Cultural Factors and Intimate Partner Violence

Chapter 9: Cultural Factors and
Intimate Partner Violence (IPV)
“When I’m old and getting gray,
I’ll only gang-bang once a day.”
--Fraternity ditty
IPV is a gendered crime
• American culture has
particular definitions of
masculinity and femininity
which contribute to a culture
of violence.
• IPV is not the “natural”
outgrowth of the biology of
men and women.
• Women are by and large the
• Rather, IPV is a “natural”
outgrowth of a system of
• Men are by and large the
• Is the sharing of outlooks and modes of behavior
among individuals.
• Thus, individuals develop inclinations from their
exposure to the particular traditions, practices,
and beliefs.
Gender Roles
• Certain behavioral patterns associated exclusively
or almost exclusively to a particular gender.
• What it means to be a man:
▫ Physical
▫ Functional
▫ Sexual
▫ Emotional
▫ Intellectual
▫ interpersonal
• What it means to be a woman:
▫ Verbal
▫ Relational
▫ Deferential
▫ submissive
• A social system in which men (and boys) have
greater access to opportunities, resources, and
• Indicators of patriarchy:
▫ Men are smarter than women, especially in
science and math.
▫ Women are more suited to take care of the home
and family.
▫ Women should defer to their husbands on finical
▫ Men are better logical thinkers.
How masculinity and
femininity affect IPV
• Gender roles are rigid and oppositional
• Masculinity and femininity are binary
and oppositional.
• Therefore, IPV is almost an inevitable outcome of
masculinity and femininity as they are defined in
the contemporary United States.
Who is a batterer
• There is no explicit description of a batterer.
• However, most men who batter:
▫ are well socialized into hyper masculinity.
▫ Batter in response to perceived threats to their
• “Triggers” of violence stem from men’s success
in breadwinning and their performance in the
The two Bs
• Defined as men’s ability to
succeed in the labor marker.
• So when they fail to be
providers, are not able to keep
up with their wives’ or
girlfriend’s demand, or are
frustrated by their wives or
girlfriends who want to be
“kept,” they resort to violence.
• Defined as men’s ability to
satisfy their partners and their
ability to be a “player.”
Sexual Double Standard
• The idea that men should and can have more
sexual experience and partners than women.
• More accepted because:
▫ All the words for men are positive (player, stud),
while all the words for women are negative
(whore, slut).
▫ Polygyny is much more accepted throughout
history and across the globe.
Sexual Abuse
• Sexual abuse is a common tool for batterers
▫ It humiliates the victim.
▫ It reminds the victim of the power the perpetrator
has over them.
• It is used as a tool of war, domestic violence, and
to terrorize marginalized groups.
Marital Rape
• One in four women report being raped or having
sex with their husbands when they did not want
• It is difficult for the victim and difficult to
• Martial rape exemption: lasted up into the
▫ Women were not legally allowed to bring a charge
of rape against their husbands, even if they were
IPV in the Military
• The military is a culture unto itself, and very
hyper masculine.
• It is one of the most sex-segregated institutions
in America and virtually dominated by men (It is
approximately 6% female).
• Military estimates half of all women in
the military report women experiencing.
IPV in the Military
• IPV in the military is contributed by the fact
▫ When IPV becomes an issue, it is dealt with
through the military’s own justice system.
▫ The presence and easy access to weapons.
▫ Men being reintegrated into family life have
problems of jealousy.
Cult of Domesticity
• An ideology that a woman’s place is in the home.
• Came about through the public-private split,
with the assumption that economic production
only came through the public sphere.
• Began in the early 1900s and reached its peak in
the 1950s and 1960 after the Great Depression
and World War II.
Cult of Domesticity
• It defined woman’s work as essential to not just
being a good wife but being a good woman.
• It also glorified not just
child rearing but housework.
Power of Imbalance
• Intimate partner violence creates a power of
▫ It puts the perpetrators needs over the victims.
▫ It makes the victim’s problems less important
than the perpetrators.
▫ It means the perpetrators can act however they
want to.
Being a second-class citizen
• Because of intimate partner violence millions of
women live as second-class citizens.
▫ In the public sphere they experience:
 Sexual harassment.
 Wage discrimination.
▫ In the private sphere they experience
 Acts of violence.
 Emotional abuse.
 Rape.
• Ideologies of masculinity and femininity
mutually reinforce one another.
• Together they work to maintain a system of
gender oppression.
• This leaves women vulnerable to IPV.
• It also lets men off the hook when they act

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