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Male Advocacy Thread

Doctor Anaximander

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I started following a Left Wing Male Advocates group on reddit. I don't usually post there (social anxiety) but I've found some interesting discussions and perspectives. Usually people associate Male Advocacy and the MRM with the right wing, but 'left wing male advocate' apparently isn't an oxymoron. I find their discussions and perspectives a lot more refreshing and productive than what I've usually seen with MRAs in right leaning groups.

So this thread can function as a general place to either discuss or post link about those issues through the lens of left wing progressivism--the right has all but monopolized any discussion on these issues, so I'm taking them back. I think male advocacy is (or should be treated as) an inherently left wing cause. If you look at the meat of what male advocates want, it's right in line with the humanitarianism that is supposed to define the left. Saying male lives matters too, while some have tried to frame this as akin to saying "all lives matter", I think it's actually a lot closer to the sentiment behind "Black Lives Matter". My impression is that the male advocates on the left don't want to shift focus from other marginalized groups (as the right, and a good number on the left tend to do), but rather to expand the focus. Empathy doesn't need to be a zero-sum game with various groups competing for attention and empathy. We seem to treat empathy like a limited reserve that has to be rationed out to people and groups rather than to applied to humanity across the board. That is the very essence of humanitarianism, and if a left winger (we can almost expect this by default from the right, but from the left, really?) is making any case to exclude any group from the umbrella of human rights activism, then I'm going to call them out on their incomplete and flawed understanding of humanitarianism.

In my opinion, most of the issues cited by male advocacy groups can be traced back to a massive, collective empathy gap. It almost always seems to root in the empathy gap.

Factual data to back any claims or arguments is always a plus, but if you can't find the data to back a claim, please at least try to offer a sound logical argument for said claim or argument.

EDIT: adding some links to op-eds and statistics

The Illustrated Empathy Gap | challenging public incredulity on the disadvantages faced by men and boys


The Gender Gap in Empathy. A path to the end of the gender war? | by Marty Nemko | Medium
"What conservatives miss is that risking one’s life in hopes of respect and love requires a soldier to be a cog in the war machine, an employee to follow orders quietly and to suppress feelings. That gives the appearance of strength but can mask the toll it’s taking on his self-esteem and mental and physical health.

What liberals miss is that social and psychological bribes for males to be disposable aren’t mainly about male privilege or male entitlement but mainly about male sacrifice."


https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1534129/1/Gender Empathy Gap Seager Farrell Barry 2016.pdf


https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1534132/1/gender empathy gap BPS SW Review Barry 2016.pdf


Young Men and the Empathy Gap | Psychology Today
 

Totenkindly

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I read the first link, there's a lot of stuff there that really needs to be qualified better.

(For example, I assume by "male genital mutilation" they mean circumcision? But they equate it with female genital mutilation, when it's not actually the same? Total removal of the penis would be equitable to removal of the clitoris, so this is ingenuous comparisons here.

But yes, there's been lots of discussion of this topic for years, on whether circumcision is necessary, and its religious roots in first-world countries as in whether it's necessary since even the basic data which might show only an increase in disease is in real terms only a few extra cases per 100K men when I dug into it some years ago, pretty negligible... although I don't know data for third-world and whether it makes any sense from a health perspective in those parts of the worlds. Still, it's a pretty drastic measure and I suspect it's primarily a religious holdover that should not longer be practiced in mainstream and likely not at all.)

I had similar thoughts percolating on a lot of other points that I read, but honestly there's so much shit going on currently in our society, it's no wonder everyone is thoroughly exhausted trying to process it all. BLM, Women's rights, LGBT rights, and so forth, I don't have bandwidth for all that and the other shit, and it's one reason I know I'm exhausted. We're not just dealing with USA problems either, some of those stuff is expanded to global settings. How do we determine where the priorities are in what to resolve first and where focus should be, even if there are problems across the board?

I think some of the problems are real, obviously -- as noted even recently that RBG made a name for herself in the legal profession by bringing gender-inequity cases forward where the man was at the disadvantage and won cases for equality in those instances. Maybe targeted issues get prioritized -- the problems with the greatest impact (detrimental) and that have a discernible way to approach could get tackled first, rather than a list of 100 items. Most bang for the buck, more quickly resolved, then go from there.

