In the latest facepalm-inducing response to the issue of violence against women, reputable publisher the Washington Post has printed an op-ed piece claiming the best way for women to avoid violence is to get married.
The piece, penned by Professors W. Bradford Wilcox and Robin Fretwell Wilson, was originally titled “One way to end violence against women? Stop taking lovers and get married. The data shows that #yesallwomen would be safer hitched to their baby daddies.”
Yes, we’re not even making this up.
Within 20 minutes, the offending title was changed to the somewhat more benign, “One way to end violence against women? Married dads. The data shows that #yesallwomen would be safer with fewer boyfriends around their kids.”
The article itself was just as shocking as you’d expect. Basically, the authors rounded up a whole bunch of statistics to “prove” that married women are notably safer than their unmarried peers.
Here’s an extract:
But marriage also seems to cause men to behave better. That’s because men tend to settle down after they marry, to be more attentive to the expectations of friends and kin, to be more faithful, and to be more committed to their partners—factors that minimize the risk of violence. What’s more: women who are married are more likely to live in safer neighbourhoods, to have a partner who is watching out for their physical safety, and—for obvious reasons—to spend less time in settings that increase their risk of rape, robbery, and assaults.
Unsurprisingly the piece was met with huge online backlash.
Twitter user Reagan Gomez tweeted: “Washington post is out here acting a damn fool. SMH. End violence against women with marriage?? FOH. Victim blame then blame again.”
Another commentator, Victoria McNally wrote: “YES MARRIAGE WILL SOLVE VIOLENCE AGAIN WOMEN NO ONE HAS EVER BEATEN A *WIFE* HAHAHA IT’S NOT LIKE WE’VE NAMED SHIRTS AFTER IT”.
Another response: “The @washingtonpost has a new and exciting way to blame women for their abuse and murder: Not enough marriage! What?”
A number of commentators also pointed out that the “safety” Wilcox and Wilson have statistically attributed to marriage is actually associated with wealth.
As Jezebel writer Erin Gloria Ryan highlighted in a perfectly vicious response:
Wealthy people are more likely to marry, and they’re more likely to wait until after they’re married to have children. They’re also more likely to live in the sort neighborhood where random street crime doesn’t happen as often due to the fact that it’s full of rich people. The children of wealthy couples are more likely to attend better schools in better neighborhoods full of other wealthy people who paid a premium to live in areas without a violent crime problem. And non-rage stroke-inducing scholarly works have concluded that the key to reducing violence against women is empower them economically, not get them married off. Victims are much more likely to stay with a partner who physically harms them or their children if they feel like they lack the resources to survive without him.
This isn’t even this first time this week the Washington Post has put the onus on women to prevent violence and rape. Just a day earlier, it published an op-ed by George Will saying that in the campus sexual assault epidemic across the U.S, “victimhood” is a “coveted status that confers privileges”.
It’s a worrying day when a legitimate and revered news source tells women to head on down to the husband store and pick themselves up a beau — or prepare to face the violent consequences.
But bizarrely, and disgracefully, that’s exactly what just happened.
What do you think, is this another case of victim blaming or do the authors have a point?