Tiger Woods and Domestic Violence

What the Tiger Woods controversy says about the state of gender politics

As the news of golf superstar Tiger Woods' alleged multiple affairs spills all over the media, a fascinating—and disturbing—subplot to the story has become a revealing litmus test of societal attitudes toward gender and domestic violence.

Persistent rumors allege that the November 27 car accident in which Woods hit a fire hydrant and then a tree while backing out of his driveway around 2:30 a.m. was linked to an assault on the golfer by his wife Elin Nordegren—and that the cuts and bruises on Woods' face were the result of the assault, not the accident. These claims have been strongly denied by the police and by others; the official version is that Nordegren rushed to her husband's aid after the accident and smashed the car window with a golf club to free him. Nonetheless, further tales of marital fighting will no doubt be fueled by Woods' confession on December 2 to unspecified "transgressions" against his family and by new allegations of a recorded voice-mail message in which he supposedly tells his mistress his wife has found her number on his phone.

Whether or not the assault actually took place, the truly remarkable thing is that some voices in the feminist corner of the media have rushed either to defend it or to excuse it. The Daily Beast website ran a piece by culture correspondent Rebecca Dana under the title "The Year of Women Fighting Back," asserting that if Elin Nordegren did attack her cheating husband with a golf club, she belongs in the company of other scorned or betrayed women who have stood up to their no-good men.

On Slate.com and its soon-to-fold female-oriented offshoot, DoubleX, journalist Hannah Rosin does not go quite so far as to cheer an alleged perpetrator. However, she speculates that Woods may have lied about the incident to spare his wife the arrest she would have faced under gender-neutral domestic violence laws—God forbid that "the glamorous Elin would be led out of their mansion in handcuffs"—and then proceeds to decry the absurdity of the gender-neutral approach.

Rosin readily concedes that if the roles were reversed and the rumors were about Woods assaulting his wife, even over a possible infidelity, "we would be a lot less ambivalent and complacent"—and if his wife had tried to cover up for him, we would appalled. But in her view, "all of these gender-dependent reactions make some instinctive sense."

Yet one person's common sense is another's noxious cultural stereotype. For vast numbers of people, it makes "instinctive sense" to feel that a mother with young children who spends long hours at work is bad mother but a father who does the same is a good provider, or that it is humiliating for a man but not for a woman to have a spouse with a more successful career, or that the opportunity to excel in athletics is more important to boys than to girls. One doesn't hear feminists defending these particular gender-based assumptions—quite the contrary.

Of course differences in size and strength can be legitimately taken into consideration in cases of assault, regardless of gender or relationship. A small, slightly built person punching a taller, heavier, more muscular person is far less likely to do damage than the bigger person punching the smaller one. But the male advantage in size and strength can be neutralized by a woman's use of weapons—such as golf clubs—and by the constraints inculcated in the vast majority of men against using force toward a woman, even in self-defense. To suggest that cultural complacency toward female-on-male violence should extend not only to slapping and shoving but to acts capable of causing serious injury is not only bizarre but offensive.

Chastising men's rights groups for using the Tiger Woods story to promote awareness of men as victims of domestic violence, Rosin dismisses the female abuser as a myth unsupported by "sociological research." Never mind that some of the most prominent sociologists specializing in domestic violence research, such as Murray Straus of the University of New Hampshire, have written extensively about abuse as a two-way street (though recognizing that male violence poses a higher risk of harm).

A review of hundreds of studies, published in 2000 by British psychologist John Archer of the University of Central Lancashire, found that women are as likely to initiate partner violence as men and that male victims account for a third of domestic violence injuries. But Rosin ignores this vast research, much of it done by women, in favor of a single "expert" on "the myth of the battered husband syndrome": Jack Straton, an assistant professor of University Studies at Portland State University whose Ph.D. is in quantum physics and whose background in domestic violence is that of a feminist activist, not a scholar.

