Is gender violence a personal problem or a social one? What would it take to reduce gender violence?

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kipling2448 | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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Gender violence is both a personal and a broader social problem. It's certainly personal to the individual, usually a female, being physically and emotionally abused.  Much gender violence occurs within the home, between abusive husbands or boyfriends and wives and girlfriends.  In that sense, it is all-too-personal to the victims.  Similarly, most cases of rape involve men who are personally known to their victims.  Again, cases of date rape have to be considered personal to the victims. There is no question, however, that gender violence is also a broader societal problem that afflicts many cultures around the world, whether its the frequency of men murdering or beating their wives or former or current girlfriends, or cases of female genital mutilation inflicted in male-dominated societies in places like Africa and the Middle East.  Physical abuse of females is endemic in many cultures and has its roots in both physiological and cultural factors.  While social scientists can validly point to cases of male children being raised with a special sensitivity to questions of violence and gender equality, a great deal of empirical evidence also points to physiological factors that indicate a greater propensity for violence on the part of males.

The physiological dimension to the problem of gender violence is extremely difficult to address.  Sexual deviants can be placed on medications that curb their desires, but that is a very limited example of addressing the natural inclination of males to seek to dominate females.  Obviously, the entire population of males cannot be drugged into submission with regard to gender equality and violence.  Increased awareness of the problem, however, including at the elementary school level, can help to reduce the scale of the violence.  As children are raised to view each other as socially, culturally and physically equal, it is hoped that the propensity for gender-related violence can be reduced over time.  The problem has to be addressed early, however, and systemically, which is far easier said than done.  Economic problems by themselves greatly exacerbate the challenge of reducing gender violence. Men who feel worthless when un- or underemployed tend to take out their aggression on wives, girlfriends and children.  Providing outlets for such individuals is desirable but, again, easier said than done.

The first step in reducing the social problem of gender violence, when all is said and done, involves educating children about gender equality.  Children who grow into adults with greater sensitivity to this issue will be less likely to lash out violently at females.

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