Thursday, October 29, 2015

Domestic abuse and the Duluth Model, part 1: Patriarchy

Chris in NZ pointed me to some interesting things about our system of dealing with domestic violence; it is predicated in great part on something called the Duluth Model.  This model, in a nutshell, states that domestic violence results primarily from "patriarchal ideology in which men are encouraged and expected to control their partners", and proposes a "Power and Control Wheel" to illustrate the issue and help coach men and women to avoid these behaviors. 

Now let's take a look at the basic premiss; that patriarchy, loosely defined as a social system in which men predominate in positions of authority in politics, religion, and property.  The Duluth model appears to invoke a strict view of patriarchy as one where men enforce the hierarchy--though skeptics might point out that those formulating the Duluth model do appear to have conflated the "loose" and "strict" definitions of patriarchy.

That said, let's take them at their word and test it with a couple of hypotheses.  If, indeed, domestic violence results from men thinking they "need" to impose this control, then we should be able to statistically measure this.  In our country, however, talking about "keeping women in line" is largely a joke--there are fringes who believe this, but reality is that such attitudes became gauche decades ago.

Moreover, if patriarchy is the root cause of domestic violence, we should also expect that it should be virtually nonexistent among women, lesbians, and male homosexuals; we find that the opposite is true.  It's actually more common among male and female homosexuals, and almost as common among women as it is among men.   Moreover, it's been found that domestic violence is higher among unwed couples than it is among the married.

So if indeed "patriarchy" is even a significant cause for domestic violence, it's not exclusive, and it may not even be #1 or #2 on the Pareto.   So by the "GIGO" (garbage in, garbage out) principle, the Duluth Model looks to be in trouble.

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