Gender equality? Meh


Those with the patience to read through the comments on this blog might have come upon an interesting exchange towards the bottom of my last blog thread.

Some of our regulars were taking issue with me over the issue of equality and my habit of saying “Meh” to demands for equal treatment of men and women. I thought it would be worth a thread of its own to set out what I mean.

I’ve written before that there is a commonly held fallacy that the way you achieve social equality is to treat everyone equally. The problem is that if you start from a position of inequality, to treat everyone equally is to sustain and conserve that inequality and it can even serve to widen inequalities (consider the effect of a flat poll tax on economic inequalities, for example.)  There’s also the analogy that if a 5’ tall person is standing up to their neck in water and a 6’ person is standing alongside up to their waist in water, and you add another six inches of water to the barrel, you are treating them equally  – but not fairly.

However there is a wider issue here, and I think it is absolutely at the heart of the political difference between me and Philip Davies or more generally, me and the men’s rights movement.

In any kind of evaluation or appraisal of social justice, equality can be a pretty good proxy measure. If you successfully pursue the goals of social and economic justice, human rights, civil liberties and human wellbeing, you will usually end up with people coming out roughly equally across lines of gender, race, culture or whatever.

If you find yourself with large discrepancies – for example the vast majority of rough sleepers being male or the vast majority of victims of sexual violence being female, then you can use that as a pretty good indicator that you’ve failed to establish the kind of just society we seek, on that measure at least.

The key point, however, is that pursuing equality as an end in itself can lead you to some terrible conclusions.

To illustrate, ask why we might want more support and counselling services for male survivors of sexual abuse. Do we want those services because there are thousands of men who desperately and urgently need help and who are not getting it, or do we want those services because women get them and so it is “only fair” that men do too?

In the abstract this can look like quite a theoretical distinction but it has immense real world applications.

For example, if your goal is equality you can achieve that by closing down a load of Rape Crisis services for women.

If you are following an equality agenda, this comes out as a good thing. If you are following an agenda based on any kind of humanity and compassion then it is monstrous.

Again, back to our old pal Philip Davies, who stands up at MRA conferences and talks about the unfairness of the judicial system and sentencing. He wants it to be “more fair” by which he means “more equal.”

But he does not support prison reform in any meaningful sense, he does not want to end our appalling over-dependence on custodial punishment, overuse of remand or anything similar. He wants to make it more fair not by imprisoning fewer men but by imprisoning more women. And again that, in my opinion, is monstrous.

A couple of years ago the (then) equalities secretary Nicky Morgan made a big play of boasting about new statistics showing that the Tory / Coalition governments had narrowed the gender pay gap to its lowest level ever.

Here is how they did it

gender pay gap

The lowest paid quarter of the population had seen their wages plummet since the financial crash of 2008. The lowest paid quarter of women had seen their earnings drop by 40p per hour. The lowest paid quarter of men had seen their earnings drop by 70p per hour.

The result? A closure in the gender pay gap, a step closer to equality.

Who had gained? Nobody. Everyone was losing (except possibly the employers.)

One could at a stretch propose a Spirit Level-type argument about relative wealth, but even that doesn’t hold up to a moment’s consideration. Women and men do not earn, keep and spend their money independently. Those men who saw their wages plummet will, in many or most cases, be helping support families, feed children, throwing their money into household budgets and when adult male salaries fall, women and children in the real world suffer (and of course vice versa with women’s salaries.)

This is one reason why you won’t often find me tweeting or blogging about the gender pay gap – closing it as an end in itself is a highly dangerous objective.  You will, however, find me writing and wittering on about how we socialise boys and girls in to different arbitrary and power-based gender roles, about opening society’s minds to the possibilities of women engineers and male teachers and childcare workers, about every member of our society having the opportunities to fulfilment and self-actualisation through family, lifestyle, education and careers.

Sort out that stuff and the gender pay gap may one day disappear. If we do sort it out and then find that women and men are still making different choices with different implications for their earnings…

Meh.

Comments

  1. redpesto says

    Fogg:

    The lowest paid quarter of the population had seen their wages plummet since the financial crash of 2008. The lowest paid quarter of women had seen their earnings drop by 40p per hour. The lowest paid quarter of men had seen their earnings drop by 70p per hour.

    The result? A closure in the gender pay gap, a step closer to equality.

    Who had gained? Nobody. Everyone was losing (except possibly the employers.)

    Yet this was exactly the strategy advocated by Jessica Valenti in the Guardian a year or two ago. Either she was being satirical or she clearly didn’t see the full implications. The model of gender equality that ends up being not much more than ‘getting the numbers right’ in terms of parity of outcome (i.e. 50/50 gender balance) is not always clear exactly how – and at what cost – it’s actually going to happen.

    See also this piece I wrote for Liberal Conspiracy years ago on council employee redundancies.

  2. Adiabat says

    I don’t think you correctly describe what ‘treating people equally’ means. It means treating people as individuals according to the same guidelines that apply to anyone, regardless of immutable traits they have no control over. That is what is meant by equal treatment under the law. These guidelines may include taking into account certain circumstances, such as wealth when sentencing to maintain the disincentive.

    Gender isn’t one of these circumstances to be taken into account. It’s just a rough and widely variable trait you happen to have with little predictive power about the circumstances of the individual (much less the relative “starting inequality” you mention), and therefore it should have no influence on how someone should be treated by the legal system: that’s anti-sexism 101.

    Now, gender may cause a higher likelihood of an individual having a certain circumstances that should be taken into consideration (such as care responsibilities for a family member), but gender alone tells you nothing about an individual. If a particular circumstance (such as being a parent) is taken into account for one person and not another based on nothing but gender, then the justice system is not treating people equally or fairly.

    Claiming that “gender equality is a meaningless construct”, is claiming that gender alone should be a factor in how someone is treated by the justice system. That position is not only sexist but will lead to injustices, particularly for anyone who is not a ‘typical’ person of their gender.

    For example, if your goal is equality you can achieve that by closing down a load of Rape Crisis services for women.

    If you are following an equality agenda, this comes out as a good thing. If you are following an agenda based on any kind of humanity and compassion then it is monstrous.

    Like with prison sentences you are conflating two issues as one. The equality issue is the disparity in service provided to each gender, proportional to need. And then there’s this issue of whether rape crises centres should be provided at all.

    Everyone has a view on both of these things. Someone’s position can be (for simplicity): pro-equality (A) or not (B), and pro-crisis centre (1) or not (2). Most A’s will also be 1’s (A1), meaning that they aren’t happy with the above situation and would prefer an increase of service to men. No-one is A2 as you seem to imply. You, on the other hand are saying you are a B1, which suggests you like centres, but have little impetus to ensure men are covered.

    The inequality in the justice system is less clear-cut. We have (where the 1’s and 2’s are pro-reform and not) A1’s and A2’s. You, again seem to want to be a B1. You’re pro-reform but not caring about equality means you don’t care if inequality persists afterwards.

    Now, I know from reading you that you are really an A1 on both of these, you do care about equality and want people to be treated equally in a reformed system, but for some reason you seem to insist on being a B1.

    Personally, I’m an A2 until we no longer have to worry about A, then my position will switch to just a 1. The equality under the law issue is more important to resolve than waiting decades for reform and propagating inequality in the meantime; it’s a fundamental human right while wholescale reform is not.

  3. Ally Fogg says

    Adiabat

    I don’t think you correctly describe what ‘treating people equally’ means. It means treating people as individuals according to the same guidelines that apply to anyone, regardless of immutable traits they have no control over. That is what is meant by equal treatment under the law. These guidelines may include taking into account certain circumstances, such as wealth when sentencing to maintain the disincentive.
    Gender isn’t one of these circumstances to be taken into account. It’s just a rough and widely variable trait you happen to have with little predictive power about the circumstances of the individual (much less the relative “starting inequality” you mention), and therefore it should have no influence on how someone should be treated by the legal system: that’s anti-sexism 101.

    This is so so wrong it is hard to know where to begin.

