Make it Safe at Night or Teach Women to Fight? Sexism Predicts Views on Men’s and Women’s Responsibility to Reduce Men’s Violence Toward Women

Abstract

The current study explores associations among sexism, gender, and support for two approaches to reduce men’s violence toward women targeting (a) men’s behavior to reduce male violence toward women and (b) women’s behavior so that they can avoid male violence. The associations between sexism and support for these two interventions were examined in 21,937 participants in the New Zealand Attitudes and Values Survey. For both women and men, hostility toward nontraditional women (hostile sexism) was associated with lower support for targeting men to reduce men’s violence against women. To a lesser degree, stronger attitudes that women who adhere to traditional feminine roles should be rewarded (benevolent sexism) were associated with greater support for targeting men to reduce men’s violence. In contrast, both hostile and benevolent sexism were positively associated with support for targeting women to avoid men’s violence. These complex and nuanced relationships could suggest that sexism perpetuates the idea that women are responsible for keeping themselves safe from men’s violence while excusing men from accountability. This possibility has implications for addressing how society can be best engaged in the campaign against men’s violence toward women.

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NZAVS Funding Sources

The New Zealand Attitudes and Values Survey has multiple sources of funding. In relation to the current research, the most relevant funding source is a grant from the Templeton Religion Trust (TRT0196). Further information regarding the NZAVS funding is available from the corresponding author or on the NZAVS website (https://www.psych.auckland.ac.nz/en/about/new-zealand-attitudes-and-values-study.html).

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Correspondence to Jessica Brownhalls.

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Conflict of Interest

The current study drew data from Wave 8 of the New Zealand Attitudes and Values Study (NZAVS), which is run by the University of Auckland. The NZAVS is not associated with any political organization or government body, and has received internal University funding, as well as funding from various not-for-profit research granting agencies, and research trusts. The results and publications from NZAVS data are independent of any corporate or government body, or specific funding agency. As such, the authors note they are not aware of any potential conflicts of interest.

Research Involving Human Participants

The University of Auckland Human Participants Ethics Committee reviews the NZAVS approximately every 3 years. Wave 8 of the data is covered by the most recent renewal, which was initiated in September 2017 and lasts until June 2021 (reference number: 014889).

Informed Consent

The NZAVS commenced in 2009 and is an annual, longitudinal, national probability study of New Zealand adult residents randomly selected from the electoral roll. Waves of NZAVS surveys are posted to participants by mail, with a follow up copy posted 2 months later. The invitations to complete the survey are accompanied by detailed information about the contents and topics of the survey, and all participants have provided written informed consent for each wave of the study. The NZAVS takes participant confidentiality seriously and protects the identities of participants by encrypting personal details and storing these separate to other data. Participant contact details are used for the sole purpose of inviting them to continue to participate in future waves of the study, and to provide information regarding research findings and feedback. Participants continue to be able to access additional information by directly contacting the NZAVS researchers, or by reviewing the NZAVS information page (https://www.psych.auckland.ac.nz/en/about/new-zealand-attitudes-and-values-study/complete-the-NZAVS-online.html#25584627ea632579360db364b9348bff).

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Brownhalls, J., Duffy, A., Eriksson, L. et al. Make it Safe at Night or Teach Women to Fight? Sexism Predicts Views on Men’s and Women’s Responsibility to Reduce Men’s Violence Toward Women. Sex Roles 84, 183–195 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-020-01159-5

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Keywords

  • Ambivalent sexism
  • Hostile sexism
  • Benevolent sexism
  • Sexual and non-sexual violence
  • Gender inequality
  • Gendered violence