I am definitely interested in seeing the difference between a left vs right approach to men's issues.
 

Doctor Anaximander

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^^I think the problem is that too many people, whether MRA or feminists or other, want to frame it in terms of the severity, usually dismissing the male version based on the greater severity of the female version, when it's really an issue of bodily integrity and personal choice. It's really about personal choice, bottom line, and when framed that way, it becomes apparent the immorality of circumcision in any form, regardless of sex or gender.

Any rationalization used to dismiss or downplay it, especially by comparing to FGM (and I'm not accusing you of doing this, but I do see it used a lot as a general argument by people to overlook or dismiss MGM) is just another example of how the empathy gap manifests in our culture. Typically, I've seen that someone will start to address the topic as it pertains to men, usually not even trying to compare it to FGM, then someone comes along and says "yeah but FGM is way worse". Only usually no one is trying to say it's "just as bad" or downplay FGM, they're just trying to shed light on something completely different, but a problem nonetheless.
 

Cor Luctis

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^^I think the problem is people want to frame it in terms of the severity, usually dismissing the male version based on the greater severity of the female version, when it's really an issue of bodily integrity and personal choice. Personal choice, bottom line, and when framed that way, it becomes apparent the immorality of circumcision in any form.
Well, I suppose on a moral level, the vending machine that takes your dollar without giving you the candy bar is no better than the con artist who weasels your grandma out of half her retirement savings. Stealing is stealing, after all (or reneging on a commitment/contract).
 

Totenkindly

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^^I think the problem is people want to frame it in terms of the severity, usually dismissing the male version based on the greater severity of the female version, when it's really an issue of bodily integrity and personal choice. Personal choice, bottom line, and when framed that way, it becomes apparent the immorality of circumcision in any form.

I don't disagree with that, when framed as body integrity. (and you know I understand that, based on my history -- I know both sides of the fence plus the whole issue of having doctors telling me how my body should be and refusing treatment or making me hop through gates.) There's a big problem when children are operated on to conform to what seems to just be a social convention, whether it's a boy or a girl or an intersexed kid with ambiguous genitalia who is medically binary-ized without being able to make that decision for themselves.

I am not dismissive of it. It doesn't mean the two are the same, however, in terms of literal impact. As you note, it's mainly in the framework of body integrity where the two are comparable.

I'm inclined to view circumcision as holdover from the practice mentioned in the Bible... which ironically while couched in religious terms, I think was done due to disease issues at the time, but the Bible coaches it all in religious terms. (Just like it does the "cleanliness" rules meant to prevent contagion.) Is any of that even relevant in many settings nowadays? But people are attached to their damned rituals, so now we've got this mess.
 

Doctor Anaximander

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I don't disagree with that, when framed as body integrity. (and you know I understand that, based on my history -- I know both sides of the fence plus the whole issue of having doctors telling me how my body should be and refusing treatment or making me hop through gates.) There's a big problem when children are operated on to conform to what seems to just be a social convention, whether it's a boy or a girl or an intersexed kid with ambiguous genitalia who is medically binary-ized without being able to make that decision for themselves.

I am not dismissive of it. It doesn't mean the two are the same, however, in terms of literal impact. As you note, it's mainly in the framework of body integrity where the two are comparable.

I'm inclined to view circumcision as holdover from the practice mentioned in the Bible... which ironically while couched in religious terms, I think was done due to disease issues at the time, but the Bible coaches it all in religious terms. (Just like it does the "cleanliness" rules meant to prevent contagion.) Is any of that even relevant in many settings nowadays? But people are attached to their damned rituals, so now we've got this mess.

check the edit, I didn't mean for it to seem like I was accusing you in particular of downplaying it or overlooking it.

Anyway, male circumcision is probably the least of my worries when it comes to 'male issues', although I do think the mass campaign to circumcise men in Africa based on hygiene arguments is troubling. I mean, air drop crateloads of soap if hygiene is really the concern. Increased likelihood of transmitting AIDS? Um, drop crateloads of condoms.