Yes, Rosin admits, there are some female perpetrators, but generally "women tend to use violence as self defense, or impulsively, not as a systematic method of control the way male abusers do": while "they may slap a man or throw a cup of water at him," they are "less likely" to engage in real abuse. Therefore, she concludes, if Elin Nordegren really did assault her husband, the best course of action for him is to show "chivalry" and cover up for her.

Imagine the response to someone who tried to argue for a more lenient attitude toward wife-beaters who use violence impulsively rather than for systematic control—or who suggested that, since most male violence in the home consists of shoving, grabbing, or slaps without injury, a husband who leaves his wife with a bruised and bloodied face should be left off the hook. That person would be promptly denounced as an apologist for abusers.
Domestic abuse may not be a "50/50 issue," as some men's rights activists claim. Even researchers such as Straus who acknowledge the reality and importance of female violence in the home agree that male violence toward women is rightly a greater cause of concern. But this does not mean that male victims do not deserve attention and services. A double standard that excuses female violence is not "common sense" but common sexism.

Cathy Young writes a weekly column for RealClearPolitics and is a contributing editor at Reason magazine. She blogs at cathyyoung.wordpress.com. This article originally appeared at RealClearPolitics.

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  • ||

    Come Cathy. You can't confuse someone like Rosin with facts. I am suprised the woman can tie her shoes. If you have ever read her writing on child raising, you can only hope there is a God who will help her poor children get through life with a woman whose stupidity is exceeded only by her neurosis and self centeredness.

    You have to remember that Rosin doesn't read or think and never talks to anyone who doesn't completely share her world view. So, there is no way she knows about any of the research you site or has any idea how the world outside her own bubble actually works. So cut her some slack.

  • ||

    Is she the one over there that won't let her kids watch Star Wars?

  • ||

    yes

  • ||

    Star Wars is Soviet propaganda!!

  • DADIODADDY||

    Trek forever...

  • Old Mexican||

    So, does all this means Elin Nordegren is going to be available soon?

    Just askin'...

  • ||

    Yes and she is going to have a large bank account. Not bad for a simple girl from Sweeden.

  • ||

    You really want a chick who'll go after you with a golf club if you cheat on her?

  • ||

    If she has half a billion dollars, I think I can manage.

  • DBN||

    Have you actually seen pictures of her?

  • ||

    Sure. Doesn't really matter what she looks like when she shoots me, does it?

  • Mary Stack||

    Elin has 11 other clubs. Hope you can run faster than Tiger can drive.

  • ||

    How much money would a woman have to have for you to put with her beatin' on you?

    -jcr

  • Ms A||

    Or, on the other side of the coin, ask a dominatrix how much she charges.

  • .||

    Cue the bad golf puns.

  • Old Mexican||

    "Honey, I have to confess to you something, and I hope it does not drive a wedge between us...."

  • ||

    Are you saying this story teed up some jokes?

  • .||

    Tiger's been spending too much time in the rough cut.

  • ||

    What's the difference between a car and a golf ball?
    Tiger can drive a ball 400 yards.

  • ||

    Tiger Woods crashed into a fire hydrant and a tree. He couldn't decide between a wood and an iron.

  • ||

    Wonder if Elin Woods is going to get an endorsement contract from Titlist. Who wouldn't want to buy "clubs you can beat Tiger with."

  • ||

    Tiger is truly the best golfer ever. He was able to hit a water hazard and a tree on the same drive!

  • ||

    Tiger was so mad that she found out that he decided to take it out on his Caddy.

  • ||

    Awesome. All of them. The Titlist is the best, though.

  • ||

    Tiger Woods got a two stroke penalty for putting his balls in the wrong hole.

  • ||

    Ape Law says this joke must reposted:

    How is Tiger Woods like a baby seal? Both have been clubbed by a Norwegian.

  • Old Mexican||

    Isn't she Swedish? I didn't get the joke, went past me like a birdie....

  • ||

    Ape Law says jokes don't have to have all their facts straight.

  • Old Mexican||

    Well, Ape Law drove that one to the woods...

  • Mike M.||

    He's also just like the Chicago Bears: they both got their asses kicked by the Vikings last weekend.

