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Bias Against Men and Children at Family Violence Conference
September 27, 2006
by Ray Blumhorst

The annual International Conference of Family Violence took place this past week (Sept. 14 thru 19) in San Diego, California. I was not able to attend every day that the conference was open, but made it for the entire day on the 18th.

How much taxpayer money was used by participants, and/or exhibitors, in the furtherance of this event is anybody's guess, considering what a business minded person would describe as "questionable VAWA accounting methods." In my opinion, it appeared that a very significant number of people in attendance were people who have directly benefited from the billions of dollars of taxpayer's money that has funded VAWA [the Violence Against Women Act] over the years.

The Conference consisted of numerous exhibition booths set up in the hotel's Grand Ballroom, and breakout workshops in other meeting rooms. The workshops addressed various issues surrounding family violence.

The National Coalition of Free Men, San Diego (NCFMSD), and NCFMLA (Los Angeles) once again had an exhibition booth at the event. Giving credit where credit is due, Harry Crouch, NCFMSD did by far the lion's share of the work to make the NCFM booth a reality. His efforts to gather and set up educational material, posters, handouts, etc., must honestly be given credit as the primary reason this men's issues effort was as successful as it was. During a lull in visitors to our booth, when most people had vanished into workshops, I took the opportunity to take this photo of our exhibition booth.

While NCFM was grateful to be permitted to display at this event, again, the mood of the event was still less than what I would describe as a "male friendly environment." Silhouettes of family violence victims have been displayed at various Family Violence events in San Diego for a number of years. Here is one located in the main hall at this year's ICFV. The first time I ever saw the red painted silhouettes was at least five years ago, and at that time all the silhouettes were female. A couple of years ago, a couple of male victims were added to the inventory, and this year, apparently household pets (a dog and a cat) have been included. Women, dogs, cats and men were all on display at the ICFV this past week in San Diego, and in that order, in my opinion.

The President of NCFMLA was the first to notice the disparity in the "placing" of the silhouettes, and called the disparity to the attention of one of the conference's planners. It appears both male silhouettes were originally placed at the end of a long, dark hallway that no one had reason to go down. After the complaint, one of the male silhouettes was placed at the entrance to the Grand Ballroom (exhibition room). The other was placed outside the door to the men's restroom. There was no corresponding woman's silhouette outside the door to the women's restroom. Both women's silhouettes were located in more respectable settings. The female silhouettes, the dog silhouette, and the cat silhouette did not need relocating from their original, prominent positions in the main hallway leading to the Grand Ballroom.

Yes, there were red silhouettes on display at the International Conference on Family Violence for women, dogs, cats, and even men, but curiously, no silhouettes were present for CHILDREN. Given that Health and Human Services reports slightly more child fatalities (neglect and abuse) every year than there are women who die of domestic violence, it seemed odd to me that CHILDREN were not given even a single silhouette. Is it possible the International Conference on Family Violence didn't want to draw attention to the fact that the largest group responsible for killing those children was biological Mothers (38.8%)? Compare that statistic to biological Dads at just 18.3%. For next year's booth I think I'll personally make a red plywood cut out of children from Southern California who were killed by their biological Moms.

During the course of the day, I had opportunity to stroll through the exhibition room, and talk with some of the exhibitors. Although some progress was apparent in regards to recognition of men as victims of domestic violence and women as perpetrators, one needed only scratch the surface to discover many pre-existing gender feminist biases, still touting the same old gender bigoted propaganda casting the man as "the batterer" and the woman as "the victim" (woman good/man bad).

At one point as I was browsing through some family therapy literature, I got into an interesting discussion with the woman part of a husband-wife team exhibiting their Family Therapy program. Refreshingly, the woman approached the dynamics of family dysfunctions not following the standard gender feminist model, but instead followed more closely human motivational factors. The big workbooks on display at this booth were labeled, "Men's Tools" and "Women's Tools." Upon running across the standard domestic violence industry "Duluth Power and Control wheel" I pointed out to the man that the page followed the gender biased, gender feminist model in as much as all the "he" and "him" pronouns referred to the batterer and all the "she" and "her" pronouns referred to the victim. "Ah," said the man, "you are looking at our workbook for the man. We have it just the opposite in the 'Woman's Tools Workbook.'" On that note, I put down the "Man's Tools Workbook," and picked up the "Woman's Tools Workbook." I turned to the corresponding page. Sadly, the same gender biased Duluth Power and Control Wheel was there with all the "he" and "him" pronouns always referring to "the batterer" and the "she" and "her" pronouns always referring to "the victim." "We are going to change that in our next printing," the man replied after I pointed this out to him. I sincerely hope that happens as the couple otherwise seemed very professional and understanding of men's issues. I guess this experience just goes to underscore how much biased, gender feminist language has infiltrated literature surrounding domestic violence issues.

After lunch as I was again browsing through the displays, I found this document prominently displayed at the entrance to the exhibition room. I could only wonder how long it had been allowed to be there. "Why," I asked myself, "was this exhibitor allowed to display so prominently such a glaringly undocumented statement?" The undocumented statement (in quotes below) appeared to me to be nothing more than verification of domestic violence industry "myth making" in action, to wit: "Less than 10% of child sexual abuse is ever reported to law enforcement and few abusers are ever held accountable for their actions."

Later in the day, I talked with one of our NCFMLA group who had attended a workshop that was going to address male victims of domestic violence. In a nutshell, the attendee said that the issue was raised, along with the issue of women as perpetrators of domestic violence, but then it was all just quickly glossed over with minimal discussion. "Sounds like male victims just got marginalized again," I said. "Yeah, that was about it," replied the workshop attendee.

To end on a positive note, NCFMSD and NCFMLA were a presence noted by all who attended this conference. Through NCFM's exhibition booth, our members, and some very professional guests, worked hard to raise awareness about family violence issues regarding male victims and female batterers.

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