On Dr. Tavris’ TAM Speech

Yesterday I was privileged to watch the Carol Tavris presentation from TAM 2014 entitled, “Who’s Lying, Who’s Self-Justifying? Origins of the He Said/She Said Gap in Sexual Allegations”. It was quite good and I recommend watching the presentation.

While I have a criticism of her talk (which I’ll get to later), it was outstanding to hear a sensible and scientifically sourced discussion of this highly emotional topic. Dr Tavris does this while still managing to be charismatic and humorous. She is, in my estimation, a top notch speaker.

Her challenge to those of us who are skeptically minded is basically to withhold judgement on claims of sexual misconduct (as we should for other claims) until sufficient evidence is available to make a determination. This principle is the backbone of skepticism and should be unremarkable. The fact that people associated with the atheist/skeptic community are failing to do this (and indeed finding the principal itself objectionable in sexual allegation cases) is odd, to say the least.

Dr. Tavris points out several factors which impede the process of withholding judgement in the early part of the presentation. Among these are prejudices, beliefs, experiences and politics. I would add one more: ideology. To my mind a skeptic who follows an ideology is only a partial skeptic. Ideologies begin with a premise(s) that is unavailable to further scrutiny and thus unassailable by further evidence. As Dr. Tavris points out, evidence dis-confirming a strongly held belief is rarely accepted by the believer. This self reinforcing aspect of ideologies makes them extremely resistant to evidential analysis.

Dr. Tavris also points out the extreme variability of studies on rates of rape/sexual assault. She does this with a bit of subtlety and concludes that, as skeptics, we should not accept or dispute the results of these studies. We should therefore reserve our judgement of these “statistics” until the studies return consistent and reliable data. This will likely not occur until studies are created by unbiased (in either direction) investigators.

Another point she makes is the difficulty in making policy to protect both potential victims and the innocent accused. Citing a California bill as one of the more ludicrous examples of ideology driven policy, Dr Tavris satirizes the implementation difficulties. Earlier in the presentation she mentions existing collegiate policy that seem to be gender directional. There are even civil liberties groups forming to moderate these existing policies for fairness to all parties.

As I stated earlier, I really have only one criticism of Dr. Tavris’ talk and it is this: at no point did she even consider the possibility of a male victim of sexual misconduct by a female. She repeatedly placed the males in the role of perpetrator only. It’s a small criticism, I admit and one I can live with in the light of her otherwise excellent talk.

Get some time.


Weaponized Rhetoric

So, as both of my readers will be aware, I am on vacation this week. I am checking in with the online atheosphere only irregularly. Still, a couple of interesting things have lit up my (attenuated) radar. Surprisingly, both of them involve Professor Richard Dawkins. Unsurprisingly, they also include the SJW squadron of the internet atheist barnstorming wing. I’ll write on the second interesting thing after I get back from vacation.

The first and probably less important of the two is the reaction to a series of tweets by Prof. Dawkins. Mr. Fogg shows off his mastery of one of the rhetorical devices that I see far too much of. The device involves restating one’s interlocutor’s statement. While there is nothing wrong with restating interrogatively for clarity (or for lighthearted humor) the use here is not for clarification, but to imbue the statement with originally nonexistent malice. One could easily find countless examples of this device by simply perusing the Block Bot administrators’ timelines.

Take a look at Dr. Dawkins’ explicit caution: “If you think that’s an endorsement of [X], go away and learn how to think.” This is unambiguous. It very clearly says I do not endorse [X].

Now the device. After some discussion (albeit not with Dawkins) the restatement is issued: “Another way of reading  (italics mine) his comments, logically…’[X]? Not so bad.’” Of course one can read something in any way one likes. The principle of charity is not really a hard and fast rule on Twitter. That’s not the weaponized rhetorical device. That’s merely an offhand observation on my part.

The device, complete with what one must assume are “scare quotes” rather than ordinary quotation marks, is precisely NOT what the professor has explicitly stated. Now perhaps with charity one can presume that Mr. Fogg has simply misunderstood the remark, forgotten the explicit warning, or has had poor logic instruction. The problem there is that the discussion with a third party specifically clarifies that caution. This is a weaponized restatement (WR).

Fogg manages, artfully in my opinion, to combine his WR with the second type of weaponized rhetorical device I want to highlight. Did you see it? It was carefully inserted into the same tweet I quoted above. Need a hint? It’s an equivocation.

