by Mindy, For Battler, and feminist.
The ABC news website has details of a new survey up showing that there is still a lot of work to be done to educate boys about girls.
A new report has found that nearly one in seven teenage boys think it is OK to make a girl have sex with them, if she has been flirting with them.
The story can be found here.
Categories: education, gender & feminism, Life, media, relationships, violence, work and family
I was just going to post on this when I found yours, Mindy. From the Herald-Sun:
Predictably the comments thread is a cesspit.
This is scary, although I thought it was interesting that the ABC article says that “these are attitudes that the youngest boys, boys from 12 to 14 show most strongly”. Does this suggest that attitudes change over time as the boys grow up begin to understand the world a bit more?
I think it shows they learn to say the acceptable thing, given that the same survey shows that 1 in 3 year 10 girls say they have had ‘unwanted sex’.
Deborah’s last blog post..It’s okay to force a girl to have sex if she has been flirting with you
Ugh, how very depressing. 😦
I really don’t think I can bear to read the Sun Herald comment thread at the moment– I’m guessing it a good portion of it comes down to “it’s all the woman’s fault”, and “my penis is the centre of the universe”?
This makes me feel physically sick. Also, can I smack the idiots out there who claim we don’t need feminism any more?
Beppie, the comments are more about attacking the study as having an agenda against men and that the figures couldn’t possible be really that high, there’s no defending of the idea that it’s ok to hit or force a woman to have sex.
Ah, I see. I know from personal experience how hard many men find it to believe the stats pertaining to rape and other forms of violence against women.
Ugh. I just read the comments.
This one made my head explode:
“I have never hit a woman or forced them into a sexual position but it took a great deal of control. Some females actually enjoy pushing the boundaries, to get a male into a sexual frenzy then just say stop can be hard to do, especially for someone that is young, to some females this is just a game and when they eventually push it too hard and are forced into sex they seem to think they had no responsiblity in what happened. Yes, women can say no but they must also act in a sensible manner and not put themselves into this position in the first place, it takes two to tango and when you have a female that thinks she can push a man extremely hard both physically & mentally then some fireworks do happen. Just as there are males that are or can be violent some women fit into the same category, laws need to reflect this and all teenagers should be schooled in what is & is not acceptable for both males as well as females.”
Rebekka, I hadn’t seen that one!
It’s like he never got past a four-year old’s “but she did blah and that made me do the wrong thing!”. “Sexual frenzy” my arse – if you’ve got an erection and no-one wants to play with it, go off an play with it by yourself, arsehole.
I saw this reported on midday ABC news. Just to show the ubiquity of victim blaming, the newsreader asked Dr Michael Flood, in response to the statistic that one in three 15 year old girls have been forced or coerced into sex (ie raped, but no one says that any more) whether this means we should be telling girls that “they don’t have to be victims.”
That’s right, because if you clap your hands and say it very loudly then the invisible male rapist will just disappear. If you don’t believe it enough though you could still be raped (by that invisible male rapist) so be careful to really, really BELIEVE. Jaysus H Fucking Chrrist. To Dr Flood’s credit he dismissed that immediately saying that girl’s already knew this and that since most boys/men don’t sexually assault girls/women but often don’t talk about the subject they have a great positive role to play in changing the cultural landscape.
Hark, is that the distant rumbling of boulders being pushed away from the subterranean lairs of assorted rape apologist orcs, waving their “White Ribbon Day discriminates against men” banners?
Crap, I fail at HTML. Again.
[fixed it ~ tigtog]
God how depressing. Don’t know what’s worse, the story itself or the comment thread.
“…nearly one in seven boys think it’s OK to make a girl have sex with you if she’s flirting.”
I hate to think what ‘flirting’ consists of to these idiots; probably smiling and saying hello.
Why “unwelcome sex”? I don’t know if there’s a reason that particular phrase was used, but it makes rape sound kinda like spam emails or advertising flyers in your letterbox. Kinda annoying but essentially unavoidable.
It’s not ok to hit a girl, but it’s ok to hit an idiot?
I wonder how many said it’s ok to hit a boy? Or did they not even bother to ask the question?
To maximize the statistics and get the head line.
I’ve read the report and while the absolute numbers might be accurate, the gender bias in the execution, interpretation, summary and reporting was blatantly obvious. Misandrist rubbish really.
