitty thing to do.

    Oh, I am quite the football fan and I play it in my free time as well. Nevertheless football fandom is a pretty inane pursuit and if I were rational and goal oriented I would try to find hobbies with more utility.

  23. Paul says

    I am referring to the sport, as a whole. So many people, mostly men, invest so much time, energy, emotion and money into something that is meaningless, aggressive, pointless and tribalistic.

    Trolling again are we Carnation ?

  24. JT says

    I think many people(from both sides) miss the point of group sports. Especially violent ones. If participated in properly both on the field and off, people are able to vent in a tribalistic way that is both respectful and healthy. The acknowledgement from both players and fans is that what happens on the field stays on the field and at the end they all shake hands and honour each others participation. Winners and losers. The problem can and does sometimes happen when individuals or groups lose sight of the reason of the activity and take it to another level. This mentality isnt exclusive to sports. ;)

    I personally love the emotion, energy, aggression and tribal nature of sports. It is a wonderful and respect way to vent. If its not your “cup of tea” so to speak, then I suggest a walk in the park to get in your Zen mode. :)

  25. carnation says

    @ everyone

    Um, no I’m not trolling. I think football is a waste of time – it’s inane and absolutely pointless.

    Like 123454321, I can see the appeal, but I think that when you stop to think about it, it’s obvious why it’s a waste of time. A capitalist’s dream with customers who won’t jump ship.

    I’m not looking down at anyone who’s into it, I just think it’s pointless and does nothing particularly positive for society.

  26. That Guy says

    as somone where there’s been a significant number of football related murders, I can;t think of anything more repulsive than watching overpaid footballers incite violence on the pitch and commit sex offences off the pitch.

    I can imagine football has an abstract appeal in terms of the sport as it is meant to be played- but in the working class areas of the UK it brings out the absolute worst in people.

  27. says

    Carnation, I find your use of the phrase “toxic masculinity” inflammatory. Are you saying that masculinity in toto is toxic? That elements of masculinity are toxic? Or that different brands of masculinity exist: ‘toxic’ and ‘benign’? What specifically is toxic about masculinity? Does the corollary, “toxic femininity” exist?

    I’m getting pretty damn tired of the insinuations that being a man is some kind of disease.

  28. carnation says

    @ Matt Cavanagh

    Are you stupid or are you trying to start an argument?

    Do you understand the difference between sex and gender? People are born with a sex, they perform a myriad of gender roles. Some gender roles are toxic. Some masculinities are included in these.

    You’ll notice that I actually wrote “patriarchal misandry/toxic masculinities” – it is toxic masculinity (and/or patriarchal misandry, or vise versa) that causes men to attack other men over such football, some notion of “respect”, or to alternatively prove something.

    This is basic, basic stuff. Don’t ask me such ridiculous questions if you are sensitive to a curt response. Try Google first.

  29. Sigil says

    Notice how carnation has disqualified himself from continuing his tribilastic, pointless and aggressive behaviour here in the future.

  30. carnation says

    @ Sid (AKA Sigil)

    #31

    That actually doesn’t make any sense. What do you mean?

  31. Sigil says

    Pretending not to understand people when you do would be an example of your pointless and in this case passive aggression.

    You have already disqualified this kind of behaviour.

  32. carnation says

    @ Sigil

    #33

    Who has disqualified me and from what? What are you talking about?

    And who am I pretending not to understand?

    I don’t understand you, because of your limited command of words.

  33. bugmaster says

    @Carnation #30:

    Debates about terminology aside, I’m curious about something Matt Cavanaugh asked: are there aspects of femininity that are considered toxic ? If so, what are they ?

  34. Sigil says

    @carnation

    You understand that this blog had some issues with the aggression of yourself and one other pro feminist male – both of you being highly aggressive over political tribalism and protecting women.

    aka – the same spectrum of dysfunctional male behavior you are now linking to football.

  35. Ally Fogg says

    Carnation & Sigil

    I’m failing to detect any relevance to the OP in the past few tweets.

    Have some consideration for others, please?

  36. Jacob Schmidt says

    I’m getting pretty damn tired of the insinuations that being a man is some kind of disease.