Weaponized equivocation is using a word or phrase in such a way that the more common use of the word or phrase is implied when a more arcane use can be claimed as the intent. In Fogg’s tweet it is the phrase “Not so bad” which in common parlance implies something rather trivial.

“Heard you had to get an injection from the doctor, how was it?”

“Not so bad.”

In this case the phrase in question is not explicitly defined and clearly has no negative connotations on its own. Not the case with other forms of this device seem frequently in online discourse. One example of this equivocation is in the (over) use of the word misogyny. Clearly, this word has very pronounced negative connotations but can be found to be used as a replacement (equivocation) word for: criticized, disagreed, or mocked (among others including the nebulous “get shit thrown at them” see link above). That is, the substitution seems to be made when certain female internet personalities are treated to actions more clearly described by the latter group of words than the equivocator word.

Other common equivocation words are : harass, sexual harassment,  death threat, rape threat, and MRA.

When “sexual harassment” is substituted for an action like refilling someone’s wine glass, it’s easy to see the equivocation. Most other forms/incidents of the weaponized equivocation (WE) are not as easy to spot or as egregious as the wine glass one.

That’s not to say that they’re “Not too bad.





Weirdly enough, this continues to be a point of confusion (or deliberate obfuscation) by theists.

Let’s say that you and I just met. You introduce yourself and tell me, ” You know, I have a really awesome car. It’s a Bugatti Veyron.”

I say, ” Cool, can I go for a ride in it?”

You say, “No, I don’t give rides.”

I say, “Okay, well, do you have a picture of it? Maybe one with you standing near it?”

You say, “No, but I have the brochure photo from the internet. See, that’s my car.”

At this point I’m starting to have doubts that you really own this fantastically expensive car. Perhaps I even disbelieve that you own one. The possibility still exists that you might own the car you claim to own, but are just eccentric about showing it to anyone. Notice that at this point I don’t necessarily believe that you  do not own a Bugatti. I lack a belief in your Bugatti ownership.

At this point in our relationship I’ve become am a-Bugatti-ist with respect to your ownership of one. I don’t believe you own one (lacking a belief), but I also don’t believe that you definitely don’t own one.

As time passes and every time I ask you for some type of evidence of your Bugatti, you get more and more dismissive and obstinate about the subject. At one point you even say, ” You can’t prove I don’t own a Bugatti!”.

I now may feel I have reason enough to actively believe (take a position of belief) that you, in fact do not own the vehicle. I have no direct evidence that you don’t own the car, but still take a position of belief that you don’t. I’m now a strong a-Bugatti-ist. I have a belief with respect to your vehicle ownership. It is a negative belief.

See the difference?


Get some time.



There’s Never a True Scotsman (and why they’re not needed)

A recent discussion over a parody video has become my muse for this post.

The parody was Thunderf00t’s aping of Anita Sarkeesian with the genders reversed. Something even “da f00t” called, “just for fun”. I won’t debate the merits of the video here, except to say that I thought it was over the top (as a parody should be) and mildly amusing. The issue arose when I saw some one criticizing the video based on the title and without having watched it!

Of course, since Anita was the person being parodied, the subject material being parodied was feminism. The conversation evolved along a predictable path. A path that anyone who has ever tried to question, dispute, or argue against any specific part of the ideology will find comfortably familiar.

Feminism, it will be/was stated, is nothing more and nothing less that the movement for equal treatment of men and women.

Please disregard the fact that perfectly equal treatment of all members of a sexually dimorphic species is a practical impossibility. Why? Because biologically, women and men are inherently unequal.

Before you get your pitchforks and torches out, let me explain. I’m not saying either sex is inherently better or worse than the other. I’m simply saying that… I can’t give birth. No matter how hard I try to get myself pregnant and birth a baby, it’s not going to happen. This one inescapable fact of biology means that exactly equal treatment cannot occur. I have no right to terminate a pregnancy while any woman does. The consequences of that one fact are sweeping in family law, medicine, and other aspects of modern human life. There are other differences between men and women (when looked at in aggregate) that I’m going to ignore for brevity.

The pursuit of complete and total equality therefore, is NOT what feminism is striving for. If that were the case either men could demand abortions too or no one could. The heat death of the universe will likely occur before feminists allow the former to be enacted, so the only other way to achieve  complete equality is to remove all options once a pregnancy occurs. Another way of saying that is that women would have the same rights after a pregnancy occurs as a man: none (“he should have kept his pants on” and “he made his choice when he decided to have sex”).