If the absolute numbers are accurate, isn’t that enough to be concerned and appalled by, whether or not the reporting had an agenda (something you’ve merely asserted, not proven)?
Forcing another person to do something through the threat of superior strength in any other context is acknowledged as bullying abuse at the very least, but somehow when heterosexual sex is involved, it’s not? Bullshit to that, no matter what spin you want to place on the alleged agenda of those reporting on the study.
Oh for Pete’s sake. Show me your stats on the entrenched violence-against-idiots, on the tactic in war of rape-the-idiots and make them bear our children and then we’ll be comparing apples with apples. When one in four women are raped, and one in four women are beaten by their partner someone suggesting that feminism is irrelevant is utterly infuriating for those who have witnessed/experienced this gendered violence (or who have just read the stats and are aware that due to their gender they’re at risk). So one woman commenting in frustration that she’d like to thump the next idiot who acts as though feminists just want to ruin fun (given the context of the ‘absolute numbers’) when there is no evidence that said woman thinks real violence is actually ok, is NOT in any way the same thing/as concerning as a study showing that one in seven teenage boys will *admit t0* thinking it’s acceptable to force a girl into sex because she flirted, is not the same as one in three boys thinking it’s acceptable to hit a girl, and that girls get hit because they ask for it/infuriate men. This shit is a statistical and empirical reality. So when you can bring the evidence of the institutionalised and entrenched systemic violence-against-idiots then let’s talk. When you can tell me how a thirteen year old *idiot* has been stoned to death in a stadium for being an *idiot* and tempting men to rape him/her with his/her sinful idiot ways, then we’ll talk. And you really might wanna think harder before concluding that the ‘gender bias’ in a study trying to look at the attitudes of boys/men towards girls/women given the cultural reality of violence against women is misandry.
Oh you’ve read it have you, Desipis? Bollocks you have. This was a literature review, commissioned by the White Ribbon Day campaign, of prior research not a new study so your claims of blatant gender bias in execution etc is just piffle. Or are you also claiming to have read every study in the 8 pages of references upon which the review is based? The brief was to review evidence about young people’s experiences of intimate partner violence in their own relationships or in those of their parents so no, male on male violence was not part of the brief ( I doubt whether very many homosexual couples would feel safe enough to participate openly in this kind of study, given the rampant homophobia in most schools). Violence by girls against their partners was addressed, however.
The real reason was explained in the body of the review which you claim to have read:
Not even an orc, just a common or garden troll.
So what if there is an agenda? I’m tired of anti-progressives complaining about agendas and using the word perjoratively. If we know there is a problem and we want to look at it more closely with a view to fixing it, then yes we have an agenda! The agenda is fixing the problem.
@ Princess Poophead:
Quite right. I’m also sick of any study that shows some men in a negative light being described as misandrist. I hate reports that indicate women are obsessed with fashion and gossip and are more interested in what a man does than in who a man is, but it would be wrong to deny that there is a certain subset of women who are all that and more. It only becomes misogyny if that description of some women is taken as applying to all women.
I have never hit a woman or forced them into a sexual position but it took a great deal of control. – some rectum, quoted by Rebekkah
I’m going to call bullshit here. I’ve never had to exert the slightest ounce of willpower to not rape, and I doubt it’s because I have some kind of super-conscience. No, I reckon if I can help it, other men can too. In fact, rapists prove they can help it every time they choose a victim, or plan an attack so as not to get caught – otherwise they would just attack the first woman they see, wherever they see her.
The agenda becomes relevant when determining what the core of the problem is – with respect to the survey on hitting a girl being no big deal for 1 in 3 boys you also need to know what proportion believe it is no big deal to hit a boy, or perhaps to hit a person of any sex who is less physically capable than them. Eg is the fundamental problem one of mysogyny or one of general acceptability of violence among boys?
A boy hitting a boy should be no more acceptable in society than a boy hitting a girl.
“Also, can I smack the idiots out there who claim we don’t need feminism any more?
It’s not ok to hit a girl, but it’s ok to hit an idiot?”
That’s a rhetorical, interwebs smack. It only stings metaphorically. Quite a different kettle of fish from an actual man’s fist colliding with a woman’s face.
A boy hitting a boy should be no more acceptable in society than a boy hitting a girl.
@ Chris – absolutely, couldn’t agree more. But the survey was about boy’s attitudes towards girls/women. I’m sure if we had a survey looking at children’s attitudes to violence in general we would all be just as concerned.
