There are various claims made by men’s rights advocates (MRAs) that have no basis in truth. They are ‘factoids’, items of unreliable or false information that are reported and repeated so often that they become accepted as fact. On this page, we fact-check some of the inaccurate claims routinely made by MRAs. Additions and revisions are welcome.
This page covers the issues listed below. See other sections of XY for assessment of men's rights advocates' claims about the impact of feminist identities and beliefs among women, false accusations (2022 writeup here, 2013 writeup here), fathers and fatherlessness, domestic violence, men's health, war and militarism, so-called “Feminist Quotes by Leading Feminists”, and so on.
- The media as man-hating
- Women’s control of personal wealth
- Paternity fraud
- Women's and men's homicides against children (filicides)
- Women's and men's homicides against intimate partners
- Women and children first
- Perpetration of child sexual abuse
- Domestic violence and suicide
- "Men Victimized by Domestic Violence 33% More Often Than Women, Says 15-Country Study"
- Erin Pizzey
- Men's rights and MRAs (Men's Rights Activists): Academic critiques;
- Men's rights and MRAs: Accessible critiques;
- The alt-right, men’s anti-feminist advocacy, and masculinity: An XY collection
Fact: Media content continues to show patterns of male dominance and sexist stereotyping. And much of media control and ownership is in the hands of men.
Anti-feminist commentators often claim that we live in a ‘misandric’ or man-hating culture, in which the media is dominated by anti-male content. This is false.
Looking at media content, it is simply false to claim that there are uniformly negative representations of men. Instead:
- There are far more representations of men than women.
- Men are depicted in a wider range of behaviour than women.
- There are at least as many men who play heroes as villains (Anderson 2014: 75).
Thus, there is a diversity of positive and negative roles, especially for white men.
Anti-feminist commentators claim that women are taking over the major institutions of society, including the mass media. The reality is that mass media content continues to show male dominance and sexist stereotyping:
- Major male characters in top-grossing films outnumber female characters 73% to 27%.
- Men make up 55% of the regular characters in prime-time TV.
- Men shown are more likely to be in their 30s and 40s, while women shown are more likely to be in the age range 20-30. And women virtually disappear at older ages, e.g. in their 50s and 60s.
- Older male characters on TV and in film, but not older female characters, have more power, status, and leadership (Anderson 2014: 75-76).
As a media report documents,
- Women comprise only 28 percent of the characters in family films, 39 percent of the characters on prime-time TV, and 31 percent of those in children’s programs (Smith et al. 2012).
A study of the top grossing films in 2019 found that males comprise 63% of major characters and females comprise 37%. Males accounted for 66% of speaking characters, while females accounted for 34%. Overall, audiences were almost twice as likely to see male characters as female characters in the top grossing films of 2019 (Lauzen, 2020).
Roles for men and stories about men continue to be the norm. Films focused on female characters with storylines supposedly of interest to women are termed ‘chick flicks’, while films focused on male characters with characters and plots telling men’s stories are considered the norm.
On TV men are likely than women to play criminals, but also more likely to be in professional roles, law enforcement roles, and blue collar jobs. While women are more likely not to work or their work is not shown.
Gender biases in fictional dialogue are well documented in media. In film, television and books, female characters tend to talk less than male characters, talk to each other less than male characters talk to each other, and have a more limited range of things to say (Rennick et al., 2023). A major analysis of 2,000 film screenplays found that across them, 60% of dialogue was spoken by men.
Anti-feminist commentators neglect the question of race and racism. But media portrayals of men of colour often are poor, e.g. the frequent portrayal of African American men as dangerous thugs (Anderson 2014: 76-77).
In music videos:
- When women appear typically their role is as sexual objects (Anderson 2014: 77).
- There have been positive shifts over time in advertising’s portrayals of women’s roles. However, many still show men as leaders and protectors and women in roles dependent on men. And the sexual objectification of women in advertising has worsened (Anderson 2014: 77-78).
- Male dominance also is visible in TV commercials. 32% of women’s roles, but only 1% of men’s, are as homemakers. 14% of the men are professionals (doctors, lawyers), but only 5% of the women.
