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Jun 13

That’s just the way he is…

Posted on Thursday, June 13, 2013 in Gender Blogs

When speaking about intimate partner violence (also known as domestic violence), all that many people can think about is a woman being beaten by a man. They focus on the woman and why she stays in the relationship and puts up with the violence or assault, this is a good topic that needs discussion, but for this blog I am going to focus on the man. I have a friend who is in a violent relationship with her partner and her excuse whenever I talk to her about it is, that’s just the way he is. Which is not true; however, what is true is that there are many factors that influence and make an impression on males as they are growing up that can lead to them committing violence against their partners. Next I want to state that this doesn’t give males in heterosexual relationships an excuse to be violent because intimate partner violence is a social construct and can be changed. I just want to focus on some of the factors that can influence some males into thinking and believe that violence against their partners is okay. I will do this by discussing parental modeling, growing up masculine by being aggressive, the portrayal of men stereotypically in mass media, and what you can do to help stop this.

First, why is intimate partner violence an important issue?

Many do not realize when they are in a violent relationship with their partners; this can be because intimate partner violence can take on different behaviors other than physical abuse. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention there are four behaviors: physical violence, sexual violence, threats, and emotional abuse. Since there are many ways that intimate partner violence can be induce,, it is important to be aware and to also inform others who may not know. Also according to this source, in 2011, “on average, 24 people per minute” were victims to one of the four behaviors (physical, sexual, threats, and emotional) committed by an intimate partner. This is a serious problem which is why I want to discuss some factors that may influence some men into committing these acts against their partners.

How does parental modeling influence?

Once children have an idea about their gender whether it be masculine or feminine, they start looking for role models that show them how their gender should act. Since parents are around children the most, it is common for them to look to them as models of how they should act and behave. According to the textbook, Gendered Lives by Julia T. Wood, this is called parental modeling. For those that grow up in a heterosexual family, kids often learn stereotypical traditional sex roles; that men are the ones who make the decisions and are in control while women are the ones emotionally unstable and adhere to what the husband wants.

parental modeling does influence

This can be a problem when the father shows control by beating the wife because she is weak or emotional; this can influence some male children to model after their father and believe that they too need to control women through violence. For example, a son who watches his father beat his mother everyday and tell her it is because she is weak and needs to be taught a lesson may be influenced to do the same later on in life to his partner. An article about domestic violence talks about how devastating the consequences can be for those that experience and witness intimate partner violence, particularly children. “As they develop, children and teens who grow up with domestic violence in the household are more likely to become abusers in later life”. Modeling after parents may be one of the factors that influence some males into believing that intimate partner violence is okay.

 What does growing up and being aggressive have to do with it?

Well according to Julia T. Wood, encouraging boys to be aggressive may be linked to violence against women. Since many boys are encouraged and accepted by others only if they believe and act act aggressively can sometimes lead them to act on that aggression towards others, especially women.

A man dominating a woman while other men watch on with acceptance.

According to a study about college men’s intimate partner violence attitudes, suggests that gender role strain may be a cause to why some men are aggressively violent towards women. Gender role strain occurs when men adhere to traditional role norms for masculinity so harshly that it can cause distress. This distress causes them to look for acceptance from other males for what they’re doing; such as relieving themselves by being aggressive towards others, usually females. For example, let’s say a male college student is so stressed from having to adhere to the masculine role of being successful in his field of study. So he takes his stress out on his partner through violence, he then looks to his male counterparts for acceptance in what he did. The findings in this study actually illustrated that traditional gender role norms such as being aggressive towards women showed an acceptance of men who committed the act. Growing up with the acceptance of aggression towards females may influence some men into believing that being violent towards their life-long partner is okay without them even realizing it.

How can mass media have that much impact of intimate partner violence?

Mass media is everywhere. We are constantly in contact with it even when we don’t realize it. In the textbook Gender Lives, Julia T. Wood talks a lot about how mass media portrays men stereotypically. Men in the media are usually white, heterosexual, powerful, sexually aggressive and violent. They are also talked about as being the macho man and degrading women in unimaginable ways. Some examples were from the TV show Joe Millionaire who made his date shovel poop while wearing an extremely well-dressed outfit. Another man on Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire made his date take off his shoes then kicked her in the butt. These portrayals of men being powerful, dominant, violent, and how they act of TV shows can influence some men into thinking that this is how women should be treated which lead them to committing intimate partner violence.

Intimate partner violence approved? I think so.

In a study performed by Julia T. Wood, she interviews male felons’ accounts of violence towards their female partners. I felt one of the themes showed in the results justified how mass media influences men who commit intimate partner violence. This theme is called justifications, which “are accounts that accept responsibility, but explain why an action was appropriate, reasonable, necessary, within the actors’ right, or that the action was not as bad as perceived”. One of the justifications was that a man has a right to control/discipline his woman. Some of the men interviewed said they came to this conclusion from watching other men who disciplined their partners through violence. Being influenced by other men can also include how they are portrayed through mass media. For example, if a man were to see the episode of the  TV show Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire when the man kicked his date after having her take off his boots to show control, this may also influence other men into thinking that violence is the way to go when controlling partners.