    You are saying one’s gender has little predictive power about whether or not one is likely to become a coalminer, a truck driver a politician or a habitual criminal? Really?

    You are saying gender has little predictive power as to whether you will be sexually harassed at work or in the street and little predictive power as to whether you will end up suicidal or homeless? Really?

    You are saying gender has little predictive power over whether one will get up in the morning and put on a jacket and tie or a blouse and skirt?

    It is quite obviously the case that gender is a massively powerful predictive variable in every single aspect of life, socially, politically and institutionally. It is perfectly reasonable to generalise issues into things that primarily concern and affect men and things that primarily concern and affect women.

    Consequently when we design social policy, educational policy, judicial policy etc etc etc, not only do we already incorprate and allow for gender, but it is quite right that we do.

    And equally it is quite blatantly obvious that gender-neutral policies which don’t allow for different typical experiences and needs of men and women will end up serving nobody very well.

  4. Ally Fogg says

    Adiabat

    Claiming that “gender equality is a meaningless construct”, is claiming that gender alone should be a factor in how someone is treated by the justice system.

    No it is not.

    It’s not even close to that.

    It’s saying that pursuing gender equality in the context of the judicial system as an end in itself can lead one to some very harmful conclusions.

  5. Ally Fogg says

    Incidentally, in what world is anyone (with the possible exception of some unrestrained MRA maniacs) arguing that Rape Crisis centres (and their male / gender inclusive equivalents) should not exist at all?

  6. HuckleAndLowly says

    Ally, the core of your argument is that “pursuing equality as an end in itself can lead you to some terrible conclusions.” That’s true, but only in the case where you pursue equality by doing bad things (disadvantaging some sections rather than others). I doubt that most of your readers here are arguing for that sort of pursuit of inequality.

    Instead, the argument is that you should pursue equality by helping everybody who needs help, proportional to their need, rather than directing help according to group membership. Take domestic violence for example: a pursuit of equality here would give help to victims proportional to their need, irrespective of whether they were men or women (as opposed to the current situation, where help is apportioned more according to group membership, and less according to individual need). By arguing against equality, you seem to be arguing that we shouldn’t help everybody equally, but should assign help according to group membership in some way. This is morally wrong.

    TL;DR: just because bad hombres use “equality” as a justification for their shitty behaviour, that doesn’t mean the aim of equality is wrong. It means the shitty behaviour is wrong.

  7. Ally Fogg says

    Huckle etc

    Take domestic violence for example: a pursuit of equality here would give help to victims proportional to their need, irrespective of whether they were men or women (as opposed to the current situation, where help is apportioned more according to group membership, and less according to individual need).

    The thing is, we can’t have policies aimed at 60million individuals, you do have to categorise in social policy, because if you don’t what happens is you end up offering either a lowest common denominator that doesn’t really help anyone or (as has tended to happen in UK at least) you have policies that are designed around the needs of the majority while the minority is expected to lump it.

    So in the case of domestic violence, which is a rather good example, I get frustrated by commentators (on both sides) who obsess on the specific question of refuge / shelter spaces for men and women – how many beds to male victims get per head compared to female victims?

    It’s an argument that begins on a completely false premise, because although you do get some men who need to leave a violent relationship in a hurry and take their kids with them before someone gets killed, it is proportionately very uncommon. Male victims who phone up helplines tend to have very different urgent priorities to women. They are worried about, for instance, how to call the police without risking being arrested themselves, or how to end the relationship without risking losing all access to their kids.

    While you will get loads of individual variations, you can design policies that best suit male victims which would be very different to the policies which would best suit female victims.

    And yes, of course in an ideal world you build a unique bespoke care package to meet the unique circumstances of the individual victim, male or female. But in practice that is simply not possible, so designing around typical needs based on gender is the closest you can get.

  8. Adiabat says

    Ally (3): I present to you a man. Is he a coalminer, a truck driver, a politician or a habitual criminal? Can you tell me that?

    I present to you a woman who committed the same crime as a man. Should she receive a lower sentence? Do you really know that just from knowing that she’s a woman?

    No? Then why are you advocating that she should be treated differently by the legal system on account of her gender? That’s awful.

    Equal treatment means that all individuals are considered for the factors that would lead to a lower sentence. If more women have those factors then so be it, but this isn’t done fairly by only assessing women to begin with due to a “gender-inclusive” system and “generalising issues into things that primarily concern and affect men and things that primarily concern and affect women.”

    It is perfectly reasonable to generalise issues into things that primarily concern and affect men and things that primarily concern and affect women.

    And screw over those who don’t conform to your idea of gender roles? All your approach does is reinforce gender roles on an institutional level, like an actual “Patriarchy”. Every single person who doesn’t follow them or who doesn’t want to follow them is screwed over.

    People aren’t aggregates. Any individual should be able to expect to be treated like anyone else in the same situation and circumstances by our system, regardless of gender.

  9. Adiabat says

    Ally (4):

    It’s saying that pursuing gender equality in the context of the judicial system as an end in itself can lead one to some very harmful conclusions.

    So, not a meaningless construct then? Just something that can be misused or lead to bad results if not considered against other factors.

    There can be many ways to reach a state of equality, some are better than others. Some are awful and need to be fought against, such as closing crisis centres.

    However I’d argue that a solution that abandons equality altogether is also awful, but it’s what you seem to be advocating.

    Incidentally, in what world is anyone arguing that Rape Crisis centres should not exist at all?

    You mean A2’s in my example above? No-one, as far as I’m aware.

  10. Ally Fogg says

    Adiabat

    At no point have I ever said that a woman should be sentenced differently to a man for the same crime.

    Quite the opposite.

    I’m saying that we are sending more men than women to prison for longer and that this is bad and that the solution is to send fewer men to prison for less time. I am saying that this is the humane and ethical political position to hold.

    I am also saying that one of the alternative positions – that we should send more women to prison in pursuit of some kind of notion of equality – is a morally abhorrent position, actually a worse position than saying that we should leave things as they are.

  11. Marduk says

    Social policy contains two sorts of equality.

    There is equality as a goal of the system and there is equality under the law.
    The latter needs to be absolute and utterly inviolable.

    The latter is in the area of what you are talking about, service provision and social engineering, where same treatment doesn’t mean equal treatment. I think most people agree with this simply on common sense grounds.

    The problems arises where these two categories overlap, are traded off against each other or are otherwise confused. Historically, “separate but equal” was clearly problematic and in practice led to people not being equal under the law or anything else. More recently, this flares up where, for example, feminists suggest that equal treatment under the law is an impediment to the downfall of the patriarchy (i.e., securing the other type of equality). Its not surprising that prison and prison sentencing is a bit of a crucible for rows about this at its the topic at the most prominent intersection of the two. You’ve got equal treatment under the law butting up against the actual provision of prison services and outcomes for prisoners.

  12. StillGjenganger says

    @Marduk 12
    Bravo! Thanks.

    (You probably meant “The *former* is in the area of …”, but never mind we understand the point and it is really very illuminating).

  13. Phil says

    @Ally Fogg

    can I ask how you feel about affirmative action policies in employment or university admissions. I’m not trying to start on argument one way or the other on the subject, the blog just made me genuinely curious about your stance on it?

  14. Ally Fogg says

    Marduk – good post, don’t think I disagree with any of that.

    Phil

    can I ask how you feel about affirmative action policies in employment or university admissions.

    Depends what you mean by affirmative action. I’m generally not a fan of crude positive discrimination (eg setting lower admission standards for males and females) or mandatory quotas (although occasionally they can be necessary and the only option so I’m not being absolutist about it).

    What I do support is public policy intervention where there is a clear need. So I’m supportive of the “Get Girls into STEM” sort of programmes we already see and would very much like to see similar programmes aimed at encouraging and inspiring boys to get into… well, pretty much everything else.