    Your past experiences with such insinuations being duly noted, Carnation made no such insinuation.

    Debates about terminology aside, I’m curious about something Matt Cavanaugh asked: are there aspects of femininity that are considered toxic ? If so, what are they ?

    “Toxic” in this case basically means “harmful to others” or “self destructive”; men avoiding hospital visits (admitting you’re sick/injured and need help just isn’t manly) is a great example of toxic masculinity that pretty much only hurts men. Any aspect of femininity that is harmful to others or self destructive would also count. The prevalence of bulimia and anorexia nervosa in women might be an example; women harming their bodies to meet a feminine ideal would fit the bill, I think.

    On that note, I’m curious as to how many women vs. men suffer from anorexia athletica; given that cultural masculine ideal is muscular, I suspect more men suffer from a compulsive need to bulk up with weights than women.

  37. JT says

    @Ally

    So, I questioned earlier whether DV stats included repeat offenders or not, would you know the answer to that?

  38. Jacob Schmidt says

    I think in that case body dysmorphic disorder would be relevant.

    Certainly, but women are well over represented among people who suffer from anorexia and bulimia.

  39. JT says

    Certainly, but women are well over represented among people who suffer from anorexia and bulimia.(jacob)

    And that comment matters how?

  40. mildlymagnificent says

    The comments about the tribalistic attachments to football teams chimed a distant bell in my mind. In Australia we have four football codes – Australian rules, rugby league, rugby union as well as soccer. I saw/heard some commentary a while ago about the supporter base being very different for AFL from all the other codes – many more women involved as club members, season ticket holders and in supporter groups, families much more likely to attend matches, training or club events as families. The tribalism is strongest in AFL, but it’s much more often like a family religious affiliation than a men-only tribal identity like the old soccer hooligan mode.

    It’d be hard to parse out any differences – if there were any – in IPV at finals time because there are high stakes matches being played more or less simultaneously in the two biggest codes, AFL and league, during the finals season although the grand finals themselves aren’t on the same weekend.

  41. Ally Fogg says

    JT

    Do they ever factor in repeat offenders when compiling the statistics on DV?

    Depends which stats you are talking about.

    Most prevalence studies (eg BCS/CSEW), such as those I was discussing in the last blog, look for numbers of victims. Within that, they will subgroup them into those who were victims once or multiple times.

    Police reports (such as those we’re mostly talking about here) count incidents. And yes, many of those are accounted for by a relatively small number of chronic repeat offenders.

    It’s why I have no issue with what some police forces are doing now in the run up to the World Cup, of contacting those repeat offenders and basically saying “watch yourself, coz we’re watching you.”

  42. H. E. Pennypacker says

    @Carnation

    “I’m not looking down at anyone who’s into it, I just think it’s pointless and does nothing particularly positive for society.”

    Just like music, art and holidays.

    Although I appreciate this article I actually think that increased DV around football matches is one of the least interesting topics on sport and gender (because, let’s face it, the idea that getting really drunk and then experiencing very powerful negative emotions might increase the chances of people being violent seems fairly banal).

    Sport is, in my opinion, pretty much the only area in which really worthwhile and insightful academic work on masculinity is being done. Everything else I read is normally either a feminist inspired critique of problems with masculinity or a reaction against this kind of thinking (eg. Warren Farrel, or the mythopoetic stuff) both of which can contain good ideas but are, for me, overall fairly weak. Of course, there is other academic stuff being done which isn’t so explicitly either feminist or a reaction against feminism but I think the real strength of many sociological or historical analyses of sport is that the writers often haven’t positioned themselves as coming from a feminist perspective or as a reaction against feminism. Often it seems that they’ve started studying sport and then realised that they can’t do this without theorising masculinity. As such, they do this without being weighed down with prior assumptions due to what side of the fence they are on.

  43. Ally Fogg says

    Sport is, in my opinion, pretty much the only area in which really worthwhile and insightful academic work on masculinity is being done.

    Any recommended reading?

    (For the record, I take your point about the link between football, drinking and DV being almost banal. It surprises me that people even bother to question it, but they do!)