- Voiceovers are used to convey authority and wisdom, and men’s voices make up 73% of commercial voiceovers (Anderson 2014: 78).
In video games:
- A major study of video game dialogue finds that there is half as much dialogue from female characters as from male characters (Rennick et al., 2023).
There are further gender disparities and stereotypes in newspaper comics and clipart (78-79).
Men even dominate media coverage of “women’s issues”. For example, one study found that on abortion men were 81% of those quoted, on birth control 75% of those quoted, and even on women’s rights they were 52% of those quoted (women were only 31%, and organisations were 17%) (Anderson 2014: 79).
"women are hardly in the position of threatening the traditional domains of men. In every aspect of the mass media they are underrepresented compared to their actual numbers in the population. When women are seen, they are more likely to be portrayed as homemakers, as sexual objects, and as young. Men, on the other hand, are more likely to be portrayed in a range of professional fields; they are more active, and they are older and portrayed with more power and influence." (Anderson 2014: 79).
Anti-feminist commentators also claim that the media is mean to boys. Again, the evidence debunks this.
In children’s television cartoons:
- Male cartoon characters continue to outnumber female characters: 4 to 1 in the traditional adventure genre, 2 to 1 in comedy cartoons.
- Cartoons’ content is still gender stereotyped: “Male characters are portrayed in highly masculinized ways. They are more likely to engage in physical aggression and less likely to show fear than female characters. They are less likely to be supportive and polite, and less likely to be romantic, than female characters.” (Anderson 2014: 80).
- The gender content of cartoons has changed little over a 60-year period. Physical attractiveness is emphasised more for female characters, and intelligence more for male characters. Female characters are more likely than male to be shown in secondary roles such as helpers.
In children’s picture books:
- There are nearly twice as many male as female main characters. Female characters are more likely to be portrayed inside the home and without a paid occupation
In toy commercials on TV
- Toy commercials show boys in a wider range of interactions (e.g., competitive, cooperative, independent) than girls (Anderson 2014: 81).
Thus, in media representations, “boys are not marginal, nor are they denigrated. Boys are portrayed as the gender that matters, that gets things done; boys are the default, the norm.” (Anderson 2014: 81).
In the upside-down world of men-are-marginalized rhetoric, such as Steve Biddulph’s book Raising Boys, men are “often targets of ridicule in the media”. Yet actual studies on media representation find persistent patterns of male dominance and sexist stereotyping.
Media ownership and control
A second important way in which the media is not anti-male but in fact male-dominated is that much of the media industry is *owned and controlled* by men. Women historically were absent and excluded from decision-making and ownership in the media industries, and this pattern continues today (Byerly & Mendes 2008).
Ownership of, and policy-setting for, media is overwhelmingly dominated by men (typically, highly economically privileged white men). More widely, formal and informal discrimination has prevented women from being hired, promoted, and retained in news and other media industries (Byerly & Mendes 2008). For example, in news media men are a majority of journalists, and an overwhelming majority of upper management. Men are a majority of TV news directors, TV news reporters, and front page newspaper writers.
For example, the United States Federal Communications Commission’s November 2012 Report on Ownership of Commercial Broadcast Stations found that men own the vast bulk of majority interest in US broadcast stations: 93.2% of full-powered TV stations, 92.2% of AM radio stations, and 94.2% of FM radio stations.
In a study of the top 250 highest-grossing movies of 2021 in the U.S., only 25 per cent of behind-the-scenes roles were filled by women. Women were only 22% of editors, only 17% of directors and writers, and only 6% of cinematographers was an abysmal six out of every 100. Of C-suite positions in media and entertainment, only 27 per cent are held by women. (Putting this the other way around, men comprise 78% of editors, 83% of directors and writers, 94% of cinematographers, and occopy 73% of C-suite positions.)
Note: Much of the above is summarised from Chapter 4 in this book: Anderson, K. J. (2014). Modern Misogyny: Anti-feminism in a post-feminist era. New York: Oxford University Press.