  15. Groan says

    Well i’d expect equity with regard to the application of Justice and people’s circumstances considered in sentencing.
    As to this story. Very interesting comments all. The bottom line is that a lazily sexist thing got a bit more notice and consideration than would otherwise be the case. This happened because an MP made a bit of a fuss. good for him. As all he claims to be is a scourge to PC and Political Correctness is a speech code then fine and dandy surely Parliamentarians should poke at orthodoxies to get a bit of debate. As Mr. Davies appears to no illusions about future office and getting what he wants into Gov. he seems content to poke at the establishment even from his own party.
    Frankly I wish there were more from other Parties taking a swipe at the establishment on gender. As it is, as Ally has frequently pointed out awash with “fake news” misinformation and doubletalk.
    Having worked in Local Gov for many years I know that “processes” in political institutions are largely used to get stuff through with the minimum fuss from the awkward (which I suspect are more numerous in councils as there isn’t the same ability to offer plum jobs as in Parliament). this was equally true whatever the Party in power. I’m sure the same is so at Westminster. So I’d like to see more awkward not less.
    And for the record I think a start should be made to really put into practice in Bradley report and subsequent reports that point out how much our prisons are social care/mental health services by default.

  16. StillGjenganger says

    @Ally
    Carrying on from your previous post:

    I find myself pretty much agreeing with you (which is a pleasant and safe position to be in 😉 ).

    Item: I agree that you are mostly consistent on equality (which does indeed make you a rare bird).

    Item: You are quite right that MRAs have this strange tendency of looking at whatever women get and insisting that they *must* have exactly the same. You could call it ‘feminism envy’, or ‘sibling rivalry’. It would indeed be better to look at each area on its merits. Often the right reaction would be ‘women are treated differently, and that is OK, their situation is different’ – e.g. on domestic violence shelters. Mind you, sometimes (e.g. on quotas, or on making gendered insults illegal) a better reaction might be ‘men do not get this – and women should not get it either, for it is a bad idea’.

    I disagree on one point, though:

    If you do not share the goal of a genderless nirvana, you will notice that feminist successes are objectively making society ever less comfortable for men, and reducing their life chances. At a minimum men are being forced to adapt to a different and ever more woman-friendly state.

    Yes, I’m pretty sure this is exactly how Davies sees it and yes, this is pretty much a pile of steaming bollocks on toast.

    To me that looks more like neutral, objective fact. If we are going from men having all the good and powerful positions to women getting a third, with heavy official backing for pushing them up to 50%, that is reducing the life chances for men. And going from men setting the norms and the agenda in a way that suits them to having to give equal time and space to different groups, that is going to make them less comfortable and force them to work a lot harder to adapt (the same holds for minority/majority conflicts generally). As many a minority representative could tell you, it is a lot nicer to be where your norms are taken for granted than to have to fit to someone else’s.
    There is more to it, of course. You could argue that this is only just, and maybe it is, but that does not make it any less true that men are getting worse off. You could argue that there are advantages that outweigh the costs – and that has a lot of merit. I would not choose living in the 1950’s (let alone the 1850’s or contemporary Afghanistan) even if that would give me a stronger position as a man. But whether the gains for men (or even for the population as a whole) outweigh the sum of the losses is something that must be weighed in the balance, and for that you must account for the losses honestly. You cannot just assume that we all win – and it would make me rather suspicious to hear someone claim that their radical, revolutionary, unproven policies are guaranteed to produce only winners.

  17. secondtofirstworld says

    @Ally Fogg

    Your approach is, I’ll be diplomatic here, is a pinch wrong. Your analyzing the consequences across the field instead of the cause, which both a nature versus nurture issue, socioeconomic factors, like poverty, and above them all, social conservativism versus social liberalism.

    In the pre-1968 world, one without advanced or any civil rights, societies had strict gender roles and expectations. For us men, it was both expected to take responsibility, but it was also loosely treated, if one acted before they thought. The latter trait is not gender specific, but merely human, yet it was punished differently. It developed like this, since for long centuries, the role of a breadwinner, caretaker, soldier relied solely on men. Stepping out of the line, or refusing to perform a duty meant harsh punishment. Those same societies did not treat women better either. Unless it was a literal witch trial or child murder, women got more lenient sentences, as there was no system in place to assign an other female to do them, especially in a time where many died in childbirth. Although Semmelweis has identified its cause and its prevention, his findings were dismissed, he was detained, and beaten to death in an insane asylum. It wasn’t until Pasteur, that the medical science started to treat the issue seriously, 4 decades later.

    Dying, getting paralyzed or injured in conflict was an everyday occurrence. This is one of the reasons behind inequality in judgment. Though we live longer and safer now, and have fewer conflicts, the shift in the conservative view has yet to happen. If you claim, it’s merely an issue of everybody being open to change, it’s just one of the genders doesn’t want it is misleading at best. Where and what men and women should do is still their agenda, without asking any of the affected if they’re okay with it. Not recognizing, that the conservative men and women, who make demands toward women are the same ones who make demands toward men is the first problem.

    Swedish far right bigots like to scare people with their misleading information about sexual violence, and they’ve found a lot of cohorts everywhere, where Islamophobes live. What the Swedes did do was expanding the definition of sexual assault, and the acceptance of such cases with credible seriousness. In contrast to their claim, there wasn’t an explosion in the numbers of sexual assault (which they like to pin on immigrants and refugees), they just started to take it seriously. Sexual assault and domestic violence are half siblings from the same abusive parent. The less a country’s legal system take either seriously, the worse it is for men it affects.

    If all your friends were football hooligans who get picked up after a match, but you aren’t, it would be silly to demand either to let many of them go, because you’re innocent, or to lock you up too in a guilt by association move. Just like with any football club, some members don’t care about the score, and more about starting a conflict with supporters of the other team. The most vocal and brash members in the MRA and the feminist community are similar to that, if not the same. Just like with hooliganism and its fallout, the most attention goes toward the troublemakers, so this is a question of undue weight and unfair balance.

    If a society expects a man never to be weak, and a woman be nothing else, than homely, they won’t care for domestic violence and sexual assault. The ones who do care, are allies, not enemies. There’s also a social conservative trend for seemingly caring more for female victims, as they view male abusers as victims of liberal upbringing, where the lack of a functioning nuclear family is, according to them, to blame for how their behavior turned out. Too bad it’s not true. Nazis, communists, and other parties to planning and executing genocide and other war crimes grew up in families that were intact. While it’s debatable who among them was a born psychopath, their upbringing involving harsh corporeal punishment and a strict sub-servitude to religion played a dominant role. These regimes treat their own members of the upper echelon as equal as long as they’re blindly loyal to the cause. It’s also no surprise, dictatorial regimes stole their know how from organized religion.

    The way to achieve the society you mention is not along gender lines, but along avoiding the creation of laws and regulations in a society based on an expected superficial value, like race, gender, or class. Draft should not be compulsory if serving is already optional. Alimony shouldn’t be awarded, rather taken into consideration based on the case, and not on expectations. Access to female health care should not be bound to faith, that isn’t a faith of everyone in the world, and employers shouldn’t expect a woman working fewer years only because she’s biologically capable. The whole point of the English law and its derivatives was to judge cases based on precedence, and not in bulk.

    Several social conservative biases exist, some favoring men, others favoring women, but the common link is, that they’re built on their expectations on how a society must work, not how it should or can, thus this is the view in need of change if you wish to see further changes. The silver lining is that conservatives are always a tad more liberal, than their predecessors, like how today nobody would think it’s okay for Dickensian children to live on the street, be sold to debt prisons, work in mines, etc. The key remains individual merit, and they still have a problem with that, as individuality leads to thinking that can oppose theirs.

  18. Koken says

    I am concerned that a lot of this comes down to a largely unrelated disagreement between you and most conservatives over whether enough people are being sent to prison. Most people believe that the appropriate number of people to send to prison is not zero. Given this, faced with a gender differential in whether people are being sent to prison it is not self-evident whether too many men are being sent to prison, too few women, or both.

  19. WhoTheHell_Cares says

    Nowhere in this discussion is the acknowledgment that disparity in sentencing is also a disparity in the treatment of victims of criminals.
    Without equality of sentencing, we are relegating a large number of victims of crimes to second class citizens because they had the misfortune of being the victim of a female criminal. They go to court hoping to see justice done, but instead see the criminal who acted against them being given a soft sentence.

