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Attitudes toward men's violence against women shape both the perpetration of violence against women and responses to this violence by the victim and others around her. For these reasons, attitudes are the target of violence-prevention campaigns. To improve understanding of the determinants of violence against women and to aid the development of violence-prevention efforts, this article reviews the factors that shape attitudes toward violence against women. It offers a framework with which to comprehend the complex array of influences on attitudes toward violent behavior perpetrated by men against women. Two clusters of factors, associated with gender and culture, have an influence at multiple levels of the social order on attitudes regarding violence. Further factors operate at individual, organizational, communal, or societal levels in particular, although their influence may overlap across multiple levels. This article concludes with recommendations regarding efforts to improve attitudes toward violence against women.
La Trobe University, Australia
Deakin University, Australia
Attitudes toward men’s violence against women shape both the perpetration of
violence against women and responses to this violence by the victim and others
around her. For these reasons, attitudes are the target of violence-prevention cam-
paigns. To improve understanding of the determinants of violence against women
and to aid the development of violence-prevention efforts, this article reviews the
factors that shape attitudes toward violence against women. It offers a framework
with which to comprehend the complex array of influences on attitudes toward
violent behavior perpetrated by men against women. Two clusters of factors, asso-
ciated with gender and culture, have an influence at multiple levels of the social
order on attitudes regarding violence. Further factors operate at individual, orga-
nizational, communal, or societal levels in particular, although their influence may
overlap across multiple levels. This article concludes with recommendations
regarding efforts to improve attitudes toward violence against women.
Key words: perceptions of domestic violence; domestic violence; sexual assault; attitudes
ATTITUDES have been of central concern in
relation to violence against women. Attitudes
play a role in the perpetration of this violence,
in victims’ responses to victimization, and in
community responses to violence against
women. With good reason, attitudes have been a
key target of community education campaigns
aimed at preventing violence against women.
However, there has been relatively little coordi-
nated examination of the factors that shape
attitudes toward violence against women.
This review provides an overview of key fac-
tors shaping attitudes to violence against
women. We focus on factors for which there is
existing empirical evidence of their influence,
identifying six key clusters of influence. The
review draws on scholarship examining the for-
mation of attitudes regarding both violence
against women in general and specific forms of
violence (domestic violence, sexual assault,
sexual harassment, etc.) in particular.
We begin with two clusters of factors that
have a multilevel influence on individuals’ atti-
tudes, broadly termed gender and culture. Both
are multilevel in the sense that they influence
attitudes at each of the four levels of attitude
formation otherwise used to organize this dis-
cussion: individual, organizational, community,
TRAUMA, VIOLENCE, & ABUSE, Vol. 10, No. 2, April 2009 125-142
DOI: 10.1177/1524838009334131
© 2009 SAGE Publications
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126 TRAUMA, VIOLENCE, & ABUSE / April 2009
and societal. Both gender and culture therefore
can be seen as meta-factors, influencing atti-
tudes at multiple levels of the social order. We
then examine further individual, organizational,
community level, and societal factors that influ-
ence attitudes toward violence against women.
In a companion piece (Pease & Flood, in press),
we offer a critical examination of the concept of
attitudes itself. We note that attitudes are not the
only causally important variable in relation to
violence against women. Explanations of men’s
violence against women, and efforts to prevent
it, must also address the material conditions and
institutionalized power relations that underpin
violence against women. Nevertheless, attitudes
are significant for violence against women, as
we now discuss.
The past three decades have seen the steady
development of scholarly tools with which to
assess attitudes toward violence against
women. Burt’s (1980) outline of rape myths
was one of the first to operationalize feminist
accounts of sociocultural supports for rape.
Two decades later, at least 11 measures of beliefs
and attitudes regarding sexual aggression had
developed (Murnen, Wright, & Kaluzny, 2002),
addressing such dimensions of sexual vio-
lence as the acceptance of rape myths or
adversarial sexual beliefs, hostile or hyper-
masculinity, victim blaming or victim empa-
thy, and sexually aggressive intentions. Other
instruments focus on attitudes toward and
perceptions of other, specific forms of violence
against women, from wife assault to sexual
harassment and date rape.
Attitudes are significant for violence against
women in three key domains: (a) the perpetra-
tion of violence against women, (b) women’s
response to this victimization, and (c) commu-
nity and institutional responses to violence
against women.
Attitudes have a fundamental and causal
relationship to the perpetration of violence
against women. There is consistent evidence of
an association between violence-supportive
beliefs and values and the perpetration of vio-
lent behavior, at both individual and commu-
nity levels. For example, men with more
traditional, rigid, and misogynistic gender-role
attitudes are more likely to practice marital vio-
lence (Heise, 1998; O’Neil & Harway, 1997).
Boys and young men who endorse more rape-
supportive beliefs are also more likely to have
been sexually coercive (Anderson, Simpson-
Taylor, & Hermann, 2004). In a recent meta-
analysis aggregating data across all studies
relating an aspect of masculine ideology to the
incidence of sexual aggression, Murnen et al.
(2002) found that all but one measure of mascu-
line ideology were significantly associated with
sexual aggression. In other words, there is a con-
sistent relationship between men’s adherence to
sexist, patriarchal, and/or sexually hostile atti-
tudes and their use of violence against women.
Women’s responses to their own subjection to
violence are shaped by their own attitudes and
those of others around them. To the extent that
individual women agree with violence-support-
ive understandings of domestic violence or
sexual assault, they are more likely to blame
themselves for the assault, less likely to report it
to the police or other authorities, and more
likely to experience long-term negative psycho-
logical and emotional effects. Various studies
u Attitudes play a role in violence against women in
three domains: the perpetration of violence
against women, individual and institutional
responses to violence against women, and women’s
own responses to victimization.
u Attitudes toward violence against women are
formed by a wide range of social processes at
multiple levels of the social order.
u Key influences on attitudes at multiple levels
include gender roles and relations and other
forms of social difference associated with ethnicity
and class.
u Further factors documented to shape attitudes
toward violence against women at the individual
level include experiencing or witnessing violence
and age and development. At the organizational
level, they include participation in violence-
supportive contexts, whereas at the community
level, they include participation in informal peer
groups and networks. Finally, at the societal level,
factors that shape attitudes toward violence
against women include pornography and other
media and education campaigns, with other pos-
sible influences including criminal justice policies
and social movements.
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document that female rape victims’ self-
attributions of blame are associated with greater
trauma and distress (Neville, Heppner, Oh,
Spanierman, & Clark, 2004). Media portrayals
and social norms teach women to self-silence,
and to place their partners’ needs above their
own (Margolis, 1998), and women are less likely
to report violence and abuse by their partners if
they express traditional gender-role attitudes
(Harris, Firestone, & Vega, 2005). Furthermore,
stereotypical and narrow representations of vio-
lence inhibit women from even recognizing and
naming their experience as violence. One of the
key reasons why women do not report incidents
that meet the legal definition of sexual assault is
that many do not fit common stereotypes of real
rape—They were not by a stranger, did not take
place outside and with a weapon, and did not
involve injuries. Women may not perceive acts
as criminal victimization, whereas they are more
likely to do so if perpetrators “deprive victims of
liberty, threaten their lives or physical integrity,
or produce psychological harm” (Lievore, 2003,
p. 28). Victims also do not report violence
because of their perception of others’ attitudes:
They fear that they will be blamed by family and
friends, stigmatized, and the criminal justice
system will not provide redress (Felson, Messner,
Hoskin, & Deane, 2002; Kingsnorth & MacIntosh,
2004; Lievore, 2003). However, there is no evi-
dence that attitudes play a causal role in wom-
en’s risks of victimization in the first place, and
to emphasize this would be to blame the victim
for her victimization. In short, there is no evi-
dence that women’s attitudes to rape influence
their likelihood of being raped (Anderson et al.,
Attitudes play a role in the responses to vio-
lence against women adopted by individuals
other than the perpetrator or victim, whether
family members and friends, professionals,
or bystanders. People with more violence-
supportive and violence-condoning attitudes
respond with less empathy and support to vic-
tims, are more likely to attribute blame to the
victim, are less likely to report the incident to
the police, and are more likely to recommend
lenient or no penalties for the offender (Pavlou
& Knowles, 2001; West & Wandrei, 2002).
Societal attitudes also shape the formal responses
of professionals and institutions to the victims
and perpetrators of violence against women,
including police officers, judges, priests,
social workers, doctors, and so on. Cross-
national studies find that attitudes toward rape
and other forms of violence against women
inhibit effective and appropriate responses to
female victims (Nayak, Byrne, Martin, &
Abraham, 2003).
In a study among Queensland
police officers, those who allocated greater
blame to the victim of family violence also
indicated that they would be less likely to
charge the assailant (Stewart & Maddren,
1997). These formal and informal responses
have effects on the victims themselves.