References and further reading
Anderson, K. J. (2014). Modern Misogyny: Anti-feminism in a post-feminist era. New York: Oxford University Press.
M. Byerly, C., & Mendes, K. (2008). Sexism in the Media. In The International Encyclopedia of Communication. Ed., W. Donsbach. Wiley.
Lauzen, M. M. (2019). It’s a man’s (celluloid) world: Portrayals of female characters in the top grossing films of 2019. Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film, San Diego State University.
Rennick, S., Clinton, M., Ioannidou, E., Oh, L., Clooney, C., T., E., . . . Roberts, S. G. (2023). Gender bias in video game dialogue. Royal Society Open Science, 10(5), 221095. doi:doi:10.1098/rsos.221095
Smith, S., Choueiti, M., Prescott, A., & Pieper, K. (2012). Gender Roles & Occupations: A look at character attributes and job-related aspirations in film and television. Geena Davis Institute on Gender and Media. URL: https://seejane.org/wp-content/uploads/full-study-gender-roles-and-occupations-v2.pdf, Accessed May 23, 2020.
Statistics on gender and media (Women and Hollywood): https://womenandhollywood.com/resources/statistics/
Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, Myths and facts: https://seejane.org/research-informs-empowers/gender-in-media-the-myths-facts/
Bibliography on gender and the media: https://xyonline.net/books/bibliography/33-masculinities-culture-and-representation/bibliography-7
Fact: It is unlikely that women control the majority of personal wealth or even half of personal wealth in the USA, given that 1) men in general are far more likely than women to be in full-time paid work, with far more women in part-time work, 2) top-paying positions in most professions are dominated by men, and 3) men in general receive higher wages than women, in part because of occupational segregation.
MRA claim: Women control 51% of the personal wealth in the USA. This claim is false. It is based on a prediction, made in a 2005 book, about likely future patterns of personal wealth. It is not based on data about women’s and men’s actual personal wealth.
Many sources cite a report by the BMO Wealth Institute titled Financial Concerns of Women, released in 2015. This report is here, and gives the claim on p. 2, citing the Family Wealth Advisors Council report, Women of Wealth (2012). This report is here. It gives the claim on p. 5, citing a 2005 book by Fara Warner, Power of the Purse: How Smart Businesses Are Adapting to the World’s Most Important Consumers—Women (FT Press 2005). And this book merely *predicts* women’s future control of personal wealth.
Thus, the claim that women control 51% of the personal wealth in the USA is bogus. It has no basis in actual data.
Men are just as likely to splurge as women, and they spend more money on average when they treat themselves. A survey by Deloitte Insights, among consumers in 23 countries and based on a database of about 150,000 splurge purchases, found that men splurge as often as women do. And when they do, they spend almost 40% more on their purchases.
In fact, globally, significant proportions of women *do not have any control* over decisions over their own income. In many countries, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, a large fraction of women are not involved in household decisions about spending their personal earned income. See 'Economic Inequality by Gender', on the Our World in Data page. (This data does not tell us, however, what proportions of women have joint control, or sole control, of decisions over spending their personal earned income.)
- Significant proportions of women have *limited influence over major household spending decisions*.
- In developing countries, only 59 percent of women have a bank account, compared to 67 percent of men (Demirgüç-Kunt et al. 2017). In sub-Saharan Africa, the number of women with an account is less than 30 percent (FSD Africa 2018).
Fact: Levels of paternity fraud are very low.
MRAs claim that there are high levels of ‘paternity fraud’, in which women lie about who the father of their child is. The actual evidence on misattributed paternity shows that the actual rate is around 1%, despite the widespread myth that 10-30% of births involve a father other than the identified one (Gilding 2005).
Fact: In most shipping disasters, women’s survival rates are poorer than men’s.
MRAs claim that the chivalric notion of “Women and children first” rules in shipping disasters, such that women are prioritised over men. They give the example of the Titanic. However, the Titanic’s patterns of deaths are unusual. Research on a large sample of ship disasters finds that the survival rate of women is only half that of men. Compliance with a “Women and children first” norm is rare, and the Titantic is an anomaly.
