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Domestic Violence and Women.

Extracts from this essay...

Introduction

Rachel Pierre-Louis Prof. Jacobs Sociology 620 December 12, 2001 Domestic Violence and Women Domestic violence has affected many families for several decades and it still dominates our society today. Each year, there is an increase in the number of cases of domestic violence, which is defined as "intentional hostile aggressive physical or psychological acts within a marital or intimate relationship in the house"(Dwyer, 1995) The Federal Bureau of Investigation estimates that a woman is beaten every nine seconds in the United States. There are two theories that help to understand violence against women: the feminist theory and the interpersonal power theory. Lenton (1995) analyzes these two theories and how they apply to the factors that are believed to be the cause of domestic violence. The interpersonal power theory involves the belief that a power imbalance creates violence in the family. The feminist theory emphasizes that abuse against women is the end result of a patriarchal society that encourages men to act violently toward women. Lenton put forth a broader picture of domestic violence and the contribution of both the feminist and the interpersonal theories to better understand violence against women. There are also two other factors that influence domestic violence as well-- the impact of racial stereotyping and alcohol consumption. I-Literature on Domestic Violence In the past decade, it appears that domestic violence among women has increased significantly, but the increase must be considered in the context of better reporting mechanisms. Women who are victims of physical and emotional abuse rarely report it to the police.

Middle

The husbands in the same way have many expectations from society that pressure them to maintain dominance and control over their family. Dobash and Dobash (1988) believed that "men learn violent techniques and the appropriate contexts their use through a male culture that condones for their use violence (p.311). Bowker (1983) observes "severity and frequency of beating increased in proportion of the amount of time that the batter spent with male friends... A Male patriarchal subculture of wife beaters socializes its members into the ideology of male dominance, including the prerogative to use force to keep wives in line" (p. 311). In comparing interpersonal power theory with feminist theory, interpersonal theorists do not believe that sexual inequality alone is sufficient to explain female abuse. Instead, they believed that many factors contribute to female abuse such as power imbalance, occupational status and unemployment. Lenton (1995) did not say which theory better explains domestic violence against women. Rather, she explores both interpersonal theory and feminist theory. Interpersonal power theory provides a list of factors that can contribute to violence against women. Tilly (1998) opines that "large, significant inequalities in advantages among human beings correspond mainly to categorical differences such as black/white, male/ female, rather to individual differences in attributes, propensities or performances" (p. 7). In the case of domestic violence, the durable inequality is within social class, gender and occupational status. Power imbalance is correlated to all factors noted before as predictors of violence against women.

Conclusion

Feminist theorists on the other hand, focus on gender inequality and they ignore other factors that can as well be the cause of violence. Lenton (1997) combines these two theories to explain her view about women violence. She concludes, " It is necessary to include both individual and societal level variables in any full analysis of intrafamilial violence (p. 322). Domestic violence is a serious worldwide problem. Women of all cultures and various backgrounds are battered by their partners. But women in minority groups are more victimized by domestic violence than women from high socioeconomic status. Domestic violence is a major result of homelessness among women. It is important to implement programs for women that are based on education, prevention and intervention strategies in abusive relationships. Although battering men should be reeducated about domestic violence and they should have better ways to treat women and they should also control their anger. Both the interpersonal power theory and the feminist theory address the primary points of influencing domestic violence against women over the years. The power imbalance dominates both theories in Lenton's (1995) article. Interpersonal power theory considers inequality in the power that exists in the society such as class inequality and imbalance of power. Men and women are treated differently in the society. Men are often seen as the power figure in society and in order for them to maintain power, they have to be in control at all times. The feminist theory blames female abuse on a patriarchal society that gives too much power to men and expects women to submit to them. Domestic violence is a problem of class inequality, gender inequality, and power imbalance in the society.

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