Others’ responses to help seeking by women
who have experienced abuse from a male
partner influences the likelihood that they
will report future domestic violence to the
police (Hickman & Simpson, 2003), as well as
their subsequent help seeking, separation,
and eventual recovery from the abuse (Giles,
Curreen, & Adamson, 2005).
Given the importance of attitudes with
regard to violence against women, what factors
influence their formation?
Traditional Gender Norms
and Attitudes Toward Violence
One of the most consistent findings to emerge
from studies of attitudes toward violence
against women is a gender gap. Gender is a
consistent predictor of attitudes that support
use of violence against women. A wide range of
international studies find a gender gap in atti-
tudes toward domestic violence, sexual assault,
and other forms of violence against women. In
general, men are more likely than women to
agree with myths and beliefs supportive of vio-
lence against women, perceive a narrower
range of behaviors as violent, blame and show
less empathy for the victim, minimize the
harms associated with physical and sexual
assault, and see behaviors constituting violence
against women as less serious, inappropriate,
or damaging. This gender gap is especially well
documented in studies among college popula-
tions in the United States (Anderson & Swainson,
2001; Chng & Burke, 1999; Cowan, 2000; Ewoldt,
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128 TRAUMA, VIOLENCE, & ABUSE / April 2009
Monson, & Langhinrichsen-Rohling, 2000;
Hinck & Thomas, 1999; Lee, Pomeroy, Yoo, &
Rheinboldt, 2005; West & Wandrei, 2002; White
& Kurpius, 1999, 2002). The gender gap also has
been documented among university students in
other countries including Turkey (Sakalh, 2001),
India, Japan, Kuwait (Nayak et al., 2003), and
Hong Kong (Tang & Cheung, 1997). In Australia,
the gender gap in attitudes toward violence
against women has been documented in repre-
sentative surveys of adults (ANOP Research
Services, 1995) and of youth. A nationwide sur-
vey of 5,000 young people aged 12-20 found that
14% of young males, but only 3% of females,
agreed with the following statement: It’s okay
for a boy to make a girl have sex with him if she
has flirted with him or led him on” (National
Crime Prevention [NCP], 2001). Earlier Australian
studies are similar (Davis & Lee, 1996; Xenos &
Smith, 2001). Gender differences in definitions
and perceptions of violence are evident too
with regard to particular forms of violence
against women, such as sexual harassment
(De Judicibus & McCabe, 2001), date rape
(Workman & Freeberg, 1999), and wife assault
(Hillier & Foddy, 1993). Moreover, cross-gender
differences in attitudes in many countries are
stronger than differences associated with other
social divisions such as socioeconomic status or
education (Kennedy & Gorzalka, 2002).
It is not sex per se, but gender orientations,
that shape men’s and women’s contrasting
understandings of violence against women.
There is a powerful association between atti-
tudes toward violence against women and
attitudes toward gender. Especially among
men, traditional gender-role attitudes are asso-
ciated with greater acceptance of violence
against women (Davis & Liddell, 2002; De
Judicibus & McCabe, 2001; NCP, 2001; Pavlou
& Knowles, 2001; Truman, Tokar, & Fischer,
1996; Wade & Brittan-Powell, 2001; White &
Kurpius, 2002). Conversely, the more that
people maintain egalitarian gender attitudes,
the better are their attitudes toward violence
against women. They are more likely to see
violence against women as unacceptable, to
define a wider variety of acts as violence or
abuse, to reject victim blaming, to support the
victim, and to hold accountable the person
using violence. The most consistent predictor
of attitudes supporting the use of violence
against women is attitudes toward gender
roles, that is, beliefs about appropriate roles for
men and women (Berkel, Vandiver, & Bahner,
2004; Good, Heppner, Hillenbrand-Gunn, &
Wang, 1995; Simonson & Subich, 1999).
The relationship between adherence to con-
servative gender norms and tolerance for vio-
lence has been documented among males in a
wide variety of communities and countries, both
Western and non-Western, including Arab and
ultraorthodox Jewish communities in Israel (Haj-
Yahia, 2003; Steinmetz & Haj-Yahia, 2006), South
Africa (Abrahams, Jewkes, Laubscher, & Hoffman,
2006), and adult men and young men in Australia
(De Judicibus & McCabe, 2001; NCP, 2001;
Pavlou & Knowles, 2001). The relationship
between gender typing and victim blaming
seems to be far weaker among women, perhaps
because of their low levels of attributions of
blame overall (De Judicibus & McCabe, 2001).
Gender and Sexual Norms
Attitudes to violence against women are
inextricably grounded in and intertwined with
attitudes toward women, gender, and sexual-
ity. In other words, judgments of violence
against women are shaped by wider norms of
gender and sexuality. For example, percep-
tions of the legitimacy of men’s violence to
intimate partners are constituted through
agreement with the notions that men should
be dominant in households and intimate rela-
tionships and have the right to enforce their
dominance through physical chastisement,
men have uncontrollable sexual urges, women
are deceptive and malicious, and marriage is a
guarantee of sexual consent. Such beliefs have
a long history in Western and other cultures,
and they have been enshrined in Western legal
systems (Straton, 2002) and social norms
(Berkel et al., 2004). For example, women who
dress less modestly and more suggestively are
more likely to be seen as responsible for and
deserving of sexual assault (Viki & Abrams,
2002; Whatley, 2005). Women are seen as more
likely to provoke sexual harassment if they are
attractive (Golden, Johnson, & Lopez, 2001)
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and as more culpable for date rape if wearing a
short rather than long skirt (Workman &
Freeberg, 1999), whereas stereotypically attrac-
tive male perpetrators are judged as less harass-
ing (La Rocca & Kromrey, 1999). Female victims
of domestic violence are judged more harshly
where they are perceived to have provoked
aggression, for example, by being verbally
aggressive or in situations that might inspire
their husbands’ jealousy (Hillier & Foddy, 1993;
Pavlou & Knowles, 2001). When a man rapes
his wife or girlfriend rather than a stranger, he
is seen as less responsible, the behavior is seen
as less harmful, and it is less likely to be seen as
rape (Cowan, 2000; Simonson & Subich, 1999).
Violence-supportive norms and relations are
evident in normal sexual, intimate, and family
relations. For example, three studies among
youth in the United States, New Zealand, and
Britain document that violence, and the ante-
cedents of violence, are woven into the ordinary
descriptions of romantic heterosexual relation-
ships given by early adolescent boys and girls.
For many boys and girls, sexual harassment is
pervasive, male aggression is normalized, there
is constant pressure among boys to behave in
sexually aggressive ways, girls are routinely
objectified, a sexual double standard polices girls’
sexual and intimate involvements, and girls are
compelled to accommodate male needs and
desires in negotiating their sexual relations (Hird
& Jackson, 2001;
Tolman, Spencer, Rosen-Reynoso,
& Porche, 2003).
Given that attitudes toward gender and gen-
der roles have a profound influence on assess-
ments of the victims and perpetrators of
violence against women, it is worth examining
the formation of gender-role attitudes in gen-
eral. Although a full examination is beyond the
scope of this review, several points are worth
noting. First, improvements in attitudes toward
violence against women in Western countries
in recent decades may reflect improvements in
attitudes toward gender roles, where the latter
has been best documented in the United States.
There has been since the 1970s a “dramatic and
widespread liberalization of gender role atti-
tudes” in U.S. society (Bolzendahl & Myers,
2004, p. 759), corroborated by other longitudi-
nal analyses (Bryant, 2003; Ciabattari, 2001;
Harris & Firestone, 1998). Key predictors of
proequality or feminist attitudes, whether
among women, men, or both, include employ-
ment, (younger) age, (greater) education, and
(urban) region. However, general gender atti-
tudes cannot be taken as a simple proxy for
attitudes to violence against women. For exam-
ple, measures of general gender-role attitudes
have less power to predict men’s sexual aggres-
sion than measures of hostile and patriarchal
masculine beliefs in particular (Murnen et al.,
2002). We move now to the second cluster of
factors shown to influence attitudes toward
violence against women.
Culture here is understood broadly to refer to
class, race, ethnicity, and other forms of social
difference (other than gender). This usage is
somewhat arbitrary, in that gender is just as
cultural as class or ethnicity. Nevertheless, dis-
tinguishing between gender and culture allows
us to emphasize important clusters of influence
on individual attitudes toward violence against
women. Scholarship on the associations between
attitudes toward violence against women and
forms of social difference has focused largely on
gender and race or ethnicity and to a lesser
extent on age, while neglecting divisions of
class and sexuality. Although this section reflects
such a focus, we begin with socioeconomic fac-
tors to highlight that culture is not being used as
a euphemism for ethnicity.
