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Women's Gender-Role Socialization, Gender-Role Conflict, and Abuse: A Review of Predisposing Factors (From What Causes Men's Violence Against Women?, P 117-134, 1999, Michele Harway and James M. O'Neil, eds. -- See NCJ-180821)

NCJ Number
Roberta L. Nutt
Date Published
18 pages
This chapter considers how women's gender-role socialization across life stages predisposes them to men's violence.
The author maintains that most cultures teach women that they are of lesser value than men. Women are not taught self-respect, personal confidence, and assertiveness skills, which are all necessary traits for preventing domestic violence. This gender-role socialization does not protect women from domestic violence; on the contrary, it may set them up to be victims of abuse. This chapter reviews women's gender-role socialization through a chronology of life stages and portrays gender-role conflict through common patterns of preferences for things male and the devaluation of things female. The life stages include infancy, childhood, adolescence, early adulthood, and middle and later adulthood. The gender-role socialization expectations imposed on females include discouraged achievement, restricted identity development, depression and low self-esteem, overemphasis on appearance and beauty, dependency and submissiveness, caretaking and nurturing of others, emphasis on and overvaluation of relationships, feelings of inferiority, learned helplessness, pressure toward marriage and motherhood, and exaggerated femininity. This gender-role conditioning programs women to expect less and demand less than equitable treatment in relationships. Only when women recognize and affirm their equality with men will they not allow themselves to be victimized, and men will not feel entitled to victimize them. Treatment for female victims of domestic violence should include the development of personal empowerment and an understanding of the consequences of gender-role socialization and conflict.


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