Feminism seeks for women all the rights that men have ( I would argue this is already achieved) plus additional rights. I have asked many times in my discussions with feminists for the specification of just one right that men have in western societies, that women do not. I have yet to get that question answered. (feel free to propose one in comments)

Whenever feminists disagree over any minor thing it is/will be presented as proof of diversity of thought.

In the next phase of the discussion, issue was taken with Thunderf00t’s use of the word “feminism” in his video title. I opined that the term was fair game since Anita’s YouTube channel name (and website) are titled “Feminist Frequency“. This line of thinking was, of course, rejected.

An analogy to Deepak Chopra was drawn, with Chopra standing in for Anita. The analogy went something like this: Anita calling her channel “Feminist Frequency” was like Chopra calling himself a physicist. This analogy came from  one of my interlocutors. I responded with something along the lines that Deepak is widely called out by real physicists on his woo. Who calls out Anita and who are the “real feminists”? A link was provided to a Storify, ostensibly to show her being “called out” by other feminists. The part I missed at the time was that Anita was not being called out on the major theme, evidence, or conclusions of her video, but for the use of an impolitic phrase. The main thrust of her video was lauded!

No one person, or even one organization, speaks for all of feminism.

I asked this question directly. Who speaks for feminism? The answer was refreshingly honest: “no one”. The very fact that there’s no set established orthodoxy was bemoaned as a problem. I think it’s actually more of a strength than a weakness. If no one is accountable for keeping the theories and beliefs of the ideology collated and available for examination, then no one is ever a “true feminist”. It can be claimed that “That’s not my feminism”, or as many will have heard, “Not all feminists are like that”.

The very nebulous nature of the ideology works in the favor of it’s proponents. Any core belief, things being taught in university courses, or pronouncements of “feminist scholars” can be disavowed in public discussions while simultaneously be used by the political movers and shakers to effect public policy. In a word, it is a brilliant strategy.

To be fair, I make this criticism of the MRM as well. Rather, I would if the MRM had any influence on public policy makers. The fact that just holding a conference to talk about men’s issues arouses so much vitriolic antipathy in mainstream media and among feminists (but not True Feminists®, mind you) certainly gives clues to the observant about where the political and social power lies.

 Feminism uses inherent human biases to gain political power.

When I tell people that humans are biased in favor of women, I often get viscerally negative reactions. “Just look around and see almost exclusively men in ‘positions of power’”, they say. (Strangely enough, I also hear the “just look around” phrase  from creationists). There are studies, however that demonstrate the deference afforded to women by both males and females. My claim is that this bias means that when women complain about something, both men and women are motivated to “correct” the problem being complained about.

This basal psychological bias is used by feminism (the ideology of equality for women) to keep agitating for more and more concessions from government and corporate entities. Thus far this bias has resulted in some unequal allocation of resources weighted in favor of women.

In the US, a wonderful amendment known as ERA (Equal Rights Amendment) was opposed so strongly by conservative women such as Phyllis Schlafly that the amendment was narrowly defeated. Why was the amendment defeated? In my opinion, it was because society no longer had a clear idea that the ERA was what women wanted.

Mrs Schlafly began her opposition after 28 states had already ratified it. She and her group successfully managed to block the ERA. Ironically, I believe this event was the best thing that could have happened to political feminism, even though NOW and other feminist groups were opposing Mrs Schlafly at the time. In my reading of history, this event (the blockage of the ERA) was the beginning of feminism’s departure from “Equal rights for women full stop”. Had the ERA passed, I believe feminism would have begun to slowly fade into the background, losing political and scholarly power since their goal would have been achieved.

Presently, even though I can’t think of a single right men have that women don’t, feminism is in full throat. The reason is that it isn’t about equal rights any longer. It has no stated goal (other than the nebulous “free democracy from patriarchy“). It has no end point where feminists can say, “Whew, we’ve done it. Mission accomplished”. This lack of a “finish line” coupled with the innate biases for women, means that advocacy can continue indefinitely. Power will be exerted and monies will be collected far into the foreseeable future.

Although I have no power (and very little readership) I’m asking feminists to get the major players in feminism to agree to and publish a set of specific conditions that would meet all its goals. I’m asking for a finish line scenario, if you will. I won’t get one, but I think it’s important to ask.

