‘Not All Men!’ and Other Responses to Sarah Everard’s Death

The discovery of missing 33 year old Sarah Everard’s body has drawn substantial media attention over the past few weeks. The subsequent arrest and charging of a serving Met police officer in connection with her murder has sparked national and international outrage. Women across the country are sharing their experiences of male violence, including harassment, abuse, assault and rape. It will come as no surprise to feminists that this increased awareness of violence against women has been met with significant backlash.

Not all men are like that!

Contrary to popular belief, materialist feminists have no interest in competing for gold medals in the Oppression Olympics. Nor do we have any interest in engaging in emotive, moralistic arguments or guilt politics. We do, however, need to be able to name the problem in order to objectively analyse and combat it. The fact remains that male violence statistics are staggering. Whilst the rate of rape, sexual assault, domestic abuse and femicide are on the rise, conviction rates are falling. Aggrieved men can disbelieve and contest crime statistics until the cows come home but, to quote the infamous right wing commentator Ben Shapiro, facts don’t care about your feelings.

A recent study by UN Women found that 97% of UK women aged 18-24 have been sexually harassed. A 2016 TCU report found that 52% of women have experienced sexual harassment at work where 9 out of 10 perpetrators were men. The National Education Union’s 2017 study on sexism in schools found that 37% of girls had experienced sexual harassment in school, compared to 6% of boys. If the vast majority of women in the UK have experienced sexual harassment, it is a mathematical impossibility (or at least extremely improbable) that these incidents have been committed by a minority of men. Even in light of such overwhelming statistics, women are met with cries of ‘not all men!’ and ‘it’s just a minority of bad men!’. If we are to entertain the idea that the millions of incidents of sexual harassment, sexual assault, domestic violence, rape and femicide have been committed by a minority of men, then those few men must have been extremely busy — think Santa-Claus-visiting-every-house-in-the-world-in-one-night kind of busy. Approached logically and reasonably, the prevalence of these crimes strongly indicates a high number of perpetrators. We must move away from the childish notion of a few evil bogeymen and accept the prevalence of sexual harassment and sexual assault amongst ordinary ‘he-would-never-do-that’ men.

A particular problem is the refusal of men to accept how ‘low level’ sexism, sexual harassment and sexual assault form part of the wider picture of male violence against women. Misogynistic behaviour and crimes exist on a continuum. We can conceptualise misogyny as a ladder, on which the lowest rungs are lewd jokes, casual sexism and inappropriate sexualised comments; mid-level rungs are ‘minor’ sexual assaults such as buttock groping; and the top rungs are stalking, battery, rape and femicide. Often, violent men work their way up this ladder. Sarah Everard’s killer, Wayne Couzens, for example, indecently exposed himself at a fast food restaurant in the week prior to Sarah’s adbuction and murder.

The problem arises when ‘ordinary’ men refuse to believe that low and mid-level misogynistic incidents belong on the same ladder as rape and femicide. They prefer to imagine that there are two separate ladders: one which encompasses all the low and mid-level incidents, and one which includes only the most serious sexual and violent crimes. The first ladder includes behaviours which are so commonplace as to have become ostensibly acceptable in society — it’s the ‘it’s wrong but it happens’ category. This is true. Most of these low-level acts are commonplace and have become part of the social fabric of heterosexual interactions. They are performed by men who are not necessarily overtly misogynistic or violent. However, many ‘ordinary’ men’s unwillingness to acknowledge that these ladders are connected is often times due to them having partaken in many of the low level behaviours themselves. Their refusal to acknowledge these behaviours as being at the bottom end of the ‘violence against women continuum’ is simply an emotional (often angry, defensive or aggressive) rejection of any suggestion that their own every day behaviours could enable the perpetration of top rung misogynistic crimes. Again, feminists are not seeking to categorise all men who engage in these low-to-mid-level sexist acts as rapists. This is a hyperbolic argument used by defensive men who are unable to approach the issue logically or objectively. Instead, we must face the reality of the situation, including the widespread nature of low-to-mid-level sexual harassment and assault by a majority of ‘ordinary’ men.