I wonder if it isn't more about keeping a cheap supply of fibroblasts for medical researchers and skin cream companies.

Sorry, tangent. Anyway, this is a lesser concern to me than boys falling behind in education and the enormous gender sentencing gap (prime evidence of an empathy gap staring us all in the face)
 

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check the edit, I didn't mean for it to seem like I was accusing you in particular of downplaying it or overlooking it.

I didn't mean it that way (not mad), just was clarifying that I am sympathetic overall based on my experiences in life. And I certainly don't want to say that "men just have to deal with having their foreskin removed because clitoral removal is worse," it's more just looking at severity but not attempting to say the male version is not a problem.)

Rather than me commenting on stuff, could you list 5-10 things from all the issues currently discussed that you think are the most important and you think society should address first? Basically, what do men think are the biggest and/or most unfair issues they deal with, and would like to see dealt with?
 

Doctor Anaximander

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I didn't mean it that way (not mad), just was clarifying that I am sympathetic overall based on my experiences in life. And I certainly don't want to say that "men just have to deal with having their foreskin removed because clitoral removal is worse," it's more just looking at severity but not attempting to say the male version is not a problem.)

Rather than me commenting on stuff, could you list 5-10 things from all the issues currently discussed that you think are the most important and you think society should address first? Basically, what do men think are the biggest and/or most unfair issues they deal with, and would like to see dealt with?

I know, I appreciate your sympathy and understanding, again, sorry if that seemed a strongly worded post.
 

Doctor Anaximander

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If I had to pick 5 or 6 issues or goals that I think take precedence, I'd list the following:

-Sentencing Gap in Developed Nations needs to be addressed. If this gap cut the other way, I find it hard to believe there wouldn't be UN task forces, think tanks, et al talking about it. Even when the issue has been addressed, it might still be framed as a female problem, despite the overwhelming data (for instance in the UK, where a similar sentencing gap to the US exists, when MP Philip Davies tried to address this gap, many of his critics reframed his words to accuse him of requesting harsher sentencing for women. In some cases he was straight up called a bigot simply for asking why there isn't parity in sentencing when all considerations or circumstances other than sex/gender are the same)

-Bringing boys up to parity with girls in terms of quality of education received and overall grades/marks.

-Expanding the discussion on Domestic Violence in a way that doesn't exclude female victims, rather expands to consider male victims of DV with the same level of consideration as we afford female victims. Based on the available data, there's no good reason to downplay or ignore the male victims.

I would list this as a separate aim/issue, but I think it goes hand-in-hand with the above on DV: men, and victims in general (including women who feel unable to speak up about their own experiences) need to be taught or encouraged to speak up more when they experience DV in any form. We also need to stop assuming a man had it coming or must have done something bad to deserve DV. That attitude is typically rightly ridiculed if someone wonders what female DV victims might have done to provoke abuse. It's victim blaming regardless of the sexes involved when people take that approach.

-Addressing 'toxic masculinity' in a way that doesn't throw every aspect of it into the 'toxic' category. But also doing so in a way that doesn't reinforce old and outdated gender norms. Unfortunately no one seems to have been able to find a middle ground here. The right wants to stick to some archaic idea of norms, the left just wants to ignore that sex or gender even exists, so we're left with two very unrealistic and dangerous approaches to the issue.

-Either abolish programs like the selective service or change them to be gender neutral. In its current state, it is a direct violation of the proposed ERA.

-Reform the family court system. Due process across the board. For instance, a simple allegation of DV lacking proof needs to be further investigated before being allowed to influence family court decisions. In just about any other form of court, burdon of proof is an important principle. Even if it isn't always followed perfectly (which is itself a problem to be addressed), it should apply to family court proceedings just as much as it applies to criminal court proceedings.
 

Doctor Anaximander

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I'm sure there are more I'll think of later, these were just the ones that jumped first to mind for me.
 

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The title of the thread is a bit of a mouthful but I get it.

To be honest I'm simultaneously a male feminist and also endorse a steampunk male chivalry too.

