Feminists Deny Truth on Domestic
Tuesday , May 30, 2006
By Wendy McElroy
the last three decades, feminism has revolutionized daily life
from the legal system and social mores down to the story books
children use in kindergarten. Feminist discussion seems to be
'always' and 'everywhere'.
But I believe the contrary is true. Genuine discussion of
feminist issues ended in the 1970s when one school came to
dominate and moved to silence competing views both within the
movement and outside.
Politically correct feminists maintain that women as a class
are politically oppressed by men as a class, which means that
every woman is oppressed by every man. Class oppression is the
ideological lens through which PC feminism views all issues.
Tammy Bruce's book "The
New Thought Police" (2001) received media buzz as a former
insider's expose of how PC feminists smear their intellectual
opponents in an attempt to silence and discredit them. For
example, Bruce described how PC feminists led a campaign of
defamation against the conservative Dr. Laura Schlessinger by
misrepresenting her as homophobic.
Joan Garry, executive director of the Gay and Lesbian
Alliance Against Defamation, was quoted as saying, "If she can't
be controlled, she must be stopped."
The PC treatment of heretics within feminism has been no less
brutal. Indeed, heretics are commonly reviled more than
Consider Erin Pizzey.
In 1971, Pizzey opened the first battered wives shelter in
England, which she ran until 1982. Arguably, the Chiswick Family
Rescue was the second domestic violence shelter in the world.
Pizzey's book "Scream Quietly or the Neighbours Will Hear"
(1974, out of print) was one of the first to explore and expose
Today, the shelter Pizzey founded denies her entry; her name
does not appear in its official history.
Pizzey's 'mistake' was to diverge from the theory of
domestic violence that feminists at the time insisted dominate
all discussion. She believed that men could also be the victims
of domestic violence, and that women could be as violent toward
their partners as men.
Pizzey's views put her on a collision course with PC
feminists who, according to Pizzey's own published account of
events, initiated a campaign of harassment and violence against
Pizzey described this harassment in an article she published
Scotsman in 1999.
"Because of my opposition to the hijacking of the refuge
movement, I was a target for abuse. Anywhere I spoke there was a
contingent of screaming, heckling feminists waiting for me,"
Pizzey wrote. "Abusive telephone calls to my home, death threats
and bomb scares, became a way of living for me and for my
family. Finally, the bomb squad, asked me to have all my mail
delivered to their head quarters."
One night, the family dog was killed.
Eventually, "exhausted and disillusioned," Pizzey said she
went into "exile with her children and grandchildren," leaving
England in 1982 to live in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Pizzey returned to England that same year for the book tour
of her next book, "Prone
to Violence," which once again ignited a violent reaction
among feminists. Pizzey wrote that when she arrived in England
for her book tour, she was "met with a solid wall of feminist
demonstrators" carrying signs that read "ALL MEN ARE RAPISTS,
ALL MEN ARE BATTERERS."
"The police insisted that I have an escort all round England
for my book tour," Pizzey wrote in the Scotsman.
some reason to believe that "Prone to Violence" has been the
target of a campaign of suppression by PC feminists. According
to the web site Wikepedia, in 1996 an internet search of the
world libraries that can be accessed through the Library of
Congress uncovered only 13 listings for the book: an
astonishingly low number for a pioneering work that caused a
Why would PC feminists nearly riot over a book and, then,
Because Pizzey advanced a competing theory of domestic
When viewed through the PC lens of class oppression, domestic
violence is not an act of violence committed by one individual
against another. It is an act committed by men that
must be correctly understood within the larger context of
women's class oppression.
"Prone to Violence" spelled out some of Pizzey's
disagreements with that view.
Disagreement #1: Of the first 100 women who entered Chiswick,
Pizzey found that over 60 percent were as violent or more
violent than the men they were fleeing. In short, a significant
percentage of the women were
also batterers or otherwise active participants in the
Disagreement #2: Pizzey developed the theory that many
battered women were psychologically drawn to abusive
relationships and they sought them out. To PC feminists, such
analysis was tantamount to 'blaming the victim.'
Disagreement #3: She explained why the existing model of
domestic violence shelters was ineffective. PC feminists were
attempting then (and now) to secure ever greater financing for
these operations. Sandra Horley, director of Chiswick in 1992,
reportedly complained, "if we put across this idea that the
abuse of men is as great as the abuse of women, then it could
seriously affect our funding."
Pizzey may or may not have been correct; I believe she was
Neverthless, her book drew upon over 10 years at the Chiswick
shelter during which time Pizzey dealt with some 5,000 women and
"Prone to Violence" is an extremely early and honest overview
of domestic violence from a woman with extensive experience of
its daily realities. The book cried out to be taken seriously.
At minimum, it deserved a thorough rebuttal from its PC feminist
critics--not death threats directed at its author nor the
ultimate silence it received.
Pizzey is not alone. In America,
Suzanne Steinmetz -- author of the book "The Battered
Husband" and a co-author of the much-cited "First National
Family Violence Survey" -- experienced a similar drama. She and
her children received death threats; an ACLU meeting at which
she spoke received a
The reason: her research indicated that the rate at which men
were victimized by domestic violence was similar to the rate for
In large and small ways -- from shrill protests to the
tearing down of announcements, from blocking university
promotions to threats and defamation -- PC feminism has
attempted to stop voices it could not control.
Feminism is dying not from a backlash but from an orthodoxy
that cannot tolerate real discussion...and never could.
Wendy McElroy is the editor of
ifeminists.com and a research fellow for The Independent
Institute in Oakland, Calif. She is the author and editor of
many books and articles, including the new book, "Liberty for
Women: Freedom and Feminism in the 21st Century" (Ivan R.
Dee/Independent Institute, 2002). She lives with her husband in
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