TIME society

The Surprising Truth About Women and Violence

France v United States
Goalkeeper Hope Solo takes her position in goal during the second half of a women's friendly soccer match against France on June 14, 2014 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. Brian Blanco—Getty Images

Traditional stereotypes have led to double standards that often cause women’s violence—especially against men—to be trivialized.

The arrest of an Olympic gold medalist on charges of domestic violence would normally be an occasion for a soul-searching conversation about machismo in sports, toxic masculinity and violence against women. But not when the alleged offender is a woman: 32-year-old Hope Solo, goalkeeper of the U.S. women’s soccer team, who is facing charges of assaulting her sister and 17-year-old nephew in a drunken, violent outburst. While the outcome of the case is far from clear, this is an occasion for conversation about a rarely acknowledged fact: family violence is not necessarily a gender issue, and women—like singer Beyoncé Knowles’ sister Solange, who attacked her brother-in-law, the rapper Jay Z, in a notorious recent incident caught on video—are not always its innocent victims.

Male violence against women and girls has been the focus of heightened attention since Eliot Rodger’s horrific rampage in California last month, driven at least partly by his rage at women. Many people argue that even far less extreme forms of gender-related violence are both a product and a weapon of deeply ingrained cultural misogyny. Meanwhile, the men’s rights activists also brought into the spotlight by Rodger’s killing spree defend another perspective—one that, in this case, is backed by a surprising amount of evidence from both research and current events: that violence is best understood as a human problem whose gender dynamics are much more complex than commonly understood.

There is little dispute that men commit far more violent acts than women. According to FBI data on crime in the U.S., they account for some 90% of known murderers. And a study published in American Society of Criminology finds that men account for nearly 80% of all violent offenders reported in crime surveys, despite a substantial narrowing of the gap since the 1970s. But, whatever explains the higher levels of male violence—biology, culture or both—the indisputable fact is that it’s directed primarily at other males: in 2010, men were the victims in almost four out of five homicides and almost two-thirds of robberies and non-domestic aggravated assaults. Family and intimate relationships—the one area feminists often identify as a key battleground in the war on women—are also an area in which women are most likely to be violent, and not just in response to male aggression but toward children, elders, female relatives or partners, and non-violent men, according to a study published in the Journal of Family Violence.

Last April, when Connecticut high school student Maren Sanchez was stabbed to death by her a classmate allegedly because she refused to go to the prom with him, feminist writer Soraya Chemaly asserted that such tragedies were the result of “pervasive, violently maintained, gender hierarchy,” male entitlement, and societal “contempt for the lives of girls and women.” But what, then, explains another stabbing death in Connecticut two months earlier—that of 25-year-old David Vazquez, whose girlfriend reportedly shouted, “If I can’t have you, no one can!” before plunging a knife into his chest shortly after Vazquez said he was leaving her for a former girlfriend? Or the actions of a 22-year-old former student at New York’s Hofstra University who pleaded guilty last November to killing her boyfriend by deliberately hitting him with her car due to a dispute about another woman? Or the actions of the Florida woman who killed her ex-partner’s 2-year-old daughter and tried to kill the woman’s 10-year-old son last month shortly after their breakup?

Research showing that women are often aggressors in domestic violence has been causing controversy for almost 40 years, ever since the 1975 National Family Violence Survey by sociologists Murray Straus and Richard Gelles of the Family Research Laboratory at the University of New Hampshire found that women were just as likely as men to report hitting a spouse and men were just as likely as women to report getting hit. The researchers initially assumed that, at least in cases of mutual violence, the women were defending themselves or retaliating. But when subsequent surveys asked who struck first, it turned out that women were as likely as men to initiate violence—a finding confirmed by more than 200 studies of intimate violence. In a 2010 review essay in the journal Partner Abuse, Straus concludes that women’s motives for domestic violence are often similar to men’s, ranging from anger to coercive control.

Critics have argued that the survey format used in most family violence studies, the Conflict Tactics Scale, is flawed and likely to miss some of the worst assaults on women—especially post-separation attacks. Yet two major studies using a different methodology—the 2000 National Violence Against Women Survey by the National Institute of Justice and the Centers for Disease Control National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey published last February—have also found that some 40% of those reporting serious partner violence in the past year are men. (Both studies show a much larger gender gap in lifetime reports of partner violence; one possible explanation for this discrepancy is that men may be more likely to let such experiences fade from memory over time since they have less cultural support for seeing themselves as victims, particularly of female violence.)