Mindy @ 23, yes in fact I’d guess that a wider ranging survey of boy’s attitudes would find that they would find it more acceptable to hit a boy than to hit a girl. And I think this is relevant to the topic because when looking for solutions, its probably more effective to run programs for boys that address that acceptability of the use of violence as a means of getting your way, rather than a more specific one about violence against girls.
“its probably more effective to run programs for boys that address that acceptability of the use of violence as a means of getting your way, rather than a more specific one about violence against girls”
Really, why? When the evidence is weighted strongly towards girls being the victims of sexual violence, why would you run a program that wasn’t specific? In an ideal world where everyone was equal, you’d be right, but absent any evidence that general programs are more effective, it’d have to be obvious that a program should target the specific behaviours that are the biggest issue – like one in three girls being “forced to have sex” (or raped, as we call it here in the land of Plain English).
I think all are required – programs for boys about using violent coercion generally, and specific violence against women and sexual violence against anybody programs as well. Chris is correct that it’s the cultural acceptance of male violence as a valid means of getting one’s way that is ultimately the root of the problem, IMO. Don’t forget that most violence in our society is male on male and doesn’t involve sex.
I think it’s both, with respect. And I think the study is probably, sadly, entirely accurate.
The idea that it’s ok for boys to have their faces punched up until there is blood all over the place and teeth falling out, that this gets called ‘a bit of rough and tumble’ or ‘boys being boys’ isn’t really a great message to young male minds. Although this breaches ‘the rules’ in school, and at law, it is the world many males (such as myself) had to go through and I see no evidence it has changed. I have never met a male who grew up in an environment where physical violence didn’t play a central part in the playground ‘order’.
That’s not a trojan horse for an argument against what you are calling for. I want to see all forms of violence taken more seriously, and I agree that the issues involved in male-on-female violence require distinct treatment. I’m just saying boys having their heads punched in by other boys also needs (urgent) addressing.
Can I add- I do not have any idea what to do about my gender, but they certainly aren’t doing enough…
Fair point, I certainly wasn’t arguing that those issues shouldn’t be addressed. I’m just not sure they are springing from the same thing. I agree that cultural acceptance of using violence to get your own way is an issue – and I think a lot of parents are teaching that to their children by hitting them as a form of ‘discipline’ (what does that say but “I’m bigger and stronger than you, I can use force to get you to do what I want”?) – but I still feel there might be different things going with male/male violence and male/female violence.
It’s hard to say, because not being a man I don’t know what’s going on in a man’s head when he hits another man. But I think with male/female violence there’s an additional factor of seeing a woman as an object to be acted on, of denying her personhood so that the violence against her doesn’t matter. I’m not so sure that *that* isn’t the root cause of the male/female violence problem, rather than just using force to get your own way, which I would agree is very much a problem, but which I would argue needs a different approach.
Rebekka – I’m not sure that violence against women and violence against men is for fundamentally different causes – I suspect its more about the exploitation of a power imbalance and that in general men are physically stronger than women. As an example, look at what can happen in male only environments such as boarding schools or prisons when things go very bad. You see both the standard physical violence amongst boys but also sexual violence. Its almost always not about sex, its about power.
Fix the fundamental problem of a proportion of boys believing that its acceptable to use physical coercion (or in general emotional coercion, though I think thats a lot rarer among boys) and you’ll see an improvement in violence rates against both men and women.
With respect Chris, the agenda is not hidden. The report is by a group drawing attention to the very particular problems of the manifestations of violence against women in Australia, and working against that problem quite specifically, as empirical evidence bears out that it *is* a specific problem in our society, and that there *are* specific attitudes behind it.
The agenda is to look at the attitudes behind that violence and ways in which it can be changed.
While there is a fundamental overlap between violence of boys against boys and boys against girls, the way it is manifested, and the attitudes behind it are often very different.
The existence of the White Ribbon Day organisation (and the findings, reporting and discussions of its report) does not undermine or play down the seriousness of violence against men, it just has a specific focus.
If you read the report you will notice quotes such as:
So, while violence of boys against boys is *of course* an incredibly serious issue, and White Ribbon Day acknowledges this, and discusses the gender pressures on boys at length, and while boys believing that physical coercion is acceptable is a problem, no one here, or in the report takes away from that/is ignorant of that/is dismissing that. Feminists write at length about the damage of masculine culture to everyone, boys included. But violence against women is not just the same as violence against men. The report bears this out, the criminal law bears this out, anecdotes about rape and what rapists say to their victims bear this out.
