“A Gross and Deliberate Misinterpretation of the Data”


TPM Reader TS chimes in on that embarrassing WaPo piece on marriage and sexual assault …

The “science” behind the WaPo piece on marriage is a massive misrepresentation of the study they cite. Essentially that study shows that women who are married but currently separated have (by a huge margin) the worst rates of IPV. Obviously the causality here could run either way with violence resulting in marital separation or separation resulting in violence, or the association could be caused by some common factor (e.g., a shitty husband). The key thing to understand is that these are all women who got married to a big strong man like good little girls. This is clearly shown in Figure 6.

The authors of the WaPo article present only figure 7 from the original article and interpret the woman “living alone with children” as some type of slut who was never married (rather than someone who is separated or divorced from an abusive husband)… and they interpret the association entirely as “living alone” causing “violence.” In addition, they fail to mention that this is the respondents’ CURRENT living arrangement, not necessarily the living arrangement at the time of the violence. This is a gross and deliberate misinterpretation of the data.

The WaPo editorial is all about how marriage protects from intimate partner violence, yet they deliberately don’t present the figure from the report that shows the relationship between marriage and violence. Instead they present the figure on household composition, which does not correspond directly to marital status. The actual figure on marital status and violence is not consistent with their thesis.