Its full of contradictions and conflicting ideals but I'd have it no other way. :newwink:
 

Doctor Anaximander

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The title of the thread is a bit of a mouthful but I get it.

To be honest I'm simultaneously a male feminist and also endorse a steampunk male chivalry too.

Its full of contradictions and conflicting ideals but I'd have it no other way. :newwink:

I'm an equality feminist, if you want to be technical about it. And maybe a sex positive feminist too. I mean I can appreciate some feminist theory and sometimes I like to critique film and TV from a feminist viewpoint. I'm also pretty critical of several aspects of it but I avoided bringing it up initially as I didn't want to shift into another 'bash feminism' thread like in the past--that rarely led to any meaningful discussion. But I'm also a male advocate, if that makes any sense--I don't think women's rights and men's rights need to be mutually exclusive issues at odds with one another. I just consider them subcategories of humanitarianism. Each are critical subassemblies needed to complete the entire machine. We can argue which is more critical, but ultimately the machine isn't going to function very smoothly if either of them are missing from the total assembly.
 

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This is an important topic. There are ways that societal issues for men are dismissed - usually connection to emotion, vulnerability, bodies, sexual violations. I don't know that I have a well developed overall position on it, but have noticed various details over the years that really bother me. The #MeToo movement took off well, but it was years after Corey Feldman tried to bring the issue out into the open, but was dismissed. There is an issue of sexual violations directed at men being dismissed.

As another random detail, I've been watching old comedies from the 60's and 70's and there are ways female characters are just awful emotionally to male characters in ways that are quite contrasted with the other forms of gender imbalance. I think there is an underlying issue that because of external power imbalance between the genders in terms of money and power, there are cultural ways that women have compensated to regain power that are less direct, often more psychological in nature, but need to be addressed. I realize these discussion can become emotional, but it is so important to find ways to talk about it and not dismiss certain aspects of cultural imbalances for men.
 

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Interesting. I always thought it was kind of weird and silly for men's rights/voices to be the strict purview of the right. I hope this lets them distance themselves from the stigma enough to be taken seriously and encouraged, so more people overall can get the kind of help they need.
 

Peter Deadpan

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I have a hard time with women who bash men as a whole. I have a liberal ENFJ friend who is like this constantly on Facebook and it's been a challenge to not unfriend her. I get that she's had bad experiences with men, but so have I, and even though I do feel wounded and scarred by my experiences, I don't hate men and I don't want them in pain, or even worse... hiding because of it.

I don't view it any differently than when a man says grotesque things about women as a whole, and that's something that I'd remove from my life immediately.
 

Cor Luctis

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Some of these issues seem to have grown out of the tradition of limiting freedom and opportunity for women, often ostensibly for their own good as "the weaker/frailer sex", treating them essentially as children. There is a tendency to value children more than adults, but most of us (adults) still don't want to be treated as a child. I have often said women's issues and men's issues are two sides of the same coin. With greater rights go greater responsibility. Men may be justified in finally complaining that they are being expected to shoulder too much of this responsibility, but fixing it requires giving equal rights and opportunity to women so they can shoulder their fair share. More comments point by point.

-Sentencing Gap in Developed Nations needs to be addressed. If this gap cut the other way, I find it hard to believe there wouldn't be UN task forces, think tanks, et al talking about it. Even when the issue has been addressed, it might still be framed as a female problem, despite the overwhelming data (for instance in the UK, where a similar sentencing gap to the US exists, when MP Philip Davies tried to address this gap, many of his critics reframed his words to accuse him of requesting harsher sentencing for women. In some cases he was straight up called a bigot simply for asking why there isn't parity in sentencing when all considerations or circumstances other than sex/gender are the same)
This is a no-brainer, and comparable to giving equal pay for equal work. Individuals convicted of the same crime with similar circumstances should be given the same sentence.

