The Washington Post has a message for women: Get married and you are less likely to be sexually assaulted or otherwise abused, and that goes for your children too. Thanks, WaPo. We'll all run out and get married now. Problem solved! In an article originally titled, "One way to end violence? Stop taking lovers and get married," (WaPo changed it after an uproar) it presents statistics that appear to show that biological fathers are less likely to sexually abuse the children in the house than would partners -- and that women are less likely to be raped or abused if they're married.
Some of the stats noted are:
Only 0.7 per 1,000 children living with two married biological parents were sexually abused, compared to 12.1 per 1,000 children living with a single parent who had an unmarried partner.
Girls who are victimized are … more likely to have lived without their natural fathers.
Another U.S. Department of Justice study found that never-married women are nearly four times more likely to be victims of violent crime, compared to married women. The bottom line is that married women are less likely to be raped, assaulted, or robbed than their unmarried peers.
I'm not sure what the point is here. So WHAT if married women or their children are less likely to suffer abuse? The idea seems to be that women should just get married. Once again, the onus seems to be on women to avoid rape and abuse -- rather than on men not to rape and abuse. And now their children being abused is the fault of their relationship status as well.
Where is the argument that women probably aren't choosing to divorce the fathers of their babies on whim? That they may not be choosing to remain unmarried -- because perhaps there are many men who refuse to marry them? Because, believe me, folks, there are many men who don't want to marry the women they are dating, living with, or have children with. Where is the article entitled, "Men, You Need to Start Getting Married So You Can Stop Raping Women." Yeah, I thought not.
Women who get divorced probably have good reason -- and that reason may even be that the man wanted the divorce! If your husband comes home and tells you he wants a divorce because he's fallen in love with a younger woman or he's realized he's gay (something that DOES happen!), do you think printing out stats and shoving them under his nose is going to make him change his mind?
To live in a world where a woman is told she should get married so she doesn't get raped -- this sounds like some backwards country where women are stoned to death for various perceived infractions.
Not to mention there is mostly correlation here, not causation. In other words, just because married women are less likely to be raped or assaulted, doesn't mean it was the marriage itself that made it less likely. It could be myriad other factors, including age, financial stability, neighborhood, or just the fact that a married woman is more likely to be outside with her husband, while an unmarried woman more often walks around alone. That has little to do with the marital status. A woman walking around with a brother or bodyguard would probably get the same result.
In the same vein, a woman in an abusive relationship is probably less likely to want to marry her abuser. Thus, the stats skew towards marriage as being "safer," when it's really that the woman chose to marry a safer guy. HE was safer, not the institution.
As for the bald proclamation: "Marriage also seems to cause men to behave better," that's one of those broad, dangerous statements that has caused women throughout history to make a terrible decision -- to marry a man who is treating her badly, hoping marriage will change everything. In fact, marriage can exacerbate violent tendencies among men who are prone to that.
I would also take that dubious assertion to police departments, because they all know that any time a married woman is killed, the first person they look at is the husband, not the last.
Bottom line: Women can't always control whether or not they are married. Ask all the women dying to get married and unable to find anyone to agree to it. Women can't even always control whether or not they have children out of wedlock -- there is that thing called rape.
And those who choose not to get married should be free from the idea that if only they'd bagged a husband, maybe that rape or assault wouldn't have happened.
Let's put the spotlight back where it belongs: on the perpetrators, not the victims.
What do you think about this argument?