Gender Attitudes and Violence against Women

Gender Attitudes and Violence against Women

Gender Attitudes and Violence against Women

Gender Attitudes and Violence against Women

Synopsis

York seeks to answer the question of the extent to which traditional beliefs about gender or gender roles are associated with increased levels of sexual assault and/or domestic violence. She also investigates the extent to which social capital serves as a protective factor with respect to the safety of women. The prevalence of traditional gender attitudes predicted rates of violence against women, specifically sexual assault and domestic violence, while social capital serves as a mitigating factor. In counties with less social capital and more traditional gender attitudes, there were substantial increases in sexual and physical assaults inflicted upon women by men. These findings confirm the theoretical literature on patriarchy and socialization into gender roles.

Excerpt

A great deal of research has linked traditional or deprecating gender attitudes to rape and other violent acts against women (Burt, 1980, 1991; Carr & VanDeusen, 2004; Check & Malamuth, 1983; Rosenthal, Heesacker, & Neimeyer, 1995; Glick et al., 2002). Men and women are socialized differently in most societies, and gender-differentiated socialization is a longstanding tradition in the United States. Males, in most American cultural settings, are taught to be competitive, aggressive and dominant in regard to females, and this socialization may lead to hyper-masculinity. When there is a pervasive general belief that males should be dominant and women should be subservient, it has been argued that an adversarial environment which is supportive of rape, sexual assault and violence against women is created (Burt, 1980).

Despite the societal changes occasioned by the women’s movement and the accomplishment of various feminist objectives, traditional gender attitudes which are demeaning to women persist to a considerable degree. For instance, in the mid-1990s Boxley, Lawrance, and Gruchow (1995) surveyed 211 eighth graders and found that boys held more traditional gender attitudes than girls. Overall, boys tended to believe that they were superior to females in a variety of different settings, and girls tended to believe that they were equal to the boys. It seems that the women’s movement may have influenced young women much more than young men with respect to attitudes on gender equity.

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