In the interests of fairness, I’m also asking for any members of the MRM to provide the same type of “finish line” results that would allow the dissolution of the MRM.

Get some time.



Wilful Suspension of Disbelief

Suspension of disbelief is a phenomenon whereby people accept fantastic premises for the duration of a story. The story can be oral, written, or film, but the process by which humans suspend their disbelief is similar in each media. The suspension is entered into somewhat voluntarily at first, but can be broken by inconsistent rules of the story universe, characters behaving in unbelievable ways within that universe, or in the case of film by poor effects. Thus, good authors and film makers are the ones who can write or direct consistent behaviors and events even if those events or behaviors would not be believed if you saw the story in (say) a tabloid.

Humans begin practicing this suspension of disbelief at an early age. Some of the first stories we’re told or read to as children are the so called “fairy tales“. Cinderella, The Elves and the Shoemaker, Little Red Riding Hood, and Rumpelstiltskin are some of the fairy tales I remember from early childhood. I’m sure you remember such tales and others from yours. These types of children’s stories have been around for a very long time. Aesop wrote fables in the 6th century BC. Many of these tales had completely unbelievable events or characters in them. These types of stories are good for helping to develop young imaginations, instilling moral values, and establishing a culture.

In addition to the classics, modern children are exposed to many other forms of stories giving them ample practice in suspending disbelief. One of the earliest favorite books I remember from my childhood was “Danny and the Dinosaur“, a tale of a schoolboy meeting (and riding) a living dinosaur. There are the Clifford books, the Berenstain Bears, Disney films, Pixar films, and a glut of television cartoons available now. (I had to wait for Saturday morning for cartoons, back in the day.)

Now all of these instances of suspension of disbelief are fine in that no one is continually telling children that they are actually true. No one insisted that Danny was a real boy who actually rode a dinosaur to school one day. No one kept telling me that the three little pigs actually built houses from various materials. I knew (or later learned) that these stories were just that, imaginative fantasy.

Where the problem comes in, is with religious tales. Stories of equally improbable or impossible events that children are brought up hearing over and over by adults who insist that these fantastic tales are actually true. These stories are introduced at a time when children are still using magical thinking. From wikipedia’s article: “Magical thinking is most dominantly present in children between age 2 to 7 years old.” This is precisely the time that religious children are being taught the Biblical stories (or a sanitized version of them) as literal truth. These stories are doctrinal rather than fanciful and therefore become a form of indoctrination.

As an indoctrination survivor ( excuse the SJW terminology), I know the effort required to break through the suspension of disbelief which was installed as a feature in my thinking. Even after realizing that my previous beliefs had insufficient rational basis to retain, the specter of that early programming lingers on. It would be better if adults waited until children reach the age where they can grasp these complex issues and can reason critically, before introducing religious concepts to them.

Now, I’m not saying there should be laws that prevent religious upbringing of children (although there is some merit to the idea). I’m asking you theist, to minimize the amount of doctrine taught to a child until their minds are more capable of examining the concepts involved. Delay the religious instruction until children are no longer using magical thinking. Instill critical thinking skills and healthy skepticism in your kids. These skills and attitudes will serve them far better in life than the imagery of the talking snake in the garden.



How Not to Persuade

I’ve noticed a pattern in discussions among people who are “trying to change the world”. You know the type of people I’m referring to right? These Social Justice (keyboard) Warriors who are trying to smash the Patriarchy®, end trans-misogyny, or convince everyone how evilly sexist video games are. In other words they’re trying to change people’s opinions and attitudes. Their goal would be best served by persuasion.

How do humans persuade each other? Well like most things under the big umbrella of human cognitive function, it’s complex, but generally follows one of two branching paths: appeal to emotion or appeal to reason. The SJW’s are usually quite adept at the former, but often very poor at the latter.

The methods I’ve seen repeatedly used can be very nicely illustrated by some recent social media exchanges. Some of them I either participated in or commented on.

The first example is something I call “the angry badger”. The basic concept of the badger assault is to vehemently and continuously express one’s outrage/disgust/abhorrence about the perceived infraction. We typically see this type of “persuasion” against companies or famous people. Remember the prolonged angry badger against Xavier Damman CEO/Founder of the Storify web service?? This style is generally useful as the company or celebrity simply want’s the bad PR to end. It is also more successful in groups. This is less like persuasion and more akin to a brute force attack.

