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


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.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.


  1. Abrams, D., Viki, G. T., Masser, B., & Bohner, G. (2003). Perceptions of stranger and acquaintance rape: The role of benevolent and hostile sexism in victim blame and rape proclivity. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84, 111–125.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  2. Ayre, J., Lum On, M., Webster, K., Gourley, M., & Moon, L. (2016). Examination of the burden of disease of intimate partner violence against women in 2011: Final report (ANROWS horizons, 06/2016). Sydney: ANROWS. Retrieved November 2017 from <>

  3. Bendixon, M., & Kennair, L. E. O. (2017). When less is more: Psychometric properties of Norwegian short-forms of the ambivalent sexism scales (ASI and AMI) and the Illinois rape myth acceptance (IRMA) scale. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 58, 541–550 10.1111.sjop.12392.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Brownhalls, J., Duffy, A., Eriksson, L., & Barlow, F. K. (2019). Reintroducing rationalization: A study of relational goal pursuit theory of intimate partner obsessive relational intrusion. Journal of Interpersonal Violence. Advanced online publication.

  5. Chapleau, K. M., Oswald, D. L., & Russell, B. L. (2007). How ambivalent sexism toward women and men support rape myth acceptance. Sex Roles, 57(1–2), 131–136.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Cohen, J. (1992). A power primer. Psychological Bulletin, 112(1), 155–159.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  7. Cole, E. R. (2009). Intersectionality and research in psychology. American Psychologist, 64(3), 170–180.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Corvo, K., Dutton, D., & Chen, W. (2009). Do Duluth model interventions with perpetrators of domestic violence violate mental health professional ethics? Ethics and Behavior, 19(4), 323–340.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Crenshaw, K. (1991). Mapping the margins: Intersectionality, identity politics, and violence against women of color. Stanford Law Review, 43, 1241–1299.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Crisp, R. J., & Turner, R. N. (2012). The imagined contact hypothesis. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 46, 125–182.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Cross, E. J., Overall, N. C., Hammond, M. D., & Fletcher, G. J. O. (2017). When does men’s hostile sexism predict relational aggression? The moderating role of partner commitment. Personality Science, 8, 331–340.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Cuthbertson, D. (2019, January 17). Everyone has the right to get home safely. The Age. Retrieved from

  13. Dardenne, B., Dumont, M., & Bollier, T. (2007). Insidious dangers of benevolent sexism: Consequences for women's performance. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 93, 764–779.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  14. Davanloo, H. (1990). Unlocking the unconscious. Chichester: John Wiley.

    Google Scholar 

  15. Davey, M. (2018). Men need to change: Anger grows over police response to Eurydice Dixon’s murder. The Guardian. Retrieved from

  16. de Lemus, S., Moya, M., & Glick, P. (2010). When contact correlates with prejudice: Adolescents’ romantic relationship experience predicts greater benevolent sexism in boys and hostile sexism in girls. Sex Roles, 63, 214–225.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Fanslow, J., & Robinson, E. (2004). Violence against women in New Zealand: Prevalence and health consequences. The New Zealand Medical Journal, 117(1206), U1173.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  18. Fischer, A. R. (2006). Women’s benevolent sexism as reaction to hostility. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 30, 410–416.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Flood, M. (2011). Involving men in efforts to end violence against women. Men and Masculinities, 14, 358–377.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Glick, P., & Fiske, S. T. (1996). The ambivalent sexism inventory: Differentiating hostile and benevolent sexism. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 70, 491–512.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Glick, P., & Fiske, S. T. (2000). An ambivalent alliance: Hostile and benevolent sexism as complementary justifications for gender inequality. American Psychologist, 56, 109–118.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Glick, P., & Fiske, S. T. (2006). The ambivalence toward men inventory: Differentiating hostile and benevolent beliefs about men. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 23(3), 519–536.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Glick, P., Fiske, S. T., Mladinic, A., Saiz, J. L., Abrams, D., Masser, B., … Wilemsen, T. (2000). Beyond prejudice as simple antipathy: Hostile and benevolent sexism across cultures. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 79(5), 763–775.

