A very special father’s day Washington Post column put forth the idea that violence against women would drop if women simply married their children’s biological father. The answer has been there all along, Married Dads! (With a nifty byline: The data show that #yesallwomen would be safer with fewer boyfriends around their kids).
While it is true that children are more likely to be abused when there is a non biologic (i.e, genetically unrelated) male in the house, it’s a little more complex than genetics staying the fist. There are of course some situations that might be linked with violence that lead to a non bioligically related male living in the house, such as financial desperation, drug abuse, and of course fear. Fear of the kid’s dad, fear of being alone or unloved, fear of the neighborhood crime, or fear of what the guy might do to you if you don’t agree to live together.
The whole marrying-your child’s father to prevent violence against women also makes a great leap of faith that the guy is A) worth marrying and B) wants to get married and C) won’t be violent himself (married men do actually commit domestic violence and child abuse, a point briefly mentioned and then quickly dismissed by the Washington Post piece). And then there is a very important research point neglected by the marriage manifesto, that no one has ever randomized couples to pregnancy followed by marriage or just donating sperm and moving on. It is the height of simplification to assume that marriage to the children’s father is the solution to violence in the home. There are so many complex social, financial, and safety decisions that go into marriage you can’t begin to tease things apart. One HUGE confounder is that women might be more likely to marry a stable, loving, safe man than a jerkwad.
But all this discussion about confounders and marriage and boyfriends is an entirely unnecessary exercise and not where we should be dedicating our research dollars. Why? The data show that #yesallwomen would be safer if no man ever hit them.
Yes, we should study and educate about the risk factors that seem to indicate when violence might be more likely to occur, but telling women to marry their child’s father is so misogynistic I don’t even know where to begin. We shouldn’t be educating women to get married, we should be educating young men that violence is never acceptable.
Why is it a woman’s responsibility to stop men beating?