Socioeconomic Factors
There is some evidence that attitudes toward
violence against women vary with socioeco-
nomic variables such as labor market participa-
tion and socioeconomic status, for example, in
Australia (ANOP Research Services, 1995) and
the United States United States (Markowitz,
2003; Nagel, Matsuo, McIntyre, & Morrison,
2005). Moreover, rates of violence against
women themselves vary with socioeconomic
variables, and American and Australian stud-
ies find associations between economic and
social disadvantage and higher risks of vio-
lence and crime in general and intimate partner
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130 TRAUMA, VIOLENCE, & ABUSE / April 2009
violence in particular, at both individual and
neighborhood levels (Markowitz, 2003; People,
2005). Such associations are shaped by atti-
tudes toward violence, and these in turn are
likely to be shaped by personal and commu-
nity exposure to violence, the community-level
structural factors that intensify this violence
(Markowitz, 2003), and other correlates of
socioeconomic status.
Race and Ethnicity
Attitudes toward violence against women
vary across different cultural groups and com-
munities in any one country and from one cul-
ture to another. Australian research found that
adults born in non-English-speaking countries
had poorer attitudes to domestic violence
than those born in Australia or other Western
countries (ANOP Research Services, 1995),
whereas those 12-20-year-olds who agreed
with the use of violence by both sexes were
more likely to have Middle Eastern or Asian
backgrounds (NCP, 2001). Similarly, various
North American studies have documented
ethnicity-related differences in attitudes
toward violence against women (Cowan, 2000;
Kennedy & Gorzalka, 2002; Locke & Richman,
1999; Mori, Bernat, Glenn, Selle, & Zarate,
1995). For example, Asian students at a Texas
university were more likely than White stu-
dents to believe that women are responsible
for preventing rape, sex is a motivation for
rape, and victims precipitate rape, perhaps
reflecting Asian cultural attitudes emphasiz-
ing female chastity, silencing talk about sex,
and framing sex as a sexual matter between
individuals (Lee et al., 2005).
However, other research explores inter-Asian
comparisons and finds significant interethnic
differences. In a U.S. study, Yoshioka, DiNoia,
and Ullah (2001) found that Southeast Asian
respondents were more supportive of the use of
violence and of male privilege than East Asian
respondents. Inter-Asian differences suggest
the influences of particular cultural systems,
patterns of immigration, and other factors. In
addition, apparent differences in attitudes
among ethnic groups may reflect other demo-
graphic contrasts between them. For example,
apparent differences between White and African
American people’s attitudes toward victims of
rape disappeared once differences in socioeco-
nomic status and education were taken into
account (Nagel et al., 2005). Attitudes regard-
ing violence against women vary from one
nation to another (Cousineau & Rondeau, 2004;
Heaven, Connors, & Pretorius, 1998; Nayak et al.,
2003), although few cross-national examinations
have been conducted.
Attitudes toward violence against women
are constructed by, and are only meaningful
within, particular cultural contexts. For exam-
ple, in Beirut, Lebanon, perceptions of rape are
structured by the centrality of marriage and
marriageability in shaping notions of women’s
status (Wehbi, 2002). Women seen to be unmar-
riageable, because they are separated, divorced,
or disabled, for example, are perceived as more
legitimate targets of sexual predation. In
Palestine, cultural emphases on preserving
family reputation and female virginity stifle
responses to female rape victims and revictim-
ize the victims themselves (Shalhoub-Kevorkian,
1999). Notions of male honor and female purity
and modesty can be used to justify and excuse
violence against women. Honor cultures
involve traditional gender ideologies and male
dominance, strong familialism, and norms of
female chastity and male sexual freedom. Both
men and women from such cultures are more
tolerant of men’s violence to female partners,
see men’s violent responses to infidelity as more
excusable, and have more positive responses to
victims who blame themselves for the violence
(Vandello & Cohen, 2003).
The associations between culture and attitudes
toward violence against women are dynamic. On
one hand, there is evidence that people who
move from a more violence-supportive cultural
context to a less violence-supportive one can
have their tolerance for violence lessened as a
result. Two studies documented that attitudes
can improve with Western acculturation (Kennedy
& Gorzalka, 2002; Mori et al., 1995). On the other
hand, violence-supportive attitudes can be
imported by immigrant communities from one
cultural context to another (Ely, 2004).
Acknowledging the ways in which violence-
supportive attitudes are shaped by ethnicity
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runs the risk of reinforcing racism (Stubbs,
2003). At the same time, we must address the
complex intersections of race and ethnicity,
class, and other forms of social difference that
shape women’s and men’s attitudes toward
and involvements in violence (Russo, 2001).
Culture here overlaps with gender, our first
meta-factor, in that cultural and national varia-
tions in attitudes themselves partially reflect
variations in gender. Differences in attitudes
toward violence against women in different
countries and cultures reflect different beliefs
about gender roles. Societies with lower rates
of violence against women are characterized by
more gender egalitarian attitudes and behavior
and a greater intolerance of violence (Nayak
et al., 2003). At the same time, cultural differ-
ences are not reducible to gender, in that they
also reflect other social, political, and economic
characteristics of contexts and communities.
Experiencing or Witnessing Violence
One of the key mechanisms of attitude for-
mation in relation to violence against women
is intergenerational transmission. There is
strong evidence that children who either wit-
ness such violence or are subjected to violence
themselves are more likely as adults to adhere
to violence-supportive attitudes (and to perpe-
trate violence). There is a well-documented
association between a history of child physical
abuse and men’s current physical aggression to
an intimate partner, with childhood victimization
having consistent, small-to-medium effects in
the findings of 8 out of 10 relevant studies
(Schumacher, Feldbau-Kohn, Slep, & Heyman,
2001). Attitudes are central to this link: “Children
who are subject to violence come to engage in
violence in their later marital relationships
because they acquire certain attitudes which
facilitate violence” (Markowitz, 2001, p. 215).
Thus, witnessing or experiencing violence
while growing up has a direct impact on the
perpetration of violence against spouses and an
impact on attitudes, which in turn impact on
perpetration (Markowitz, 2001, pp. 207-208).
More recent studies, including longitudinal
examinations, continue to document the inter-
generational transmission of violence-support-
ive attitudes and behaviors (Carr & VanDeusen,
2002; Lichter & McCloskey, 2004; National
Institute of Justice [NIJ], 2004). A meta-analysis
of 118 studies suggests that children who wit-
ness interparental violence show more nega-
tive psychosocial outcomes than children who
witness only other forms of interparental con-
flict or aggression (Kitzmann, Gaylord, Holt, &
Kenny, 2003).
The effects of witnessing or experiencing vio-
lence are greater for males than females, as at
least five studies have found (Markowitz, 2001).
In other words, it is boys, rather than girls, who
are more likely to grow up to condone and to
perpetrate violence against women having wit-
nessed or experienced violence themselves.
Similar patterns can be discerned for sexual
violence in particular (Abbey, Zawacki, Buck,
Clinton, & McAuslan, 2004). Among girls, how-
ever, evidence for the impact of observing inter-
parental violence or experiencing childhood
physical abuse on subsequent victimization is
inconsistent (Adams-Curtis & Forbes, 2004;
NIJ, 2004; Riggs, Caulfield, & Street, 2000;
Schumacher et al., 2001).
Such patterns among boys lend support to a
social learning theory of intimate partner vio-
lence. Through witnessing the use of violence
by one parent against another, they may learn
that violence is an effective and appropriate
instrumental strategy (Heise, 1998). However,
early experiences of violence also shape chil-
dren’s developing personalities and may inhibit
behavioral control, adaptive social skills, and
empathy (Carr & VanDeusen, 2002; Johnson &
Knight, 2000). More widely, the relationship
between children’s witnessing and experience
of violence and their adult perpetration may
reflect processes of cultural transmission, in
which the violence-supportive norms and vio-
lent social relations of local communities are
learnt from generation to generation.
There are three caveats to be made here.
First, some studies find no link between child-
hood victimization and the adolescent or adult
perpetration of violence (Sellers, Cochran, &
Branch, 2005) or young people’s own attitudes
toward domestic violence (NCP, 2001). Second,
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132 TRAUMA, VIOLENCE, & ABUSE / April 2009
prior experiences of violence can lead to diverse
attitudinal formations, both violence-supportive
and violence-intolerant (De Judicibus &
McCabe, 2001). Third, childhood victimization
interacts with other influences and involvements
to shape adolescent and adult males attitudes
toward and perpetration of violence against
women. Research examining predictors of sexu-
ally coercive behavior finds that the impact of
parental violence and child abuse on boys is
mediated by sexually hostile attitudes and
emphases on sexual conquest and promiscuity
(Johnson & Knight, 2000).
Age and Development
Age, and the developmental processes and
relations associated with age, appears to be
another factor shaping individuals’ attitudes
toward violence against women. It might be
expected that younger individuals will espouse
more informed attitudes toward violence against
women, reflecting improvements over time in
attitudes as well as the influence of younger
cohorts’ greater exposure to university and other
positive influences. Certainly, there is evidence
of better attitudes among individuals under 55,
from a variety of surveys in Australia and
United States (ANOP Research Services, 1995;
Carlson & Worden, 2005; Nagel et al., 2005). At
the same time, among the youngest age groups,
and males in particular, younger people have
worse attitudes than their older counterparts. A
series of international studies document that
boys and young men are more likely than older
men to endorse rape-supportive norms and to
report a likelihood of committing rape (Aromaki,
Haebich, & Lindman, 2002), whereas there are
either no age-related differences among young
females (Hutchinson, Tess, Gleckman, Hagans,
& Reese, 1994) or gender differences that are
greatest among younger individuals (Anderson
et al., 2004). Among Australian youth aged 12
to 20, younger boys aged 12 to 14 showed
higher support for violence-supportive atti-
tudes than older males (NCP, 2001). Two other
Australian studies report similar results (Davis
& Lee, 1996; Xenos & Smith, 2001).