Violence by women causes less harm due to obvious differences in size and strength, but it is by no means harmless. Women may use weapons, from knives to household objects—including highly dangerous ones such as boiling water—to neutralize their disadvantage, and men may be held back by cultural prohibitions on using force toward a woman even in self-defense. In his 2010 review, Straus concludes that in various studies, men account for 12% to 40% of those injured in heterosexual couple violence. Men also make up about 30% of intimate homicide victims—not counting cases in which women kill in self-defense. And women are at least as likely as men to kill their children—more so if one counts killings of newborns—and account for more than half of child maltreatment perpetrators.

What about same-sex violence? The February CDC study found that, over their lifetime, 44% of lesbians had been physically assaulted by a partner (more than two-thirds of them only by women), compared to 35% of straight women, 26% of gay men, and 29% of straight men. While these figures suggest that women are somewhat less likely than men to commit partner violence, they also show a fairly small gap. The findings are consistent with other evidence that same-sex relationships are no less violent than heterosexual ones.

For the most part, feminists’ reactions to reports of female violence toward men have ranged from dismissal to outright hostility. Straus chronicles a troubling history of attempts to suppress research on the subject, including intimidation of heretical scholars of both sexes and tendentious interpretation of the data to portray women’s violence as defensive. In the early 1990s, when laws mandating arrest in domestic violence resulted in a spike of dual arrests and arrests of women, battered women’s advocates complained that the laws were “backfiring on victims,” claiming that women were being punished for lashing back at their abusers. Several years ago in Maryland, the director and several staffers of a local domestic violence crisis center walked out of a meeting in protest of the showing of a news segment about male victims of family violence. Women who have written about female violence, such as Patricia Pearson, author of the 1997 book When She Was Bad: Violent Women and the Myth of Innocence, have often been accused of colluding with an anti-female backlash.

But this woman-as-victim bias is at odds with the feminist emphasis on equality of the sexes. If we want our culture to recognize women’s capacity for leadership and competition, it is hypocritical to deny or downplay women’s capacity for aggression and even evil. We cannot argue that biology should not keep women from being soldiers while treating women as fragile and harmless in domestic battles. Traditional stereotypes both of female weakness and female innocence have led to double standards that often cause women’s violence—especially against men—to be trivialized, excused, or even (like Solange’s assault on Jay Z) treated as humorous. Today, simplistic feminist assumptions about male power and female oppression effectively perpetuate those stereotypes. It is time to see women as fully human—which includes the dark side of humanity.

Cathy Young is a contributing editor at Reason magazine.

TIME

Watch The Daily Show Rip Apart Google Glass Enthusiasts

No, Google Glass discrimination isn't a "hate crime"

The Daily Show
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Thursday night’s episode of The Daily Show perfectly ripped apart Google Glassholes—referred to by correspondent Jason Jones as iDouches—who claim discrimination in the streets because passersby think that they’re being recorded… “which sometimes they were.”

“Yes, it seems even in this day and age you can still be treated differently just because of how you look — wearing a $1,500 face computer,” Jones said, before declaring to Glass hater and tech expert Larry Rosen, “I bet you don’t think they should be able to get married either.”

On the one hand, Glass owners are sometimes getting assaulted in the streets of The Mission in San Francisco (not ok) or verbally accosted in bars (“it was a hate crime!”) On the other hand… Google Glass.

Watch how the Daily Show trolled Glass wearers to perfection in the clip above.

TIME society

Here’s What Faces Would Look Like If They Were Perfectly Symmetrical

Are they more beautiful?

There’s a biological assumption that symmetrical faces are intrinsically more beautiful than ones with uneven features. Artist Alex John Beck decided to explore—and dispel—that myth.

Both Sides Of is a photography project that juxtaposes side-by-side portraits of models whose faces have been photoshopped to be mirror images of the left and right sides of their faces. The result was somewhat eerie.

“I think they lack character— beauty is more based on character than an arbitrary data point,” Beck says. “Humanity is messy and should remain as such. I, for one, am not a fan of center-parting, for example. And even the greatest tennis players favor one arm.”

Alex John Beck

While Beck illustrated the mirroring of the left side of the face in the photo on the left side, and the mirroring of the right side of the middle axis on the right, he wasn’t compelled to show the original photo. “I just didn’t want people referring back and forth from the original the whole time,” he says. “After all, the original is just a boring portrait.”