  20. HuckleAndLowly says

    Ally wrote:

    So in the case of domestic violence, which is a rather good example, I get frustrated by commentators (on both sides) who obsess on the specific question of refuge / shelter spaces for men and women – how many beds to male victims get per head compared to female victims?

    It’s an argument that begins on a completely false premise, because although you do get some men who need to leave a violent relationship in a hurry and take their kids with them before someone gets killed, it is proportionately very uncommon. Male victims who phone up helplines tend to have very different urgent priorities to women. They are worried about, for instance, how to call the police without risking being arrested themselves, or how to end the relationship without risking losing all access to their kids.

    I’m not sure how proportionately uncommon it is, given that around 20% of people killed as a result of domestic violence are men. Surely those men had the same urgent need of a safe and secure location? More generally, men who are in a situation where they are considering calling the police (even though they know that there is a chance they will be arrested themselves) are probably at risk. Don’t they deserve at least the option of a safe refuge? An approach which allocates resources based on gender rather than on need doesn’t give this option.

    You can, of course, give various arguments against this point: saying that only 1/3 of these men are killed by their female partners (but what difference does the gender of the killer make to the victims need for help?) or saying that these killings were all in self-defence (as I’ve heard Polly Neate say a couple of times). These arguments seem to be based on patriarchal stereotypes that – assume- that women are “really” the victims and men are “really” the offenders. These assumptions are things we should be working against, not reinforcing.

    Another point: the fact that male callers to DV helplines are aware that there is a chance they will be arrested themselves if they call the police simply shows that they know how things are stacked against them. Is it surprising, in this situation, that they don’t ask about refuges? Why would they? They know that such refuges don’t exist (or, exist at the level of a rounding error, say 50 beds out of 3000). So even if male victims do have refuge as a priority (just like female victims), you won’t see that in requests for help.

  21. HuckleAndLowly says

    Ally wrote:

    While you will get loads of individual variations, you can design policies that best suit male victims which would be very different to the policies which would best suit female victims.

    And yes, of course in an ideal world you build a unique bespoke care package to meet the unique circumstances of the individual victim, male or female. But in practice that is simply not possible, so designing around typical needs based on gender is the closest you can get.

    The choice is not between “designing around typical needs based on gender” versus “unique bespoke care package to meet the unique circumstances of the individual victim, male or female”. It’s between “designing around typical needs based on gender” versus “designing around typical needs based on level of need”. One group of victims will need refuges: we should try and provide refuge for everyone in that group. Another group may need police or social worker intervention: we should try and provide this for everyone in that group. Another group will need some sort of family therapy: we should try and provide that for everyone in that group, and so on.

    You might argue that a “one size fits all” refuge provision won’t work, because female victims of DV will be unable to tolerate sharing a refuge with men. To make this argument, you need to know how many female victims feel this way; that is, how many women who are subject to violence at home would refuse to take a refuge place because there might be a man, who was also beaten, in the refuge? Putting it that way, I would guess the number is fairly small (why would a woman decide to stay in a place where they are subject to violence rather than go to a safe refuge, simply because there might be a man, also a victim of violence, in that refuge?)

  22. Carnation says

    @ HickleAndLowly

    Do you think that it a terrible pity that there isn’t a credible, motivated, organised movement to agitate for studies into exactly *what* provision is best needed to support men?

    Instead, individuals such as Philip Davies simply want to reduce any provision (and presumably funding) aimed at alleviating the suffering of victims of DV in the course of a ridiculous fight against “political correctness.”

    Men are failed by those they claim are “activists” for their rights, and their pathetic political mascots.

  23. Adiabat says

    Ally (11):

    At no point have I ever said that a woman should be sentenced differently to a man for the same crime.

    So you now don’t think she should be treated differently by the legal system on account of her gender, or is this just in sentencing?

    As for the rest of this post: Your position is that you want to ‘smash the system’ and others don’t, and that makes their position abhorrent in your eyes. As stated at the beginning of the last thread: I consider equal treatment under the law (as Marduk says, this is absolute and utterly inviolable) to be more important that your desired reforms, which are unlikely to come to fruition for decades, if at all. The idea of allowing injustice and infringement of rights to continue until you get your own way is abhorrent to me. It’s using men’s advocacy as a pretext to push your radical personal politics.

    P.S Huckle nails the problem with unnecessarily dividing service provision along gender lines in #23.

    That Guy (21): “I’m not certain that retribution is the top goal of the justice system?”

    Actually ‘victim satisfaction’, as they put it, is a key goal of the criminal justice system, along with ‘public confidence’.

  24. Ally Fogg says

    Huckle[22]

    Cases which end in homicide are so rare (and so varied) it is very hard to spot any patterns, so I’ll skip past this bit, but…

    “More generally, men who are in a situation where they are considering calling the police (even though they know that there is a chance they will be arrested themselves) are probably at risk. Don’t they deserve at least the option of a safe refuge? An approach which allocates resources based on gender rather than on need doesn’t give this option.”

    They need the option of an escape route and of course there are some for whom the best escape route would be a specialist refuge, but in the vast majority of cases the most useful policy would be for the govt to oblige councils to recognise anyone escaping domestic violence as a housing priority. At the moment male victims are commonly told they have made themselves voluntarily homeless and are therefore ineligible for council housing or an emergency B&B accommodation.

    One significant difference between male and female perpetrators in DV cases is that it is quite common for men to hunt down and attack female partners AFTER they have left the relationship. It is pretty much unheard of for female perpetrators to do the same. Sure, it could happen, but it is rare enough that it significantly changes the needs-analysis equation.

    On the other hand, it is extremely common for men to leave a violent partner and find themselves homeless and without any specialist support structure. That rarely happens with female victims.

    So it is not about male or female victims having greater or lesser needs, it is about them having different needs and their problems requiring different solutions.

    But to clarify – I’m not saying there isn’t a need for refuges for men. There is, particularly in bigger cities where there is a concentration of populations & problems. The point I am making is that the problem at the moment is not just that there aren’t enough refuge spaces for men (true) but that men’s needs beyond refuge provision are given too little attention, because we are using the question of what works for women as the guide for what we should offer to men. I’m saying we should base the provision for men upon what men actually need, not just copy and paste from what female victims have told us they need, because it will not be the same.

  25. That Guy says

    @25
    It’s a little bit of a misreading to claim Ally’s (and similar) positions as ‘allowing injustice to continue until you/they get their own way’.

    the scenario is that we have a broken system, and misguided people are trying to fix it, but prioritising fixing it for one group in particular. Phillip Davies/MRAs and people like him want to obstruct these efforts (allegedly) until they can be applied evenly across the board. (In practice, Phillip Davies is more interested in feeding more fuel to the twisted monster factory that is the prison system).

    The demand that everyone who is on the side of ‘justice’ step in to obstruct measures that would help some people until perfect measures that help all people rather than assisting in good spirit and helping to append/change/expand solutions that are good for some people to include all people doesn’t really make sense from a utilitarian perspective.

    It seems that your perception of justice is a little too closely related to this concept of ‘absolute equality’ that’s the subject of this post. If that’s the case, then we’re at an impasse, since your notion of justice is fundamentally divorced from mine.

    Actually ‘victim satisfaction’, as they put it, is a key goal of the criminal justice system, along with ‘public confidence’.

    True: that’s fair.

  26. Ally Fogg says

    Adiabat:

    Just to address your points

    No
    No
    No
    No
    and No.

    I’ll be inclined to be more specific when you address what I actually write in my blogs and comments, not what you imagine I’m writing, which bares pretty much zero resemblance.

  27. Ally Fogg says

    ThatGuy [27]

    Thanks, that is exactly it.

    My position is that mass incarceration is, by a long distance, the single biggest and most horrifically violent gender-based structural oppression faced by men in the UK and (especially) the US.

    Anyone who claims to be interested in men’s welfare, men’s wellbeing or even (yes I will say it) ‘men’s rights’ while remaining indifferent to or supportive of mass incarceration is a rank hypocrite and not just unhelpful to men’s welfare, but downright harmful to it.