-Bringing boys up to parity with girls in terms of quality of education received and overall grades/marks.
I have read about this and wonder why it is the case when: (1) Our education system developed in a period of significant gender bias against women in terms of access and opportunity; and (2) Studies have shown that boys get more attention from teachers, and here I mean positive attention (calling on them in class), not negative attention (detention, disciplinary measures). Boys are still also more likely to be encouraged in STEM subjects than girls, a form of bias that hurts both sexes by encouraging boys toward subjects they may not be interested in, while discouraging interested girls. Things are improving here, but I still see this bias in my STEM education volunteering. Both girls and boys seem to be held back in different ways, but then our education system needs a thorough overhaul, which should include examining all these issues, the better to serve every student.

-Expanding the discussion on Domestic Violence in a way that doesn't exclude female victims, rather expands to consider male victims of DV with the same level of consideration as we afford female victims. Based on the available data, there's no good reason to downplay or ignore the male victims.

I would list this as a separate aim/issue, but I think it goes hand-in-hand with the above on DV: men, and victims in general (including women who feel unable to speak up about their own experiences) need to be taught or encouraged to speak up more when they experience DV in any form. We also need to stop assuming a man had it coming or must have done something bad to deserve DV. That attitude is typically rightly ridiculed if someone wonders what female DV victims might have done to provoke abuse. It's victim blaming regardless of the sexes involved when people take that approach.
Well, yes, abuse is abuse and needs to be addressed regardless of who is the victim and who the abuser. The tradition of portraying women as more emotional, sensitive, weak, etc. and by extension, men as the opposite works against men here. The average larger size and greater muscular strength of men means they are more likely to be able to physically harm a woman than the reverse (again, on avarage). The much greater likelhood of finding men in authority over women, at least as adults, gives them greater opportunity to abuse that power. (The adage about power corrupting is not irrelevant.) What this means is that abused men will find themselves in the minority, may consider the abuse an attack on their masculinity, and may refrain from reporting for the same reason. Reporting and getting the help and justice they deserve requires they give up such stereotypical notions of what it means to be a man. It also requires they be taken seriously when they reach out, and not dismissed or ridiculed as sissies or weaklings.

This is a good place to observe that much abuse is not physical, and women are probably just as good as men - perhaps better - at dishing that out. I think there is a whole dimension of "toxic femininity" that can make a man's life miserable through subtle, manipulative, passive/agressive and very hurtful methods. Even this, though, I see as a by-product of penalizing women who take more direct and honest approaches to resolving conflict, as "un-ladylike". It is also an approach that can work well when someone is in a subordinate position, and fears dismissal or denial, or even retaliation/harm if they try to get what they want through open and direct means.

-Addressing 'toxic masculinity' in a way that doesn't throw every aspect of it into the 'toxic' category. But also doing so in a way that doesn't reinforce old and outdated gender norms. Unfortunately no one seems to have been able to find a middle ground here. The right wants to stick to some archaic idea of norms, the left just wants to ignore that sex or gender even exists, so we're left with two very unrealistic and dangerous approaches to the issue.
I haven't seen anyone deny that either sex or gender exists. Even people who say gender is a social construct, well, a construct exists, it just is different in origin and nature than something that is physiologically hard-wired. The fact that gender norms are not uniform across cultures points to the former more than the latter. Imposing one interpretation of gender norms on everyone and tying it to physiology makes no more sense than steering boys to STEM and girls to humanities. If we remove all gender-based constraints and encouragements and make clear that opportunities are open to everyone, any gender or sex related tendencies that are real can still be expressed.

I suppose in a broader, even philosophical sense, masculine and feminine can be viewed as two complementary archetypes. Might as well call them P and Q. Everyone will be served if we can encourage the best attributes in each archetype, and allow each person to express whichever combination of the two is in their true nature. Genitalia can be a poor indicator of what that will be.

-Either abolish programs like the selective service or change them to be gender neutral. In its current state, it is a direct violation of the proposed ERA.
Amen. I have been saying this for ages. Wrote an essay on it in high school, in fact. The ERA should have been passed long ago.