There are at least three explanations for this
pattern. Younger boys’ greater endorsement of
violence against women may reflect their lack
of exposure to the liberalizing influence of late
secondary school and university education. It
may reflect developmental shifts in attitudes
and in other qualities, such as empathy, sensi-
tivity, and moral awareness (Davis & Lee, 1996,
p. 799; Hutchinson et al., 1994, p. 417). It may
reflect distinct characteristics of boys’ peer cul-
tures. Among boys, both gender segregation
and homophobia peak in early adolescence
(Flood, 2002; Plummer, 1999), and in this con-
text boys may be particularly prone to express-
ing views tolerant of violence against (girls
and) women. In the late school years and after
school, boys invest more in social and sexual
relations with girls, they are less influenced by
school peer groups, and they achieve more
stable gender and sexual identities. Such shifts
may lessen both older males’ endorsement of
violence-supportive attitudes and the gender
gap in this endorsement.
The second cluster of factors shown to influ-
ence attitudes toward violence against women
are organizational, namely the social relations,
cultures, policies, and other characteristics of
formal organizations and institutions. We focus
in this section on the impact of membership of
or participation in formal contexts. Organizations
impacts on the wider community and their
informal social relations are the focus of later
sections below.
Associations between violence-supportive
attitudes and formal organizations or institu-
tions have been documented for four types of
context: sports, university residences (fraterni-
ties), military, and religious institutions. Taking
sport first, early research noted that male ath-
letes report significantly greater agreement with
rape-supportive statements than men in gen-
eral (Boeringer, 1999). Contemporary research
documents that violence-supportive attitudes
are spread unevenly across sports and can vary
even within a particular sport. In an American
study among university athletes, rape myth
acceptance was highest among male athletes,
especially younger athletes and those playing
a team-based sport (football or basketball)
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versus individual sport (Sawyer, Thompson, &
Chicorelli, 2002).
For both sports and university residences,
there is evidence of particular masculine con-
texts in which violence-supportive norms,
and violence against women, are particularly
intense (Murnen & Kohlman, 2007). On American
campus cultures with high rates of sexual vio-
lence, some of the sociocultural correlates
(especially among college fraternities) include
greater gender segregation, an ethic of male
sexual conquest and getting sex, displays of
masculinity through heterosexual sexual per-
formance, high alcohol consumption, hetero-
sexism and homophobia, use of pornography,
and general norms of women’s subordinate
status (Boswell & Spade, 1996; Sanday, 1996).
Some fraternities and athletic teams involve
much higher risks of sexual assault than others,
because of members’ higher levels of hostility
toward women and peer support for sexual
violence (Humphrey & Kahn, 2000). Another
context with similar masculine dynamics and
similarly elevated levels of tolerance for vio-
lence against women is the military. The evi-
dence is that it is not group membership per se,
but norms of gender inequality and homosocial
male bonding that foster and justify abuse in
particular peer cultures, that promote violence
against women (Rosen, Kaminski, Parmley,
Knudson, & Fancher, 2003; Schwartz &
DeKeseredy, 1997).
Several mechanisms may produce the
increased prevalence of violence-supportive
attitudes and violent behavior among men in
such contexts. One is group socialization: Men
are actively inducted into the existing norms
and values of these contexts. Another is involve-
ment: participation in peer activities associated
with that subculture, such as drinking or con-
suming pornography (Godenzi, Schwartz, &
Dekeseredy, 2001). Others include identifica-
tion with the group (Humphrey & Kahn, 2000),
attachment—having close emotional ties to
significant others—and commitment—men’s
investments in the patriarchal social order
and their interest in gaining the rewards of
peer acceptance and status associated, for
example, with sexually active and potentially
abusive behavior (Godenzi et al., 2001). Another
mechanism is self-selection. Thus, men’s invest-
ment in and conformity to social norms and
bonds in patriarchal and violence-supportive
contexts encourages their development of vio-
lent attitudes and behaviors.
There is also evidence that participation in
particular occupational or educational con-
texts can shape attitudes toward violence
against women. Individuals who attend uni-
versity, who have received university educa-
tion, or with higher levels of educational
attainment tend to have more progressive atti-
tudes than individuals who do not or have not
(ANOP Research Services, 1995; De Judicibus
& McCabe, 2001; Foulis & McCabe, 1997;
Nagel et al., 2005). These patterns may reflect
the younger age profile of university students
or the liberalizing influence of educational
environments (Bryant, 2003).
Studies comparing particular occupational
groups are rare, but they suggest that some
workplace and professional cultures involve
less violence-supportive norms than others.
Hong Kong psychologists, social workers, and
nurses had broader definitions of violence
against women than police officers and law-
yers, which may reflect the latters’ work in set-
tings where legal and more restrictive definitions
of criminal behavior are dominant (Tang &
Cheung, 1997). Among people working or
studying in mental health and counseling in
the United States, alongside a persistent gender
gap, undergraduates had more negative atti-
tudes toward rape victims than graduate coun-
seling students, who in turn had more negative
attitudes than the mental health professionals
(White & Kurpius, 1999). Such examples may
reflect the influence of occupational cultures
and training in encouraging positive shifts in
violence-supportive attitudes or self-selection
by individuals who are more sensitive to issues
of gender and violence. However, occupational
cultures may intensify violence-supportive
norms. In a U.S. study, gender uniformity in
police attitudes regarding domestic violence
may have reflected female officers’ education in
the norms of this male-dominated occupation
(Stalans & Finn, 2000).
There is some evidence that religious and
spiritual involvements and beliefs can influence
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134 TRAUMA, VIOLENCE, & ABUSE / April 2009
individuals’ attitudes toward violence against
women, although some studies find no rela-
tionship between religiosity and the endorse-
ment of domestic violence (Berkel et al., 2004).
In the United States, Catholic priests and
Protestant ministers with greater adherence to
fundamentalist religious beliefs had narrower
definitions of wife abuse and more victim-
blaming responses to battered women (Gengler
& Lee, 2003). Among clergy from more than 20
Christian denominations, the more sexist that
participants’ attitudes were, and the more fun-
damentalist their religious beliefs were, the
more unfavorable were their attitudes toward
rape victims (Sheldon & Parent, 2002).
Peer Groups and Informal
Social Relations
Just as attitudes toward violence against
women are shaped by participation in formal
groups, institutions, and occupations, they are
shaped by participation in informal peer groups
and social networks. Indeed, these two overlap.
Men’s peer and social relations have a signifi-
cant influence on their tolerance for (and perpe-
tration of) intimate partner violence. Participation
and investment in homosocial male peer groups
can intensify men’s tolerance for violence against
women. A series of North American studies
have documented that male peer support for
sexual assault, including young men’s attach-
ment (close emotional ties) to abusive peers,
and peers’ informational support for sexual
assault (peer guidance and advice that influ-
ences men to assault their dating partners) were
significantly correlated with sexual and physi-
cal abuse of women (DeKeseredy & Kelly, 1995;
Schwartz & DeKeseredy, 1997, 2000). Two fur-
ther U.S. studies among university students
document associations between embeddedness
in a social network in which men’s intimate
partner violence is condoned and rewarded
and the use of such violence (Reitzel-Jaffe &
Wolfe, 2001; Sellers et al., 2005).
There is recent experimental evidence that
perceptions of peer norms regarding violence
against women do influence men’s self-reported
willingness to commit such violence. In a German
study among male university students, Bohner,
Siebler, and Schmelcher (2006) found that if
men were told that others in their peer group
had a high level of acceptance of rape myths,
their own rape proclivity increased. More gen-
erally, among U.S. undergraduate men, having
a homosocially focused social life is associated
with attitudes conducive to the sexual harass-
ment of women (Wade & Brittan-Powell, 2001)
and with more conservative views of gender
roles (Bryant, 2003).
Religion, Spirituality, and Churches
Spiritual institutions potentially have an
impact on attitudes toward violence beyond
their influence on their direct participants.
