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Fathers & the ‘He-cession’; New Column--Researcher Says Women’s Initiation of DV Predicts Risk to Women
July 7, 2009
New Column: Researcher Says Women’s Initiation of Domestic Violence Predicts Risk to Women

My recent column Researcher Says Women’s Initiation of Domestic Violence Predicts Risk to Women (Huffington Post, 7/6/09) discusses some important new research on violence in families.

To post a comment on Huffington Post concerning the column, click here.

In the column, I wrote:

How can we prevent Intimate Partner Violence and injury to women? IPV researcher Deborah Capaldi, Ph.D., a social scientist at the Oregon Social Learning Center, finds that the best way for women to be safe is to not initiate violence against their male partners. According to Dr. Capaldi, “The question of initiation of violence is a crucial one… much IPV is mutual, and initiations — even that seem minor — may lead to escalation.”

Dr. Capaldi recently presented her work at “From Ideology to Inclusion 2009: New Directions in Domestic Violence Research and Intervention,” an IPV conference in Los Angeles June 26-28. While studies have consistently found that women initiate as much violence against their male partners as vice versa, two-thirds of domestic violence injuries are suffered by women.

Dr. Capaldi’s research examined the different relationship violence scenarios — violence by him only, violence by her only, violence by both with him initiating, and violence by both with her initiating. Of these, the most likely to result in future injury to women is when she initiates violence against him and he responds, although both mutually aggressive groups were close in danger levels.

Dr. Capaldi notes that in a study of women who were in a battered women’s shelter, “67% of the women reported severe violence toward their partner in the past year.” Others in the domestic violence field, including Erin Pizzey, founder of the first battered women’s shelter in England in the early 1970s, have had similar findings.

According to Dr. Capaldi, “Overall, young couples with unidirectional violence report fewer acts and forms of violence than bidirectional couples.”

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Men, Fathers & the ‘He-cession’: Foreign Policy Author Attacks Men in 'The Death of Macho'

I discussed the “He-cession” and Reihan Salam’s controversial article The Death of Macho (Foreign Policy, 7/2/09) on KGO AM 810 in San Francisco Thursday. An interview with Salam which was used as a set-up for my interview talked a lot about “Macho Men” (even playing the Village People’s “Macho Man” in the background.)

Salam spoke of the male blue-collar workers displaced by the recession as if they’re privileged males who finally (and deservdedly) have been knocked down a peg or two by the economic crisis. In his article, Salam wrote:

[In recent years male-dominated governments] acted to artificially prop up macho.

One such example is the housing bubble…in the United States, the booming construction sector generated relatively high-paying jobs for the relatively less-skilled men who made up 97.5 percent of its workforce—$814 a week on average.

By contrast, female-dominated jobs in healthcare support pay $510 a week, while retail jobs pay about $690 weekly. The housing bubble created nearly 3 million more jobs in residential construction than would have existed otherwise…

These handsome construction wages allowed men to maintain an economic edge over women…subsidizing macho had all kinds of benefits, and to puncture the housing bubble would have been political suicide.

I told KGO that blue-collar breadwinner males aren’t “macho men” or privileged, powerful men, but instead men who are sacrificing by doing hard labor so they can better provide for their wives and children. Salam implies that the men were being artificially subsidized and that they weren’t deserving of the better wages they earned compared to “female-dominated jobs in healthcare [and] retail.” I explained:

Construction workers earn more because their work is dangerous–I’ve been a construction worker, and I know. If you want someone to do hard, dangerous labor, you need to pay them more to do it, regardless of gender or any other factor.

KGO’s Rosie Allen asked me about men being willing to “accept” not being breadwinners. I replied:

Men being valued as breadwinners isn’t some conspiracy men dreamed up to keep themselves in power. Ask the average guy working long hours to provide for his family if he feels “privileged” and I doubt he’ll answer “yes.”

Gender roles have been converging and this economic crisis is speeding up the process. I’m not a particular proponent of the male breadwinner model, but if we’re going to convert from that model to the dual earner / dual caregiver of children model, it will require some changes from women, too.

We always talk about how men have to change, but women will have to change what they value in men. I’ve been a successful professional and I’ve been a stay-at-home dad, and there’s one thing I can tell you without a doubt—men who aren’t capable of earning a living aren’t respected, either by men or by women.

When I was asked about inequalities and discrimination harming women, I replied:

If we’re going to talk about inequality and gender, let’s start with what is by far the greatest gender inequality in our society—the way mothers are favored over fathers in child custody. Millions of men were good fathers and thought they were good husbands, but as soon as their wives decided they didn’t want them around anymore, their role in their children’s lives was drastically reduced if not terminated.

I don’t see it as a discrimination issue in particular, since I see it above all as a children’s issue—children’s right to have their relationships with both parents protected after a  divorce or separation. But if you want to talk about gender inequality / discrimination, the line starts with child custody.

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Kids and Dads
Before each start, Randy Johnson ‘Bows his head and says a prayer in his father’s memory’

From Sports Illustrated’s The Power of Two (12/17/01):

Randy Johnson's father, Bud, was a police officer...who almost never missed Randy's Little League games. Randy would practice pitching against his garage door, pretending he was another lefty, Oakland Athletics star Vida Blue. The kid threw so hard he'd loosen nails in the wood siding. When Randy was done, Bud would hand him a hammer and say proudly, "Pound them back in, son."

"When I threw a no-hitter [for the Mariners] in 1990, I called him up, and he said, 'How come you walked six guys?' " Johnson says. "That's how he molded me. I tell people I want to have a better season next year, and they'll say, 'How? At your age?' Well, why can't it be better?"

[In] 1992 Bud Johnson suffered an aortic aneurysm ...Bud was dead by the time Randy reached the hospital. “I saw him...and just hugged him and cried,” Johnson says. “I talked to him. Everything spilled out. Mostly it was, ‘Why? Why did you have to leave?’ I made a promise then that nothing would get in my way, that I’d become the best pitcher I could be.”

Since then Johnson has squatted behind the back of the mound before each start, bowing his head and saying a prayer in his father’s memory. He is 151-53, a .740 winning percentage, since Bud’s passing.

After Johnson made his promise to his dying father in December, 1992, he had his first big year in 1993, going from being an average pitcher who walked way too many batters to being perhaps the best in the game. Over the next five years he went an incredible 75-20.

Since this article was written in 2001, Johnson has gone on to win over 300 games in the major leagues, and after his retirement will be a first ballot Hall of Famer.
dads matter
"I've learned many important things from my dad. Integrity, walking the walk not just talking the talk. Character, who you are and who you serve are much more important than the things you own. Perseverance, in all you do, never give up. He would always say 'Give 100 percent and be the best at whatever you do.'"

--Ben Watson New England Patriots tight end
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