    To address the point in [19] – yes, I care about victims. I care about people not being subject to crime in the first place. I care about the countless thousands of innocent people who are the victims of all those offenders who have been through the carceral prison system in and out since childhood, every time being made more damaged, more violent, more likely to hurt others.

    So yes, in an ideal world and as a long time objective I would like us to find alternatives to our current concept of prison, just as in the past we found alternatives to hanging, branding, flogging, stocks &pillory, deportation etc etc etc.

    Until we get to that point, yes, we’ll still need to use prison as the least bad option for people who have committed violent crimes etc, but every single one of us who claims to care about men’s issues needs to be arguing for an end to youth custody, an end to imprisoning non-violent offenders and a massive reinvestment in rehabilitation and restorative judicial approaches.

  28. WineEM says

    This complete vilification of Davies is just daft. I mean if you actually look at the times when he’s formally discussed and debated this, he’s always been very specific in saying that he wants the concepts of equity and then the severity of treatment and sentencing to be considered, in conceptual terms, as separate issues. So, for example, when he organised the Wesminister Hall debate on this, he said that he would be open to argument as to the ethics of whether women prisoners should be treated more kindly on another occasion, but that the purpose of that meeting was to establish, objectively, using Commons Library statistics, whether they were being given favourable treatment or not. Hence it is perfectly possible to flag up the issue of discrimination without going into the separate matter of liberal/conservative politics.

    As to using these terms like ‘monstrous’, we don’t ever hear them being used by you Ally to describe someone like Harriet Harman, who, when she was acting leader of the Labour Party, used PMQs to scupper Ken Clarke’s reform plans for shorter sentences, using gendered examples of domestic violence. Or indeed those members of the feminist lobby who got Clarke sacked for making the obvious point that there were cases of rape which were more severe than others. Or, for that matter, Caroline Lucas, who as I’ve pointed out on another thread, said that the Equality Committee could only start to discuss important male issues after all women’s major concerns had been dealt with. The list goes on. Apparently it’s only Davies, who has been extremely brave in swimming against the tide (and suffering by his own admission a great deal of bullying in the Commons and elsewhere for doing so).

    Weirdly, it has only been since Davies’s election to the committee that the ‘equality committee’ has introduced a men’s issue (paternity leave) for the first time ever. So much for this supposedly deleterious effect of his “MRA” politics!

  29. Ally Fogg says

    “someone like Harriet Harman, who, when she was acting leader of the Labour Party, used PMQs to scupper Ken Clarke’s reform plans for shorter sentences, using gendered examples of domestic violence.”

    That would indeed have been monstrous had it happened which it didn’t.

    David Cameron scuppered reform plans for shorter sentences by sacking Clarke & replacing him with Chris Grayling.

    ISTR Harman asked for reassurances that sentencing reform wouldn’t result in shorter sentences for DV offenders and was told that it wouldn’t. Not quite what you describe.

    Or indeed those members of the feminist lobby who got Clarke sacked for making the obvious point that there were cases of rape which were more severe than others.

    This would have been pretty bad (if not monstrous) had it happened which it didn’t. Clarke apologised for using really clumsy language which implied that “date rape” wasn’t a serious crime. He admitted he was in the wrong (as he was) and was most definitely not sacked until about a year later for completely unrelated reasons.

    Caroline Lucas, who as I’ve pointed out on another thread, said that the Equality Committee could only start to discuss important male issues after all women’s major concerns had been dealt with.

    An ignorant and stupid remark which I am quite happy to call ignorant and stupid, and the kind of remark which I often call ignorant and stupid or similar.

    The list might go on, but it isn’t a very good list, is it?

  30. That Guy says

    @ WineEM

    I can’t speak for everyone else, but I find it justified to vilify Davies since he’s consistently supported and voted for notions that are harmful for society, outwith whatever he claims to have done for ‘men’s issues’ etc.

    I’m getting a right dose of deja vu here though with the examples of other people who should be decried as well as PD. The issue here is that nobody’s brought these people up yet.

    Far from vilifying PD, it seems almost that certain elements here are so determined to lionise him that any criticism of him has also to be accompanied with a disclaimer that the author also equally disapproves in equally vociferous terms any bad behaviour of any woman or woman-sympathetic man since the dawn of time.

    My loyalties aren’t split along party lines- The Conservatives are generally honest about their purpose to enrich the rich by selling public assets, to everyone’s loss, (nu)Labour are seemingly stuck in a post-Blairite trance, sort of like a Dawn of the Dead but with marketing execs instead of zombies. (TB himself is a mass murderer and I will happily shit on his grave when time comes). SNP have become a victim of their own rapid growth and the Lib dems have a recent track record as spineless con artists.

    For completeness sake, I also disapprove of all other repellent members of society, living and dead, throughout the multiverse, real and fictional, Cain might be a murderer, but God didn’t need to be such a prick about the apple and goat thing- Balor of the blighted Eye probably shouldn’t have imprisoned Ethniu, and I don’t care how drunk Quetzalcoatl was, incest isn’t OK.

  31. Carnation says

    @ WineEM

    What has Philip Davies done to actually help anyone in his role as a Parliamentarian (not constituency matters)?

  32. HuckleAndLowly says

    @Carnation I agree with you that Davies doesn’t care about these issues at all. He’s just using them as a stick to beat his left-wing opponents with. The fact that people like Nusrat Ghani and many other give him this stick, by appearing to care only about women and not about men when discussing DV, Honor-killing etc, is the problem. I cannot understand why someone proposing a bill addressing honor-killing should add a qualifier that narrows its scope to consider only women victims. Not only is that objectively the wrong thing to do (because all victims deserve consideration) but it sends the wrong message (the male victims don’t count) and it leaves open an easy target for people like Davies – who are looking for the chance to attack.

    Davies is a prick. But, absent advocates who are able to realise that these issues affect both men and women and so should not be described in “Women=victims, men=perpetrator” terms, and absent else in parliament who is brave enough to make the point that defining victimhood by in gender terms is wrong, his comments play a useful function. For example, consider Ghani’s proposal for her bill:

    I beg to move, That leave be given to bring in a Bill to make provision about the aggravated murder of, and aggravated domestic violence against, women, who are citizens of the United Kingdom, outside the United Kingdom; to prohibit the use of the term honour killing in official publications; to require the Government to arrange for, and meet from public funds the costs of, the repatriation of the bodies of female citizens of the United Kingdom who are victims of aggravated murder outside the United Kingdom and the provision of assistance to female citizens of the United Kingdom who are victims of aggravated domestic violence outside the United Kingdom in order to enable them to return to the United Kingdom; to provide for the prosecution in the United Kingdom in certain circumstances of citizens of the United Kingdom who commit the aggravated murder of, or threaten or incite domestic violence against, women, who are citizens of the United Kingdom, outside the United Kingdom; and for connected purposes.

    If this bill had been approved and in the end passed into law (slim chance, I guess, but you never know), then the UK would have paid “from public funds the costs of, the repatriation of the bodies of female citizens of the United Kingdom who are victims of aggravated murder outside the United Kingdom”; but would not have paid to repatriate the bodies of male victims. Do you think this is fair? Because of Davies objection, there is a chance this may change to include all victims.

  33. WineEM says

    @33. He’s organised two IMD debates (one in the commons chamber itself). Historic events which were unprecedented in addressing issues which affect men. Just seems silly to me to attack a backbencher who may occasionally be wrong, but who could not be more honest or straightforward in putting his views forth. Contrast this with the New Labour frontbench who passed themselves off as being incredibly virtuous, compassionate and progressive, and yet who presided – deliberately – over a massive rise in the prison population and the introduction of indeterminate sentences, derogating from human rights law in doing so. Apparently not one of them spoke out against this. No ‘monstrous’ tags for them either, presumably?

  34. Carnation says

    @ HuckleAndLowly, WineEM

    Lots of bluster, nothing concrete and measureable.