Although there is little empirical assessment of
potential impacts, there is evidence of contexts in
which religion is (mis)used to justify violence
against women or to perpetuate women’s
vulnerability to victimization. For example,
Christian evangelism’s emphasis on wifely sub-
mission and hierarchical gender relations can
encourage pastors to counsel women to stay
with their abusers (Nason-Clark, 1997). In some
Arab and Islamic countries, selective excerpts
from the Koran may be used to prove that men
who beat their wives are following God’s com-
mandments (Douki, Nacef, Belhadj, Bouasker, &
Ghachem, 2003). Shari’a (Islamic law) may be
used to sanction male authority over female rela-
tives and the legitimate use of physical violence
(Hajjar, 2004). At the same time, religious and
theological emphases on compassion, justice,
and liberation in a variety of faiths can be mobi-
lized in opposition to violence against women
(Ware, Levitt, & Bayer, 2004).
Mass Media
There is substantial evidence that particular
forms of media do influence attitudes toward
violence against women. At the same time,
media representations do not have simple and
deterministic effects on attitudes or indeed
behaviors. Instead, viewers engage with media
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texts in active and diverse ways. Personal and
developmental factors mediate the impact of
exposure. The relationship between violent
media representations and violent attitudes or
behaviors is reciprocal, in that viewers with
violent inclinations and behaviors show greater
interest in and enjoyment of violent media
representations. And the relationships between
representations and attitudes or behaviors are
complex (Flood & Hamilton, 2003; Huessman,
Pornography. The application of summary
techniques or meta-analysis to existing empiri-
cal studies finds consistent relationships between
pornography and sexual aggression (Malamuth,
Addison, & Koss, 2000). This association is
strongest for violent pornography and still reli-
able for nonviolent pornography, particularly
among frequent users. Several types of empiri-
cal examination demonstrate this relationship.
In experimental studies, adults show significant
strengthening of attitudes supportive of sexual
aggression following exposure to pornography.
Exposure to sexually violent material increases
male viewers’ acceptance of rape myths, desen-
sitizes them to sexual violence, and shapes more
callous attitudes toward female victims (Allen,
Emmers, Gebhardt, & Giery, 1995). Experimental
studies also find that adults also show an
increase in behavioral aggression following
exposure to pornography, again especially vio-
lent pornography (Allen, Alessio, Emmers, &
Gebhardt, 1996). Correlational studies of por-
nography use in everyday life find that men
who use hardcore, violent, or rape pornography,
and men who are high-frequency users of por-
nography, are significantly more likely than oth-
ers to report that they would rape or sexually
harass a woman if they knew they could get
away with it. There is a circular relationship
among some men between sexual violence and
pornography (Malamuth et al., 2000).
Television and other popular media. Other
media, such as television, music, and film, are
also effective teachers of gender-stereotyped
and violence-supportive attitudes (Hogan,
2005; Huessmann, 2007). Both experimental
and observational studies among children
document greater rates of aggressive attitudes
and behavior among children exposed to media
violence, correlational studies show a relation-
ship between heavy viewing of television vio-
lence and self-reported or peer-assessed violent
behavior, and longitudinal studies find that
exposure to media violence in early childhood is
a significant predictor of aggression at older
ages (Strasburger & Wilson, 2002). Viewing
media violence shapes children’s cognitive
schemas, normative beliefs, and scripts for social
behavior, as well as their later aggressive behav-
ior, including when one controls for early
aggressiveness (Huessman, 2007).
Media impacts on young people’s attitudes
toward violence against women have been fur-
ther identified in two genres of mass media in
particular: music and electronic games. Various
studies find that sexually violent, misogynist,
and objectifying themes influence violence-
supportive, sexually aggressive, and sexist atti-
tudes (Barongan & Nagayama, 1995; Johnson,
Jackson, & Gatto, 1995; Kalof, 1999; Strasburger
& Wilson, 2002; Johnson, Adams, Ashburn, &
Reed, 1995). In more focused and intense forms
of media involvement, such as playing violent
electronic games, aggressive behavioral scripts
may be shaped by powerful combinations of
psychological absorption and immersion (Funk,
2002). There is a growing evidence that playing
violent electronic games is associated with
lower empathy and stronger adherence to
proviolence attitudes (Anderson & Bushman,
2001; Funk, 2002; Funk, Baldacci, Pasold, &
Baumgardner, 2004) and an emerging consen-
sus that exposure to violence in video games
and elsewhere is an important risk factor for
aggression (Gentile & Anderson, 2005).
Other aspects of popular culture identified
as reinforcing community tolerance for vio-
lence against women include advertising and
language (Murnen et al., 2002). Materials iden-
tified as particularly concerning here include
TV advertising for children with aggressive
content (Larson, 2003) and advertisements
focused on women’s bodies and body parts
(Hall & Crum, 1994; Reichert & Carpenter,
2004). There is evidence that the latter por-
trayals can increase attitudinal support for
sexual aggression, especially among men (Lanis
& Covel, 1995).
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136 TRAUMA, VIOLENCE, & ABUSE / April 2009
News coverage. Media coverage of and public
controversy regarding high-profile incidents of
violence against women can increase commu-
nity awareness. In a U.S. attitudinal poll, 72%
of respondents reported that they had learned
something about domestic violence from the
media coverage of the O. J. Simpson trial, such
as the fact that such violence “is a serious prob-
lem” (Klein, Campbell, Soler, & Ghez, 1997,
pp. 8-11). Media coverage of domestic violence
dramatically increased over 1994-1995, and
over a single year the percentage of male
respondents who rated domestic violence as an
extremely important social problem climbed
from 25% to 33%. After the Hill-Thomas sexual
harassment hearings in 1991, Jaschik-Herman
and Fisk (1995) replicated a study that had
taken place 2 years before. Women in the more
recent study were more likely to spontaneously
label as harassment the behaviors depicted in a
video segment.
However, media reportage can have nega-
tive effects. Depersonalized representations of
female victims of violent crime decrease empa-
thy toward them and engender victim blame
(Anastasio & Costa, 2004).
Community education and social marketing cam-
paigns. Education and media have also been
deliberately used to change attitudes. Face-
to-face education regarding violence against
women is delivered in primary and second-
ary schools, universities, and in other con-
texts. Such interventions can have positive
effects on males’ attitudes toward and par-
ticipation in violence against women (Flood,
2005-2006; Whitaker et al., 2006). Although
not all educational interventions are effective
and changes in attitudes often rebound to
preintervention levels, education programs
that are intensive, lengthy, and use a variety
of pedagogical approaches have been shown
to produce lasting change in attitudes and
behaviors (Flood, 2005-2006). In addition,
social marketing campaigns in the mass media
have been shown to produce positive change
in the attitudes (and behaviors) associated
with men’s perpetration of violence against
women (Donovan & Vlais, 2005).
Criminal Justice Policies
and Law Reform
Although there is little consensus on the
impact of criminal justice policies on the atti-
tudes of the wider community (Dugan, 2003),
an American study did show that the existence
of legal sanctions has an impact on attitudes
toward violence against women. Perceptions of
criminal justice policies impacted attitudes
toward criminal justice responses and had
effects on victim-blaming attitudes in relation
to domestic violence (Salazar, Baker, Price, &
Carlin, 2003). For example, the perception that
the criminal justice system intervenes and pro-
vides punitive sanctions for domestic violence
influences community support for a criminal
justice system response. Given this, it is possi-
ble that criminal justice systems may have a
negative influence on attitudes when they fail
to respond appropriately to the victims and
perpetrators of violence against women.
Social Movements
The last form of influence on attitudes toward
violence against women we consider is social
movements. The social movement with the
most impact on community norms regarding
violence against women is the women’s move-
ment. Public recognition of men’s violence
against women as a social problem has been a
major achievement of the women’s movement
in particular (Bush, 1992). It is difficult to docu-
ment the impact of social movements on social
norms, in part because of the scale at which
change occurs and the complexity of the pos-
sible dynamics of change, but it is very likely
that the women’s movements and feminism
have had a distinctive, and substantial, impact
on attitudes toward violence against women.
The women’s movement’s impact is likely to
be both direct, through its advocacy on vio-
lence, and indirect, through its impact on gen-
der norms and relations more widely. Other
collective mobilizations with a potential influ-
ence on community understandings of violence
against women include antifeminist men’s
rights and fathers’ rights, profeminist men’s
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groups (Flood, 2005), and conservative reli-
gious groups and networks. However, there is
very little direct empirical evidence of their
impacts, whether positive or negative.
Attitudes toward violence against women
are shaped by a multitude of factors at all levels
of the social order. Two clusters of factors have
a multilevel influence on attitudes. Both gender
and culture are powerful influences on atti-
tudes, and both operate at micro- and mac-
rolevels including individual socialization, the
norms and relations of particular contexts and
communities, and the society-wide workings
of the media, law, and other factors. Gender
and culture themselves intersect, in that differ-
ent cultural contexts involve particular norms
and relations of gender that shape attitudes
toward violence against women. In addition, a
wide range of other influences on attitudes
operate among individuals, organizations,
communities, or in society as a whole, and
many of these operate at more than one level.