Those statistics are wrong!

Despite multiple surveys, research and reports consistently yielding similar results — all indicating the prevalence of sexual harassment and sexual assault perpetrated by men against women — many still refuse to believe the evidence.

Most recently, men have balked at the UN Women ‘97% of women aged 18-24 have been sexually harassed‘ statistic, claiming that it cannot be accurate due to UN Women having only surveyed 1089 women. If this were a genuine passion for data collection methodology, a small amount of research would reveal that 1089 is actually a very large sample size. For an industry standard confidence level of 95% and industry standard margin of error of 5% (industry standard ranges from 4-8%), the ideal sample size from a female population of 33.75 million would be 385 respondents — as shown in the screenshot below from Qualtrics.com. The UN Women survey actually used a sample size almost three times larger than was needed to meet industry standard levels of confidence and reliability.

We are presented with statistics on a daily basis — 9 out of 10 dentists recommend Sensodyne toothpaste; 92% of women noticed a difference after using Nivea etc. Yet when these statistics pertain to male violence against women, suddenly men develop a keen interest in sociology, methodology and sample sizes. Male violence statistics are subjected to far more intense scrutiny than other crimes. This attitude demonstrates that no other demographic is treated with as much doubt and scorn as women who share experiences of sexism, misogyny, sexual harassment and sexual assault. Even if every single woman in the country were surveyed, there would be a new reason to disbelieve them — they’re liars, they’re exaggerating, they hate men, it’s a conspiracy theory.

What about male victims?

It is true that men are more likely to be victims of male violence. However, as these crimes are overwhelmingly perpetrated by individuals belonging to the same demographic as their victims (other men), it does not represent the same structural sex power imbalance which is evident in male violence against women (MVAW). When men harm other men, misogyny is not an aggravating factor. When men harm women, we must consider the social and political context of historic female oppression. The world as we know it today has been shaped by these historical circumstances and, as a result, our analysis of male-on-male violence and male-on-female violence must be correspondingly different. There are several key differences between the murders of women and the murders of men which demonstrate the need for a different analysis and, ultimately, different solutions.

The graphics below (taken from the Office for National Statistics) show clear sex disparity in: the relationship between perpetrator and victim; the method of killing; and the location of murder. In addition, we know that motive varies between male and female victims. For example, breakup, divorce, a new partner, infidelity, jealousy, honour killings, pregnancy etc are common motivating factors in male violence against women but these are either not prevalent or else completely absent in male-on-male violence.

Male violence against women plainly has a different character to male-on-male violence and must be considered as a materially different criminal phenomenon. Analysing these as different types of crime is not ‘discrimination against men’; it is an intelligent and sensical response to the patterns evident in criminal data. Nonetheless, despite crime data showing clear sex differences in violent crime, many still insist on taking a sex-blind approach and instead force an imaginary narrative of sexless evil. To them, there is no overwhelming pattern of male violence, there is no sex difference in violent crime — perpetrators are simply ‘baddies’, ’monsters’ and ‘scumbags’ with unfathomable motives.

Undoubtedly, the murders of men at the hands of other violent men are tragedies in their own right, but why are they only brought up to attack abused women? If the ‘what about men?’ crowd truly cared about male victims of male violence, we would expect to see them campaigning year-round — as feminists do about MVAW. This is sadly not the case.

What about male victims of domestic violence?

It is true that men can be victims of domestic abuse themselves — though it is much, much more likely that victims will be female and that women were more likely to suffer repeat and serious domestic violence than men. A common refutation of this sex disparity in domestic violence statistics is the suggestion that women actually commit violence at the same rate as men, but that male victims don’t report it due to stigma. To antifeminists and men’s rights activists this is an attractive argument. It taps into the the highly sympathetic narrative of male mental health (though even this narrative is deeply flawed by misrepresentation of sexed suicide statistics). The headline statistic is that men commit suicide at a much higher rate than women, but what is rarely reported is that women attempt suicide at a higher rate, their methods are just less violent and therefore less successful. Women also self harm at higher rates than men and have higher rates of depression.

