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Gender and Violence

Gender based violence has historically been seen as a private and personal issue between couples. It has only been in the last few decades that gender based violence come to be seen as a public issue.

Gender based violence is much more than just a personal issue between couples: it occurs because of some of the basic ideologies we hold about men and women, and the structures used to enforce these ideas. We must examine the ideologies of hegemonic masculinity and femininity that create separate dichotomous spheres for men and women.¹ If we see the ways in which men and women are viewed as different we can begin to see how women are devalued and oppressed and how this leads to the continuation of violence against women.

Barrett and McIntosh, two sociologists, claim that the family is what they call “antisocial” and that because we have been socialised to invest so much in it, family ties prevent us from extending caring relations to those outside our immediate family circle.¹ Giddens argues that many family structures foster both emotional and personal intimacy.¹

Radical feminist theories cite power as a key factor in family violence. One stream of radical feminism centres on sexuality and violence in male-female relationships as both driving and mirroring patriarchy.¹ It argues that symbolic violence perpetuated against women by men in sexual relations leads directly to the actual physical and mental violence used by men against their wives in the nuclear family.¹

Other streams of feminism argue that men tend to associate emotional feeling with sexuality, and sexuality with power and partner submissiveness.¹ This feminist analyses seeks to “expose the ways in which the widespread romanticised ideal of the family and family values is systematically skewed to empower men and disempower women and children; and the ways that this ideal informs the way that welfare and legal institutions respond to sexual violence to the detriment of women and children...”¹




1. Knoblock, Jacquelyn. (2008). Gender and Violence: A Reflective Sociology of How Gender Ideologies and Practices Contribute to GEnder Based Violence. Retrieved May 8, 2014, from