Fact: Perpetrators of filicide in Australia are about 50:50 male and female. Over 2000 to 2012, of all incidents where children were killed by their parents (filicide), males comprised 52% of offenders, just over half, and females comprised 48%.
[Source: Brown et al., Filicide offenders, AIC 2019, p. 5. Available at https://www.aic.gov.au/publications/tandi/tandi568.]
The motivations for, character, and contexts of mothers’ and fathers’ filicides differ. Kirkwood summarises the evidence on p. 35 of her report, ‘Just say goodbye’ (2012), here.
Fact: Most intimate partner homicides are perpetrated by men.
For example, over four years in Australia, 82% of people killed (124 of 152 victims) were killed by *male* partners. (Costello & Backhouse, 2019, p. 57).
Fact: Most if not all men killed by female intimate partners had themselves been perpetrators of domestic violence.
The gender contrast in intimate partner homicides is even stronger once we examine the circumstances and histories of these homicides. The vast majority of women killed by an intimate partner or ex-partner had been the victim of a history of domestic violence. In contrast, the vast majority of men killed by an intimate partner or ex-partner had themselves been perpetrating violence against the person who eventually killed them.
Based on a detailed review of intimate partner homicides over homicides over 2000 to 2014, the NSW Domestic Violence Death Review Team Report 2015-2017 notes that, “98% of women killed by an intimate partner had been the primary domestic violence victim in the relationship”. In contrast, “89% of men killed by a female intimate partner had been the primary domestic violence abuser in the relationship” (xi-xii). (NSW Domestic Violence Death Review Team, 2017, pp. xi-xii).
A similar pattern is evident in an older review of all intimate partner homicides over 2000-2012 (NSW Domestic Violence Death Review Team, 2015):
- Over 1 July 2000 – 30 June 2012, there were 165 intimate partner homicides (in which an individual was killed by their current or former intimate partner).
- Victims were 78% female and 22% male. All the 129 women were killed by a male intimate partner (current or former). All the 129 women were killed by a male intimate partner (current or former). Of the 36 men killed, 31 were killed by a female intimate partner (86%) and 5 were killed by a male intimate partner (14%) (viii).
- However, it would be misleading to state from this that men are 22% of all intimate partner homicide victims, or 21% of all heterosexual intimate partner victims. Analysis of the details of each case finds that, “All men in the dataset were domestic violence abusers in the relationship and all women were domestic violence victims.” (ix) “All cases involved male abusers using a range of coercive and controlling behaviours towards the female domestic violence victim prior to the homicide.” (ix) “80% of cases involved the domestic violence abuser killing the domestic violence victim, and 20% of cases involved the domestic violence victim killing their abuser” (NSW Domestic Violence Death Review Team, 2015).
A more recent report on female-perpetrated intimate partner homicide finds that, among incidents where the direction of the violence was stated, women were either the primary victims of male perpetrated abuse or the simultaneous perpetrators and victims of reciprocal violence (Voce & Bricknell, 2020, p. ix).
Costello, M., & Backhouse, C. (2019). Avoiding the 3 ‘M’s: accurate use of violence, abuse and neglect statistics and research to avoid myths, mistakes and misinformation – A resource for NSW Health Workers. Sydney: Education Centre Against Violence (ECAV) and Prevention and Response to Violence, Abuse and Neglect (PARVAN) Unit (Ministry of Health), NSW Health. URL: https://apo.org.au/node/258076
NSW Domestic Violence Death Review Team. (2015). NSW Domestic Violence Death Review Team Annual Report 2013-2015. Sydney: NSW Government.
NSW Domestic Violence Death Review Team. (2017). NSW Domestic Violence Death Review Team Annual Report 2015-2017. Sydney: NSW Government. URL: https://www.coroners.nsw.gov.au/content/dam/dcj/ctsd/coronerscourt/documents/reports/2015-2017_DVDRT_Report_October2017(online).pdf
Voce, I., & Bricknell, S. (2020). Female perpetrated intimate partner homicide: Indigenous and non-Indigenous offenders. Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology. URL: https://www.aic.gov.au/publications/sr/sr20
Australian violence statistics: ANROWS collection
Domestic Violence Death Review - NSW Coroner's Court
Fact: Most perpetrators of child sexual abuse, between 80% and 95%, are male.
