Posted by: “Thomas Sochart” TSochart@vaeter-aktuell.de tsochart
Mon Aug 17, 2009 8:26 am (PDT)
*Why Women’s Shelters Are Hotbeds of Misandry*
Von Gerhard Amendt 10. August 2009, 18:30 Uhr
*According to Gerhard Amendt, Professor of Gender and Generation
Research at the University of Bremen, representatives of the supposedly
weaker sex are every bit as violent as their partners. The researcher
concludes that women’s shelters foster a devaluation of masculinity and
should therefore be replaced by familiy counseling centers.*
At the very moment when the operation of women’s shelters in Germany has
been subjected to scientific study for the first time, the German
Bundestag’s Family Affairs Committee has decided to review the question
of whether women’s shelters should receive funding guarantees through
the German federal government. Given the political ideology of women’s
shelters and the ramifications of such a step, this proposal should be
taken under serious review. The answers to a number of questions are
still outstanding. Have the services performed in women’s shelters stood
the test of time? Are the shelters operated in a professional manner,
and have they moved on from an ideology that views men as the
perpetrators of violence and women as nonviolent? Have women’s shelters
developed a professional understanding of family conflicts that enables
them to extend their efforts and include all members of a violent family?
As usual, the slated funding guarantees are based on no more than the
convenient statistic that “every fourth woman will become the victim of
relationship violence at some time in her life.” Since there is no
comparable data that would apply to men, the number is poorly suited as
legitimization for women’s shelters. Up until now, reference was made to
the role of women as victims, and funding for such institutions was
automatically renewed. The effectiveness of the shelters was not
monitored. At the same time, the statistic was used to popularize their
work. In the pre-Christmas season of 2007, a media campaign was launched
in Austria under the slogan “Verliebt. Verlobt. Verprügelt” (In Love.
Engaged. Battered). The German lottery also runs public service spots
pertaining to the matter. While all this has little bearing on the
circumstances under which men and women actually conduct their lives, it
couldn’t document more clearly a bias against men.
When women’s shelters were first being opened more than 20 years ago,
the object was to focus public attention on the experience of violence
from a woman’s perspective. The founding of the Bremen women’s shelter
can be traced to just such an intention on the part of the author, who
at the time endorsed the risky attempt to provide political lay
self-help. This coincided with the spirit of the times and its
sensitivity to violence as an aspect of women’s lives – although it did
not extend to men. In those days, the author, too, was unwilling to
imagine that women’s shelters would make a substantial contribution to a
hostile polarization of society into violent men as opposed to irenic
women, thereby creating many years of stagnation in gender discourse.
*Ignorant Family Policies*
Today, we know more than we did 25 years ago about the partnership
dynamics that trigger violence. More than two hundred studies in the USA
and Canada have produced findings that have added to public knowledge
and increased understanding in political circles. But it is precisely
the field of family policies that offers stubborn resistance to the very
essence of this research, namely, that women behave just as aggressively
and violently as men, and even slightly more often. This also applies to
their behavior toward their children. It is particularly conspicuous
during phases of a divorce that are high in violence. All counseling
agencies should be expected to help limit violence so that children,
above all, do not become actively or passively involved in the violent
episodes between their parents.
A major survey of divorced fathers conducted by the author in Bremen
showed that violence occurs in 30 percent of all divorces, with 1,800
men reporting physical or psychological abuse by their partners. This
represents a significantly higher rate of incidence than the
approximately ten percent seen in relationships under everyday
conditions. Within the 30 percent of divorces where violence occurred,
sixty percent was initiated by the men’s ex-wives or ex-partners. Our
survey findings revealed that within the most conflict laden context of
an adult life, women, too, initiate violence. Only from the perspective
of women’s shelters does violence emanate exclusively from men. Instead
of making divorce conflicts more tractable, women’s shelters actually
exacerbate them. The »every-fourth-woman« statistic is therefore being
used to document the necessity of changing the Domestic Relations Law of
1998, because allegedly the sole source of danger for children during a
divorce is violence stemming from their fathers. By pursuing this
approach to family policy, the advocates of women’s shelters are
attempting to use prejudice as a means to rescind the right of children
to both of their parents.
The 60 percent of divorce-related violent incidents that are initiated
by women inflict great suffering on the fathers involved. Their
statements are genuine. Yet there is a difference between science and
the ideologically based enemy image adopted in women’s shelters, and it
lies in the evaluation of the numbers. Whereas science attempts to
resolve conflict, the proponents of women’s shelters book hostility
toward men as political success. Accordingly, we do not claim that women
experience episodes of violence in exactly the same way that men do. To
make that assertion, we would have to survey them, which we have not as
yet done – and neither have the »every-fourth-woman« agitators.
We have, however, arrived at an entirely different set of conclusions.
We assume that women experienced the abuse in a similar way as their
partners, namely, as stemming from the man. American studies confirm
this. But if both parties are mutually accusing each other of starting
the violence, then what is actually true? Both statements represent
subjective truths. Generally, neither of the parties is lying. Unlike
during their happier times, however, both of them now feel aggrieved and
are no longer able to communicate with each other verbally. They lapse
into lethal silence, scream at each other, or resort to physical blows.
In such cases, marriage and family counselors can help to restore the
couple’s destroyed ability to communicate. Once the partners reestablish
a common language, they have the option of entering into a process of
reconciliation or choosing to separate with respect. They and, above
all, their children do not lose their positive experiences from the past.