  • ||

    It amazes me how naive and stupid people like Rosin are. I remember when I did legal assistance in the Army I saw several cases of domestic abuse of men. They were always little guys with big fat wives. No kidding. I had several clients whose wives beat the shit out of them and they refused to go to the police because of the humiliation involved. Anyone who doesn't think that there are women out there who are willing and able to do men physical harm, is a complete moron.

  • Pappy Smear||

    Lesbians too. There is a shit-load of domestic violence in that community.

  • ||

    Yes there is sadly. But lesbian domestic abuse is a subject that causes people like Rosin's heads to explode. In her mind gay people are not real human beings with the same failings as the rest of use humans. They are all political symbols. All wonderful all American types who adopt disabled minority children.

  • Pendulum||

    I saw a study where the rate of lesbian abuse was documented as higher than the rate of heterosexual abuse. Gay males were lower than both. Wish I could find it.

  • ||

    Of course, none of these group trends has anything to do with any individual perp.

    -jcr

  • Old Mexican||

    Rosin ignores this vast research, much of it done by women, in favor of a single "expert" on "the myth of the battered husband syndrome"

    I don't think she ignores the studies on purpose - she is simply ignorant of them, and still opines on the subject as if by divine inspiration.

  • André||

    Murphy's Law Of Research: "Enough research will tend to support your theory."

  • Pappy Smear||

    "Rosin ignores this vast research, much of it done by women, in favor of a single "expert" on "the myth of the battered husband syndrome""

    I am an old man and the only time I ever hit a woman was my mother when I was age three. She smacked me in the face telling me that I should never hit a woman.But if Rosen were my wife, I might disreagard my mother's dictate because I think my mother (twenty years dead) would want me to.

  • ||

    Tiger has a hottie like that at home and he still wants some mistresses?

    Talk about being spoiled sexually.

    Re this: For vast numbers of people, it makes "instinctive sense" to feel that a mother with young children who spends long hours at work is bad mother but a father who does the same is a good provider, or that it is humiliating for a man but not for a woman to have a spouse with a more successful career

    I run across people from time to time who think less of me because my wife earns well into six figures.

    I try to steer clear of people who think lots of disposable income is a bad thing.

  • ||

    Stop bragging about being a trophy husband.

  • ||

    Show me a beautiful woman, and I will show you a man who is tired of fucking her. That is not entirely true. Some people never get tired of screwing their wives. But those are the people who married their wives for their looks and something else. If you are marry a woman for the single reason that she is hot and willing, you will get bored with her. That is what happened to Tiger I bet. He married the brutally hot simple girl from Sweeden who was Jasper Parnavic's nanny. It was great for a while. But then she had a kid and wasn't quite as hot as she was when it started. And the fact that she and him had nothing in common beyond his desire to fuck her and her desire to spend his money started to get old.

  • ||

    Now he's gonna get fucked and she's gonna keep spending his money. It's gonna work out like they wanted.

  • Pappy Smear||

    Damn your quick fingers

  • ||

    True. Reasons why you should be careful who you marry. Ulimtately, hey you are hot and hey you are rich and famous, is a pretty lousy basis for a marriage.

  • Pappy Smear||

    Funny thing: he no longer gets to fuck her but she will continue to spend his money for the rest of her life.

  • Mary Stack||

    "Some people never get tired of screwing their wives (WOS comment).

  • Tim||

    The coolidge effect.

  • ||

    I don't he was tired of it... I think she didn't have the energy for what he was "used" to. Funny how two small children can be such a drain on that poor woman.
    Considering that about 50% of marriages end in divorce, from a rational standpoint, seems like a bad idea in general.

  • Mary Stack||

    Prolefeed, It is a bad thing. Send it to me and I will get rid of all your dirty money.

  • ||

    I try to steer clear of people who think lots of disposable income is a bad thing.

    I'm guessing you don't go to a lot of Dem or university faculty events, then.

  • ||

    You mean your feelings toward your wife are based purely on looks and not on her personality? I'm sure she'd like to hear that.

  • ||

    If your rich, good-looking enough and like to fuck around... why get married? Seriously.