How does this all connect?

These four constructs all show how some men can be influenced to believe that being violent towards women is okay, that it is just the way they are. However, every single one of these constructs is learned, which means it’s a choice not a genetic trait. We are not born to be violent towards others which means that men that commit intimate partner violence chose to do so. Even if someone doesn’t experience all of these constructs they still will experience at least one throughout their life which can influence their behavior towards women later on. Since intimate partner violence is a social construct formed through influences like the ones I have provided such as parents, peers, and media; males that participant can change their choice of doing so.

How can they and you change intimate partner violence?


There are many ways to help end violence against others. One way discussed in the textbook, Gendered Lives, is not being a silent bystander. Wood says that if you were to speak out against those that inflict violence on others you may be able to prevent violence from happening in the future. One organization that works to educate communities on sexual assault and domestic violence is Joyful Heart Foundation. They work to build a community that is strong enough to push the reality away of domestic violence and rape away. This foundation was founded by Mariska Hargitay who plays Olivia Benson on Law & Order: SVU. According to an article on the Washington Post, Mariska visited Washington to launch her “No More” campaign related to the Joyful Heart Foundation. This campaign is to stop bystanders from being silent about domestic abuse and sexual assault. She argued “an end to the silence that feeds shame” about intimate partner violence. We all need to stop being bystanders to violence and try our hardest to speak out when we see something that isn’t right. Yes intimate partner violence is a choice and can be stopped, but it can only do so if we all agree to do something about it. So go do something!

Jun 4

Why did you do that?

Posted on Tuesday, June 4, 2013 in Gender Blogs

a man working on his partner’s car

I have been in a committed relationship with my fiancé for three and a half years but it took me up to two years to realize how he showed affection towards me. I use to get so upset because he never wanted to talk about our relationship, I didn’t believe we would make it very far. However, one day I decided to back off and stop trying to make him show affection and to watch what he did for me. Whenever my light in my car would come on for an oil change, he would change it by hand. When I didn’t have enough money to buy groceries for my apartment he took me shopping. When my father passed away a year and a half ago instead of letting me be sad we went on little trips to places to get my mind off of it. When I stopped forcing him to show affection in the way I knew how it opened up my ability to see that he had been showing affection all along, I just had never noticed.

Does this mean anything important?

I believe it does mean something very important. Trying to change your partner to fit into the way you believe affection should be showed is going to limit you. You’ll never be able to enjoy the way they are actually showing you affection because you are closed to idea that emotional disclosure is the only way to show affection. Also where many believe that it is the female in a heterosexual relationship that brings couples together, a study shows otherwise. According to an article I read on Medical Daily,  says that it is the man’s way of showing affection that allows for “an environment in which the couple does a variety of things together, be it leisure or household chores”. Now think about what would happen if women never saw how their partners show affection. They could be losing out on a more enjoyable life together where they are both able to see each other’s affection and be able to relish in it instead of bringing the other partner down when they aren’t showing affection in the way some women want.

Does this have a name?

It does. According to Julia T. Wood, author of Gendered Lives, these different patterns of showing love is known as Gendered Modes of Expressing Affection. Women believe that showing affection is when you talk and engage in intimate self-disclosure which may be why many women in heterosexual relationships miss out when their partners show affection. Men like to show their love by doing things for their partners and sharing activities. A journal by Dr. Simon Forrest, says men may show their affection by doing things because even though they are capable to talk about their emotions they may be “deterred by insecurities about the implications of doing so”. Therefore, doing things for their partners allows most men to be more comfortable in showing affection than by talking about their emotions. However, this doesn’t mean that these are the absolute ways in which couples show affection. Many find a balance between the different styles and are able to both engage in intimate self-disclosure and activities, this is a more androgynous way of sharing.

How does this portray to real life?

a couple self-disclosing to each other

Well Aaron and I have come to a compromise when it comes to how we show each other love and affection. He still does things for me and I know sometimes I probably miss them but he knows that I appreciate what he does. I still listen to him whenever he has a problem or just needs someone to talk too. When I do this for him it allows for him to open up and talk to me about more personal details. We have also found our balance in how we share and show affection. For example, he loves to shoot bow and guns so when he goes to the shooting range I go along because I want him to know I also enjoy doing these things together. And when I need to talk or I am upset about something he takes the time to listen and talk it out with me.

I believe that it is all about finding common ground and being open minded. It is easy for us to get stuck in our ways and to think that every person acts the way we do. I hope those that read this blog learn that there are different ways to show affection and that there is no one right way. I hope that women in heterosexual relationships learn to look at what their partners do for them and realize that it is just as fulfilling as the way they show affection. Also I hope that when your partner does something for you, you won’t have to ask why did you do that, because now you’ll know. He did it out of his love and affection for you and he should be appreciated just as much as you are when you do something for him.

May 30

be discouraged? party? or just study?

