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Problematic Attitudes Towards Women Driving Domestic Violence

27 November 2017 at 12:07 pm
Luke Michael
One in five Australians believe women are becoming too outspoken, according to new research into relationships, gender roles and equality.

Luke Michael | 27 November 2017 at 12:07 pm


Problematic Attitudes Towards Women Driving Domestic Violence
27 November 2017 at 12:07 pm

One in five Australians believe women are becoming too outspoken, according to new research into relationships, gender roles and equality.

Not-for-profit organisation Our Watch works to change the culture, behaviours and attitudes that lead to violence against women and children.

The organisation recently commissioned an online survey of 1,204 Australians aged 16 and over, and found that while respondents broadly understood that gender discrimination and sexism were widespread in Australia, a substantial number still had problematic attitudes around gender equality.

A total of 21 per cent said women were becoming too outspoken, while 20 per cent thought men should be the head of the household and take control in a relationship.

Also, 25 per cent thought “women’s requests for gender equality are exaggerated”, and 19 per cent of people surveyed said they saw sexist jokes as “harmless fun”.

Our Watch CEO, Mary Barry, told Pro Bono News these findings did not reflect well on the attitudes of Australians towards women. She said beliefs like this created a culture where violence against women thrives.

“It really confirms that the attitudes out there need to be changed, because it’s these sexist and archaic attitudes and beliefs that actually creates a culture where domestic violence flourishes,” Barry said.

“Our research over many years tells us that there’s no single driver of violence against women, but there are four drivers of violence that are consistent when you have violence against women. These include the condoning of violence against women, men’s control over decision making… stereotyped constructions of masculinity and femininity… and disrespect against women.

“In a lot of ways, these attitudes are certainly related to [these drivers] because they focus on men having control and thinking women are too outspoken. This disrespects women and promotes the [harmful] male behaviours that we continually see out in our community.”

Despite this, the survey also found that 82 per cent of people thought “females being paid less than a male colleague for the same work” was concerning or very concerning.

And 78 per cent expressed concern at male colleagues interrupting female colleagues.

The survey focused on bystander action – which is defined as “safe and appropriate actions taken to challenge the drivers of violence against women” – and Our Watch said speaking up could help to prevent this violence.     

Barry added that there was broad support to tackle problematic attitudes, with 79 per cent of respondents wanting practical tips to safely intervene when witnessing disrespect towards women.

“The good news from this survey is that the research showed that many Australians want support to actually speak up against sexism and gender discrimination,” she said.

“People can promote equality and respect between genders in the workplace and in the home. And they can model equality at home and in their relations by treating your sons and daughters the same, and challenging the idea that violence is an expression of masculinity or male dominance.

“By drawing attention and feeling more confident to speak out against sexism and gender discrimination, we’ll be able to change the norm in our society and make it unacceptable to treat women like this.”

Our Watch is also working to support people to challenge these attitudes by developing resources for a large-scale bystander campaign, which will be funded by the Department of Social Services.

The campaign is set to be launched in 2018.      

If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, family or domestic violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit In an emergency, call 000.

Luke Michael  |  Journalist  |  @luke_michael96

Luke Michael is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.

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