    But you’re missing a trick. He *has* helped people, rogue landlords, rogue employers and large companies collecting parting fines from carers.

    But, unless you’re basically a f*cking scumbag, these aren’t the type of people that should be protected by a parliamentarian.

  35. HuckleAndLowly says

    @Carnation I think you’ve got me wrong there. I’m not defending Davies at all. I think he is scum, essentially. My point is that he is looking for way to attack his opponents, and bills such as Ghani’s, which propose to help women only (when women and men deserve equal help when they are in the same situation), gives him a very easy target because they are so obviously unfair and clearly, blatantly biased. Since nobody else in parliament appears brave enough to even point out such unfairness, his comments on them are worthwhile. Even though he is still scum, and is commenting only to hit his opponents not out of any concern for people’s well-being.

    My hope would be that his comments would encourage people like Ghani to be less sexist and more inclusive in future, if only to avoid being open to such obvious criticisms. My other hope would be that someone else in parliament would have the guts to call out such unfairness.

  36. Groan says

    Indeed WineEM . One might “attack” his views or support them on their merit. rather than on ideas and speculations about his personality. In everything I’ve seen Mr. Davies is quite clear and so I’m pretty clear on where I think him wrong and where I think he has a point. To that extent he is a refreshing return to the “back benchers” who hold the power hungry to account. Personally I think the problem is the lack of debate, with lots of things slid through. I notice he’s had a tilt at his fellow select committee members for not coming to hear Muslim women concerned about Sharia “Courts” in the UK. One can imagine that Baroness Cox who arranged the visit isn’t the left’s favourite but the issue is important with a large Muslim community. It also begs the very real question of what the Women and Equalities select Committee is for. Listening to these women voices isn’t the same as agreeing, but somehow we appear to have got to a point where even discussion is too frightening. After all its not like some of his fellow committee members don’t say polemical things to push an issue.

  37. StillGjenganger says

    @WineEM 30, Ally 31

    I cannot quite recognise either version. Ken Clarke did propose a fairly major project to reduce prison sentences. He did make “the obvious point that there were cases of rape which were more severe than others” – though he surely regretted his choice of words afterwards. And the progressive left did choose to pretty much ignore his policy proposal and instead came down on him like a ton of bricks for his choice of words. He kept his job, but the change in sentencing policy died pretty quickly. IMHO the best interpretation is that the progressive left joined forces with the Tory right to sink Clarke and his proposals together. Presumably because they felt that enforcing the right way of talking about rape and/or doing down a Tory was more important than getting people out of prison. Maybe we could say that the left did a Philip Davies?

  38. Ally Fogg says

    Yeah, that’s pretty much on the money, Gjengagner.

    The reality is that Ken Clarke was basically cut adrift on prison numbers & sentencing. Tories fundamentally disagreed and New Labour (with Harman among the worst) were always terrified of looking soft on Lorrnorder.

    Far be it from me to be defending them on that front. They were (and remain) utterly dismal.

  39. secondtofirstworld says

    @HuckleAndLowly #34:

    I’ve glossed one instance twice when I read it, namely the issue of honor killing. In certain cultures, where such a crime is honorable, men are not considered as victims, as honorable killing only involves the perceived justified punishment of a woman based on her actions.

    In contrast, the origin of vendetta, that comes from contemporary Albania, former Illyria, and got to Southern Italy by migration, excludes women from performing the act. The only exception is, when all male members have been murdered, in which case, the eldest or only daughter takes up the mantle of a “man-woman”, which of course isn’t a sexual self-identification expression, but a designation for a woman to carry on the duty of blood revenge.

    While I’m not contesting why political pandering is wrong, said pandering does not make not the cause itself wrong or unjust. Nor does it minimize the importance of male victims of crime, where they’re not the perpetrators.

    I have to agree with Carnation, my problem with MRAs is similar, they claim to act on our behalf, yet somehow always find the cause in the other gender instead of the social construct, the same construct that allows sexual violence to be taken lightly.

  40. StillGjenganger says

    @HuckelAndLowly

    I cannot understand why someone proposing a bill addressing honor-killing should add a qualifier that narrows its scope to consider only women victims.

    Beyond the obvious (women are the ones with the biggest honor-killing problems and the ones you mostly care about) how about this, for a reason: Every time you pass a bill or make a campaign about the fact that women and girls are victimised, brutalized, discriminated against, … you reinforce the general idea that women are horribly treated and need improvements. Once this is generally accepted, that makes for a climate where it is easier to pass woman-friendly laws in other areas, like boardroom quotas, or all-woman shortlists.

  41. Holms says

    #2 Adiabat
    I don’t think you correctly describe what ‘treating people equally’ means. It means treating people as individuals according to the same guidelines that apply to anyone, regardless of immutable traits they have no control over.

    Right, for example by adding water to a barrel containing a 5′ and 6′ guy. Exactly as stated by Ally.

    Also, if a 5 footer’s neck is the same height as a 6 footer’s waist, one or both of them have some strange proportions.

  42. Adiabat says

    Ally:

    I’ll be inclined to be more specific when you address what I actually write in my blogs and comments

    My post #25: “So you now don’t think she should be treated differently by the legal system on account of her gender” (implying that your position previously was that they should be treated differently based on gender, which you now deny) = Your Comment 4: “Consequently when we design… judicial policy… not only do we already incorprate and allow for gender, but it is quite right that we do.” Building gender into policy will inevitably result in different treatment.

    My post: “Your position is that you want to ‘smash the system’ = Your comment 6 on Philip Davies thread: “I don’t want the [justice] system working as intended. I want the system pretty much smashed to smithereens.”

    My post: “and others don’t, and that makes their position abhorrent in your eyes” = Numerous examples but let’s go with: “Anyone who claims to be interested in men’s welfare, men’s wellbeing or even (yes I will say it) ‘men’s rights’ while remaining indifferent to or supportive of mass incarceration is a rank hypocrite and not just unhelpful to men’s welfare, but downright harmful to it.”

    The rest of my post is my own opinion, just like you gave your opinion on other people’s views, and is 100% true about your position when approached from the position that imprisonment is not a “most horrifically violent gender-based structural oppression”, which it isn’t. I am not obligated to accept your premises and assumptions when summarising your position based on what you have said, and without the premise that imprisonment is a “most horrifically violent gender-based structural oppression” your position collapses into what I described: leaving unequal treatment in place, and using that unequal treatment to push for your own radical politics to the continued disadvantage of men.

    TL:DR If you are right about incarceration then yes, extending the system ‘as intended’ to women is not the right thing to do. But if you are wrong then my summary of your position is correct. Your position is both as just as you think, and exactly as awful as I describe, depending on that one premise.

    It’s a good job you are so confident in the infallibility of your rather radical political views.

  43. Adiabat says

    Holms (44):

    Right, for example by adding water to a barrel containing a 5′ and 6′ guy. Exactly as stated by Ally

    Not at all. After the bit you quoted I rather clumsily tried to draw the distinction between circumstances and traits.

    In the analogy each person has one of each: 5’ (trait) and up to his neck in water (circumstance), and 6’ and up to his waist.

    If the legal system’s guidelines included “sentencing 5’ people to less water”, then that would be unequal treatment, and would disadvantage any 6 footer who is also up to his neck. It would also be unfairly lenient on any 5 footer who is only up to his waist.

    What actually happens (or at least should happen) is the guidelines are around circumstance, so it would be “anyone up to their neck in water gets less water”. This guideline is applied to everyone, and even though it may result in a greater number of cases where 5 footers get less water, it isn’t treating either group unequally.

    Overall though, it’s a clumsy analogy that doesn’t translate well to gender. And when discussing gender using it implies that the person thinks men and women should be sentenced differently for the same crime because of their gender.