  24. Jacques-Tiura, A. J., Abbey, A., Wegner, R., Pierce, J., Pegram, S. E., & Woerner, J. (2015). Friends matter: Protective and harmful aspects of male friendships associated with past- year sexual aggression in a community sample of young men. American Journal of Public Health, 105, 1001–1007.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  25. Koepke, S., Eyssel, F., & Bohner, G. (2014). She deserved it: Effects of sexism norms, type of violence, and victim’s pre-assault behavior on blame attributions toward female victims and approval of the aggressor’s behavior. Violence Against Women, 20, 446–464.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  26. KPMG. (2016). The cost of violence against women and their children in Australia: Final report May 2016. Canberra: Department of Social Services. Retrieved November 15, 2018 from

  27. Messerschmidt, J. (2000). Becoming “real men”: Adolescent masculinity challenges and sexual violence. Men and Masculinities, 2, 286–307.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Nettleton, P. H. (2011). Domestic violence in men's and women's magazines: Women are guilty of choosing the wrong men, men are not guilty of hitting women. Women's Studies in Communication, 34(2), 139–160.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Osborne, D., & Davies, P. G. (2012). When benevolence backfires: Benevolent sexists’ opposition to elective and traumatic abortion. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 42(2), 291–307.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Radke, H. R. M., Hornesy, M. J., & Barlow, F. K. (2018). Changing versus protective the status quo: Why men and women engage in different types of action on behalf of women. Sex Roles, 79, 505–518.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. Rakow, L. (2001). Feminist approaches to popular culture: Giving patriarchy its due. In J. Storey (Ed.), Cultural theory and popular culture: A reader (pp. 275–291). Athens: University of Georgia Press.

    Google Scholar 

  32. Rodríguez-Mandera, S. L., Padilla, M., Varas-Díaz, N., Neilands, T., Vasques Guzzi, A. C., Florenciani, E. J., Ramos-Pibernus, A. (2016). Experiences of violence among transgender women in Puerto Rico: An underestimated problem. Journal of Homosexuality, 64, 209–217.

  33. Rollero, C., Glick, P., & Tartaglia, S. (2014). Psychometric properties of short versions of the ambivalent sexism inventory and ambivalence toward men inventory. TPM-Testing, Psychometrics, Methodology in Applied Psychology, 21(2), 149–159.

    Google Scholar 

  34. Sibley, C. G. (2009). The New Zealand attitudes and values study 2009: Questionnaire items and details for researchers. Unpublished technical report, The University of Auckland.

  35. Taschler, M., & West, K. (2017). Contact with counter-stereotypical women predicts less sexism, less rape myth acceptance, less intention to rape (in men) and less projected enjoyment of rape (in women). Sex Roles, 76, 473–484.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  36. Torbenfeldt Bengtsson, T. (2016). Performing hypermasculinity: Experiences with confined young offenders. Men and Masculinities, 19, 410–428.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. Turquet, L., Seck, P., Azcona, G., Menon, R., Boyce, C., Piernon, N., Harbour, E. (2011). Progress of the world’s women: In pursuit of justice. United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women. Retrieved from

  38. Viki, G. T., Abrams, D., & Masser, B. (2004). Evaluating stranger and acquaintance rape: The role of benevolent sexism in perpetrator blame and recommended sentence length. Law and Human Behavior, 28, 295–303.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  39. White Ribbon Campaign. (2019). About white ribbon. Retrieved from

  40. Wirtz, A. L., Poteat, T. C., Malik, M., & Glass, N. (2020). Gender-based violence against transgender people in the United States: A call for research and programming. Trauma, Violence & Abuse, 21, 227–241.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

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 (

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Jessica Brownhalls.

Ethics declarations

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 (

Additional information

Publisher’s Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Electronic supplementary material


(DOCX 30 kb)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

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).

Download citation


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