The Economist: When is it appropriate to smack my bitch up? Jordanian women: now; Ukrainians: later; Americans: don't know

Let's Talk Not Fight

Hitting Women
The Economist, 08 Mar 2012

Douglas Adams was perhaps more right than he knew when he quipped that coming down from the trees was a big mistake.

I like to visualize data with “people in a room” to put things in perspective. Jordan’s numbers are just ghastly, but if the Ukraine is the basis for any optimism we’ve got a long way to go. (See graphic below.)  If, irrespective of wealth, we put 20 Ukrainian women and their spouses in a room, we could be fairly certain that one of the proud hubbies we could look in the eye hits his wife and that she’s okay with that because it’s justified.  A room full of Jordanians would, statistically, seem more like a domestic violence enthusiasts’ club.  Pot luck. Door prizes. Bring your spouse.

Views on Domestic Violence - UNICEF

I know it’s not necessarily indicated by the data that the women surveyed are actually hit, just that they think it’s justifiable in some situations, but I have a hard time believing that those women see it in an entirely abstract sense. “Well, my husband doesn’t strike me but some women might just have it coming to them.”

I dread to think what those numbers would look like here in the US compared to other industrialized nations.  We do such a good job of coming in last, after all, e.g., health care, preventable deaths, mandated paid vacation, broadband improvement, overall social spending, and current account balance to name but a few ways. It would be a shame if women’s perceptions of justifiable domestic violence and military spending represent some of the few ways in which we currently excel.

Image credit: Public domain, with appreciation to Colin Henderson for his fine work.

Categories: Economy, Race/Gender

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4 replies »

  1. Actually it was a little weird to look at that list and realize that the Ukraine was the ONLY “western” developed country on the list. The whole thing seemed a bit skewed: let’s look at the countries with the most appalling domestic violence attitudes for which we have data. You’ve got to figure that Afghanistan rivals Jordan. Did we leave off the rest of Europe and the Americas because it would be too embarrassing? Waiting for the follow-up to the original story, because the list of countries chosen is just too random.

  2. Cat, it would be nice if there would be a follow-up, but I don’t expect one for quite some time or that it will include developed countries, since it’s from UNICEF data (buried a couple of clicks deep

    In their “challenges” section, there’s no explanation for absence of data by nation (except China, for which comparable data is not available). When comparing regions, they explain that data coverage was insufficient to include Latin America, the Caribbean, the Middle East, or North Africa, so their data really only penetrates far enough into most of Asia and sub-Saharan Africa to be meaningful.

    They even put up the survey tool as a PDF, which could be modified appropriately for Western nations (or others). One would think Pew Research (or similar) might have done work on these lines, but I couldn’t find anything.

    Also disturbing is the chart at the bottom of this page:
    Supportive attitudes towards wife-beating are also widespread among adolescent boys

    Now we just need a backer with deep pockets to fund this study for the West in a way that could be integrated with UNICEF data for valid comparison.

  3. She must have cut right to the gay and immigrant parts and skipped over the whole VAW part right in the title. I really don’t understand women-hating women.