You can’t handle the truth!

will the truth really set you free?

Let’s start this edition of One Dad With a Blog by playing a little game that seems to be popular with the younger generation these days – two truths and a lie. See if you can spot the lie.

  1. Men are the victims of intimate partner violence (IPV) at a rate that is significant when compared to women
  2. The gender pay gap is statistically insignificant
  3. Race appears to play no significant role in officer-involved shootings in the USA

Well, which one of the statements is the lie? This is my gotcha’ red pill moment. All three of the statements above are true! (cue the calls for my head because I must be a sexist and a racist for doing nothing more than stating the truth). I am not making any claims about the relationship between the facts above and the possible reasons why these statements may be true (not in this post anyway). I am just laying bare the facts. What I am trying to say is that, we should not believe everything we read, hear or see on any subject. That line of thought was a staple of what was imparted upon me by my parents and educators (and later in life by my peers). This is the essence of critical thought.

Ironically, in an age where fact-checking has become infinitely more simple and less time-consuming, we now spend less effort engaging in checking the validity of any claim. I am not sure why this may be true, other than my belief that finding out the truth may challenge our core beliefs on some issues. Some people will always choose the blue pill (for those who miss the red pill/blue pill comparison check out The Matrix. Awesome movie by the way!)

To show that I am not just making statements and expecting the reader to believe them (remember, don’t believe everything you read) I will provide some statistical background on each of the three statements from the beginning of this post.

Statement: Males are the victims of intimate partner violence (IPV) at a rate that is significant when compared to females

Let me start by saying that I am not diminishing the plight of women who have been subjected to abuse at the hands of a partner. That is not the purpose of this exercise. I am just challenging the widely held belief that women are almost always the victim of intimate partner violence. This is statistically just not true. Numbers on IPV gathered by the Canadian and American governments make it clear that men are often victims.

Based on 2018 Statistics Canada numbers these are the facts on IPV for those in intimate relationships (IPV statistics – Canada) :

  • 23% of women vs. 17% of men were victims of physical abuse
  • 43% of women vs. 35% of men were the victims of psychological abuse
  • 12% of women vs. 2% of men were the victims of sexual abuse

The irony is that the government is still presenting a blue pill reality despite the data. The statement in the report which preceded the numbers listed above was “More specifically, women were significantly more likely than men to have experienced any form of IPV”. The word “significantly” is the one with which I would take issue. Looking at the numbers, especially the first two, I find it hard to say that those represent “significant” differences. Further, why are we playing the victim Olympics rather than recognizing that ALL of those individuals listed in the data are victims regardless of gender?

Taking a look at US numbers, a similar picture is painted – men are the victims of IPV at a far greater rate than what the narrative in society would suggest. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) tracks statistics on IPV and those numbers essentially mirror the data from the Canadian government (IPV statistics – USA) .

The graphic below from the CDC gives a snapshot of the situation in the States.

Again, my purpose in presenting these facts is not meant to minimize the terrible reality that abused women face but rather to illustrate that IPV should not be seen as the gender-based issue as we are repeatedly told it is by the media and government. We can quibble over use of language like “significant” but the horrific truth that IPV victims share is a truth which is not any less significant for male victims than it is for female victims.

(Author’s note: I am not an “anecdotes over statistics” guy but I have witnessed males in my life who have been physically abused by their partners. This is one reason why I chose this topic.)

Statement: The gender pay gap is statistically insignificant

This statement is a little more difficult to prove than the previous one on IPV. There is a lot of nuance to this discussion but in the end it comes down to the methodology used by those who believe the gender pay gap (reported as 23 cents on the dollar in North America by gender pay gap believers). Simply put, the methodology used to arrive at the 23 cent gap would not pass the standard of a first-year economics class in university.