  44. Adiabat says

    Sheaf (22):

    Nevertheless football fandom is a pretty inane pursuit and if I were rational and goal oriented I would try to find hobbies with more utility.

    Meh, the same can be said for the vast majority of hobbies and interests, or any enjoyable activity such as going to the movies. And while there are hobbies that may have more utility if you do them solely because of that, and not because you enjoy them, they cease to be hobbies.

    RE: ‘Toxic Masculinity’

    “Toxic Masculinity” is just a blatant attempt to blame men for their own problems, and trying to shame them into fitting into a more ‘feminist approved’ male gender role; One that is just as oppressive and harmful. It’s interesting how the rhetoric around ‘freeing women from their gender role’ was one of “liberation”, “freedom” and “choice”, while feminists attempts at doing the same for men is “It’s your own fault”, “Your behaviours are toxic” and “Change!”.

    This is Feminists “honest” attempt at looking at men’s issues and it’s pathetic.

    There’s nothing wrong with stoicism, or any of the behaviours deemed “toxic”: any personality trait has extremes where they become harmful in some way. The only issue is the freedom of men to exhibit other behaviours if they want to: If a man decides to break away from the traditional gender role and see a doctor for a minor ailment is he going to get the same attention and concern from the GP as women who go (my personal experience, and that of many men I’ve brought it up with, is ‘no’)? Is he going to be shamed by other men for going? Are women going to find him less attractive (whether an existing partner or prospective partner)? Is his employer/manager going to think worse of him than they would a female employee?

    Simply deeming a behaviour “toxic” is shallow thinking and indicative of a misandric mind-set.

  45. H. E. Pennypacker says

    @Ally

    And the fact that they question it is why this post is appreciated.

    As for recommended reading my favourite is probably “Masculinities” by the anthropologist Eduardo Archetti which looks at football, polo and the tango in Argentina. It’s absolutely full of ideas about the construction of ideals of masculinity and the possibilities of conflict or of coexistence between them. Last time I looked you could pick it up for next to nothing second-hand on Amazon.

    The really big name in the history of sport is J. A. Magnan. His particular thing is sports culture in Victorian (and to a lesser extent Edwardian) public schools. This was the idea of sport as moral training, promoting a type of muscular Christianity, turning upper-class boys into strong-willed and principled men who can go out into the world and administer the empire. This ideal also became more militaristic and sports came to explicitly talked about as a preparation for war. He also looks at a lot of poetry and literature aimed at public school boys that explicitly spells out all these ideological links between a certain morality, sport, war and empire. I’ve mostly read articles by him but they’re probably mostly behind pay-walls but he has also edited several collections.

    Most stuff in the International Journal of the History of Sport is good and some of it’s excellent although I can’t remember specific writers off the top of my head. A lot of it is links between sport and war but by no means all of it. Again, behind a pay wall unfortunately.

    There’s some pretty good stuff on Brazilian football but it’s less explicitly about masculinity although it’s quite possible to read it in this way.

    Come to think of it I’ve got a load of articles from journals as pdfs if you’re interested.

  46. says

    Meh, the same can be said for the vast majority of hobbies and interests, or any enjoyable activity such as going to the movies. And while there are hobbies that may have more utility if you do them solely because of that, and not because you enjoy them, they cease to be hobbies.

    Then the most rational thing is finding activities which you enjoy and and that have utility. But this is pretty academic as it seems to me that the energy I have to do stupid stuff like drawing or watching football is not fungible for some mysterious reason.

  47. Adiabat says

    sheaf (49): We like what we like, and I agree it’s not really subject to reason. But I also think this means dismissing people’s hobbies is a bit silly. Some people like looking at train timetables (for some reason), others like to memorize the number of free-kicks Suarez has had in a season. Both equally pointless, but people get enjoyment out of them nonetheless.

    Live and let live I say.

  48. H. E. Pennypacker says

    @Adibat

    ““Toxic Masculinity” is just a blatant attempt to blame men for their own problems, and trying to shame them into fitting into a more ‘feminist approved’ male gender role; One that is just as oppressive and harmful. It’s interesting how the rhetoric around ‘freeing women from their gender role’ was one of “liberation”, “freedom” and “choice”, while feminists attempts at doing the same for men is “It’s your own fault”, “Your behaviours are toxic” and “Change!”.”