  44. That Guy says

    @ Adiabat

    So.. what you’re saying is that if you just consider a punch in the face a good thing…

  45. Marduk says

    I do agree with the general gist here; I think we talked about this after the Corston report on women’s prisons. All good ideas, all applicable to men. But I do also think, related to my post above, there is another confounding factor here. The push for women’s prison reform comes mostly from feminists rather than, as such, prison reformers. A break in the standard socjus stack occurs – feminists aren’t very interested in men not going to jail (and claims of intersectionality aside, being poor or in an ethnic minority cuts you no slack with them either). Moreover, tactically at least they seem extremely keen on inventing new sorts of crimes and methods of enforcement that come with punishments (cat calling = assault + hate penalty which would escalate it into custodial territory). Its kind of obvious when you say it, feminism isn’t a prison reform movement for anyone other than women. Thats fair enough on the basis that they have their interests and a theory about how women’s crime isn’t women’s fault but its unfortunate they are also (basically) ‘law and order’ interest group, with all the pugnacity, stereotyping and tubthumping you’d find in a Daily Mail reading saloon bar bore.

    I think this is also a reason why there are a lot of sweaty armpits over this issue and it might not feel good enough to say, well, lets help women and hope that men get helped afterwards when it is perceived to cut both ways.

  46. secondtofirstworld says

    @Marduk #49:

    On some occasions I have a slight feeling, we as the human race don’t always seem to exist in the same universe. Based on your valid claim, that equality under the law needs to be absolute and utterly inviolable, you are aware, how there’s a clash between prison being a place for retribution or reformation.

    Who it benefits isn’t gender based, it’s based on believing programs can be put in place that prevent recrimination, and give a better shot at life for inmates. In other words, reformation. Like how Scandinavian prison programs work.

    Social conservatives have a philosophy system about which roles genders have to play, not what genders are, unless they’re transphobic too. Like how they put in transition people with the gender they think should be, or must be. Or how they solve the problem of mental illness by incarceration. Very similar to “solve” the “problem” of voting by actively sentencing non-violent minority offenders, because felons can’t vote.

    So, no, obviously no, the betterment of male inmates does not hinge on feminist drives to change laws. It depends on combining fiscal conservativism and its revelation how reformation costs less, than retribution with reformation philosophy based on statistics, that reformation costs less, than retribution. Also, just as not all social conservatives are homophobic, transphobic or sexist, it cannot be claimed that all feminists are a bunch of self-absorbed individuals.

  47. Carnation says

    @ Marduk

    I have to disagree. Yes, of course various feminists have lobbied extensively for prison reform and “trickle down” effects haven’t necessarily been felt for men. But it could be argued that feminists have a far easier job. Women not only aren’t as violent as men, they aren’t expected to be. Women also don’t have the ridiculous societal demands of men to be strong, physically and emotionally, stoic, retributive, dominant and resourceful. In short, when women commit crimes serious enough to warrant prison, it upsets the status quo of (small c) conservative gender norms. And that makes people uncomfortable.

    The whole debate isn’t nowhere near as black and white as it’s made out. The gender disparity isn’t as extreme as the more excitable MRAs like to make out. At least in the UK, for now.

    Moving outside of sentencing, and into the lived prison experience – I would suggest that prison is much, much harder for men than for women. Men harm themselves and each other, and se*ual abuse is a definite factor. Women don’t tend to assault each other or victimise each other to the extend that men do. Though they, of course, self-harm as disturbingly high levels.

    I suppose a very broad way of looking at this is that many (most?) men committing interpersonal crimes have been damaged before they started damaging – but their damaging is easy to see, and a victim (and depressingly vengeful society) requires “justice”, and therefore the damage inflicted on them is harder to see. With women, the damage inflicted to them is generally expected, and the types of damage their crimes inflict don’t require the same response.

    It would take a leap of faith for politicians to treat male criminals with compassion. And trash like Philip Davies make a bad and messy situation worse and messier.

    But hey, political correctness gone mad, innit?

  48. Marduk says

    49.
    I’m in favour of liberal prison reform but look at stuff like this:
    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/jun/01/why-we-should-close-womens-prisons-and-treat-their-crimes-more-fairly
    That isn’t an argument for liberal prison reform, in fact it emphasises the correctness of imprisoning men, its just an argument for reforming prisons for women.
    You’ll also notice that some of the arguments considered reasonable there would not be considered reasonable for men. e.g., “I killed my wife because I was in a depressive mindset m’lord”. Would Julie Bindel or Hilary Clinton agree that was ok?

    50.
    Don’t really buy that, you are generalising in a situation of vastly different proportions. We imprison about 5000 women and 80000 men. Its certainly true women commit fewer violent crimes. But around 40,000 male prisoners didn’t commit violent crimes or sexual assaults either, whey are they less important or worthy of our attention than 4000 women? Why are they thought of differently because of what other people did. There are ten times as many of them.

  49. Ally Fogg says

    Marduk

    That isn’t an argument for liberal prison reform, in fact it emphasises the correctness of imprisoning men, its just an argument for reforming prisons for women.

    Just jumping in to say I agree 100%

  50. secondtofirstworld says

    @Marduk #51:

    The author of the article goes on to say, he would go further, than what Clinton suggested, so it would be correct to identify the claim with who made this claim in this instance. Clinton is a politician, so it’s not all to surprising, the issues she takes on carry a certain flare of the ever current majority opinion, much like the infamous super predator from the ’90s.

    To address your concern, I agree, but I would highlight something different. Several serial killers, spree killers, and sufferers of clinical depression commit manslaughter or homicide, where abuse, physical, mental or both play a role. I’ll be frank here, there are more people who are parents, than parents who have the patience of waiting in line as a person. Acting out in a violent fashion isn’t necessarily connected to hormones, it can just as easily be repression, that suddenly comes to the surface. Just like being impatient is a human behavioral trait, and not gender specific. The author of the article is wrong to discuss underlying issues only for women, when severe depression, like any other illness, isn’t racist, sexist or homophobic. However, homicide is entirely different. His claim, that victims of women are rarely random mixes up manslaughter with homicide only because men are more prone to commit them. That doesn’t change the fact, that in 95% of the cases (wherever you live) the victim of a homicide is murdered by someone they know closely, as the killer has to know the victim’s routine and weakness.

    If you compare his line of reasoning with white supremacists, who oh so want to make us believe minorities kill more people, than the majority, it’s still fallacious. Just as it won’t likely be a black kid from out of town who kills the suburban white housewife, the murderer of a man in a homicide will be the spouse, his child(ren), a trusted neighbor, a family friend. The remaining 5% is a jealous spouse, a contractor, a gardener, heck, even a stalker is more plausible and statistically corroborated. So no, in a case of homicide, where the intent to murder is present, gender plays no role.

    Then his argument for leniency based on women committing less crimes is all wrong. That would be like saying, since white people commit less property crimes, and the number of neonazis is small in any white inmate population, we should treat them with kid gloves. In reality, the law is concerned for exonerating or damning circumstances, first time or repeat offense, non-violent or violent crime. Now, if he would said, that, for example, in the American prison system women have fewer chances to learn a trade or finish school due to the stance of conservatives, I’d be on board. Claiming, that women commit less crimes without factoring in individual circumstances is wrong. For example, while I sympathize with the trauma of Eileen Wuornos, and am against the death penalty, what she did was still wrong. Letting her go, because Winona Ryder was just a shoplifter bears no relation.

    So, his 4 reasons… I’m on board with two. My beef with the “suffering of losing the single parent” has several weak points to me. First of all, it’s not like I want to glorify Soviet type socialism, but it did introduce a child care system, that’s still in place. It means going to kindergarten, and there’s also a nursery, if the mother wants to return to work. While it’s possible to be on paid maternal leave for 3 years, the economy is never in such a shape, that most women could just opt not to work. Not to mention, he totally dismisses personal responsibility. Being able to bear a child is a biological function, not a computer program, not all mothers go into pregnancy with everything planned out. It also includes being as irresponsible as being an active participant in a crime, and aider/abetter, or withholding information after the fact. Any parent who truly cares about the well being of their children do not involve them or themselves in criminal activity. Yet, the term “crime family” has never just involved men. Furthermore, he dismisses cases, where pregnant addicts committed a crime to pay for a score. So, while it’s generally true, that women are less likely to return to crime, it doesn’t and can’t mean we have to give out free passes. Whenever the well being of a child is in center, her of him growing up without a violent criminal is always better. Which brings me to the other point. The cause of erratic or aberrant behavior due to sexual trauma. It’s devastating and most victims don’t want to bring it up or be confronted with it. Yes, an abused person can also become an abuser, like male pedophiles with little boys. Except, in both cases, the majority of those victims don’t become criminals. To stick with Wuornos, she wasn’t the only woman who went into prostitution after sexual abuse, and she wasn’t the only one who killed men, like Lizzie Borden. Yet, the others affected by it did not go down that road. If the author claims female crime can happen because of sexual abuse, he shouldn’t have a problem tying the sexual problems of serial or spree killers to childhood sexual abuse.