For example, particular institutions such as
schools and workplaces shape their partici-
pants’ attitudes through both formal policies
and structures and informal norms; they are
locations for informal peer relations that shape
attitudes, and such institutions are themselves
shaped in dynamic ways by wider factors such
as the mass media. In turn, the influence of soci-
etal factors such as the mass media is affected
by the local contexts in which media representa-
tions are seen and individual variations in expe-
rience and understanding. The intersections of
gender, race and ethnicity, and other social divi-
sions cut across all of these levels and help to
reproduce the social relations and institutional
structures that perpetuate proviolence attitudes
and violence toward women.
Given the breadth of factors, settings, and
social forces that shape attitudes regarding vio-
lence against women, there is a wide range of
possible settings and groups for intervention
in such attitudes. There is not space here to
identify key points, settings, and popula-
tions for intervention, although we have
done so elsewhere (Flood & Pease, 2006).
However, efforts to improve attitudes toward
violence against women should be guided by
five assumptions. First, the process of chang-
ing attitudes must be located within a project
of changing familial, organizational, com-
munal, and societal norms that support vio-
lence against women. Second, interventions
must address not only those attitudes that are
overtly condoning of violence against women
but also the wider clusters of attitudes related
to gender and sexuality that normalize and
justify this violence. Given the close associa-
tion between attitudes toward violence against
women and attitudes toward gender, espe-
cially males’ adherence to sexist, patriarchal,
and hostile attitudes toward women, the latter
must be targeted in educational campaigns.
Third, efforts to address violence-supportive
attitudes must also work to provide an alterna-
tive, a set of norms and values centered on
nonviolence and gender equality. Fourth, vio-
lence prevention interventions must be cultur-
ally appropriate, such that this includes
sensitivity not only to ethnic diversities but
also to local gender cultures (Flood, 2005-
2006). Finally, interventions aimed at attitudi-
nal and cultural change must be accompanied
by changes in structural relations and social
practices if violence against women is to be
u Attitudes are a key variable shaping violence against
women, although this violence also has cultural,
collective, and institutional underpinnings.
u Efforts to prevent violence against women must
address not only those attitudes that are overtly con-
doning of violence against women but also the wider
clusters of attitudes related to gender and sexuality
that normalize and justify this violence.
u Equally, prevention efforts must address particular social
processes and settings through which violence-supportive
attitudes are maintained. Key processes include the
intergenerational transmission of violence facilitated by
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Michael Flood is a research fellow at La Trobe
University in Melbourne, Australia, funded by the
Victorian Health Promotion Foundation (VicHealth). He
conducts research on violence prevention, men and gen-
der, male heterosexuality, fathering, and sexual and
reproductive health. He has published on how to engage
men in violence prevention, best practice in primary
prevention, and factors shaping violence-supportive atti-
tudes. He is also a trainer and community educator with
a long involvement in community advocacy and educa-
tion work focused on men’s violence against women. In
2006, he received a NSW Violence Against Women
Prevention Award for his role in raising community and
professional awareness of violence prevention.
Bob Pease is the chair of Social Work at Deakin
University in Melbourne, Australia. His main research
interests are in the fields of critical masculinity studies and
critical social work practice. In the former area, his specific
research focus is on men’s violence against women, cross-
cultural and global perspectives on men and masculinities,
and post-Vietnam military masculinities. In the latter area,
he is interested in the application of critical theories to pro-
gressive social work practice and profeminist approaches to
working with men in the human services. His most recent
books are International Encyclopedia of Men and
Masculinities (coedited, Routledge, 2007), Critical Social
Work Practice (coedited, Allen and Unwin, 2003), and
Men and Gender Relations (Tertiary Press, 2002). He is
currently coediting a book titled Migrant Men: Critical
Studies of Masculinities and the Migration Experience
and writing a book titled Undoing Privilege: Facing the
Predicament of Unearned Advantages.
at La Trobe University on July 30, 2009 http://tva.sagepub.comDownloaded from
... On one hand, it has been identified that boys and young men who more strongly endorse traditional and stereotypical gender roles are more likely to normalise, perpetrate, and/or blame victims for SVAH (Flood, 2009;Flood & Pease, 2009;Smiler, 2013). As a result, addressing so-called 'hegemonic masculinity'-the dominant ideology of masculinity predicated upon male power and dominance including over girls and women in the field of heterosexual gender relations (Chambers et al., 2004;Connell & Messerschmidt, 2005;Holland & Thomson, 2010)-is part of SVAH prevention. ...
... The findings lend support to a sustained, holistic, and integrated approach to SVAH prevention through consent education addressing social norms and gendered sexual subjectivity (Flood & Pease, 2009;Jewkes et al., 2014). First, it is necessary for professionals working with boys and engaged in SVAH prevention efforts to identify and deconstruct, rather than reinforce, the normative contexts that shape perceptions and attitudes about what is expected from gendered sexual subjectivity and how that is believed to manifest in interpersonal dynamics. ...
Full-text available
Educating boys about consent in schools in England is required as part of the now-statutory Relationships, Sex, and Health Education curriculum and, moreover, is considered important for addressing sexual violence, abuse, and harassment among young people. The present paper draws on qualitative data collected in three schools in southeast England to explore how boys are being taught about consent and how they relate to and interpret educational messages about consent in terms of their sociosexual subjectivities and peer sexual cultures. Data was collected during May–June 2022 through classroom observations, focus groups with boys, and discussions with teachers in a co-educational academy, a boys’ academy, and a boys’ independent school, all in southeast England. The data suggests that while typical consent education messages may rationalise or provide a ‘road map’ for consent, the boys felt uncertain and anxious about navigating the perceived, often anticipated, realities of youth sexual culture. The framing of sexual activity as only consensual, and thus legitimate, if there is a clear and direct yes, conflicted with these realities. As supposed initiators of sex, as masculine heterosexual subjects, the boys felt a responsibility for obtaining consent yet seemed to lack confidence regarding the socio-affective skills required for doing so. The paper calls for an integrated model of consent education that addresses knowledge, skills (including emotional literacy), and the normative contextual contingencies that constrain the operation of free choice.
... The 12-month prevalence of physical/sexual IPV is 2.3% of women and 1.1% of men, while 4.8% of women and 4.2% of men have experienced emotional IPV [13]. The gendered nature of DFV in the community is underpinned by the still-evident power disparity between men and women and enduring ideology associating masculinity with dominance [14,15]. ...
... The men in this study may not be representative of men in broader Australian society; for example, the incidence of same-sex partnerships was more than 10 times higher in the present sample compared to the community average [13]. Men in nursing may not reflect traditionally narrow representations of masculinity [14] and may have been more willing to participate at least in part because the survey gave them a voice for their experience that they otherwise do not have [46]. ...
Full-text available
Background Domestic and family violence (DFV), including intimate partner violence (IPV), sexual assault and child abuse are prevalent health and social issues, often precipitating contact with health services. Nurses, midwives and carers are frontline responders to women and children who have experienced violence, with some research suggesting that health professionals themselves may report a higher incidence of IPV in their personal lives compared to the community. This paper reports the largest study of DFV against health professionals to date. Method An online descriptive, cross-sectional survey of 10,674 women and 772 men members of the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) (Victorian Branch). The primary outcome measures were 12-month and adult lifetime IPV prevalence (Composite Abuse Scale); secondary outcomes included sexual assault and child abuse (Australian Bureau of Statistics Personal Safety Survey) and prevalence of IPV perpetration (bespoke). Results Response rate was 15.2% of women/11.2% of men who were sent an invitation email, and 38.4% of women/28.3% of men who opened the email. In the last 12-months, 22.1% of women and 24.0% of men had experienced IPV, while across the adult lifetime, 45.1% of women and 35.0% of men had experienced IPV. These figures are higher than an Australian community sample. Non-partner sexual assault had been experienced by 18.6% of women and 7.1% of men, which was similar to national community sample. IPV survivors were 2-3 times more likely to have experienced physical, sexual or emotional abuse in childhood compared to those without a history of IPV (women OR 2.7, 95% CI 2.4 to 2.9; men OR 2.8, 95% CI 2.0 to 4.1). Since the age of sixteen, 11.7% of men and 1.7% of women had behaved in a way that had made a partner or ex-partner feel afraid of them. Conclusions The high prevalence of intimate partner violence and child abuse in this group of nurses, midwives and carers suggests the need for workplace support programs. The findings support the theory that childhood adversity may be related to entering the nursing profession and has implications for the training and support of this group.
... For impersonal orientation, we did not take it into account in the present study because impersonal orientation is related to apathy and not related to perpetrating IPV (Øverup et al., 2017). In addition, women's responses to violence are shaped by their own attitudes and those of others around them (Flood & Pease, 2009). According to the different characteristics of controlled and autonomous orientation, individuals with different orientations might have different attitudes and perceive different environments. ...
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The current study examined how the general tolerance of women's intimate partner violence and mental violence perpetration are affected by women's ambivalent sexism and relationship causality orientation. One hundred and forty-nine of 221 Chinese female participants recruited on an online platform were included in the final data analysis. The results showed that causality orientation plays a moderating role. Specifically, as controlled orientation increased, the relationship between hostile sexism and intimate partner violence tolerance became stronger. As the autonomous orientation increased, the relationship between benevolent sexism and intimate partner violence tolerance became weaker. Hostile sexism and controlled orientation positively predict women's mental violence perpetration.