Posted on Thursday, May 30, 2013 in Gender Blogs

A female college student is sitting on her bed studying for a big test she has the next day. She has been struggling in this class due to her professor’s lack of help in the course. She needs to make a good grade on this test to help keep her grade in the class. However,  in her suitemate’s room she can hear her friends laughing and waiting for the guys to come over to go out. Her roommate comes over to get her wallet and tells her that she should come out with them; that she can study when she gets back later that night. So she gives in, gets

the feeling of not passing a test

dressed, and heads out to the bar with her friends. At the bar, her friends push her to relax, have a few drinks, and go hang out with the guy that has been flirting with her all night. Next thing she knows her alarm is going off. She jumps out of bed, hurries to get ready and heads out to take the big test that she didn’t get a chance to study for.

Why does this happen?

According to Julia T. Wood, author of Gendered Lives, this is called Culture of Romance. Many women go to college with the expectation of making good grades and getting prepared for the job they have dreamed of for years. However, one factor that can push women into a culture of romance is the lack of interest at some colleges and universities in women’s study and progress can cause women to become discouraged. A study I read on the PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences) websitesaid that because “faculty exhibit a bias against female students that could contribute to the gender disparity in academic” majors could also be connected to the smaller amount of support that women received.

Another factor of the culture of romance is the pressure to fit in and have friends can cause many to get swept up into the party scene by friends and peers. The pressure from friends make women feel that it’s more important to attract guys and “hook up” with them then to focus on studying and grades. An article from U.S.News talks about how “alcohol/energy drink mixes may play a role in the “hook-up culture” that exists on many college campuses”.  The push from friends to drink while studying at college may be one of the main causes in the importance in attracting males and casually hooking up with them.

In the example above, the female college student  is feeling discouraged because she is having a hard time in her class due to the professor’s lack of interest. It doesn’t help that her friends are pushing for her to go out with them and drink and meet guys. She is being tugged from both sides, the lack of interest from her teacher and the pressure from her friends to go out and drink, that she is becoming more disheartened with the idea of spending her time studying and focusing on making good grades.

Should we care?

friends that let you be yourself

I absolutely think we should care about this. As a female, I cannot imagine how hard it must be to go through that intense pressure. I am lucky that I have professors that care about my wellbeing in class and are willing to help me through any problems I may have. I also have a good group of friends that understand that studying and grades are important to me. Not all women have these positive reinforcements in their lives and I think we should care and want to change this because according to an article in the New York Times, having good friendships “has a bigger impact on our psychological well-being than family relationships”. So having friends is important but it’s the inability some have in choosing good friends that can be their downfall.

I hope that after this blog if you’re ever in this situation from one side or the other. That you either put yourself first and say no to going out to stay in and study for that big test or don’t pressure one of your friends to go out if you know they have something to prepare for the next day. I believe that if we were to become more aware of the factors of the culture of romance that we could help to counteract them. I know that I will focus more on how I influence my friends and try not to push them to hang out if they have to study or prepare for a class

May 23

Homemaker or Career Woman?

Posted on Thursday, May 23, 2013 in Gender Blogs

When I was little I spent a lot of time with my Aunt Mary and her family because my mom traveled with her job to support us. I became a part of their family and watched how my aunt and uncle ran the household. They seemed like the perfect family. I didn’t get a chance to live with my dad and mom long before they divorced; so staying with my aunt and uncle was a treat. I loved that my aunt spent her day at home looking after me and my younger cousin Kendall, cleaning, and making sure that dinner was on the table when my uncle got home. She was completely happy and content with her role in their relationship. I remember when I was staying at their house I would help her clean, cook, do laundry, and look after my cousin. She would always tell me what a good girl I was and that my mom would be proud. I believe that since I spent so much time with my aunt when I was little and hearing her say those words influenced me into knowing how I can be a “good  girl” and that was by helping to do the activities of a homemaker.

a good little helper

 There’s nothing wrong with being a homemaker. Now that I am newly engaged and about to get married I feel a pull to want to make sure that I will be a good homemaker for my future family. Interestingly, an article on The Washington Post, says that if the job of a homemaker “were salaried, it would draw, on average, close to six figures: $96,261”. I find that hilarious because many believe that it doesn’t take much to be a homemaker but there is a lot of work that goes into “keeping house”. Even if my aunt didn’t mean to influence my gender identity it happens all the time when children interact with others.

According to our textbook, Gendered Lives by Julia Wood she says this called Symbolic Interactionism which “claims that through communication with others we learn who we are and how our culture views our identity” (Wood, 55). When children interact with others, they are constantly told who they are whether it is a description of how they look or act such as pretty, calm, or rough. These descriptions are then internalized by children that can influence how they act or look externally. Through the views of others they are able to assign what behaviors go with their gender.

I have learned from this theory that even though I have an active role in defining what gender I identify with. That the views and communication of others also play a big role in influencing how we think of ourselves and what we would consider good behaviors for our gender. I hope that this blog shows that there are different paths even if they are part of our cultural norm. An Oxford Journal article I read through the Longwood database stated that “homemakers are slightly happier than wives who work full time…many women do, in fact, report personal gratification and meaning in the activities of caring for home and family”. I am not saying that if someone were to choose a career that they won’t happy because I plan to have a career myself. I’m just trying to show that there many different paths to happiness. There are so many more options for women today but I do not believe that any option is better than the other and that it is our own choice to decide where our path will take us.

happy family