The second general style follows one or more variants of Kafkatrap. (If you do/say/advocate X you are a Y; where X= the offense and Y= an unsavory person). The Kafkatrap  can be used against public figures as well as unknown randoms on the internet. It is a form of emotional manipulation playing on the basic human desire to not be seen as a bad person by other humans. Social creatures that we are, not being perceived as horrible people is generally a strong motivator. You don’t want US to think of YOU as a horrible person, DO YOU??? I recently had a Twitter exchange where this technique was used on me. The specific tweet which used the Kafkatrap was brilliantly designed (credit where due).

Following a request for evidence of a claim, my interlocutor decrees that they will not search for and provide said evidence. In the same tweet they say “You MUST be an MRA”. Basically: the fact that you’re asking me to evidence my claim indicates that you are an MRA. The term “MRA” (Men’s Rights Activist or Men’s Rights Advocate) has become the SJW’s “go to” slur of late.

Another example of this tactic can be seen in another encounter I had with some SJW’s earlier this year. My awareness of and failure to yield to the technique, so frustrated the SJW that all they could do was block me. In the linked exchange both types of SJW persuasion techniques are employed. Ultimately, having no rational argument and noting the failure of their attempts at emotional manipulation, they simply blocked me and stopped tweeting. Keep in mind that these folks are agitating for societal change. To change society doesn’t one need to change the minds or opinions of those in that society?

I’m going to leave you with John Bullock‘s excellent video which encapsulates the issue quite nicely. Take it away, John:





Doublethink and Rape Apologia

I came across a Twitter exchange that so fully exemplified the nature of SJW “logic” that I was compelled to write about it. Here is part of the exchange:

   So apparently this “Lily Cade” person is a female lesbian-exclusive porn actress. That is: she only performs sexual acts on camera with other females. This becomes problematic for the reality denying trans-activist SJW’s. The people I’m referring to here actually deny that biological sex is “real”. Not satisfied with the much less contentious proposal that sex and gender are descriptors of different phenomena, they insist that demonstrable biological differences do not exist.

   I argue that this is a type of dissociation. These folks have disconnected their beliefs from reality. As the Justicar might say, it is trivially easy to demonstrate that reproduction related biological differences exist between the vast majority of humans. These differences fall into extremely clear categorical groups, with most humans able to be sorted into one group or the other. We humans have termed these classification groups “male” and “female”. The entire concept of these different classifications we term “sex”. To deny that these differences and categories exist is therefore a form of dissociative behavior.

I want to examine where the beliefs espoused by these SJW’s will logically lead. Lily says, “Sex and gender are different. I am attracted to female bodies and female souls.” I’ll leave the “souls” part of the equation out because souls are not demonstrable. So Lily is attracted to female bodies, that is: bodies with vulvae and vaginae. There’s nothing inherently wrong with preferring (or even excluding) one sex over the other in terms of attraction or sexual activities. The gay rights activists have been lobbying that point for quite a while.

Enter “IsaJennie” with this tweet: “…if you’re not attracted to trans women bc they don’t have “female bodies & souls” a) BULLSHIT b) you’re a transmisogynist” (links are mine). Another way to say this is that if you’re not attracted to humans with a Y chromosome, you hate transwomen. Everyone not attracted sexually to humans with penises hates transwomen. That is literally what she just said. She also said that expressing that lack of attraction to be a flagrant lie.

This is, in my opinion, the end result of an ideology which espouses “the personal is the political”. It also has clear parallels with lesbian separatists and political lesbianism, both of which are tied to radical feminism, specifically the trans-exclusive ones. These folks would criticize any attraction to penises and would exclude any human possessing such an organ from their spaces (see Scented Nectar’s video linked in this paragraph).  These policies demand that the adherent elect to perform sexual acts with only one category of humans as a political statement.

It seems to me that “IsaJennie” and those who support her views are advocating that people should ignore their internal attraction or revulsion and perform sexual acts with specific categories of humans to make a political statement. She is also painting those who will not make that political statement with the brush of being a hater of an entire category of humanity. Who knew the TERF’s and the SJW trans activists had so much in common??

It also seems to me to be a form of rape apologia. Let me walk you through this.

If you’re not sexually attracted to someone, then not having sex with them means you hate them and everyone like them. Thus, you should have sex with that person even if you don’t really want to. Pressuring someone into having sex with another against their will is the SJW definition of rape. Advocating for all people to do so is rape apologia.

