This Wikipedia section annoys me

"North Hampton is a Domestic violence fre...

The section about teh mens on the epidemiology of domestic violence looks very much like an MRA talking point rather than a neutral POV. This is the second time I review the section and find that it is full of questionable sources and blatant editorializing. The first time I removed citations which were not only minimal (i.e. “Straus, 2005″, that was all) but sometimes just wrong. I replaced those with a [citation needed] mark, to force those adding those to backup their statements.

Today I visited again and notice that many citations have been fixed, only this time bad citations have been replaced with seemingly working ones, which at the same time are ones that are frequently brought up by MRAs as a silencing tactic. For example, the very first sentence is this:

Women’s violence towards men is a serious social problem. While much attention has been focused on domestic violence against women, researchers argue that domestic violence against men is a substantial social problem worthy of attention.

This is an editorialized title, backed up by two citations. First this, which cites Gelles and does not provide a version on can check online. However I have read that Gelles has explicitly rejected interpretations that put violence against women on the same scale as violence against men.1.

The second part of the sentence links to this page of citations, which is very much like the annoying Wall of Text tactic, which primarily used to cower and silence opponents, especially those who are not privileged enough to waste even more time refuting it. This particular “Wall of Sources” is frequently linked and cited by MRAs because it is just so damn effective in cowering their opponents. Who can deny science? However, it’s not the science that we need to deny, but the flawed framing and outright dishonest interpretations of the facts and fortunately David Futrelle of Manboobz has done exactly that.

The problem with citing a Wall of Sources, is that it can be practically used to support anything, even a rhetorical point such as “researchers argue that domestic violence against men is a substantial social problem worthy of attention.” The problem with this strategy is that it is trivial for people on the other side of the argument to respond with an even larger Wall of Sources, many thousands long, that can support the exact opposite ideological point. It then becomes simply a race of who can gather and choice-interpret or outright spin scientific studies, so that they fit their biases. And this is not how the truth is found, and especially not how Wikipedia is supposed to work.

And then there are the editorialized sources in the above Wikipedia article. If you look at the sources cited at references 33 to 37, you’ll note that they all have a short paragraph interpreting them to the audience, rather than let them stand on their own. This is not done commonly in Wikipedia (as far as I know) as it’s the paragraph being cited that is supposed to give this context. And yet, it seems here that those citations cannot stand on their own, or maybe – and this is what I really suspect – that this is yet another attempt to cower anyone challenging these assumptions, as all of those references are simply used to support the following sentence:

Other studies—typically family and domestic violence studies—show that men are more likely to inflict injuries, but also that when all acts of physical aggression or violence are considered in aggregate, women are equally violent as men,or more violent than men.

Again, another MRA talking point which goes counter to the section above it, and thus multiple (editorialized) sources are pre-emptively used to prevent it being challenged.

The whole situation, imho, stinks. And though I’ve tried to shape up the article somewhat by removing the most obvious citation bias, I am loath to really start editing it and likely end up in a citation war with the MRA watchers it’s sure to have.

Anyone more familiar with the Wikipedia bureaucracy have any idea if using such a “Wall of Sources” to support an editorialized introduction is acceptable? I get the feeling it’s not but I’m don’t really care to waste the time required to find out.

  1. Unfortunately this Feminism 101 article suffers of of severe link rot, so I couldn’t link to the original source []

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