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violence against women

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Violence towards women is far from a contemporary issue, for hundreds of years it has been thought to be present in the lives of many women. Over the centuries women have rarely been seen to be treated as equals, often being viewed merely as the chattels of their husbands. In turn their role in life has been mainly to ensure their husbands contentment and to execute his demands and desires, be these domestic or sexual. Such 'chastisement' came to be accepted not only as a bona fide form of patriarchal domination, but as an inevitable element of daily life and a way of maintaining social order (Dobash & Dobash, 1980). It is said to be a major social problem which takes many forms, ranging from physical to sexual to psychological (O'Neil 1998). Most of the violence is said to be usually perpetrated by a man known to the woman (Dobash & Dobash, 1992; Edleson &Tolman, 1992; Stanko, 1985; Yllo, 1988 cited in O'Neil 1998). There are many theories and discourses which approach violence against women in order to better understand the causes, seek remedies for the problem and attempt to prevent it from happening in the first place. Although women are also violent against men, O'Neil's literature review focuses mainly on physical assault by men against women. ...read more.


The exchange theory (Blau, 1964; Homans, 1961 cited in O'Neil, 1998) draws upon classical economics and behavioural psychology. It suggests that individuals are rational beings that analyse what suits them better when interacting. Their interactions are thought to be reward-driven and avoidance of punishment and costs (O'Neil, 1998). O'Neil states that "if men can be violent toward their wives to attain certain rewards, such as tension release, getting their way, or being a "real man", without having to face too many costs, such as police intervention, physical retribution from wives, community shame or the wife's departure, then men are more likely to engage in such violence". This theory draws upon humans as rational beings, but O'Neil suggests that women are the primary targets of such violence and abuse by applying this theory to men only. He suggests that men abuse their partners to get what they want and to feel like a "real man" and release their tension without having to face the consequences such as the police and physical retribution, thus making it very easy for men to engage in conflict. Coming from a sociological perspective, the conflict theory suggests that conflict is an inevitable part of human interaction (Coser, 1967; Darhendorf, 1968; Simmel, 1950 cited in O'Neil 1998). conflict theory states that the "society or organization functions so that each individual participant and its groups struggle to maximize their benefits, which inevitably contributes to social change" (Wikipedia, 2006). ...read more.


In a similar perspective, O'Neil (1998) mentions Kaplan's (1972) self attitude theory to suggest that deviant might be the result of an individual's struggle to cope with negative self attitudes. Individuals who engage in deviant acts are seen as trying to achieve a more positive self-identity and to be seen more positively by peers (O'Neil, 1998). In conclusion, violence is seen by O'Neil to be an instrumental means by people to get what they want and to control other people, to increase one's self-esteem or self worth, to gain peer approval, to punish another and as seen by the feminist as a means for men to dominate and have control over women as they're always been taught by society. He has put forward a number of theories supporting the background of violence which mainly point towards men as perpetrators of violence bringing up quotes only from cases where women were the victims (page 24 of the reader). Reference List: Dallos, R. & McLauglin, E. (1998). 'Social problems and the Family'. Sage publications. London. Dobash,R.E & Dobash, R. (1980). 'Violence Against Wives' A Case Against Patriarchy. Open Books Ltd Somerset. O'Neil D. 1998 'A post-structuralist review of the theoretical literature surrounding wife abuse' Violence against women Vol.4.No.4 August pp272-287 Wikipedia (2006) 'conflict theory' , available online from wikipedia, a free online encyclopaedia; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conflict_theory ...read more.

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