... Earlier research identifies that increased stigmatization associated with sexual violence, and fear of seclusion cause reluctance in victims to report or seek support [48]. This silencing of victims provides men with greater sexual control over women [49] increasing more likelihood of use of violence. Gender-based inequality and violence intersect structures, institutions, and socio-cultural processes, making inequality and violence visible at all levels. ...
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Background Gender inequality and violence are not mutually exclusive phenomena but complex loops affecting each other. Women in Nepal face several inequalities and violence. The causes are diverse, but most of these results are due to socially assigned lower positioning of women. The hierarchies based on power make women face subordination and violence in Nepal. The study aims to explore participants' understanding and experience to identify the status of inequality for women and how violence emerges as one of its consequences. Furthermore, it explores the causes of sex trafficking as an example of an outcome of inequality and violence. Method The study formulated separate male and female groups using a purposive sampling method. The study used a multistage focus group discussion, where the same groups met at different intervals. Six focus group discussions, three times each with male and female groups, were conducted in a year. Thirty-six individuals, including sixteen males and twenty females, were involved in the discussions. The study used constructivist grounded theory for the data analysis. Results The study participants identify that a power play between men and women reinforce inequality and increases the likelihood of violence for women. The findings suggest that the subjugation of women occurs due to practices based on gender differences, constricted life opportunities, and internalization of constructed differences among women. The study identifies that interpersonal and socio-cultural violence can result due to established differences between men and women. Sex trafficking, as an example of the outcome of inequality and violence, occurs due to the disadvantageous position of women compounded by poverty and illiteracy. The study has developed a concept of power-play which is identified as a cause and consequence of women's subordination and violence. This power play is found operative at various levels with social approval for men to use violence and maintain/produce inequality. Conclusion The theoretical concept of power play shows that there are inequitable power relations between men and women. The male-centric socio-cultural norms and practices have endowed men with privilege, power, and an opportunity to exploit women. This lowers the status of women and the power-play help to produce and sustain inequality. The power-play exposes women to violence and manifests itself as one of the worst expressions used by men.
... This means that when a wife argues, a man's authority may be challenged who may discipline the wife by beating her, as found in several studies in Bangladesh on domestic violence (White, 2017). Influenced by these gender norms, men look at violence towards women with affirmation (Morrison et al., 2007) and less empathy (Flood & Pease, 2009). ...
Sociodrama and psychodrama have shown promising behavioral and attitudinal changes among men who adhere to toxic masculine attitudes and behavior. However, it is unknown whether such an approach could potentially curb the rising gender-based violence in Bangladesh. This paper presents the findings of in-depth interviews with 12 out of the 40 men in an urban slum in Dhaka who received culturally contextualized sociodrama and psychodrama interventions and 20 close female family members. Following the intervention, the narratives revealed positive behavioral and attitudinal changes in men, including developing empathy, respect towards family members and co-workers, temper management, participation in household chores, a favorable attitude towards condom use, and reduced sexual harassment and drug abuse. The findings can be used in future research and interventions to address and reduce gender-based violence against women by men.
... Attitudinal acceptance of IPV exacerbates the existing gender inequalities by increasing the prevalence of IPV. Studies have shown that attitudes toward IPV against women is one of the most prominent predictors of the prevalence of IPV [2][3][4]. It is suggested that behavioural transformation can play an important role in eradication of this serious issue [5,6]. ...
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The results of gender equality indicators across the world in the form of prevalence of intimate partner violence (IPV) against women are striking and has thus drawn the attention of policy makers as well as necessitates the adoption of a comprehensive system to deal with. The situation of IPV in Pakistan is alarming. This study examines the acceptability attitude of women and men toward intimate partner violence against women through data science. It discovers and contrasts the frequently co-occurring reasons due to which husbands’ behaviour of beating their wives is believed to be legitimate by both partners in the province of Punjab, Pakistan. Though the discovered frequently co-occurring reasons, such as “arguing with the husband and neglecting the children” altogether, are similar in both genders but the fraction of wives believing in such reasons are significantly greater than that of husbands. This psychological disparity across genders could help in identifying the social and cultural factors to whom this disparity is attributed. It is expected that the identified co-occurring groups of reasons would help to understand the problem to the next level and devise better strategies to mitigate them.
... Previous literature illustrates that factors such as patriarchal culture, witnessing interparental violence, and intergenerational transmission of violence are correlated with a women's attitudinal acceptance of spousal violence (Flood & Pease, 2009). It is quite likely that women brought up in a violent family had frequent exposure to interparental violence in their childhood. ...
A significant amount of literature exists on the lasting effects of interparental abuse on children’s psychological health as adults. However, evidence on how children’s childhood experience of interparental violence shapes their attitude toward partner violence in adult intimate relationships is limited. Given the existing evidence that women’s acceptance of partner violence as a social norm increases the risk of partner violence, we analyzed the effect of girls’ witnessing interparental abuse (where a father is a perpetrator) on their attitude toward partner violence in their intimate relationships as adults. We used data from the Demographic and Health Surveys for 31 low and middle-income countries in Asia and Africa. Aggregating information about women’s attitudes toward partner violence into a binary “intimate partner violence acceptance” variable, we found that a woman who witnessed her father beat her mother was 1.62 times more likely to justify partner violence than a woman who did not experience such interparental abuse (adjusted odds ratio [ AOR] = 1.62, 95% CI [1.57, 1.66], p < .001). Additionally, using individual components of acceptance as response variables, we found that a woman who witnessed interparental abuse was significantly more likely to justify partner violence if she went out without telling her husband ( OR = 1.49, 95% CI [1.45, 1.54], p < .001), neglected children ( OR = 1.53, 95% CI [1.49, 1.58], p < .001), argued with the husband ( OR = 1.49, 95% CI [1.45, 1.53], p < .001), refused sex with the husband ( OR = 1.35, 95% CI [1.31, 1.39], p < .001), or burned food ( OR = 1.36, 95% CI [1.31, 1.41], p < .001). This study highlights the need to put in place children-specific social policies to limit the intergenerational transmission of the adverse effects of intimate partner violence.
... This discovery is consistent with findings that women who commit to traditional gender roles are more likely to remain in abusive relationships [51,52], and women who adhere to conservative attitudes about gender are more likely to blame themselves for the abuse inflicted on them [53]. Some studies also show that certain hyper-male attitudes about women's roles and traditional gender norms increase the likelihood of male-on-female abuse perpetration [54], heightening women's risk of becoming victims. These findings are on par with a 2019 study, where Russian women selling sex described many men using their services as "intimate partners", with 45 percent of women reporting objective violence from those clients [55]. ...
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Globally, over a third of women have experienced physical or sexual violence in their lifetime. In Russia, human trafficking, sexual exploitation, and physical abuse of women are amongst the world’s highest. Applying cognitive dissonance theory and sexual script theory, this study explores whether women (n = 654) trading sex in Russia appraise their experiences of entering the commercial sex trade as voluntary or forced. Contributing client factors were also analyzed, including beatings (66%), rape (66%), and humiliation (86%) by clients. Multiple logistic regression assessed whether women who reported voluntarily entering the commercial sex trade were more likely to experience physical abuse but less likely to experience rape (AOR:1.37); were more likely to perceive men using them as decent/caring (AOR = 2.54); were more likely to sell sadistic/masochistic services (AOR: 2.31); and less likely to stop selling sex (AOR: 5.84). Implications of this study reveal the importance of intervention strategies that account for a woman’s unawareness of her own exploitation and mistreatment as well as the psychological barriers that prevent her from seeking help. The necessity of recognizing women selling sex as sufferers of coercion and abuse is also emphasized.
... First, few have targeted IPV, but rather have sought to reduce bullying, physical and relational aggression, and attitudes toward violence (Möller et al., 2012;Rosenkoetter et al., 2009;Swaim & Kelly, 2008). Although acceptance of violence is related to perpetration of violence in romantic relationships (Flood & Pease, 2009), much of the curricula described in the extant literature does not directly address IPV or any attendant ideology associated with popular media exposure (e.g., traditional gender roles). ...