This doublethink form of trans advocacy is tantamount to rape apology.

Blogger’s note: I have no issue with the trans community as a whole. I fully support the rights of individuals to present themselves to the world however they want and to not be legally discriminated against for it.

Oppressive Statistics – Women’s Issues

There are circumstances and issues faced by women in society today. Important issues that I’m not seeing addressed by the media or even by the feminists. I’d like to advocate for some of these critically important issues on their behalf. Keep in mind that these issues are here in the western world, wherever possible I use US statistics.

1. Women make up only 57.4% of university and college students and that number has been getting larger since around 1970 . The obvious conclusion from this fact is that women are being oppressed, forced into institutions of higher education in ever increasing numbers. They are forced to work their late teens and early twenties chasing a piece of paper instead of getting married and starting families.

2. In divorce custody proceedings in the US 83% of the mothers are forced to take primary custody of the children. The blatant oppression imposed on these mothers to have to perform most of the child rearing is appalling. Fortunately feminists are writing articles like the one linked, to demonstrate that the fathers in these situations are often not helpful in reducing these numbers by not choosing to go through the lengthy and expensive process of of accepting primary custody.

3.Women make up 40.65% of the homeless in the US (2007). Even in the survey linked by the article I link to, I had to tease this number out. Of the homeless people who are single (no children) which makes up 76% of all homeless people, 32.5% are women.

4. When women break the law they are unfairly punished. Sentences received by women are 37% as long as their male counterparts in similar crimes. They are also half as likely to be incarcerated upon conviction. In some European countries, the idea of abolishing women’s prisons altogether has been raised.

5. Women suicides made up 21.1% of the total number of suicides in 2010. The fact that so many oppressed women are driven to escape their oppression by killing themselves in such astounding numbers isn’t even being mentioned by the feminists.

6. Women make up almost 7.6% of all US workplace deaths . I have never heard one feminist  advocate for making the workplace safer for women. Over half of those are either transportation or slip/fall related.  Why are no feminists demanding safer work places for these women?

7. Women comprised almost 22.5% of murder victims in 2010.


Now obviously I was making a point in this post to bring up some of the inequities in the current system of society (which some call a patriarchy) from the point of view of the less “oppressed” group. The fact remains that many people simply don’t realize that men in western countries have ANY issues that are worthy of advocating resources for.

Take a look at the recent interview with a leading Men’s Human Rights Activist. The thing that most caught my attention (apart from the gender studies professor using the gross uncorrected pay gap statistics) is the sheer incredulity of the male reporter when asking what possible issues could men face. He even says as he’s trying to ask that question, “…help me out, here”.

Yes, women face issues in the west. No one is denying that. Can the same lack of denial be said for the fact that men also face issues? Issues such as the ones I listed above are nowhere near as well known as the $0.77 on the dollar issue, are they?

The Boy’s Tale

Some of you may have noticed in my writing (and certainly in my videos) that I try to tie in some point about social issues to the story relayed. This post is a using different approach. There’s no social tie in, no easy answer, no glib quip aimed at any group.

If there is any message it is that this story falls within the realm of things humans do. If it resonates with you at all, take this away from it: humans do bad things to each other. As a society we should face this truth together, not each through our own ideological lens.

With that admonishment, let us hear the tale.


When I was 14 I left my dad’s house to go live with my mom.

The divorce had been messy. My mom had found a new religion (Jehovah’s Witness) which seemed to my 8 year old mind to be the primary cause of the breakup. Looking back, I’m sure there were other factors that I was kept from being aware of, but at the time there was only religion to point to. As is typical in child custody cases my younger brother and I were given to my mom. Atypically, she had moved out of the familial home and had gotten a new place. She had also gotten a new man.

My brother and I were thrust into the Jehovah’s Witness cult and our indoctrination began. We walked neighborhoods on Saturdays dressed in our finest clothes trying to “place” the Watchtower or Awake magazines. The pamphlets were only $0.05 at the time (has the price gone up?). We were told that birthdays were not to be celebrated and since Christmas was a celebration of Jesus’ birthday, it was not to be celebrated either. We were taught that Halloween was an evil holiday and was also not to be celebrated. Satan, it seemed, used treats to lure the faithful away from Jehovah. We were taught that we weren’t to stand during the national anthem, or to pledge allegiance to our flag. To say the least, we hated it.