Alex John Beck

Although if desperate, there is a trick: “If you want to see the real face, you can just print it out and fold the paper.”

Alex John Beck

Since Beck works with models, some portraits showed very little change when it switched from left to right-sided symmetry.

Alex John Beck

But there were some distinct differences that surprised Beck.

Alex John Beck

The eyes.

“You can just see that the competent character that we made for the right side of the face is a little more present than the one on their left side,” Beck says. “You can see it in the intensity of their vision.”

Alex John Beck

Beck used the photo above as an example. “[He] looks completely identical, but the left eye confident is just a little more vacant, and there’s something very, very strange about that,” Beck says. “One side is completely present and alert and getting ready and interested, and the other side is half asleep.”

Alex John Beck

Some portraits turned out better than others.

“After a few rounds of portraits I was introduced to several people who had suffered slight or severe disfigurements resulting in facial asymmetry,” Beck says.

Alex John Beck

“In the specific case of the cross-eyed man, he is a dear friend and has generously been the subject of several experiments over the years,” Beck says. “I’ve sworn to him that the next one will be more flattering. It won’t.”

Alex John Beck

Beck’s models had a wide range of reaction to the portraits, from fascination to horror. “One person I had to take down,” he says.

But Beck understands the trepidation to accept the unexplored characteristics of your face.

“Someone asked if I ever did one of myself, and I answered ‘Yes,'” he says. “Is it out there? No. I’m not going to show it, and I don’t want to think about it. It’s depressing to even remember it.”

TIME

This Is The Most Stressed-Out State In America

Florida commute
Traffic on the I-4 Interstate Highway in Florida. According to a study by Real Estate blog Movoto, Florida ranks as the most stressful state in America. Getty Images

Beaches, sunshine and citrus fruit apparently don't bring peace of mind to the residents of this state

Updated July 10, 5pm

What stresses you out? A long commute? Check. Being unemployed? Check. Working long hours? Check. Living in Florida? Double check.

Florida wins the unhappy distinction of being the most stressed-out state in the country, according to a study by a real estate blog. Movoto used statistics from the U.S. Census’ American Community Survey on the percentage of people without health insurance, housing expenses and hours worked per week in order to measure stress across the country.

Florida’s combination of high unemployment (11.3% between 2008 and 2012) and its high rate of people without health insurance during that time (25.8%) made it the most stressed-out state in the country, according to the site’s methodology.

After Florida, Georgia, New Jersey, California and Nevada were the most stressed-out. Long commutes stress out Georgians, high population density is getting on New Jerseyans’ nerves, Californians pay too much for housing, and Nevadans have unemployment rates and low insurance rates.

We live in a stressed-out nation, but North Dakotans were the least stressed in the lower 48, according to the criteria.

[Movoto]

This story was updated to clarify the origin of the statistics used by Movoto to calculate stress

TIME society

Woman Turns Yard Into a Beach So She’ll Never Have to Mow The Lawn Again

Getty Images

Hero

Just in time for summer, a Kansas City woman’s home looks like a beach after she got sick of mowing the lawn and replaced the grass with sand, KCTV5 reports.

The owner, Georgianna Reid, said she did it because she is “over 60″ and joked to KCTV5 that the new yard looks like “largest litter box in the world.” Neighbors are reportedly unimpressed by the house’s new look, but the city told KCTV5 that it does not violate any codes because the sand is being used for landscaping purposes.

Talk about going against the grain.

TIME society

‘Weed Fairy’ Hands Out Free Marijuana Around Seattle

Was she working alone, or was this a joint venture?

A magical creature known as the “Weed Fairy” made her way to Seattle this past weekend to flit around and give away free marijuana to “keep spirits high.”

This illustrious weed fairy — who we’d also dare call a goddess of ganj — is really a 23-year-old woman named Yeni Sleidi. She visits various cities to post flyers with nuggets of pot taped to them:

Originally from California, the Weed Fairy is only in Seattle for a few weeks, she told local Fox affiliate KCPQ. She has done the same thing in New York a few months back, and positive feedback encouraged her to keep it going. Naturally, though, some people are skeptical.

“I think people are a little worried, because this is something new, and suspicious,” Sleidi said. “But it’s real weed and it’s not dangerous. It will get you high.”

Since weed is legal in Washington and not New York, this time around Sleidi didn’t have to worry as much about keeping anonymous. Over the weekend, she managed to give away around 40 nuggets.