Women’s shelters are incapable of providing this kind of professional
intervention because of their ideology: they view a man as every woman’s
enemy. For them, it is a foregone conclusion that women do not engage in
violent acts. According to the ideology espoused in women’s shelters,
this is always a given, and mutual talks between a woman and her partner
are therefore superfluous. To this end, women are politically
manipulated into a victim role and men are collectively denigrated.
Consequently, the residents of women’s shelters are allowed to
experience themselves only as victims and not as participants in a
relationship that has turned violent.
Women’s shelters represent a world where the joy of life is missing, and
efforts to resolve relationship conflicts have been replaced by
existential despondency or even self-hatred. Misandry appears to offer a
way out. This oppressive atmosphere surely accounts for the high rate of
employee turnover at women’s shelters and the dissension within work
teams. It enables one to understand recent research conducted in the USA
which found that women are increasingly steering clear of shelters
despite the severity of their conflicts. They do not want to be forced
into a world that despises men. Their own problems are burden enough.
The advocates of women’s shelters are unfazed by objections that they
are compromising the ethics of the helping professions, for
professionalism is not their goal. On the contrary, they
self-confidently label themselves as “partisan,” which is synonymous
with viewing women as victims who face sinister male powers and an
indifferent public. Professional ethics have been deliberately replaced
by political motives. And that is by no means selfless. It gives them a
narcissistic high and a sense of moral superiority over the rest of the
world. It is a mixture of elitism and pretended self-sacrifice.
In the founding years of women’s shelters, this elitism functioned as a
gateway for the disparagement of existing professional organizations
that were sponsored, for example, by Protestant churches, the Catholic
Church, or the German state governments.
In that respect, little has changed. The proponents of women’s shelters
believe that their combative, anti-patriarchal rhetoric will have a
greater impact than professionally trained counselors and therapists.
Most of them seem unimpressed that they are not genuinely helping those
who seek counseling, because they attribute their failure to a lack of
political insight on the part of the women. Their sense of mission
appears to provide greater narcissistic gratification than the tough,
daunting task of working with violent families who have elevated
physical expression to the language of everyday life and otherwise no
longer have much to say about each other.
*The Feminist Ideology: A Hotbed of Misandry *
Granted, there may be shelters that have jettisoned their ideological
ballast, but even the term “women’s shelter” itself always implies the
disastrous ideology of radical feminism, whereby relationships between
men and women are characterized by their respective status as victim and
perpetrator. According to that, women can do nothing and men are
completely in charge. Thus, women’s shelters perpetuate the destruction
of communication within partnerships as a political project within the
The conclusions are obvious. The concept of ideologically based women’s
shelters is no longer needed. What families with violence problems
urgently need is a network of counseling centers that can provide
unbiased and nondiscriminatory assistance to all of the parties
involved. For family violence is systemic and psychodynamic in nature.
If a woman strikes her husband, and the husband strikes his wife, then
there is a high probability that they are also abusing their children.
And children who have been struck, boys and girls alike, are in turn
more likely as adults to strike their own children or partners. This
sets the course for the reemergence of intra-family violence in the
following generation. Society continuously accumulates a growing
potential for violence. And mothers who do not strike their children,
but instead leave the task to the children’s father, are no less
integral parts of the scheme of violence – as is the parent who simply
remains silent in response to the entire situation.
*Family Counseling Centers against Domestic Violence *
Instead of women’s shelters, what we need in the future are specialized
counseling centers for families with unresolved violent conflicts. These
would be staffed by well-trained men and women who cooperate based on
professional ethical standards. They would intervene directly during
violent family crises and, in extreme cases, provide a temporary safe
haven for men and children and women, to the extent this has not already
become unnecessary due to a personal protection order. We need family
counseling centers that can step in and have an impact at the very
source of the ongoing intergenerational cycle of violence. A public that
is dumbfounded by the apathy of youth welfare offices and horrified by
school murders and the corpses of children should approve government
funding only if those who seek counseling are assured to receive
effective assistance. Counseling and therapy simply must be kept free of
political ideologies. The only place where this does not apply is in
Likewise, we need to initiate a new discussion at colleges and
universities. Politcal correctness has given rise to a prohibition on
thinking about women in terms of aggression and violence, and this must
be confronted with the findings of international research.
About the Author
Gerhard Amendt is Professor of Gender and Generation Research. His most
recent book, “I did not divorce my kids!” How Fathers Deal with Family
Break-Ups was published in 2008. His forthcoming publication is a text
book on intra-family violence. The author can be reached at
email@example.com or through his homepage:http://www.igg.uni-bremen.de
www.Pa-Pa.org – Parental Alienation awareness, prevention and support.
www.ManKind.org.uk – Supporting victims of domestic violence and abuse.
www.woodcraft.org.uk/aboutus/who.php – A unique progressive educational movement for children and young people – both girls and boys.
“It is a rare breed of human who can blend a free spirit, a decisive nature, a deep respect for life, love for adventure, and an uncompromising sense of integrity into human happiness and being. Such individuals hear the heartbeat of wholeness.”
“Recognizing that the child, for the full and harmonious development of his or her personality, should grow up in a family environment, in an atmosphere of happiness, love and understanding” Convention on the Rights of the Child
A child who is separated from one or both parents is entitled to “maintain personal relations and direct contact with both parents on a regular basis, except if it is contrary to the child’s best interests” (UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1989, Article 9)