    Clooney is one of the few celebrity men who has even a smidgen of self-awareness.

  • ||

    Jeter. I hate the Yankees but he has my respect.

  • ||

    I saw somewhere that he has done like 10 or 12 of the Maxim hot 100. That guy is in a league of his own.

  • Mango Punch||

    Umm, actually he's in the American League

  • Chris||

    bah doom bap crash!

  • André||

  • ||

    Clooney just has amazing taste in beards.

  • Mary Stack||

    Brotherben, I want to clarify I do not have firsthand knowledge and I defer to your experience/expertise in this matter

  • JB||

    This is quite possible.

  • Mary Stack||

    SugarFree, I think you need to shave your beard.

  • ReAnimator||

    You called it. Hell, you don't even have to be rich or good looking if you got game.

  • ||

    That's funny prolefeed, because everyone I run across congratulates me...because your wife makes well into six figures.

  • Mango Punch||

    New at Reason: Cathy Young Hates Women

  • ||

    It goes to show that they don't get a swede teeded off! Sorry!

  • Plate-O||

    Jack Straton, an assistant professor of University Studies at Portland State University whose Ph.D. is in quantum physics and whose background in domestic violence is that of a feminist activist, not a scholar.

    Can somebody explain what the Hell "University Studies" is? The term brings up the shortest article I've ever read on Wikipedia.

  • Jim Smith||

    It's the "learn about some stuff" major.

  • ||

    Portland, Or., if that's the PSU in question, is where liberals go when they feel California is getting too small-govt minded.

  • Fluffy||

    It isn't really a question of whether there are "female abusers" or not. Even framing the question that way is a red herring.

    The real issue is that most cases of domestic violence involve two violent parties - but only the man is labelled an "abuser".

    I observed many, many couples in high school, college and beyond where the female would become jealous or enraged at some perceived slight, would slap or hit "her man", and then get punched in the head. I'm sure that these women consider themselves abused, and I'm sure Rosin would too. But I personally have no sympathy for someone who initiates violence because someone hurt their feelings in some way, and then doesn't like the outcome.

  • ||

    In a former life I used to have to sit on a board that examined every domestic abuse case in an entire town of like 45,000. No kidding. What amazed me about the experience was how childish people are. People would get into fist fights over the TV remote control or one party hogging the internet. And in 80% of the cases both sides were violent. In 80% of the cases both sides had the mental level of a spoiled 9 year old. Rarely was there a case (although there were) of on truley abusive and one truely innocent party. Those happened but they were in the distinct minority.

  • ||

    Here in NoVa, there's a story about how two priests got into a fight in their rectory, sending the older guy to the hospital with a cut over his eye. Jeebus, if priests can't refrain from trying to punch each other's lights out, it's a wonder that the Missus and I usually only blacken each other's eyes on St. Patrick's Day and Super Bowl Sunday.

  • ||

    The clergy has a long history of unspeakable violence. If they've given up burning people at the stake and just have a fist fight now and then, I'm grateful for the improvement.

    -jcr

  • Jim Smith||

    If Camille Paglia is a full-blown acid trip, Cathy Young is like a nice glass of wine. I just love her.

  • Avocado Diaboli||

    Jim-The difference is that Paglia takes stands and says interesting things.

  • Conservative Libertine||

    All I want to know is....

    Was she holding a #2 iron or #5 iron as Tiger typed about his transgressions?

  • Chris||

    Probably a 2 iron, I think she was going for distance.

  • CatoTheElder||

    Any academic discipline described with two words, one of which is "studies", is bullshit. A diplomate with GPA 4.0 in (fill-in-the-blank) studies will probably never obtain a job higher than fry cook unless he or she has serious political connections.

    E.g., ethnic studies, queer studies, gender studies, social studies, university studies.

    BTW, the Portland University Studies website advertises that its "education program teaches you how to learn." It's a pretty sad indictment that a kid can spend 13 years in state skools and, besides learning nothing, not even know HOW to learn.