Now, if only if a Popchips Fairy would start doing the same thing. Make it happen, somebody.

TIME Culture

Oldest Living American Celebrates 115th Birthday

America's oldest living person, Michigan's own Jeralean Talley, turns 115 on Friday

Happy 115th birthday, Jeralean Talley! The Michigan supercentenarian is celebrating her Friday birthday with family, friends, and a trip to the doctor, the Detroit Free Press reports.

Talley, who reportedly doesn’t need a walker and stopped bowling only eleven years ago, is joining the estimated 300-450 people across the globe who have lived past 110.

In an interview with the Detroit Free Press, Talley said there’s no secret to her three-decade lifespan. “It’s all in the good Lord’s hands,” she said. “There’s nothing I can do about it.”

Talley, who lives in Inkster, Mich. with her 76-year-old daughter, is said to still be in good health and enjoys spending time with her 14-month-old great-great-grandson.

[Detroit Free Press]

TIME society

In Germany, You Can No Longer Keep Nude Photos of Your Ex

When you split with your partner, you have the right to demand that all intimate images they have of you be deleted, a German court ruled this week. The court found that one person's right of privacy was more important than another person's ownership rights to intimate photos taken during the relationship

Ex-partners must delete all intimate or nude photos if one of the partners asks for it, a German court ruled Tuesday.

The case had been brought by a woman in central Germany who demanded that her partner, a photographer, delete all intimate photos of her after the couple split.

During the course of the relationship, the photographer had made several erotic videos and taken many naked pics of the woman with her consent.

A higher court in Koblenz decided that she had the right to demand the material be deleted, because her personal rights were more important than his ownership rights to the material, theLocal reported.

However, the court rejected the woman’s demand that her ex delete all photos taken of her, as it said that clothed pics had “little, if any capacity” to compromise her privacy.

[The Local]

TIME society

These Little Leaguers Don’t Know Who Barack Obama Is

President Barack Obama Visits a Little Leage Baseball Game in Washington, D.C.
U.S. President Barack Obama throws out the first pitch at a little league baseball game at Friendship Park May 19, 2014 in Washington, DC. Kevin Dietsch-Pool / Getty Images

The commander-in-chief dropped by a game at DC's Friendship Park, and the players were not impressed

On Monday evening, President Obama decided to stop by D.C.’s Friendship Park to surprise some Little Leaguers who were warming up for their game.

Many of the young ball players weren’t exactly impressed, though, mostly because they apparently didn’t know who he was. Allow us to repeat that: the President of the United States of America just dropped by to say hey, and they didn’t know who he was.

While parents reached for their phones to snap pictures, many of the children held back, skeptical about this strange man who they apparently had never seen before, the Associated Press reports.

Daddy, let’s just play,” one boy said to his father, apparently annoyed by all the fuss.

One valiant young player eventually agreed to high-five this strange mystery man:

President Barack Obama Visits a Little Leage Baseball Game in Washington, D.C.
Kevin Dietsch-Pool / Getty Images

In 60 years, these kids will tell their grandchildren about this day and they’ll totally pretend they knew exactly who this man was.

TIME society

Study: Drug Testing Boosts African-American Employment

A paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research says that because African-Americans are perceived to use more drugs, drug testing enables them to objectively prove to employers that they don’t

It’s no secret that America’s war on drugs hasn’t gone well, at least in economic and racial terms. Labor economist Abigail Wozniak investigated the relationship between race, drug testing, and employment, publishing a paper in the National Bureau of Economic Research with her findings. Surprisingly, she found that the rise of drug testing actually boosts African-American employment by a significant percentage: In states with a high prevalence of drug testing, African-American employment increased between 7% and 30%, while wages increased between 1.4 and 13%.

“A common assumption is that the rise of drug testing must have had negative consequences for black employment,” she writes. “However, the rise of employer drug testing may have benefited African-Americans by enabling non-using blacks to prove their status to employers.”

In case you missed it: She’s saying that, because African-Americans are perceived to use more drugs, drug testing enables them to objectively prove to employers that they don’t, which therefore results in increased employment. Here’s Quartz:

Without the testing, employers went by their gut biases. But when testing became common and showed that black applicants were not actually using drugs, hiring rates for black applicants went up. Wozniak concludes that this is evidence of discrimination against black workers before testing, driven by some combination of racialized belief and ignorance.

Ugh.

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