    To be honest I think the difference in language largely stems from the fact that most feminisms hold that traditional gender roles oppress women for men’s benefit. Thus, from that position it would be reasonable to conclude that women would naturally want to throw of the shackles of their oppression whereas men wouldn’t want to relinquish their privilege. Of course, after several decades of this rhetoric it has become clear that a large proportion of women aren’t as keen on throwing off the shackles as predicted and in this case there certainly are plenty of feminists who are happy to declare these behaviours problematic and state that these women need to change (of course, this is by no means all and probably the vast majority of feminists would condemn a woman who wanted to be a housewife and not go to work than a man who insisted on being the sole bread-winner).

    I think that in most cases its not necessarily useful to put these moral judgments on gendered behaviour. If we take the example of a woman who likes reading stories about how terrible celebrities look without their make-up. You could describe this as toxic femininity (it contributes to ideas about a womans value being based on how she looks etc.). But I think we can better analyse these sorts of magazines/articles(why they are so popular, what effects they have, the actual experience of people who read them etc.) if we avoid placing moral judgment on this action from the outset. Obviously, all this also applies to “toxic masculinity”.

  49. Adiabat says

    H. E. Pennypacker (51):

    To be honest I think the difference in language largely stems from the fact that most feminisms hold that traditional gender roles oppress women for men’s benefit.

    I agree with your assessment. Of course, the fact that they’re wrong in that belief is their problem. It means that their analyses and attempts to examine the issues are going to fail from the outset.

    They’ve “theorized” themselves into irrelevance.

    Of course, after several decades of this rhetoric it has become clear that a large proportion of women aren’t as keen on throwing off the shackles as predicted and in this case there certainly are plenty of feminists who are happy to declare these behaviours problematic and state that these women need to change

    Yeah, feminists used to be a lot worse for this. They lost sight of the fact that it was supposed to about freedom to choose, not replacing one gender role for another one. At some point they realised they were alienating so many women so they tend to be a bit more permissive of stay-at-home-mums and housewives nowadays.

    There’s nothing inherently bad about fitting into a more traditional gender role. What I don’t understand is the feminists that realise this for women, and don’t see a problem with women who choose a more traditional role, then turning round and attacking men who choose to fulfil their more traditional gender role.

    It’s like they never learn from their mistakes.

    P.S I agree regarding not putting moral judgments on gendered behaviour.

  50. H. E. Pennypacker says

    @Adibat

    I think we’re fairly close here just that whilst you think feminisms made itself irrelevant, personally I think its looking increasingly like a tool that’s too blunt for analysing gender. That’s not to say it hasn’t produced huge numbers of incredible insights but that it’s starting to look like a greater understanding of gender could be gained by an approach that doesn’t take men’s benefit at women’s expense as an undisputed a priori assumption of all analysis. Unfortunately no viable alternative framework exists although there are glimpses of what it might be like here and there (and in “here and there” I’m including feminist theory).

    Back on the topic, I notice that article Ally cites from the Guardian switches between acknowledging and hiding female perpetrator and male victims.

    It starts with “Police are issuing personal warnings to men and women with a record of domestic violence in the runup to England’s first World Cup game,”

    But then instantly reverts to “acting on evidence that abuse against wives, girlfriends and partners spikes dramatically in the aftermath of matches – whether the team wins or loses.” Obviously men are technically included in “partners” but it’s still bizarre.

    It then points out the police’s campaign to “highlight that victims can be male, female, gay or straight”, but soon afterwards reverts to referring to it as “violence against women”.

    I wonder if the strange back and forth on this is because the police initiative is explicit that men can be victims and women perpetrators but this doesn’t fit the writers idea of violence against women domestic violence.

  51. redpesto says

    Re. sport and masculinity: how about By His Own Hand, which is about the links between men, suicide and cricket?