-Reform the family court system. Due process across the board. For instance, a simple allegation of DV lacking proof needs to be further investigated before being allowed to influence family court decisions. In just about any other form of court, burdon of proof is an important principle. Even if it isn't always followed perfectly (which is itself a problem to be addressed), it should apply to family court proceedings just as much as it applies to criminal court proceedings.
This is another relic of limitations on women, here the notion that women's primary role is as a homemaker and mother, and thus she is the primary and best caregiver for children; also of an economic system in which women are dependent on men. When a woman has in fact been the primary caregiver, it is easy to see how giving her custody is in the best interests of the child. When a father has been significantly involved in childcare, that is a much harder argument to make. Similarly, men who complain about being being socked with steep alimony and child support payments are often the ones who had no problem supporting a stay-at-home wife and mother, sometimes even seeing a well-earning wife as undercutting their role as breadwinner and provider. The best defense against getting shafted in family court is to marry someone with equal earning power, and do your share at home. If the courts won't take this into account - and I'm sure many don't - then that really is unfair and needs to change.

Bottom line: courts need to abandon outmoded gender based stereotypes in making judgments, while being sensitive to spouses who embraced such roles in good faith, and focusing on the best interests of any children involved.
 

Doctor Anaximander

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I have a hard time with women who bash men as a whole. I have a liberal ENFJ friend who is like this constantly on Facebook and it's been a challenge to not unfriend her. I get that she's had bad experiences with men, but so have I, and even though I do feel wounded and scarred by my experiences, I don't hate men and I don't want them in pain, or even worse... hiding because of it.

I don't view it any differently than when a man says grotesque things about women as a whole, and that's something that I'd remove from my life immediately.

I started blocking facebook users for this sort of stuff. Misogyny too. It's just negative and ultimately bums me out. Also unproductive and leads to further battling of the sexes when they should really be on the same side.

There's an immediate sense of satisfaction that can come from acting or feeling that way, but I don't see how it benefits anyone in the long-term. And I'm sure your friend and these other people have some valid reasons for feeling those ways, I don't mean to dismiss whatever they've been through, I just can't handle that stuff anymore. I also had to unfriend a lot of MRA types for similar reasons, or in some cases because I got tired of the memes and general shitty attitudes. LOL, here I am talking about empathy, then I talk about blocking people who probably have some deep pain or legitimate reasons to be upset. Oh well.
 

Peter Deadpan

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I started blocking facebook users for this sort of stuff. Misogyny too. It's just negative and ultimately bums me out. Also unproductive and leads to further battling of the sexes when they should really be on the same side.

There's an immediate sense of satisfaction that can come from acting or feeling that way, but I don't see how it benefits anyone in the long-term. And I'm sure your friend and these other people have some valid reasons for feeling those ways, I don't mean to dismiss whatever they've been through, I just can't handle that stuff anymore. I also had to unfriend a lot of MRA types for similar reasons, or in some cases because I got tired of the memes and general shitty attitudes. LOL, here I am talking about empathy, then I talk about blocking people who probably have some deep pain or legitimate reasons to be upset. Oh well.

But you can be understanding of their pain and still decide that you do not want that toxicity in your life. We're all responsible for looking at our own toxic behaviors and opinions and questioning or improving them. If there are people in your life not doing that, then distancing yourself is self-care.
 

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-Expanding the discussion on Domestic Violence in a way that doesn't exclude female victims, rather expands to consider male victims of DV with the same level of consideration as we afford female victims. Based on the available data, there's no good reason to downplay or ignore the male victims.
If most perpetrators of violence are male then it stands to reason that most adult male victims of DV are gay. I don't know if this presumption of mine is true, but nevertheless I still find it interesting how the statistics presented here do not in any way contradict this presumption. To me, a straight male complaining because a female partner they're living with is abusing them is comical because it implies that the man doesn't have the means, resources or ability to move elsewhere, and is therefore dependent on their female partner for room and board. As a person who currently pays $1,200 a month for rent, if any women out there wanted to spring for my room and board then I for one would be thrilled.

Regardless, obviously not everyone has the freedom to escape from their current living arrangement, and as such I feel the conversation of domestic violence isn't about domestic violence so much as it's about co-dependency and the ability for any given individual to achieve a semblance of independence by being able to opt for different room mates.
 
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