Regarding men’s supposed unwillingness to report domestic abuse due to stigma, research suggests that men are actually more likely to overreport instances of domestic abuse whilst women are more likely to underreport. Some research has shown that abusive men will even report the defensive actions of their victims as domestic abuse. Despite the mythical narrative on the prevalence of false allegations, women are extremely reluctant to report domestic violence and, on average, only contact the police after 35 domestic assaults have occurred.

Leonore Walker, author of The Battered Woman Syndrome says:

Currie (1998) found that both men and women underreported men’s violence directed towards women but men overreported women’s violence towards them. Others have found that women’s violence against men was more often used as self-defense (Cascardi & Vivian, 1995; Saunders, 1998; Henning & Feder, 2004). In fact, the only researchers who seem to favor the explanation that women are equally as violent as men, are those who have used the Conflict Tactics Scale to collect their data or have attempted to interpret parts of the Straus and Gelles data. Nonetheless, there is a dearth of information about women offenders who have been arrested for domestic violence. Much of what is known supports the self-defense argument. However, there are increasing numbers of women who are arrested for other problems but who also have been victims of domestic violence.

Leonore Walker, The Battered Woman Syndrome

It is also the case that size matters when it comes to violence and fear of harm. Male-on-female violence is physically much more dangerous than female-on-male violence. Research has found that male-on-female violence is more frightening due to the physical size and strength of male perpetrators comparative to their female victims. Comparatively, women are far less physically capable of inflicting grievous or fatal injuries without use of a weapon. It was found that physicality is perceived to cause greater fear than other factors such as personality or relationship dynamics. This fear increases the likelihood that women will suffer lasting trauma as a result of male violence than men who may have been victims of female perpetrators and therefore experienced less fear of physical harm.

In light of the above, it is likely that the sex difference in perpetrators and victims of domestic abuse is actually far greater than current statistics suggest. The idea that men are being victimised and forgotten about in favour of a politically correct, pro-woman narrative women is plainly false. Women’s services and resources are being cut hand over fist. Whilst awareness and support for men is increasing, rape crisis centres for women are losing funding. Women’s shelters are at crisis point. Specialist sex crime units within the police which dealt with majority female victims have closed over recent years, despite increasing demand for the service. Provision for female victims has never been under greater threat than it is right now.

Women are violent too!

Only individuals who are not familiar with crime statistics could perpetuate the egregious myth that women are equally as violent as men. It is statistically evident that women aren’t violent. Women commit a tiny fraction of violent and sexually violent crime. Does this mean that men are biologically programmed to be violent rapists? Are men merely suppressing their natural, evolutionary urge to batter and rape at any given time? Do women have an innately kind and gentle nature rendering them incapable of violence? Of course not. Though this may be the position of evolutionary psychologists and biological essentialists, it is certainly not one shared by Marxist or material feminists — nor is it supported by modern neuroscience. It is true that men have the biological tools which give them a physical advantage in committing acts of violence and sexual violence — size, strength, bone density etc. But what motivates so many men to wield these tools against women?

The recent work of neuroscientists Cordelia Fine (Delusions of Gender and Testosterone Rex) and Gina Rippon (The Gendered Brain and Gender and Our Brains) suggests that there are far fewer sexed brain differences (if any) than was previously thought. It transpires that there is shockingly little concrete causal evidence to directly link brain activity and hormone levels to sexed behaviour differences.

However, it is undeniable that there are differences in the behaviours of men and women. We see these every day — in our personal relationships, in popular culture, in the media — and they aren’t limited to differences in the perpetration of violent and sexually violent crime. But if these behaviour differences are not biologically ‘hardwired’ (Fine and Rippon’s work suggests they aren’t), we can conclude that they are learned. Materialist and Marxist feminists suggest that these sexed behavioural differences are learned through the differences in socialisation between men and women which starts at a very young age.