Recent overviews of child sexual abuse consistently emphasise that most perpetrators are men, not women. 80% to 95% of child sexual abuse perpetrators are male, according to recent and authoritative reviews.
For example, the overview chapter on “Gender comparisons of offenders: Males and females who sexually offend against children” in the 2019 book “Child Abuse and Neglect” (Bryce et al.) notes a range of studies documenting that females are 5-21% of perpetrators (Christensen & Jansen, 2019, p. 118).
Similarly, the 2022 review “Female perpetrators of child sexual abuse: A review of the clinical and empirical literature – A 20-year update” states, “between 5 and 20% of child sexual abuse is perpetrated by female offenders” (Augarde & Rydon-Grange, 2022, p. 2).
Men’s rights advocates claim that the majority of child sex abusers are female. They do so by drawing only on 30- to 40-year-old studies with limited samples, such as Fritz et al. (1981) and Fromuth and Burkhart (1987), and ignoring the majority of published research on this area and recent scholarly reviews on this question.
In short, the claim that the majority of adult perpetrators of child sexual assault are female is simply false. Most perpetrators - 80% to 95% - are male, according to recent and authoritative reviews.
Augarde, S., & Rydon-Grange, M. (2022). Female perpetrators of child sexual abuse: A review of the clinical and empirical literature – A 20-year update. Aggression and violent behavior, 62, 101687. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.avb.2021.101687
Christensen, L. S., & Jansen, K. (2019). Gender comparisons of offenders: Males and females who sexually offend against children. In I. Bryce, Y. Robinson, & W. Petherick (Eds.), Child Abuse and Neglect: Forensic issues in evidence, impact and management (pp. 117-131): Elsevier.
Fact: We do not know what contribution suicide caused by domestic violence makes to deaths among female and male victims, or whether male or female victims of domestic violence are more likely to commit suicide as a result of their victimisation. A systematic review of intimate partner violence and suicide attempts (Devries et al. 2013) finds that among female victims intimate partner violence (IPV) was associated with suicide attempts, but in the few studies among male victims there was no clear evidence of an association between IPV and suicide attempts.
Some MRAs claim that there are four times as many suicides associated with domestic violence victimisation among males as among females, or that men are four times as likely as women to commit suicide because of domestic abuse. Both claims are *false*.
The two opening claims differ. The first is a claim about the raw numbers of suicides among male victims compared to female victims. The second is a claim that among male victims, the proportion who commit suicide as a result of their abuse is four times that of the proportion of female victims who commit suicide as a result of their abuse. People making these claims draw on Davis (2010), and he makes only the first claim. In any case, the claim is incorrect.
Davis (2010) claims that "as many as 7,832 male and 1,958 domestic violence-related suicides occur annually in the US". His statistic, however, involves a fundamentally flawed extrapolation. The problem is that the paper conflates *intimate partner problems* in general with *domestic violence in particular*.
Davis takes the proportion of suicides associated with any kind of *intimate partner problem* (30%) (from a study in 16 US states), and uses this to make a claim about suicides associated with *domestic violence in particular* (for the USA overall). His paper literally treats all suicides coded by CDC as related to intimate partner problems ("a divorce, break-up, argument, jealousy, conflict, or discord", CDC) as caused by domestic violence. *Some* of these suicides may be related to domestic violence, but it is clearly false to claim that it’s all of them.
Davis draws on a study of 2005 data from 16 USA states (Karch et al, 2008), finding that intimate partner problems contributed to 30% of the suicides in those states. But these intimate partner problems are *not* necessarily about domestic violence.
The relevant CDC coding manual (2008) codes suicides as related to intimate partner problems “if at the time of the incident the victim was experiencing problems with a current or former intimate partner, such as a divorce, break-up, argument, jealousy, conflict, or discord. ” (7-26).