    That said, I’ve not seen the police run anti-DV campaigns in the run-up to an Ashes series. In fact, if Ally is thinking of looking at the DV stats for the Jubilee, he could do worse than also do a comparative study of DV stats for Andy Murray’s two Wimbledon finals.

    The focus on football is either the result of it being a national sport (except the original study referred to by Snopes was about American Football, not soccer) or because it’s taken to be *the* location of masculinity in relation to sport – unlike, say, rugby (either code) or cricket (which in turn might be partly to do with class as well as gender).

  52. carnation says

    @ H E Pennypacker

    Some valid points, ruined by a shrill, paranoid MRA trope.

    Re the concept of toxic maculinity, who is trying to shame men? Examples? And these supposed feminist approved men, which specific feminists are approving of them? And in what way?

    Discussion about toxic masculinities can and should take place without reference to feminism and largely even without reference to women.

    Toxic masculinity to me victimises men on a far greater scale than women, IMO. Stiff upper lip/boys don’t cry/man up – patriarchal misandry/toxic masculinity. That guy looked at my gf/me so I hit him/fighting is ok as long as you don’t use knives – more of the same.

    MRAs are obsessemd with their (imaginary) enemies “shaming” them. Projection, much?

    Re the point about cricket/rugby etc – I think this backs up my point about the emotional investment in what is essentially a business product. You buy/into an identity and subculture, one that is often under attack. A maelsstrom of inconsequential events triggers joy/despair etc. Hmm… sounds a bit like the MRM.

  53. mildlymagnificent says

    There’s some pretty good stuff on Brazilian football but it’s less explicitly about masculinity although it’s quite possible to read it in this way.

    I’d expect it to be a taken-for-granted background for any such discussion. After all, women were prohibited from playing football in Brazil until 1979. (I think it’s 1979, anyone know more/better/different?)

  54. JT says

    You buy/into an identity and subculture, one that is often under attack. A maelsstrom of inconsequential events triggers joy/despair etc. Hmm… sounds a bit like the MRM.(carnation)

    Group dynamics are very similar across the board. Look at enough of the different factions of feminism and you will find a eerily similar type of individual partaking in their chosen group.

  55. JT says

    Well, my view of the whackjobs in both groups is they act pretty similar. But Im sure you dont have the same view as I.

  56. JT says

    @carnation

    Do you believe people have to express violence for in the same manner for it to be equally violent?

  57. redpesto says

    Carnation #55:

    You buy/into an identity and subculture, one that is often under attack. A maelsstrom of inconsequential events triggers joy/despair etc. Hmm… sounds a bit like the MRM.

    Or One Direction fans. Or gamers. Or blogging commenters.

  58. bugmaster says

    @carnation et al:

    Ok, so are there any beneficial aspects of masculinity/femininity, or is it all pretty much toxic, or is it mostly neutral with a few toxic exceptions, or what ? How do you decide whether a particular aspect of masculinity/femininity is toxic or not ?

  59. carnation says

    @ Bugmaster

    Of course there are huge numbers of beneficial aspects of a whole host of genders. And it’s a spectrum that’s fluid and ever-changing. As for the prevalence of toxic masculinity, again, it’s fluid – all men are pressured into “manning up”, stifling emotions and so on. A very small minority act out violently.

  60. bugmaster says

    @Carnation #64:

    Thanks, but I was looking for something more specific. I was looking for beneficial and neutral examples; as well as for the set of criteria (however fluid) that are used to identify which gender aspects are toxic. I was hoping the examples would illustrate the criteria.

    I understand that “manning up” can be toxic, but, as you say, it’s a spectrum. Yes, bottling your emotions — not to mention physical ailments ! — up inside is not a good thing, for anyone. At the same time though, any person who goes to pieces at the slightest provocation could benefit from some enhanced stoicism, as long as it’s not taken to extremes. So, I can’t unequivocally agree that stoicism is always “toxic”; though, obviously, it is not and should not be gender-specific. But then, as per my previous paragraph, I’m not even sure if this is what you mean by “toxic” at all.

  61. mildlymagnificent says

    Ok, so are there any beneficial aspects of masculinity/femininity, or is it all pretty much toxic, or is it mostly neutral with a few toxic exceptions, or what ? How do you decide whether a particular aspect of masculinity/femininity is toxic or not ?