We hoped that we would be allowed to live with our dad when the judge made his decision. Our dad celebrated birthdays, Christmas, Halloween, and other fun things. Our dad would allow us to play Little League baseball. Our dad didn’t make us go door to door on Saturdays.

My dad was advised that it was essential to re-marry in order to have a chance of getting custody of my brother and me. His new wife was nice and had a son from a previous marriage. My brother and I had a step brother (at least every other weekend). My dad’s new wife had parents who lived on 5 acres of land on the river. They had horses and a pier for fishing. It was a boy’s paradise.

Whatever arrangements that had to happen between the judges and the lawyers actually happened and my dad won custody. I was 10 years old. My brother was 6.

Fast forward 4 years and our stepmother had become a caricature of every wicked stepmother in fairy tales. I had tried to run away. My dad offered me the chance to go back to live with my mom and I took it. Things were so bad with the stepmother that I was willing to go back to the JW lifestyle to get away from her. I may go into the details of her psychological abuse in a future post, but for now I think that is better left out.

My expectations were not high. My mom had been estranged from us either by her choice or by my stepmother’s actions. To explain that last sentence, when I was picked up by my mom and my aunt (the same aunt from “Daddy Why Are You Crying” ) I was informed of the many letters my mom had written and mailed which I had never gotten. In one of them she detailed her falling out with the Jehovah’s Witnesses. In another, her divorce and re-marrying. She’d had another child, also. I now had a sister. The drive to my mom’s place was very informative to say the least.

One of the things I learned quickly upon arriving at my mom’s was that my new stepfather had a temper. I was spared any physical abuse at his hand, but endured quite a bit of shouted vitriol. My mom, I feared, endured the brunt of his physical anger. There were never any bruises or cuts, and my mom always defended him, so I felt powerless to affect the situation.

Eventually, I suppose, my mom tired enough of this treatment to separate from him and begin divorce proceedings. We had moved from the apartment to a real house by then and my mom was awarded temporary possession of the home and custody of my sister.

This is where the story I want to relay really begins. Everything prior to this has been for background context.

At 15 years old, I was a fairly active young man. I played many unorganized outdoor sports with my friends. One evening a friend and I went out to play tennis. In Florida it’s much better to play in the evening under the lights than during the day. When my friend (who was older and had a car) dropped me off at my house, I was in a great mood. Well, I was until I walked into the house to find my mother weeping on the couch and being consoled by her female friend.

I asked the obvious questions, “What happened? What’s wrong?” The only answer I got from my mom was nonverbal; she simply shook her head no. The information I sought was finally pried from my mom’s friend. Mom’s soon to be ex-husband had come by the house unannounced and forced himself on her. The word used was “rape”. I tried to console my mom as best I could, but even while doing so I could feel my own anger building. I tried to get my mom to call the police and report the crime, but she would have none of it. My anger intensified. I understood at that moment why it’s sometime called “righteous anger”.

More friends showed up at the house including the boyfriend of the woman  who had been consoling my mom when I walked in. He pulled me aside to talk to me. We went out to his truck where he gave me a shovel handle with the spade removed. He said, “You keep this in the house in case that son of a bitch comes back.”

Things eventually calmed down that night, at least enough to go to sleep and for the next two days things slowly began to return almost to normal. My mom cried less often but my anger did not dissipate. On the third day after the rape, he returned.

He walked right in without knocking. He seemed oblivious to the trauma he had caused and began walking toward my mom with a purposeful stride. I saw the shovel handle in the corner and him walking toward my mother. I saw red. I remember picking up the handle. I remember starting to swing it. Strange though, I don’t remember the feel of the impact.

I had hit him in the back of the head with a four foot long , inch and a half in diameter piece of wood. He went down immediately, his hand on the back of his head. Blood was flowing. My mom screamed. She told me to get a trash bag to protect the carpet from the blood. She sent me next door to call for an ambulance as we had no phone at the time. I called the emergency number and reported that a man had been hit on the head and was bleeding in our house. The operator asked me if it was an accidental or assault incident. I’ve always been a very honest person so I told the operator the truth: it was an assault type.

The police and ambulance arrived. The deputy talked to him, to my mom and to my mom’s friend. The EMT’s carted him away to the ambulance. I later learned he had to have 10 stitches to close his wound. The deputy took the shovel handle in his possession as evidence. I was arrested for aggravated battery, a 2nd degree felony. I was handcuffed and taken to the station. I did not waive my Miranda rights.

