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Written Assignment #2

1311 words - 6 pages

Broadly conceptualized, gender roles are what our society expects and values in their community. They shape our behavior and values, thoughts and feelings, even going so far as to denote a person’s worth. Gender roles are present in everyday situations. In the past they strictly dictated the behavior of people in the community (the right to vote, occupations women were allowed to work in), though in the recent past have become more subtle and more successfully challenged. In some instances they are learned consciously, in others they are more subtly ingrained in our lives. Put simply, they are ubiquitous not only in intimate partner violence, but in almost every part of our lives.
As such domestic violence is intricately tied to the gender roles of the community in which it occurs. In earlier course reading material it was noted that the rates and severity of domestic violence differ dramatically between countries and appear to be related to the amount of importance that the community puts on traditional gender roles. Communities like Afghanistan have frequent honor killings which are condoned, and at times, expected. Places like Pakistan differ from places like Japan in frequency of domestic violence (70-90% and 20% respectively). It is not surprising that in countries with more frequent and severe intimate partner violence, that women are valued considerably less and in some places seen as a liability (this is the reason for dowries, the husband is essentially taking a burden out of the father’s life). We need not travel back very far in our own country’s history to see that laws protecting farm animals appeared before laws protecting a spouse and children. In a study of batterer types by Lawson, Brossart, & Shefferman (2010) that included a measure of traditional gender roles found that a significant portion of the batterers subscribed to traditional gender role beliefs, while the non-offender group did not (the results of this study are a bit more complicated than that, however that is beyond the scope of this paper).
Gender roles come into play in intimate partner violence in same-sex relationships as well. Many people I know (including some in law enforcement) do not view a physical assault by a batterer in a same-sex relationship as having the same dynamics as a heterosexual relationship. A physical assault by someone of the same sex is seen as a fight, and the victim should have defended him-or-herself as such. Though paradoxically the fight is still viewed as a private affair and is less likely to be prosecuted as a regular assault. Male victims of female perpetrators are seen as weak, deserving, pathetic, and at times even openly mocked, even by those who understand the underlying dynamics of domestic violence. Further research by Seelau, Seelau, and Poorman (2003) found that college students viewed domestic violence against a female as more severe and more deserving of intervention than domestic violence against a male, regardless of...

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