Intimate partner violence (IPV) remains a significant social issue among Black American adolescents, as some estimates suggest that upwards of 50% have experienced some form of physical, emotional, or sexual violence by an intimate partner. Further, Black adolescent girls report higher rates of victimization compared to girls of other races. Given that these racial disparities continue into adulthood, understanding the antecedents of such violence is an issue of critical scientific concern. Problematic relationship scripts, as observed in person or via the media, have been identified as a key contributor to acceptance of IPV. Despite the commonplace implementation of educational IPV interventions across the United States, there is little evidence that participation in these programs has lowered adolescent IPV rates. Critical media literacy (CML), skills in understanding, analyzing, and critiquing media codes, representations, and frames, may be an appropriate culturally relevant framework to improve IPV intervention programs. Because IPV acceptance is associated with greater endorsement of racial and gender stereotypes and higher mainstream media use, this dissertation argues that CML may be an appropriate and understudied framework for use in culturally relevant IPV interventions. This interdisciplinary project uses the theoretical frameworks of Simon and Gagnon’s scripting theory, Bandura’s social cognitive theory, Gerbner’s cultivation theory, and Freire’s philosophy of critical consciousness to elucidate how critical media literacy may buffer the associations between mainstream media exposure, sociocultural relationship scripts, and IPV acceptance among Black adolescents. In Study 1, survey data were collected from 450 Black adolescents (aged 15-19) to examine CML as a moderator of the mediated associations between mainstream media exposure (i.e., television viewing and music video viewing), three racial and gender ideologies (i.e., sexual objectification, traditional gender roles, and the Jezebel and Sapphire stereotypes about Black women), and IPV acceptance. Findings from nine moderated mediation models showed that while CML scores did moderate higher media exposure as a predictor of sexual objectification and traditional gender roles, which in turn predicted higher IPV acceptance, counter to the hypothesized direction, average and high CML scores strengthened these associations. These results suggest that critical viewing alone may not shield the effects of media exposure without additional intervention. In Study 2, semi-structured interview data were collected from 10 Black American adolescent girls ages 17-19 to explore how media exposure may interact with their relationship scripts and IPV attitudes. Reflexive thematic analyses produced five themes: mothers provide direct relationship advice and preferences to their daughters; contemporary relationship scripts are less traditional and more egalitarian; scripted media are sources of consternation and beloved relationship models; peer relationships with controlling behaviors are commonplace; and Black women are targeted and blamed for abuse. These data indicate that the participants are aware that racial stereotypes about Black women shape IPV attitudes toward their victimization. The participants also rejected victim-blaming messages and embraced egalitarian relationship scripts. These results contribute to efforts to understand how media literacy education may be leveraged as an anti-violence strategy. Further, this project advances scholarship on sexual script negotiation and societal perceptions of Black womanhood among Black adolescent girls.
Although partner alcohol use and acceptance of intimate partner violence against women (IPVAW) are critical determinants of IPVAW, little is known about their interaction. We explored how partner alcohol use and attitudes toward IPVAW act independently and jointly at the individual and community levels to influence women's reports of experiencing IPVAW across low- and middle-income countries. We conducted secondary analyses using a pooled sample of reproductive-aged women (n = 166,621) from 19 Demographic and Health Survey datasets. We fit a series of a priori-defined mixed-effects logistic regression models of the total effects, within- and between-community effects, and contextual effects of past-year IPVAW on partner alcohol use, acceptance of IPVAW, and their multiplicative interaction. We then fit a series of models stratified by community alcohol use and acceptance of IPVAW. Partner alcohol use (odds ratio [OR] = 3.20; 95% confidence interval [CI]: [3.07, 3.33]) and women's acceptance of IPVAW (OR = 1.83; 95% CI: [1.76, 1.89]) were consistently associated with increased odds of experiencing IPVAW. Sub-multiplicative interactions were present for within-community effects (ratio of OR = 0.86; 95% CI: [0.79, 0.94]), whereas supra-multiplicative interactions were present for between-community effects (ratio of OR = 1.002; 95% CI: [1.0002, 1.005]) and contextual effects (ratio of OR = 1.003; 95% CI: [1.0007, 1.005]). The odds of IPVAW associated with partner alcohol use was greatet in communities with lower partner alcohol prevalence and lower acceptance of IPVAW. It is important to consider norms and attitudes toward IPVAW alongside alcohol use when understanding epidemiological patterns of IPVAW and potential opportunities for preventive programs and policymaking. Future studies should focus on the complex interactions, at multiple social levels, between interacting risk factors for IPVAW.
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Using data from a Canadian national representative sample survey of male university and college students, this study tested three hypotheses from a theoretical model which attempts to explain the relationship between male peer group dynamics and sexual assault in dating relationships. Consistent with previous research conducted in the United States, the findings reported here show that male peer support is a significant predictor of sexual abuse in post-secondary school courtship. This article concludes with several suggestions for further research.
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One of the Boys: Masculinity, Homophobia, and Modern Manhood takes a fresh look at the formation of modern male sexual identities. You will find that homophobia is not only widespread, but that it takes diverse forms and has far-reaching behavioral and social consequences. The new concept of “homophobic passage,” which is part of the development of all young men, will enlighten you as to the proposed “causes” of homosexuality and heterosexuality. One of the Boys will help you discover how the passage of young males from childhood to adulthood plays an important role in formation of the modern adult male self in gay and straight men. As a result, this knowledge will allow you to offer relevant services to clients who are struggling with societal stereotypes and identity issues. From this informative book, you will discover how homophobia plays a role in the increase in violence experienced by gay men and lesbians in our culture today. To help you offer improved services, One of the Boys discusses why homophobia is widespread, takes diverse forms, and has far-reaching behavioral and social consequences by: examining the school playground and its many effects on children’s peer groups to discover how profoundly names like “crybaby” and “poofter” can impact a child’s development learning that children often cannot escape harmful labels and stereotypes at home and realizing how it impacts a child’s developing sense of self discovering the media’s influence on role models and realizing the important role television and magazines play in providing information about homosexuality and homophobia realizing the heavy pressure homophobia exerts on men and how it shapes their relationships with women and other men, how emotionally close they allow themselves to get to people, how affectionate they are, and with whom they have sexual relations Through One of the Boys, you will gain valuable insight into the masculinity of the men interviewed and how it was shaped in order for you to develop a greater understanding of men and the many influences of society as a whole. This unique study investigates the development of homophobia and the meanings and significances people associate with it to help you understand how and where homophobia originates in our society.
To be effective, criminal justice policies should affect the underlying social norms for which the policies were enacted. This study sought to determine whether public perceptionsof criminal justice policies on domestic violence affected social norms. Two waves of data were collected via a telephone survey where a random probability sample of 973 residents was drawn from 4 communities. A structural equation model was tested and confirmed. Results provided strong support for the hypothesis that perceptions of criminal justice policies have direct effects on attitudes toward criminal justice response, and indirect effects on victim‐blaming attitudes, both underlying social norms related to domestic violence. The enactment of criminal justice policies, therefore, may have an impact beyond victims and perpetrators and lead to a transformation of the community through the emergence of new social norms. Public awareness campaigns designed to disseminate criminal justice policies may be instrumental in provoking social change.
Two popular explanations for rape exist in our culture - rape as motivated by either sex or by power. The present study investigated participants' beliefs about rape motivation in the context of both female and male rape. College students were administered a version of Feild's (1978) Attitudes Toward Rape (ATR) scale, which incorporates beliefs about rape motivation. A Three-Factor ANOVA revealed two significant main effects but no significant interactions. Findings showed that participants believed both female and male rape to be motivated by sex to a greater extent than by power. In addition, men endorsed the view that rape is motivated by both sex and power to a greater extent than women. The implications of these findings for beliefs about both female and male sexual violence, particularly in the context of recent controversial evolutionary debates about the psychology of sexual violence and motivation for rape (e.g., Thornhill 2000) are discussed.
Men's gender ideologies have changed more slowly than women's since the 1970s; this article analyzes the period and cohort processes that underlie men's attitude change and how the individual-level characteristics of conservative men differ by birth cohort. Using multidimensional measures of gender role attitudes from the 1974-1998 General Social Surveys, the author finds that changes in men's attitudes have been brought about both by period influences, especially during the 1970s, and by cohort replacement. Analyses of multivariate interaction effects demonstrate that education has become a much less significant predictor of attitudes for men born after 1945.
An understanding of attitudes toward violence against women is vital for effective prevention strategies. In this study we examined attitudes regarding violence against women in samples of undergraduate women and men students from four countries: India, Japan, Kuwait, and the United States. Attitudes toward sexual assault and spousal physical violence differed between men and women and across the four countries. Variations in gender differences across countries indicated that, for attitudes regarding sexual assault of women in particular, sociocultural factors may be a stronger influence than gender. Findings suggest the importance of examining differences within the larger sociocultural context of political, historical, religious, and economic influences on attitudes toward gender roles and violence against women.
Despite growing theoretical recognition that perceptions of rape and other social phenomena are best understood by examining the impact of social relations, there are very few studies that have attempted such an exploration. Moreover, most research on perceptions of rape has neglected the realities of women and men in non-Western contexts. The combination of both of these concerns underlies a recent study undertaken in Beirut, Lebanon. Through in-depth interviews with activists, key community figures and women not involved in activism, as well as participant observation in social and professional settings, this study sought to ascertain the links between social relations and perceptions of rape. Relying on an intersectional approach to analysis, this article offers insight into the main finding of this study, namely, that perceptions of rape are strongly shaped by the centrality of marriage and the construction of marriageability within the contemporary Beiruti context.