    In fact, I could save him billions of dollars by making the claim we should only lock up psychopaths and sociopaths based on MRI scans which reveal their shrunken morality center. The problem here is obvious, who’d be the exchequer who provides certainty it’s a real scan, and not a ruse to lock up innocent people, and it also ignores the non-mentally ill people who commit crime under a moment of clouded judgment or after meticulous calculation. Post-partum depression is dangerous, as a mother can neglect her baby, or even murder it, and as long this condition and other factors exist, prisons for women won’t be closed only because they commit less crime.

  51. says

    @Carnation

    Men harm themselves and each other, and se*ual abuse is a definite factor. Women don’t tend to assault each other or victimise each other to the extend that men do.

    As far as I know there are no good statistics on this for the UK, but the Bureau of Justice Statistics collect annual data on sexual violence in US jails and prisons since the introduction of the prison rape elimination act. A higher percentage of women prisoners reported sexual violence from fellow inmates than male prisoners did (all but a very few prisons and jails were single gender only). A higher percentage of male prisoners reported sexual violence from prison staff than female inmates did.

    So assuming that female prisoners don’t tend to assault og victimize eachother to the extent male prisoners do is arguably putting the female prisoners at a higher risk because preventive measures are less likely to imposed if the problem is unrecognized or underestimated.

  52. HuckleAndLowly says

    @ Carnation
    I guess tamen was referring to this article from The Atlantic that refers to a relevant study using US Bureau of Justice Statistics, by Lara Stemple, Director of UCLA’s Health and Human Rights Law Project. Two quotes:

    …while it is often assumed that inmate-on-inmate sexual assault comprises men victimizing men, the survey found that women state prisoners were more than three times as likely to experience sexual victimization perpetrated by women inmates (13.7 percent) than were men to be victimized by other male inmates (4.2 percent) (Beck et al., 2013).

    and

    Among adults who reported sexual contact with prison staff, including some contact that prisoners call “willing” but that is often coercive and always illegal, 80 percent reported only female perpetrators. Among juveniles, the same figure is 89.3 percent. Queer men and women were two to three times more likely to report abuse. “The disproportionate abuse by female staff members does not occur because women are more often staffing facilities,” the authors write. “Men outnumber women by a ratio of three to one in positions requiring direct contact with inmates.”

  53. Marduk says

    56.
    Of course, its situational. I’m surprised anyone is surprised by this! Unfortunately we’ve had fifty years of bogus ‘patriarchy’ theories that reject situational accounts in favor of grand structural theory. The unfortunate thing about this is that the two could easily coexist from an intellectual perspective (men “normally” have more power in a given situation therefore…) but there has been so much pressure against this it seems almost unsayable (see also: domestic violence = patriarchy in action). As ever, the real problem with this is not so much for the frustrated intellectual poring over statistics as much that it retards implementing interventions that actually stand a chance of working.

  54. Ally Fogg says

    WineEM – did you honestly read that as “feminine/female” influence on Cameron?

    Because I read it 100% as Rupert Murdoch influence on Cameron.

  55. WineEM says

    @59 Well we don’t know what Murdoch’s wishes might have been re: prisons; we do however, know what Rebekah Brook’s wishes were regarding prisons. Doesn’t seem wholly insignificant, either, that she was dressed in gear that carries, shall we say, certain cultural overtones.

  56. Ally Fogg says

    Well when I say “Rupert Murdoch Influence” I mean what the editor of the NOTW says jump, Cameron (and his ilk on both sides) say “how high?”

  57. says

    @Carnation

    Somebody has already provided a link to an article about a study referring to the BJS sexual victimization surveys in jails and prisons. I generally prefer looking at the primary source and here’s a link to a BJS page containing information about these surveys: https://www.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=dcdetail&iid=406

    And more specifically here’s a link to one publication from BJS looking at data collected from 2009 to 2011:
    https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/svraca0911.pdf

  58. secondtofirstworld says

    @Marduk #56:

    In case if someone read the whole article, which I did, while your general point is true, it still exists within the power dynamic. There’s also the issue with the 2014 study, which categorized nagging or begging as tools of non-consensual sex, which is bogus, that’s uncomfortable at worst, not a lack of consent, and especially not coercion.

    The article’s focus is on the more culturally hidden areas, where actions considered going against type are hidden. The article cites mental health, social work, law, and public health where indecent or criminal action of women are overlooked. Compare that to high school and college sports teams, police, fire department, and the military for men, and the result is the same. There are people, who apply for a job not because they feel the need to help, but wish to abuse a slice of power they hold in a hierarchical organization? Shocker… and also self-evident.

    Prisoners, especially in a cultural climate where prison exists for retribution, are second class citizens, hence abuse. You too remember what happened at Abu Ghraib, where the perpetrators were of both gender. It happened because they felt supreme to them. Male inmates, who have no connections either on the inside or the outside, and therefore can’t pay for services, and don’t have a girlfriend or wife for a conjugal visit, or they do, but they won’t see them, their only currency is sex. I’m not saying their statistical corroboration isn’t important, just that it’s not something most of us did not know already. As for the men who are the staff, collectively they view inmates as lesser men, since they were convicted of a crime. So there’s no shift in dynamic, more like they don’t care.

    The opposite is true for the other subject the article mentions, young men having sex with women, that isn’t consensual. You might recall, how one and a half year ago a teacher was sentenced in America to 6 months for statutory rape of a 14-year old boy. Then-candidate Trump said, the boy was lucky, if he weren’t married, he’d consider her a good lay, though she was 32. Peer pressure is a darned thing. If the girl is hot, it’s less likely to be called a rape, as male pride kicks in, many others would bed her too. If she isn’t, the male pride of the victim kicks in, and flat out denies having any sex with her. The alternative to peer pressure is coming forward, and being called a pussy… that even 15 years ago would have meant just that. Nowadays with the internet, if one goes public by saying he was raped by a woman, he is a target of harassment, but so is his family. It’s not even theoretical either, one guy posted on Hacker News how he got fired, and at first, other guys just encouraged him, but since he did not respond, they started to harass him and his family they originally “swore to protect”, bro code my a*s.

    I like team sports, and especially ball sports can be brutal, regardless which gender plays, so violence is not dependent on stereotype, testosterone, it’s about being confrontational and/or controlling. It’s not new, that there is no blueprint for feminists on how to present women without being stereotyped, they debate this all the time. Just as much as they debate, how they could expect from us to be both compassionate, but also to man up, which are counterintuitive to each other. Let’s say, for the sake of argument, they’d hide this, they still don’t run the show, it would come to light, so blaming them as a collective gets us nowhere.

  59. StillGjengnger says

    @WIneEM 58

    Have to say I am with Ally on this one. Rebekah Brooks is not ‘a woman’, nor is she a femnist AFAIK. Her role in the Murdocn organisation is she only thing that is important here, and her sex, her dress, and any any BDSM leanings she might have (or might think Ken Clarke would respond to) are totally irrelevant. besides that.

  60. Carnation says

    @ Marduk, #57

    Actually, leaving aside your anti-SJW propaganda, it flies in the face of literally every study and article I’ve read about or heard about. I won’t comment until I’ve studied it, but frankly, I’d be astonished if it gives a totally accurate picture.

    My understanding was that between 10% – 22% or male prisoners could expect to be harassed sexually in prison.

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