As an example, look at what can happen in male only environments such as boarding schools or prisons when things go very bad. You see both the standard physical violence amongst boys but also sexual violence. Its almost always not about sex, its about power.
Yes, but don’t forget that the weaker males in these scenarios are sexually and physically abused after first being feminised – ’cause there ain’t nothing worse and no worse position to be in than that of a woman’s.
White Ribbon Day is a great opportunity for men to take a stand against male violence towards women. Unfortunately men haven’t really embraced the cause, and the event I try to run every year struggles to gain momentum.
The entire premise behind the event is to, firstly realise that a vast majority of men don’t use violence, and secondly empower these men to create a culture in which those who do use violence are isolated.
There wouldn’t be a week go by where I don’t hear hideously violent misogynistic comments – “Look at the tits on that b*tch” or “I like to hold her down a f*ck her” are examples. But what to do? Most men would be repulsed, yet not say anything for fear of being ridiculed or labelled a poof. Yet the silence gives tacit support to the statements, creating a kind of culture in which violence against women is acceptable. The more men publically condoning violence and misogyny the better. Then a culture will develop reviling this, making it easier for the ‘good guys’ to make a stand. Of course they should do it anyway!
PS -Thanks very much for such a great blog!
“there might be different things going with male/male violence and male/female violence.”
Agreed. And having said what I’ve said above, I believe there is something particularly odious about sexual violence, and particularly cowardly about violence against women.
Funnily enough, having a bit of an interest in esoteric martial arts, I’ve known plenty of people (usually but not always men) who pursue violence as a hobby in that sense, but are meek and peaceful outside the dojo. There is clearly more to a person crossing that line than a familiarity or comfort with violence in and of itself…
Is this really true? I find it difficult to reconcile the results of the survey (eg 1 in 3 girls having unwanted sex) and that claim. Is it just a very busy small minority causing the problems?
Apologies if this is off topic, but why do you consider violence against women particularly cowardly (presumably you mean compared to violence against men)? Men can be at as large a physical disadvantage to other men as a woman.
I have no rational reason. In fact the nature of the proviso was to say “while I’ve made what I think is a rational argument, above, about the need to address all violence, I must admit deep inside I find some things particularly repellant”.
“The entire premise behind the event is to, firstly realise that a vast majority of men don’t use violence,
Is this really true? I find it difficult to reconcile the results of the survey (eg 1 in 3 girls having unwanted sex) and that claim. Is it just a very busy small minority causing the problems?”
Excellent point, Chris. It’s difficult to believe that one in three girls is raped by just a couple of guys. Although I suppose two-thirds is a fairly large majority. There was also something in the report about 23% of children witnessing their mother being physically abused by her partner – unless there are just a few women serially hooking up with a few abusive men (and they have more kids than average), that’s a lot of men doing a lot of hitting.
Yes I agree, it is hard to reconcile what I said with the figures presented. They’re very disturbing indeed, and as a man, make we want to vomit.
Perhaps I should have said, a majority rather than a vast majority.
“Perhaps I should have said, a majority rather than a vast majority.”
How about just “most”? 🙂
Rebekka’s last blog post..On language
Albi – your original assertion may be correct – Robert on LP posted a more detailed analysis of the report that the study was based on:
The 30% of girls who reported having unwanted sex was actually 30% of those who have had sex which was 24% of those surveyed. So overall it was 7% who girls who reported having unwanted sex.
And to contrast 20% of boys who have had sex (of which that was 27% of those surveyed) reported having unwanted sex. The definition of unwanted sex was fairly broad – eg including things like “did it because my friends thought I should”.
There are plenty of studies that look at attitudes to violence among children (and adults) in general. Just this year I looked at five or six reports on the links between media violence and aggressive behaviour, none of which focused on gendered violence.
Just because this particular report focused on issues that are experienced by women does not mean that male on male violence is being ignored, and it would be nice if these research projects could be received occasionally without all the “but what about men?”
Seeing as women have the same statistical chance of being raped as men do in prison then of course it’s important to focus on gendered violence.
To say that if we just concentrate on changing boys attitudes to accepted concepts of masculinity then we are not going to fix the problem because part of that problem is women accepting and enabling those concepts of masculinity.