In that suicide data, we simply do not know whether or how domestic violence may be at play in the suicides coded as involving 'intimate partner problems'. In addition, the proportions involving domestic violence may be *different* for men and women. So we simply cannot use Karch et al’s data to make claims about domestic violence and suicide.
Davis takes the fact that 30% of the suicides in the study of 16 US states were linked to intimate partner problems, applies this to all suicides in the US that year, and claims that all of these are not about intimate partner problems in general but related to domestic violence in particular. This is not a defensible claim.
There is no doubt that domestic violence has significant impacts on health and wellbeing, for female and male victims. But Davis’ claim about this impact proves to be false.
Davis, R. L. (2010). Domestic violence-related deaths. Journal of Aggression, Conflict and Peace Research, 2(2), 44.
Devries, K. M., Mak, J. Y., Bacchus, L. J., Child, J. C., Falder, G., Petzold, M., . . . Watts, C. H. (2013). Intimate partner violence and incident depressive symptoms and suicide attempts: a systematic review of longitudinal studies. PLoS medicine, 10(5). https://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article/file?type=printable&id=10.1371/journal.pmed.1001439
Karch DL, Lubell KM, Friday J, Patel N & Williams DD (2008) Surveillance for Violent Deaths – National Violent Death Reporting System, 16 States, 2005. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 57 (SS03) 1–45. Available at: www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/ss5703a1.htm
Fact: Most traffickers are men. For example, a UNODC report (2009, p. 46) notes that of the 46 countries where data on the sex of convicted traffickers was available, men were the majority of traffickers in most (32 of 46 of these). In other words, men were a majority of traffickers in 70% of countries and women were a minority. This includes 4 countries where women were under 10% of those convicted, and 28 countries where women were 10-50% of those convicted. Women were a majority of traffickers (over 50% over those convicted) in only 14 of the 46 countries, or 30% of all countries.
MRAs claim that most traffickers are women. Some cite a Psychology Today blog, “Sex Traffickers: The Hidden Role of Women”, that stated that, “Female traffickers are more common than male traffickers.” However, this claim is mistaken. It is not supported by the studies cited. The article cites the UNODC 2009 report. This report notes that women are a greater proportion of traffickers than they are for most other crimes. But its data also demonstrate that *most traffickers are men*.
The source of the error in the Psychology Today blog is likely that the UNODC report refers to women being disproportionately traffickers. This means, disproportionate relative to their participation in other forms of crime. However, it may have been misinterpreted as, disproportionate to men’s involvement.
(The UNODC report states on p. 10, “Crime, organized crime in particular, is typically a male activity. Men make up over 90% of the prison populations of most countries and are particularly over-represented as perpetrators of violent crime. It might be assumed that human trafficking, where violence and threats are keys to the business, would likewise be overwhelmingly male dominated. But, surprisingly, the data on the gender of those convicted for trafficking in persons do not support this premise.
“The data gathered on the gender of offenders in 46 countries suggest that women play a key role as perpetrators of human trafficking. In Europe, for example, women make up a larger share of those convicted for human trafficking offences than for most other forms of crime.”)
The Psychology Today blog was amended in May 2023, such that the opening claim now reads, “Female traffickers may be as common as male traffickers”. This revision likely happened after I wrote to the author, pointing out the error. However, the revised claim still is inaccurate, in that existing data indicates that female traffickers are less common than male traffickers.
The piece also cites an article by Veldhuizen-Ochodničanová and Jeglic (2021), but this merely restates the UNODC data in its 2009 report, noting in effect that men make up *the majority of traffickers in more than two thirds of the 155 countries surveyed*.
In short, most traffickers are men, not women.
Violence and gender: Men’s rights advocates (MRAs) like to cherrypick findings that show or seem to show that domestic violence against men is more common than DV against women. The latest example comes from a multi-country study of university staff’s experience of violence.
MRAs claim the study shows more men than women have experienced physical domestic violence.
