Domestic violence is a real problem in Australia, with one in three women having been a victim at the hands of a male perpetrator. Why do men do it? Lack of respect, poor upbringing, copying the way their father treated their mother, a culture where women are considered inferior … all play a part, along with many factors too numerous to list here. However, there is another reason that is perhaps one of the most disturbing of all.
What is it?
According to The Conversation, there is growing evidence indicating that violence against women may be the consequence of society’s traditional and stereotyped beliefs about what it means to be a “real man”.
The findings were contained in a paper presenting to the American Psychological Association on how threats to masculinity sequentially cause public discomfort, anger, and ideological dominance over women.
From an early age, boys are socialised as to what manhood is. Many cultures foster a belief that a “real man” is powerful, dominant, assertive and in control.
Men can prove their masculinity in many ways like sport, romance, adrenaline-fuelled activities. However, for some the need to prove their masculinity includes physical force and public displays of aggression.
When men feel that they do not measure up, the research shows they are more likely to display their physical prowess and act aggressively, including towards women.
The researchers say the findings send a compelling message that in addition to providing help for the victims of domestic violence and punishment for the perpetrators society needs to confront the source of the problem from its roots.
Sadly that means rethinking the way we as a society are bringing up our young men and what we are teaching them about being a “real man”.
Let’s talk: Are you surprised by the findings? How can we fix the issue? Are programs like the “respect” program being taught in schools adequate in themselves, or do we need more to educate parents, particularly those from traditional cultures?