Our culture tends to treat women and girls as somehow less than human and consequently girls grow up believing it, hence their lack of awareness of personal agency and bodily sovereignty.
I see reports like this one as being potentially empowering and consciousness-raising for women and girls.
PP @ 41 – hear hear!
PP @ 41 – I agree with you up to the point where people start saying the report says X so therefore we need to do Y. Basing decisions on only part of the story is going to lead to suboptimal solutions. These types of reports are very useful from an awareness and motivation point of view, though it looks like they should have been a bit more careful with how they reported the results, but that may have just been the media.
That was the least common reason for unwanted sex (1.2% of girls reporting unwanted sex), the most common reasons were being drunk (17.6%) and pressure from the partner (13.9%). Unwanted sex when drunk meets the definition of rape in many jurisdictions and depending on what form the inducement took, so could ‘pressured’ sex. Since it was a forced choice question with only 4 choices being offered and since the total responses only account for 38.1% of girls reporting unwanted sex there is a large gap in our knowledge of the nature of this unwanted sex. I am sticking to reporting the figures for girls because the White Ribbon Campaign focuses on violence against women and they commissioned the review to support the work that they do. If someone wants to use the same source material to do work specifically for boys they are at perfect liberty to do so.
su @ 44 – the breakdown for boys is very similar. Overall about 5% of boys reported unwanted sex compared to 7% for girls with the breakdown % of reasons given approximately the same.
The difference being of course that boys’ experiences of unwanted sex does not then merge into experiences of actual sexual assault or intimate partner violence to anywhere near the same degree as in the case of girls. This study is all about disrupting that cycle. It would be good to know more about the age of partners when there was unwanted sex but the study in question didn’t cover that intersection.
“If someone wants to use the same source material to do work specifically for boys they are at perfect liberty to do so.”
That’s exactly right. If anyone is concerned that men and boys are experiencing the same levels of sexual violence that women and girls do then they can start their own campaign, get lobbying for rape crisis centres and refuges, but they don’t do they?
They wait until the hard work and awareness-raising efforts of women are noticed by the media, then they attempt to derail any discussion of it with pedantry and “me too” arguments.
So now after all the hullaballoo !! What happens? Dr Flood made an honest mistake…..
On Monday November 17, 2008 ABC News Online and ABC Radio carried stories reporting the findings of a study into the impact of violence on young people. The study was commissioned by the White Ribbon Foundation. It reported, in part, that “one in every three boys believe it is not a big deal to hit a girl”. The author of the report, Dr Michael Flood, has advised the ABC that this finding was in fact wrong. Dr Flood’s team transposed information in compilation of that part of the report. The original report by the National Crime Prevention 2001 study upon which much of the White Ribbon report is based made no reference to “boys hitting girls” In fact the report referred to “girls hitting boys”.
As references to this incorrect information formed a significant part of the our online news story, as well as an interview conducted
for the AM program. The online news story has been amended accordingly. The AM transcript has been edited and the story audio removed.”
Why haven’t I seen this violation of the truth also on this website??
This is the first I’ve heard of it. Would it be too much to ask for an informative link?
I think albi’s observations @33 are very interesting, in particular the point about misogynist remarks ignored amounting to tacit approval. As someone who finds it quite hard to speak up when I hear people saying offensive things (sometimes my jaw is so slack I can only produce vowel sounds), I would think this is something we should try to think of actual helpful tactics for. My first thought is of the humour/ridicule response. On more than one talk show I’ve heard Ben Elton take misogynist wankers down a peg beautifully with a humorous jibe. Unfortunately we aren’t all blessed with a quick wit.
Certainly, references supplied …..
Please take note that these statistics were in regard to 30% OK rate for “girls hitting boys” not the other way around …. I hope all those attacking the boys are equally horrified, and that it is not simply
Are you aware of this also …. [unsupported claim based on the misrepresented Conflict Tactics Scale snipped ~ moderator]
[irrelevant sniping at Dr Flood snipped ~moderator]
To Rebekka, 37 .. “Is this really true? I find it difficult to reconcile the results of the survey (eg 1 in 3 girls having unwanted sex) and that claim. Is it just a very busy small minority causing the problems?”
No its not true, it is in fact one in three girls that have regular sexual relations, which brings the percentage down to a still unreasonable 7% of girls. Although in fact the broad definintion of the same manipulated statistics will most certainly halve it once again.