  • ||

    I'm trying to think of a counter-example, and the only one that came to mind was "library studies", which is how to organize a library; the Dewey Decimal System and so on. Then I realized that they actually call that "library science".

    -jcr

  • ||

    Hey, don't forget Climate Studies!

  • HeadTater||

    That's sexist!

  • Ira||

    Fresh from my inbox - IN ORDER TO MAKE APPROPRIATE ADJUSTMENTS FOR TIGER'S NEW IMAGE, HE HAS JUST CHANGED HIS NAME TO CHEETAH WOODS! Come on, it's every bit as good as the golf puns.

  • Chris||

    Win.

  • ||

    a single "expert" on "the myth of the battered husband syndrome": Jack Straton, an assistant professor of University Studies at Portland State University whose Ph.D. is in quantum physics and whose background in domestic violence is that of a feminist activist, not a scholar.

    What

    the

    FUCK?

  • LarryA||

    allegations of a recorded voice-mail message in which he supposedly tells his mistress his wife has found her number on his phone.

    Wow. Darwin-level dumb.

  • ||

    Women can be plenty violent, but I've always found that it looks cheap and low class.

    The only appropriate acts of violece are a single slap on the face, and or a drink thrown in the face, but you have to be wearing an evening grown for it to work.

  • ||

    The only thing that makes those acts appropriate is if they're in retaliation for another violent act.

    -jcr

  • ||

    Two shots from a derringer pulled out of a small purse is also considered stylish.

  • von Laue||

    If I had to go, that's not so bad

  • The Art-P.O.G.||

    So...awesome.

  • Ben||

    Women want equality and everything, up until the point that it is pointed out that men can almost always beat the living shit out of them more effectively than women can beat men. See Rhiana

  • ||

    All the women at work have a picture of tiger woods beat up bloodied face like it's some new flag for womanhood. It's sick.

  • The Art-P.O.G.||

    I kinda admit that is funny. Like he's a prizefighter or something.

  • JB||

    Take pictures of those pictures. They might come in handy some day.

  • Nobody||

    You should (secretly) put up a picture of Rhianna's bruised face right next to it.

  • JB||

    Many feminists actively encourage violence against women.

    They say it's ok for women to attack men even though that is what causes a huge percentage of domestic violence against women.

    A guy doesn't take kindly to being hit and responds in kind. These dumb feminist cunts are encouraging women to get beaten.

    I don't know one guy who hasn't been hit by a woman.

  • Mary Stack||

    "Many feminists actively encourage violence against women." Prove it.

  • Mary Stack||

    "Many feminists actively encourage violence against women." PROVE IT.
    "They say it's ok for women to attack men even though that is what causes a huge percentage of domestic violence against women." PROVE IT TOO.
    "These dumb feminist cunts are encouraging women to get beaten." PROVE THIS ONE TOO.
    "I don't know one guy who hasn't been hit by a woman" WTH?

  • ReAnimator||

    What if it was Sarah Palin being hit? How many liberal women would defend her abuser?

  • Mary Stack||

    Good point. Too many organizations stayed silent on the OJ case. They failed to represent all women.

  • ||

    Attributing the likelihood that Mrs. Woods attacked her husband because she found out he was cheating to concepts like domestic violence or gender-neutral violence seems to me contrary to "reason." Real reason would require that we discover the circumstances that led up to Mr. Woods racing outta the house in his SUV.

    Unfortunately, we'll likely never know those circumstances, although what the couple insists is a private matter culminated in Mr. Woods smashing into a very public fire hydrant. What's genuinely unreasonable is for the public celebrities to demand privacy after very public acts. Musing about domestic violence is the poor alternative to privatizing those public acts.

  • ||

    The morning I awakened to the shocking news of Lorena Bobbick's carve job on her cheating husband I remember my wife giggling and I covering my groin in mock horror. All quite amusing until I started thinking about what my reaction would have been if the carving had been man on woman. Like most others I'd been shocked and truly dismayed demanding the monster be hanged.

    Another thought: How many TV ads, shows or movies get cheap laugh lines with men getting kicked in the groin from some gal. Quite amusing, and I usually laugh myself. Now imagine a guy doing likewise to a gal for a laugh? I don't think so.

