THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 172, May 6, 2002
Let's Not 'Learn' The Same Lessons From Blake That We Learned From OJ
by Glenn Sacks
Special to TLE
The American public was deluged with misinformation about men, women, and domestic violence during the 1995 OJ Simpson double-murder trial. With the recent arrest of actor Robert Blake for the murder of his wife, much of that misinformation is now being repeated.
For example, the morning after Blake's arrest, attorney and KABC talk show host Gloria Allred, who previously represented Simpson's former sister-in-law Denise Brown, linked the Blake case and the Simpson case to widespread "violence against women," committed by men who often have "contempt" for females.
However, contrary to what we were led to believe during the Simpson trial, the murder of male partners or intimates by women is actually as prevalent as the murder of female intimates by men. Official Department of Justice (DOJ) statistics disguise this, however, through what men's issues author Warren Farrell calls the "blinders" to female murder of men.
One of Farrell's blinders is the fact that women generally use less detectable methods to murder intimates than men do. One of the most popular female methods is to poison the victim, and these poisonings are often mistakenly recorded as "heart attacks" and "accidents" instead of murder.
Another blinder is that women are much more likely than men to use "contract" killers, and contract killers often disguise murders as accidents or suicides. Even when a paid killer is caught and the truth is known, the DOJ counts the murder as a "multiple-offender" killing instead of as a murder of a man by a female intimate.
Farrell also notes that men who murder women tend to come from lower class backgrounds, whereas women who murder men are more likely to come from middle-class backgrounds. Thus the financial disparities allow for women to have better legal representation, resulting in more acquittals. In fact, according to a Justice Department study, women were nine times as likely men to be acquitted in a trial for the murder of a spouse, and 10 times as likely to receive probation instead of prison time.
Official statistics are further distorted by what Farrell calls the "Chivalry Factor" and the "Innocent Woman Factor," both of which make it less likely that women will even be suspected of murder, and more likely that the murders they commit will be ruled as "self-defense."
Despite these large distortions, men still comprise roughly 30% of those officially classified as being murdered by an intimate. According to the DOJ, each year men murder about 1,275 female intimates and women murder around 500 male intimates (excluding self- defense). In addition, according to the US Department of Justice's Special Report--Violence Against Women, there are approximately 7,800 unsolved murders of men and 1,500 unsolved murders of women each year.
Now let's do the math. Because a third of all female murder victims are killed by male intimates, whenever a woman is murdered, the immediate suspect is always a husband or male intimate. This means that in these 1,500 unsolved murders, police have already either ruled these men out or decided that the evidence against them is weak.
Thus the percentage of those 1,500 women who are murdered by a male intimate has to be much lower than 33%. Let's say the percentage is 15%, though it is quite possibly much lower than that. Fifteen percent of 1,500 is 225 which, added to 1,275 (the confirmed total), makes a total of 1,500 female victims of male intimates a year.
Now let's do the math for male murder victims. Obviously the vast majority of these unsolved murders were not committed by female intimates, though police erroneously do not view female intimates as suspects as often as they should. Let's say that only 7% of these murders were committed by female intimates which, considering the blinders, seems quite low. Seven percent of 7,800 is 550 which, when added to the 500 known murders, bring us to 1,050--over 40% of all intimate murder victims.
This is consistent with the numbers from the US Department of Justices survey Murder in Families, which analyzed 10,000 cases and found that women make up over 40 percent of those charged in familial murders. If, instead of 7%, the percentage is a still-reasonable 12.8%, the intimate murder rates between the genders would be equal. In addition, as Farrell notes, since many murders of men by female intimates are not even recorded as murders, including them would push the total of male victims even higher.
Nor is there a gender disparity in non-lethal domestic violence. A voluminous body of studies--many of them conducted by some of the earliest advocates for battered women--clearly demonstrate that women are at least as likely as men to initiate and engage in domestic violence. They also demonstrate that most domestic violence, whether committed by men or women, is not in self-defense.
There are only two major statistical differences between male and female domestic violence: Women are more likely than men to use weapons and the element of surprise, and women are more likely than men to suffer serious injuries. The only studies which show significant differences in the number of male and female victims are crime surveys. These surveys are held in low esteem by serious researchers, however, because they only ask respondents about domestic violence in the context of crime, and most male victims do not think of their intimates' attacks on them as crimes.
A common feminist claim is that our allegedly patriarchal society blames women for men's domestic violence. Allred, who represents Blake's first wife, claims that in both the Simpson case and the Blake case the defense and their supporters have tried to "blame the victim."
This claim does not hold up to scrutiny. During the Simpson case the defense claimed that Nicole Brown-Simpson may have been murdered by drug dealers. The theory certainly doesn't portray Nicole in a positive light, and her friends and family were understandably upset by it. However, whatever one thinks of the theory's plausibility, it was not advanced to justify her murder, but instead to demonstrate that there may have been others besides her husband who had a motive to murder her.
Blake's attorney Harlan Braun has claimed that the late Bonnie Bakley had conned and extorted money out of numerous men. However, Braun has not publicized this to blame Bakley for her murder, but instead to try to show his client's innocence by explaining that there were many others who had a motive to kill Bakley. This is not "blaming the victim."
The OJ Simpson case was a disaster for American men, as it gave Allred and countless other feminists an unprecedented media opportunity to distort reality on domestic violence. These distortions have helped to create extreme anti-male bias in our domestic violence laws, police procedures, and family court policies. The Blake case has again placed the spotlight on domestic violence, and has also created an opportunity to set the record straight.
Glenn J. Sacks writes about gender issues from the male perspective. His columns have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Houston Chronicle, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the San Diego Union-Tribune, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Los Angeles Daily News, the Salt Lake City Tribune, the Memphis Commercial-Appeal, and the Washington Times. He writes a regular column for the Los Angeles Daily Journal and the San Francisco Daily Journal. He invites readers to visit his website at www.GlennSacks.com