Top critical review
Not science, just another round in the culture wars so disappointing
27 June 2019
I bought this book as I was looking to get some insights into why people committed domestic violence. I hoped to get a review of the science, but it ended up being a defence of a classic feminist position - "domestic violence is gendered and it's all about the patriarchy" (whatever the hell that is - sounds like a reification to me).
This is in contrast to a body of evidence that shows that both men and women can be violent and abusive in relationships, but at the same time, women are more likely to get hurt, presumably as a result of sexual dimorphism.
I think my problem was expecting a journalist to be a competent science writer, rather than an advocate for a cause. Some specific critiques:
Accepts dodgy and overstated numbers uncritically - e.g. "one women murdered by an abusive partner every week", however in 2017 a total of 56 women died from assault in Australia according to ABS statistics (3303.0). I guess all but six of these died in their homes???;
Writes off institutional decisions and policy by selectively presenting case studies to refute decisions and policy;
Accepts "just so" stories to write off a large body of research implicating women in domestic violence - i.e. accepts shallow methodological critiques based on plausibility rather than presenting data to reject evidence she doesn't like;
Ignores high prevalence of women amongst perpetrators of child abuse and neglect; and
Defines two classes of domestic violence - coercive practiced by males and bad, and reactive - practiced by some men and all women and really just nasty fighting, but not a lot of science behind it, although I imagine it assists her in avoiding cognative dissonance.
Anyway, to anyone who has ever had to share a household with a violent and angry women, including children who have ended up with depression and anxiety issues, you'll be pleased to know that it wasn't that bad after all, and that immaturity and lack of anger control is not the problem, patriarchy is.
And Jess has the answer to domestic violence - just go and find a patriarchy and drive a stake through its heart.