Getting Played: African American Girls, Urban Inequality, and Gendered Violence

By Jody Miller | Go to book overview

5
The Playa' and the Cool Pose
Gender and Relationship Violence

The public nature of physical violence against women in youths' neighborhoods, and its sometimes carnivalesque treatment, had a meaningful impact for girls. It taught them, among other things, that women often deserved their mistreatment and, consequently, that they were unlikely to receive broad social support or even immediate intervention when they were the victims of such violence. A great deal of research has found linkages between witnessing intimate partner violence as children and being at greater jeopardy for perpetration or victimization later in life.1 For adolescents, such systematic exposure to violence in their neighborhoods and homes risked normalizing these interactions within the contexts of intimate relationships.

What is perhaps unique about relationship violence, particularly when compared with the kinds of sexual mistreatment and violence examined thus far, is that some studies find similar rates of relationship violence perpetration across gender, particularly in its less-serious forms.2 This is especially the case among adolescents, where there is also evidence that relationship violence may have features distinguishing it from partner violence in adulthood. For instance, dating violence among adolescents is more likely to be mutual rather than one-sided and is also more likely to take place in the presence of others, most notably at school.3

Not surprisingly, in response to survey questions about dating violence, the youths in our study reported prevalence rates of victimization in dating relationships comparable to those found in other studies on adolescent dating violence. As table 5-1 shows, youths reported a sizeable amount of dating conflict and violence.4 In all, 33 percent of the girls and 44 percent of the boys reported that a dating partner had threatened to hit them; more than one-half of the girls and just over one-quarter of the boys described a partner throwing, smashing, or

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