Modern notions of masculinity have drifted so far from previous paternalistic values of honour, respect, hard work etc. Contemporary masculinity has instead become closely linked to a new brand of aggressive heterosexuality which is enforced through porn culture. Today, most men’s first sexual experiences are through internet porn, with porn usage beginning at an increasingly young age. More and more men’s experiences of the world are marred by porn addiction, which is proven to have significant negative effects. Adolescent males are growing up with access to women’s bodies (albeit through a computer screen) at the click of a button. If young men’s early experiences of ‘romance’ and sex come from misogynistic hardcore pornography, how can we expect them to develop the social skills to interact normally with women and girls in ‘real life’?

In an age of sexually explicit and sexually aggressive music, film, TV and social media, young men are increasingly being presented with the idea that if they are not engaging in frequent casual sexual relationships with multiple women, they aren’t ‘the man’. With a decline in other opportunities for male socialisation (decline in male-dominated manufacturing industries, closure of pubs, less grassroots sport etc), young men are increasingly bonding through one of their last remaining common interests: getting girls. Are we really to believe that these aspects of male socialisation have no influence on the increase in violence and sexual violence against women? Engaging in sexual activity to prove one’s masculinity to male peers takes primacy; pleasure, enthusiasm and even consent of female partners becomes a secondary concern. Is the social pressure for men to conform to this 21st century brand of aggressively heterosexual masculinity so great that they are willing to override their moral code in relation to consent? When feminists speak about violence against women, these are the questions we seek to answer.

On top of contemporary male socialisation (which has been complicated by technology, social media and internet porn) and a strong sense of fraternity between male peers, men can commit violence against women with relative legal impunity (and almost complete legal impunity for sexually violent crimes). Rape has the lowest prosecution and conviction rates of any crime — by a long way. The prosecution and conviction rates for rape is now so low so as to practically legalise it. In the year 2019-2020, of 55,130 recorded rapes, only 1.4% resulted in prosecution and even fewer resulted in conviction, rendering rape conviction rate at less than 1%. Men will often bring up ‘life-ruining false allegations’ and demand that women are prosecuted for making them. However, these are vanishingly rare. They are so rare, that they are over-reported and sensationalised by the media, leading to public perception that they are far more prevalent than they are. In reality, the average adult man in England and Wales has a 0.00021281 per cent chance of being falsely accused of rape.

As well as a lack of criminal repercussion, perpetrators are also able to further attack their victims through litigation. The legal system works for those who hold power and, in cases of sexual violence, it is men who hold power over women and who are protected by law. Perpetrators can seek injunctions against victims who publicly name them (as in Lucy and Verity Nevitt’s recent case), thus preventing other women from being warned of the danger the perpetrator poses to them. Men can also threaten women who speak out with defamation suits. In practice, defamation cases are rarely brought due the staggering legal fees involved, but the threat of legal action is intended to intimidate the victim into silence.

Male violence? What male violence?! This is state violence! 

Unfortunately, there is a concerted effort amongst left wing individuals and organisations (notably Sisters Uncut) to reframe the narrative around Sarah Everard’s death to focus on state violence and police restrictions on public right to protest. This effectively (and intentionally) erases the core issue of male violence against women. Whilst in Sarah’s case the alleged perpetrator is a serving Met police officer, the most common trait in perpetrators of violence against women is not their state affiliation, but their male sex. Not all abusers of women are cops; but almost every abuser of women is male. Incredibly, some are even holding women such as Priti Patel and Cressida Dick responsible for the actions of violent men. Only misogynistic men could reach this far to find women responsible for for men’s violence. The state — particularly the police force — is no friend to women; but make no mistake, the people responsible for violence against women are violent men.

The problem of male violence against women is endemic and it is growing. If we are to tackle the rising trend of violence against women, men must set aside their emotive and defensive responses to statistically evident truths and instead consider the issue sensibly, objectively and logically.

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