The fact that in terms of the (specific, contextless) data, the author of this piece is correct, doesn’t void the subtle victim blaming throughout - oh except for the last paragraph where he gives the caveat that "married men can and do abuse or assault their wives or daughters. Marriage is no panacea when it comes to male violence." Sure, in anthropological or evolutionary terms it makes sense that a non-related male is likely to be more of a danger to a woman or her children, but theoretically we aspire to be more than just clever chimpanzees. Here’s the thing, evolutionary argument, statistics, cultural traditions, whatever: it still ain’t her fault, it is, on the other hand, his.
The biggest problem I have with this article is that there’s no real acknowledgement of all the socio-political factors that go into who marries or doesn’t marry. Well not beyond "For women, part of the story is about what social scientists call a “selection effect,” namely, women in healthy, safe relationships are more likely to select into marriage, and women in unhealthy, unsafe relationships often lack the power to demand marriage or the desire to marry. Of course, women in high conflict marriages are more likely to select into divorce." which doesn’t really acknowledge fuck all.
The next biggest problem - or possibly, probably, they tie in first place - is that there is no examination of how we might use this understanding, these statistics in order to address male violence towards women and children - non-related or related. It reads like a shrug of the shoulders suggesting that if only women would be responsible and get married there would be a lot less violence - as opposed to if only men could learn not to be violent towards women and children - non-related or otherwise. Because that’s the problem.
Here’s another thing: is he saying that women don’t marry violent men? or that marriage makes men not violent? his emphasis certainly seems to be on the latter: “But marriage also seems to cause men to behave better. That’s because men tend to settle down after they marry, to be more attentive to the expectations of friends and kin, to be more faithful, and to be more committed to their partners—factors that minimize the risk of violence." Which is pretty damn insulting to all the decent non-violent men I know, some of whom are married, some of whom are in committed relationships, some who are single and some who are gay (and I dunno is he assuming that their sexuality makes them less violent? or is it women who make men violent? or is domestic violence between two men uninteresting to him?). I suspect that the “selection effect” referred above has more of an impact than he’d like to admit.
I’m also concerned that he doesn’t address the fact that a sense of entitlement is a major contributor to intimate partner and domestic violence. This is particularly concerning because the implicit ‘ownership’ in the patriarchal model of marriage (with the paterfamilias as provider and protector) is one of the root causes of domestic violence in marriages. That is, when a patriarchal male senses that his dominance within the family is at threat, or is feeling threatened from external sources, he takes it out on his wife and kids. Which would suggest that it’s not ‘marriage’ per se that ‘protects’ women and children from violence, but men’s attitudes that leads to violence against women (or male intimate partners) and children.
Slut-shaming is another factor that tends to lead to violence against women. But this article goes ahead and leads with it: “The data show that #yesallwomen would be safer with fewer boyfriends around their kids" Lovely, because unmarried women have lots of boyfriends and that’s a bad thing. It’s like he hasn’t really thought about the problem at all.
Then of course, what about forced marriage?
Fuck it, the more I think about it, the more it all pisses me off.