    Is it toxic? Look at how much harm it does to the person themselves and/or to the people around them.

    For both men and women, one toxic element is ‘learned helplessness’.

    Women who are widowed and don’t know how to pay bills or even know where the insurance and other legal and financial documents are. In many cases, their husbands would have been offended or become angry if the woman had asked about finances other than the housekeeping allowance. But in too many others, the women themselves had been taught that it wasn’t feminine or ladylike to intrude into such male domains. So apart from the grief of loss, they also had to deal with bill collectors at the door and financial problems and possible losses that could have been completely avoided if they’d had a passing familiarity with household finances.

    Then there are the men who can’t make a bed or a meal or buy clothes for themselves or mop a floor or take a child to the doctor or do laundry for the family/household – because that’s women’s work. Both men and women can finish up with people who are utterly lost if their partner is sick or dies or leaves. That’s toxic.

    Funnily enough, a lot of men of my father’s and grandfather’s generation were better off in some respects than some younger men – because extended military service meant they’d learned to wash/darn their own socks and throw a meal together. The price for that was pretty high though – PTSD and other lifelong consequences meant that their lives were not as good as they might otherwise have been.

  62. says

    So far, for examples of toxic masculinity we have:
    * Interest in sports, which, per carnation, is “meaningless, aggressive, pointless and tribalistic”, and mostly a guy thing;
    * [Some?] men attack each other over sports or for “respect”;
    * Men tend to check into the ER less frequently than women do (though unclear whether men do so too infrequently, or women too often);
    * All men stifle their emotions;
    * Body image issues.

    For examples of toxic femininity, we have:
    * Body image issues;
    * Anorexia/ bulimia.

    Notably, carnation provided no examples of toxic femininity.

    That’s it? We’re supposed to upend society based on this? I see less innate aspects of masculinity / femininity, than the limited, albeit unhealthy, influence of hoary stereotypes.

    Are there not unique traits to masculinity & to femininity that are laudable?

  63. Lucy says

    I was walking past that pub in Baker Street on some kind of major ball-kicking event the other week. Massive crowd of beered-up men blocking the whole pavement, wearing their quasi semi military uniforms, shouting and chanting like they were on a battle field, policed (at my expense) to the hilt to ensure that’s all they did. These are the friendly ones.

    All the women, and the Muslims on their way to Regents Park mosque, crossed to the other side of the street, kept their heads down and walked quickly by.

    It reminded me of Mike Buchanan’s “men have always been held accountable, unlike women” story.

  64. Carnation says

    @ Matt Cavanagh

    You have misquoted me, so blatantly that I don’t accept it was in error. Like many people who take part in these types of discussions, you seem either unable or unwilling to understand very basic concepts, like the difference between sex and gender.

    Therefore, it’s a waste if my time to continue discussing this with you.

  65. H. E. Pennypacker says

    @Carnation (55)

    I’m slightly confused as to what I’ve said that you’ve interpreted as a paranoid MRA trope.

  66. Iamcuriousblue says

    “Great piece Ally, I was aware of the debate and hadn’t seen these more recent studies. I find it odd that MRAs would want to deny this trend. Surely it fits with the notion that not all violence against women is about men as a group enforcing control over women as a group but is often about other things (emotions, being drunk etc.) It seems to me like a case of, “well, if feminists say it then surely it must be wrong”.

    It’s more a case that related claims have are proven wrong, and this claim fits the pattern. Notably, Ally mentions the widely-debunked Superbowl-domestic violence study, a very similar claim to this one. There’s also the now-debunked claims about spikes in “human trafficking” around the Superbowl, World Cup, and other major sports events, which have lead police departments to seriously misallocate resources, or at least serve to justify increased police harassment of sex workers around these events.

    It’s an interesting study that Ally links to, the first I’ve seen showing any kind of “there there” when it comes to claims of spikes in violence against women or human trafficking around major sports events. Again, the study was very localized and has not been replicated, so I’d treat generalizing it with caution considering the sheer amount of myth-making has taken place around this topic.

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