Domestic violence policies seem to have changed very little since I wrote this eight years ago.
By Jerry A. Boggs | Published in the Detroit News May 2004
In Mars and Venus Starting Over, John Gray writes, “Ironically, one of the biggest misunderstandings about men and women is this: Women assume men have a fear of intimacy, and it’s quite the opposite. It’s the women who fear intimacy.”
I have news for Gray. His myth buster is soon to become a myth itself. Men’s fear of intimacy — hence men’s fear of commitment to relationships — may eclipse women’s fear of intimacy a hundred fold once the collective male grasps where domestic abuse policies are headed.
Take the case of Susan Finkelstein, a 31-year-old free-lance editor in a small Michigan town, and her live-in boyfriend “Jim.” The two were arguing as they drove home from a party. Susan recalls that both were under a lot of stress. The argument intensified, and Jim decided it best to pull over. He tried to get out of the car and walk. Susan tried to stop him. “I lost my temper, he lost his temper,” Susan says, “and we got into a mutual scuffle. I may have scratched him; he may have pushed me. It got physical, but there certainly wasn’t any beating.”
Back on the road after they’d cooled down, they were stopped by a police car. Their scuffling had been seen by someone who had taken their license plate number and called the police.
Although Susan assured the officer that Jim hadn’t harmed her and she didn’t fear him, the officer hauled him away. Department policy required an arrest in a domestic dispute, the officer said. Susan was upset that no one would listen when she said she was OK. Her efforts to convince the court that nothing had happened were to no avail. She was told abused women may lie out of fear.
“What happened to Jim and Susan,” says  Detroit News op-ed columnist Cathy Young, “is … just another story from the trenches of what might be called the War on Domestic Violence. Born partly in response to an earlier tendency to treat wife-beating as nothing more than a marital sport, this campaign treats all relationship conflict as a crime. The zero-tolerance mentality of current domestic violence policy means that no offense is too trivial, not only for arrest but for prosecution.”
That’s bad news for men because the courts, influenced by the radical feminist politics of the battered women’s advocacy movement, see only male perpetrators and female victims. So does the federal government; it funds booklets that say “battering is the extreme expression of the belief in male dominance over women.”
Ignored is the fact that domestic abuse is an equal-opportunity recruiter. In 1995, the Journal of Family Violence reported a study of young American military couples, possibly the most patriarchal of all, in which 47 percent of the husbands and wives had harmed each other to the exact same degree. Last year on ABC’s 20/20, violence researcher Suzanne Steinmetz, asked if men were abused by their spouses as often or as much as women, replied, “When you’re looking at hitting, slapping, pushing, shoving, they’re fairly equal.”
Still, the war on domestic violence is decidedly a war on male partners. Consider the results of feminist lobbying to prevent women from ever being arrested in domestic disputes. When a Detroit man was stabbed in the chest by his wife, the police refused not only to arrest her but to remove her from the home. After Susan Finkelstein told the arresting officer she was as much the aggressor in their scuffle as Jim, she was told the policy required arresting the larger of the two parties.
Consider, too, a frightening trend regarding spousal homicide. In many states, women who kill their husband are released if they claimed physical abuse as their reason. In California, says crime writer Patricia Pearson in When She Was Bad — How and Why Women Get Away With Murder, husband killers are allowed to apply for release due to emotional abuse. This opens the door to risk-free husband killing.
Women will be able to operate the system even more to their advantage if feminists get a law modeled on an Australian statute. In Australia, domestic violence is defined to include a man’s raising his voice to his wife — “the domestic decibel rule.” But a woman raising her voice to her husband, says Australian psychologist Frank Brennan, is viewed as an understandable defense to male dominance.
“These double standards,” says author Warren Farrell, “have made men in Australia very fearful of getting married. Men are increasingly feeling that their only form of relationship power is not getting into a relationship.”
Men may soon know domestic abuse policies better than the sports page. The only men then willing to commit to marriage might truly be men from Mars.