There are at least two problems:
1) The study *is not* about domestic violence. All the questions ask about violence by someone connected with the institution – other staff or students - not about intimate partners. See the survey instrument here, e.g. pages 33, 42, and so on.
2) The study shows that women suffer *more* violence than men. Women suffer more violence overall, and more psychological violence, economic violence, sexual violence, and sexual harassment. See the table on p. 33, in the full report here.
Yes, men suffer more physical violence than women. And remember, this is not by intimate partners, but by people connected to the institution.4/5
A third issue is that the study does not tell us *who* perpetrated the violence. For example, most violence against men in universities may be by other men.
The UniSafe survey instrument is here: https://zenodo.org/records/7220636
The full report is here: https://zenodo.org/records/7540229#.ZB10ofbMLjo
Despite the fact that this study had nothing to do with domestic violence, men’s rights advocates such as Mike Buchanan and men’s rights front organisations have issued press releases on the study claiming, “Men Victimized by Domestic Violence 33% More Often Than Women, Says 15-Country Study”.
Erin Pizzey is a men’s rights activist and advocate against domestic violence, now in her 80s. She is known for having started the first domestic violence refuge in the modern world, Refuge, then known as Chiswick Women’s Aid, in 1971.
Pizzey fell out of favour with anti-violence and feminist advocates in the 1970s and 80s after she emphasised that much domestic violence was reciprocal or two-way and that some women are ‘addicted’ to the violence they experience or even enjoy it. She was subject to public feminist criticism and protest, as these articles and letters from 1981 and 1982 attest.
Pizzey is held up by men’s rights advocates (MRAs) as a contemporary thought leader on domestic violence. This is nonsense. First, Pizzey’s experience of working with domestic violence victim-survivors is now 40 to 50 years old, and far far more is known these days about the dynamics and impact of domestic violence and about how to work effectively with victim-survivors. Given the wealth of scholarship and experience that has come since, relying on Pizzey as some kind of key intellectual contributor to domestic violence scholarship or practice is absurd. Second, some of the views that Pizzey advocated in the 1970s – including that some women are ‘addicted’ to the violence they experience – had no credibility or substance at the time or have been debunked since.
Pizzey is popular among MRAs for three reasons. 1) The views she developed in the 1970s of much domestic violence as reciprocal between men and women fit with MRAs’ own views. 2) Alleged aspects of her personal history, including alleged feminist threats of violence against her and alleged actual violence against her dog, are useful to an MRA narrative. 3) Pizzey has become a direct advocate for men’s rights. Pizzey has been on the editorial and advisory board of the MRA organisation A Voice for Men, she was owner/manager of a fake “White Ribbon” website intended to look like the White Ribbon Australia website after the organisation folded (as reported here and here), and so on.
Regarding claims about bomb threats
There are at least four reasons to be sceptical about the claim that feminists advocates made bomb threats against Erin Pizzey.
1) Pizzey only starts making the claim about bomb threats during the 1970s in her more recent men’s rights interviews, e.g. a 1999 piece on a fathers’ rights website. If they really happened at the time, she would have written about them.
2) There is no evidence or record, other than her own say so.
3) It is very unlikely that feminist advocates campaigning against violence against women would make threats of violence against a woman.
4) Pizzey has a history of being flexible with the truth – see below.
Regarding claims about Pizzey’s dog
While the story that Erin Pizzey’s dog was shot by vengeful feminist activists circulates among MRAs online, it is highly questionable.
Pizzey herself wrote in 2000 that “local redneck households” shot her dogs. Then in 2013, Pizzey wrote, “I don’t know if it was feminists or not”. And she noted that the dog *didn’t die*. See her ‘Ask Me Anything’ session on Reddit, here. Here she wrote, “My dog was shot on Christmas Eve on my property when I was doing some of my work and it was a terrible sight, he didn’t die fortunately but it was terrible with his bleeding and screaming in pain. I don’t know if it was feminists or not.”
So, like many men’s rights claims, this one is fiction. Erin Pizzey’s dog didn’t die. And when Pizzey had claimed that it did, she wrote that she didn’t know who’d killed it, and earlier attributed it to local rednecks.