The deputy had gotten the full story from my mom and her friend and the decision was made after a few hours to release me back to my mom’s custody. This was something akin to “released on one’s own recognizance”. The deputy offered to drive me home to release me. On the way home he said to me, “I know what happened from your mom and just between you and me, I’m surprised you showed so much restraint. I probably would have killed him.”

I went to stay with my aunt for a few weeks while the legal gears ground the case to its resolution. The case was never taken to trial because a deal was worked out whereupon I had to serve 20 hours community service, Since I was a minor, the case was expunged when I turned 18. The ex-husband didn’t sue.

I would see him from time to time after that when he came to pick up his daughter for visitation. He almost always stayed in or around his vehicle and never once entered our house uninvited again. Even on those occasions when he came in the house, he was docile and respectful. He never touched my mom afterwards, which was really the only thing that mattered to me. It’s sad that some folks need a wooden reminder to keep their hands to themselves. It was the one and only time in my life I resorted to violence.

My mom was both appalled and pleased by the actions I took that day. She told me that while she wished I hadn’t resorted to violence, she was proud that I came to her defense.

My mom thereafter sought out abusive men for whatever reason. Transactional analysis may provide some insight into why that is, but I’m not an expert.

As I said at the outset, there’s no real tie in point for this tale. I just felt it was time to tell it.

It served as a lesson that sometimes there is no perfect outcome. Sometimes everyone loses a little.

Get some time.



Who’s really at risk?

In my last post I listed several advantages and disadvantages that women have when compared with men in western countries. I want to talk about another advantage women seem to have in this post.

Violence against women is taken far more seriously by our society than violence against men. Don’t believe me? Let’s look at some statistics first. The first statistic I’m going to show you is rate of victimization for nonfatal violent crimes.


These figures include the much more gender specific crime of rape. The below figures come directly from the Bureau of Justice statistics.

Victim/offender relationship in nonfatal violent victimizations, by victim and gender, 2001-2005
Average annual rate per 1,000 persons age 12 or older

Female Male

Victim/offender relationship Rate Percent Rate Percent

100 % 100 %
Intimate 4.2 21.5 0.9 3.6
Other relative 1.7 8.9 1.2 4.6
Friend/acquaintance 7.0 36.2 8.6 34.3
Stranger 6.5 33.4 14.4 57.4

Let’s add these numbers up. Women = 19.4 victims per 1000 population. Men = 25.1 victims per 1000 population. That’s 1.29 male victims per female victim. One might think that the title of that statistics page would have to do with women’s relative safety with respect to men, or with concern for the far greater number of male victims of crime by strangers, right? Nope.

Under the main title of “Intimate Partner Violence in the U.S.”, the first sentence reads “Females are more likely than males to experience nonfatal intimate partner violence.”


Additionally, many reports and articles use statistics in a manner that, if a creationist tried it, we would vilify them. Here’s an example.

In a post on curiosity.com entitled “Are women more likely to be victims of violence?” the first sentence is confusing given the above statistics.

Violence against women is so common, it has its own category within the criminal justice system (there’s no such category for “crimes against men”). A 2009 report by the Bureau of Justice Statistics showed that of 652,660 violent crimes analyzed, more than 551,500 had been committed against women. These included rape and sexual assault, but also robbery, aggravated assault and simple (or minor) assault [source: Bureau of Justice Statistics].

What the heck is she talking about? A quick scan of her own linked source material reveals the problem. The numbers she’s looking at are victims of intimate partner violence only. Using a little math we see that 551,500/4.2=x/14.4. Solving for x we get 1,890,657 male victims of stranger violence. I’m no genius but 1.89M seems a lot larger than 552K.  However, I agree with her parenthetical declaration that “there’s no such category for ‘crimes against men’”.

A simple Google search for “female victims of violence” yields about 63M results. Try the same search substituting male for female.

When murder victims are tallied by gender, males are the victims of murder at 3.4 times the rate of females. It seems that women are the safest demographic in terms of violent crime, yet the bulk of attention and legislation is aimed at combating violence against them.

The statistics seem to indicate that women are far more valued members of western society than men, at least in terms of concern for their safety and victimization. There are of course, balanced posts and articles on the topic.

For the record, I’m opposed to violence against anyone, regardless of their gender (or any other characteristic). I absolutely think that violence against women is a problem in the west (and indeed, in the world), but wonder why it receives a disproportionate amount of attention.