Did you know that domestic abuse is the most common cause of morbidity [sickness] in women aged 19 to 44, more than war, cancer or motor vehicle accidents?
No, very probably, you didn’t because it’s just not true. Rather it’s one of those urban myths which has been doing the rounds on the internet since the 1990s and which has been exploded on numerous occasions, including by the BBC Radio 4 statistics show More Or Less as long ago as 2009.
But obviously that wasn’t going to stop feminist campaigner Caroline Criado-Perez employing it to prove her ‘point’ in a recent article for the New Statesman. The piece – called something like “The Moon is a Rapist” or “If trees are a phallocentric symbol of male aggression (and they are) why don’t we kill all the forests now?” – purported to tell us about an “epidemic” of sexual violence which has apparently gone unreported in the phallocentric, sexist media.
Problem is, apart from the fabricated and antique statisticoid, there wasn’t exactly a superabundance of factual evidence to support Ms Criado-Perez’s thesis.
Happily a sharp-eyed masochist with an appetite for reading Ms Criado-Perez’s article spotted the error. And when the New Statesman showed reluctance to remove the offending inaccuracy, he complained to the Press Complaints Commission. Two weeks after the article was published, the New Statesman relented and removed the paragraph.
Now in principle I’d concede that the world ought to have better things to do than pay attention to tendentious blogposts by look-at-me girlies with an axe to grind about exaggerated problems. But in this instance, I think Ms Criado-Perez’s nemesis makes a point worth noting.His name is Eric Priezkalns and he writes:
The article starts by describing the murder of a British woman. It ends by demanding a change to British law. Between the two, it comments on the supposed failures of British media. So why not simply present the pertinent data, instead of shopping around for 12 year old stats from five foreign countries?
I think we know the answer. Both Criado-Perez and the New Statesman confuse their ambition as political campaigners with their responsibilities as journalists. However necessary it is to change the law, the change should be motivated by fact, not fiction.And whatever responsibility they have to inform the public about important issues, they cannot forget their responsibility to present accurate information, and to present corrections of misinformation with an appropriate level of prominence. Sadly, some people really want to believe exaggerated statistics about violence. That is unfortunate for everybody, not least the real victims of violence, whose tragedies should not be trivialized by pretending atypical suffering is commonplace.
By coincidence I was interviewed this week by a nice, bright young woman(well, I say “nice”: I haven’t seen the article yet) from the New Statesman about what I saw as my mission at Breitbart. My main interest, I said, was to fight the culture wars on all their multifarious fronts, from environmentalism and Islamism to the kind of witteringly toxic neo-feminism espoused by the likes of Ms Criado-Perez.
Ms Criado-Perez – the name may be happily unfamiliar to US readers but they’ll all know her “war on women” type – first rose to prominence with a noisy internet campaign for a woman other than the Queen to appear on the next British banknote.The upshot was that Jane Austen will be appearing on the new tenner.
Right decision. Completely wrong reason.
Nothing could be more insulting to arguably the greatest of our novelists than that she should end up being commemorated not so much for her literary genius as for the fact that she is one of the few available famous candidates from history who happens to have been in possession of a pair of breasts.
As an Oxford English literature graduate, Ms Criado-Perez really ought to know better than this. Time she got a proper job, I’d suggest. Either that or a rich and extremely indulgent husband.