Let me explain the methodology in the simplest terms. Those who support the gender pay gap come to the 23 cent number by averaging the earnings of all men against that of all women. The variables which are left out of the calculation are wide-ranging and include:

  • position/profession
  • number of hours worked
  • part-time vs. full-time worked
  • parental leave dynamics
  • education

Again, the statement I made is not an analysis of why men more often choose disciplines in post-secondary institutions which often lead to higher-earning fields or why women are more likely to take parental leave more often versus men or to work fewer hours. Rather, it is just a statement of the facts that the gap between male and female wages is not one which is based on gender by any significant measure. The article in the following link by Christina Hoff Sommers (aka The Factual Feminist) is from 2012 but it illustrates some of the points I made above. (Wage Gap Myth Exposed)

The idea that women are paid 23 cents on the dollar less than their male counterparts doing exactly the same work when all variables such as tenure, education, hours worked, etc. are accounted for is just not a reasonable statement. Simply put, it is not true. Some will provide anecdotal evidence as proof that there is a sizeable gender pay gap but the statistical analysis should trump any exception that is presented. Also, there is legislation in North America – the Pay Equity Act in Canada and the Equality Act in the USA – that makes it illegal to discriminate against workers based on gender.

Statement: Race appears to play no significant role in officer-involved shootings in the USA

This is one that will surely raise the most eyebrows among readers. We are constantly being bombarded by the media about incidents involving the use of deadly force by police on people within the black community. Like the two previous statements, my goal is not to get to the bottom of why use of deadly force occurs I am just trying to counter the narrative that seems to paint a picture that young black men are being “hunted” by police in the USA.

To support my statement I will lean on a study conducted by Roland G. Fryer Jr., a professor of Economics at Harvard University. Fryer conducted his study using data from police departments in California, Colorado, Florida, Texas and Washington. The data collected from these police departments was for the years between 2000 – 2015 inclusive. Worth noting, Fryer is a black man who grew up in Texas.

Fryer is an academic rock star. He is the youngest African-American to receive tenure at Harvard and the first to win the John Bates Clark medal awarded to the most promising American economist under 40. He often stated that the data exposed conflicts between the two parts of himself – the southern black man and the economist. How could what he saw and was told growing up be in stark conflict with the statistical data?

All Fryer could do was analyze and present his findings. That is what an economist does. His study found that although blacks were more likely to be subjected to non-lethal uses of force by police (eg. pushing, striking, use of taser or pepper spray) they were no more likely to be the victims of lethal force than their white counterparts. In fact, with the data from Houston, the results indicated that blacks were 20 per cent less likely to be killed in an officer-involved shooting than whites and Hispanics. The following link is a great unvarnished read on Roland Fryers’ research (Surprising New Evidence Shows Bias in Police Use of Force but Not in Shootings)

I am not trying to dispel the existence of racial bias in policing. My gut says that it does exist at some level. Do I think it is widespread and systemic like we are led to believe by some in the media and activists looking to “defund the police”? The statistics tell me no. Also, this discussion does not delve into other variables related to encounters with police such as addiction, mental illness, poverty, compliance and – the big one in my opinion – culture (maybe in another post I will explain why I think culture is the “big one”.) which all may play a role in use of lethal force by police.

(author’s note, I have linked some background below on Prof. Fryer’s study as well as two similar studies on police use of force)

What the Data Say About Police – The Washington Post

Perils of police action: a cautionary tale from US data sets


Will You Choose the Red Pill or the Blue Pill?

Hopefully, by reading this, at the very least I will make readers pause and think critically. My goal is not to change your mind but to open it. Don’t ever be fearful of having an opinion but always make that opinion an informed one, rooted in raw statistics and data as opposed to anecdotes and emotions.

To truly work toward solutions on specific issues I believe we must first tell the truth. For example, to minimize, ignore or outright deny the fact that males are often the victim of IPV means that those victims have no voice (and probably no resources). Further, recognizing the male victims existence does not in any way undermine or weaken the debate surrounding female victims – it adds more voices to the debate on IPV.

Saying that the pay gap is due to a single variable, gender, does not address issues such as the lack of adequate parental leave in some countries, regardless of gender. Making the discussion about gender does little to uncover why more women are attracted to disciplines in university which generally result in them working in lower paying careers than their male counterparts.

Creating a false narrative that police are hunting young black men does not help issues related to policing like recruitment, compensation and training – specifically how officers are equipped to deal with issues on the job related to mental health and addiction. Nor does it address some of the cultural issues prevalent in some high crime communities.

Here is one final piece of advice for all of us individually and as a society. Always opt for the red pill over the blue one – even it makes you uncomfortable – because I believe the truth will set you free.

One Dad With a Blog

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