  • ||

    I was living in NoVa (northern Virginia) at the time. Lorena Bobbet didn't cut off her husbands' penis for cheating on her. She did it because he had repeatedly forced sex on her despite her saying 'NO'. iirc, she testified he had told her that even if she left him, he would find her and do that to her again.

    One commentator said that if she had shot him instead, it would have been just another domestic violence statistic, and no one but the DA's office would paid attention.

    Back to the main subject, it's just not OK to hit your sweetie, male, female, or trans. I was in full sympathy with a friend who divorced his wife after she repeatedly slapped him. Yeah, she was half his size, but it still hurt, it was still violence, and it destroyed his feelings for her.

  • WIFE GIGGLES REALLY DEEP?||

    "cheap laugh lines with men getting kicked in the groin from some gal...Now imagine a guy doing likewise to a gal" Congrats on your wife having a set cause that's the only way this makes sense.

  • ||

    Giving a female the boots in the bisquit is at least equally painful as a man taking a shot to the gonads. The way that today's Western Female carrys on more than a few of them should be acquainted with this feeling.

  • ASK YOUR MOTHER||

    TRY IT!!!, If you mean anywhere near the vagina by "bisquit" you are male and wrong. A combination that goes together like Ying & Yang. That area is designed to shoot out babies and tolerate pain.

  • Ratko||

    As long as Tiger's wife yelled "Fore!" before she hit him with the golf club I can't see where she did anything wrong.

  • Judith||

    Has anyone seen the new parody commercials?

  • abercrombie milano||

    My only point is that if you take the Bible straight, as I'm sure many of Reasons readers do, you will see a lot of the Old Testament stuff as absolutely insane. Even some cursory knowledge of Hebrew and doing some mathematics and logic will tell you that you really won't get the full deal by just doing regular skill english reading for those books. In other words, there's more to the books of the Bible than most will ever grasp. I'm not concerned that Mr. Crumb will go to hell or anything crazy like that! It's just that he, like many types of religionists, seems to take it literally, take it straight...the Bible's books were not written by straight laced divinity students in 3 piece suits who white wash religious beliefs as if God made them with clothes on...the Bible's books were written by people with very different mindsets.

  • ugg factory outlet||

    I mean, er, awesome thoughts, Liz - I need some time to think about this!

  • cheapghdQuailty Replica cheap||

    So, there is no way she knows about any of the research you site or has any idea how the world outside her own bubble actually works. So cut her some slack.

  • Dominatrics Costume||

    What's wrong with Tiger Woods the past months? It seems that he's becoming more stupid with his actions.

  • Surviving Infidelity||

    It's a little unrealistic to expect a guy with a billion dollars not to play around on this wife. And, it unrealistic that the wife will like it a whole lot. In fact, she might get really pissed.

  • Stefanie||

    Vista Maria is an organization dedicated to restructuring the lives of victimized girls. They are a great resource that can be very helpful for girls dealing with domestic violence and physical and sexual abuse. Please check out The Need on their website at http://www.vistamaria.org.

  • Sarah Shaw||

    Voilence is, at the end of the day, unacceptable in a civilised society, regardless of who throws the punches. There are other ways to make yourself heard and understood.

  • nike shox||

    is good

  • TV Credenza||

    Good post. The particular early morning My spouse and i woke up for the stunning reports of Lorena Bobbick's define work to be with her cheating hubby From the my wife joking and I addressing my genitals inside model terror. All fairly amusing till I started considering just what my reaction could have been if the making was man on female. Similar to most other folks I might been recently amazed along with actually dismayed demanding the particular beast end up being hanged.

  • drug rehabilitation||

    Elin Nordegren is a very strong woman and was able to get a some shots land hard during their fights. Well at least that is how I picture it and the Tiger runs in fear.

  • American Boarding Schools||

    When families are in turmoil like this, I always worry about what the kids are going through. Sometimes in situations like this getting them out and far away is good. Sometimes a boarding school can be very beneficial in a family situation like this.

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