Academic paper on gender equality and gender hostility

Whilst this academic paper, entitled Gender equality and gender hostility, dates back to mid-2006, I just came across it today and thought it warranted a mention here.

The paper describes the results of an international survey of university students. Overall it found that there was a higher level of hostility towards men (HTM) by women than hostility towards women (HTW) by men. This was rationalised from a feminist perspective (for e.g. womens hostility was simply a reaction against hostility by men or reacting against patriarchal subordination, etc). There were however some interesting findings such as:

Yodanis and Straus (1996) found no correlation between men’s HTW and assault of a female partner but did find a positive correlation between women’s HTM and their assault of a male partner. That is, the higher the women’s HTM, the more physical assaults against a male partner reported. (p5)

More females (59%) than males (49.1%) agreed or strongly agreed with at least one item in the gender hostility scale. Thus, close to two-thirds of the women and approximately half of the men in the sample expressed some degree of gender hostility. Examination of more extreme scores reveals that 7.2% of females and 5.0% of males agreed or strongly agreed with four or five items, indicating that a noteworthy minority of participants reported a high level of gender hostility, with the percentage for women somewhat higher than for men. (p 16/17)

An increasing amount of research has found high rates of both physical aggression by women against male partners (Dutton and Straus 2005; Fiebert and Gonzalez 1997; Fiebert 2004; Straus 1999, 2005) and sexual aggression by women (Dutton and Straus 2005; Fiebert and Tucci 1998; Fiebert 2000). Research indicates that these women possess traits similar to men who are physically and sexually aggressive (Capaldi and Gorman-Smith 2003; Medeiros and Straus 2006; Moffitt et al. 2001). Prevention and treatment efforts need to be developed to address the attitudinal and behavioral characteristics of these women, including HTM (Medeiros and Straus 2006; Smithey and Straus 2004). (p26)

Importantly the paper stated that further study was needed to tease out the different causes of hostility between men and women.

There is also a place for more direct efforts to reduce gender hostility, especially as part of sexual assault and partner violence prevention. This will take considerably more information about the nuances of gender hostility than is now available because it appears that the problems women and men have with the other sex are not identical. If so, intervention efforts should target these yet-to-be identified sex-specific aspects of gender hostility. Another complication is that individuals who possess hostile attitudes about the other sex are not likely to be purely hostile. In a sample of females and males from 19 nations, Glick et al. (2000) found that participants reported both hostile and benevolent stereotypes and prejudices toward the other sex.

This will not be an easy task because we know little about the ways in which women evaluate men (Glick and Fiske 1999). Although more is known about men’s attitudes toward women, it is important that researchers learn more about women’s attitudes regarding those who are their “strongest foes and most intimate partners” (Glick and Fiske 1999, p. 534). This can help identify gender-specific interventions that are probably needed.

An increasing amount of research has found high rates of both physical aggression by women against male partners (Dutton and Straus 2005; Fiebert and Gonzalez 1997; Fiebert 2004; Straus 1999, 2005) and sexual aggression by women (Dutton and Straus 2005; Fiebert and Tucci 1998; Fiebert 2000). Research indicates that these women possess traits similar to men who are physically and sexually aggressive (Capaldi and Gorman-Smith 2003; Medeiros and Straus 2006; Moffitt et al. 2001). Prevention and treatment efforts need to be developed to address the attitudinal and behavioral characteristics of these women, including HTM (Medeiros and Straus 2006; Smithey and Straus 2004).

The 7.2% of females and 5% of the males who agreed with four or five of the five gender hostility items may be students who are more likely to sexually and physically aggress against dating partners and others. These extremely hostile cases are those most in need of help.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.