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Critically evaluate the main explanations of violence against women.

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Introduction

Critically evaluate the main explanations of violence against women. This essay aims to investigate and evaluate the main explanations concerning violence against women. In order to achieve this we will first look at the history of domestic violence, as this illustrates how attitudes and policies have altered over the decades. However, the main focus will rest on the explanations put forward by various academics as to why this violence may occur. Before evaluating the above it is important to point out that women who experience domestic violence can be of any age, or from any background or ethnic group. Some of the most common forms of abuse are portrayed through physical or sexual violence, which tends to take place in the home. However there is major difficulty in identifying these forms of violence, as women are often reluctant to seek help for a number of reasons. Also economic necessity can also be a major factor in the reluctance to seek help. Whatever the reason it is important to remember that domestic violence drastically undermines a woman's confidence and the fact that they do not always receive an appropriate response from statutory services, makes it far more understandable as to why they remain in violent relationships. Violence towards women within a domestic situation is far from a contemporary issue, for hundreds of years it has been present in the lives of many women. Over the centuries women have rarely been 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). ...read more.

Middle

It is through the continual perpetuation and support given to these roles that men continue to view themselves as dominant and as having control. It is important to mention that it is not merely the family who perpetuate and support this gender ideology, but the whole of society and very often the media play a large dangerous part in dividing the sexes. The media, throughout time, has portrayed motherhood, home and relationships as being the main interests in young girls and women's lives (Haywood 1989). The media also portrays images of women as objects, often degrading them as sexual objects. It could be said that presenting women as objects only devalues them and leaves them open to many instances of unacceptable behaviour by men within society. Moreover, it is important to mention that no single cause exists to explain all instances of this form of abuse. However, a combination of various situations and beliefs could help to explain or at least better understand this phenomenon. Sadly, many of the believed causes of domestic violence are myths created by societies beliefs and structure. These myths have been created to protect society and its institutions in order to hide a very serious problem. "The myths are a form of defence mechanism, the family is an important social institution and the myths have grown up as shields to protect it" (Freeman 1979:134). In addition, women who find themselves in such situations, often inadvertently perpetuate the myth of provocation as they may often blame themselves for an attack as they are able to comprehend why such genuine requests, in order to provide for children and other such areas of day to day life could cause such a reaction. 6 In relation to the provocation myth, more often than not the victim of an abusive attack has merely asked for money to buy food, clothes for children, does not have a meal ready on time or does not engage in sexual activity. ...read more.

Conclusion

In conclusion, it is clear that domestic violence is not only created and perpetuated by various myths within society, but also presents itself as a multidimensional problem with no single causal factor that can specifically explain all cases of domestic assault; therefore leaving the responsibility in the hands of those that commit it, not the victims of such abuse or other false blames. Therefore, it could be argued that the patriarchal structures of many families and ideologies that surround marriage and parenthood may actually create a situation in which the signals of dysfunction, which should be apparent, may actually go unnoticed and indeed, merely serve to further empower men to exert their control over their female partners and their children. In turn, patriarchal nature of society and culture plays a substantial part in the perpetuation of many of the previously highlighted causes of domestic violence, and thus could be said to be the main root of the problem. Furthermore, Men, at every level of society, have refused to accept the blame for many crimes against women. Preferring instead to blame violent acts on such myths as alcohol, provocation, and frustration, again directing the blame onto any aspect of the victim's behaviour or societal problem instead. What is desperately needed is a complete restructure and education of beliefs and ideology of family lessons in relation to gender roles, and a ceasation of all types of violence within the home in order to reduce the effects and normalisation of violence. Once achieved than perhaps we will be able to abolish the patriarchal ideology of society and move to a more egalitarian approach towards society and gender relations. A society where women are no longer restricted to where they can go, what they can do, and where men no longer control every aspect of society and thus see it as their natural right to dominate society and women in often violent ways. Until such changes are made we cannot begin to see an end to the struggle faced by many women against male dominance, power, and violence within society. ...read more.

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